Inside a Family-Friendly Chicago Home That Was Transformed Through Classic Architecture

Upon stepping off of the elevator and into the expansive Chicago apartment of interior designer Sasha Adler’s longtime clients, guests are transported to a gallery-like space where modern art and exquisite antiques commingle. In the foyer, bold selections from the homeowners’ blue-chip collection—contemporary works by Sean Scully, Rose Wiley, and Richard Prince—are at home among gilded light fixtures and filigreed furniture. The herringbone wood floors, black-and-white checkered tile, and intricate molding suggest a prewar heritage entirely by its design.

“It’s a brand new building,” Adler says of the project, which presented a blank canvas. “They purchased raw space, so we wanted to create a sense of architecture in the home and a sense of history.” The designer worked in concert with the wife, whose parents’ background is in antiques. “She has a real appreciation and understanding for collecting furniture and art,” Adler says. The collector’s eye that the design and client share is evident throughout the home.

The oversized living room with a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows offers tremendous views of the Windy City. A space this grand might render cavernous or cold in the wrong hands, but Adler achieves an inviting, sophisticated feel. “The rooms are large, but we really wanted to create warm, intimate spaces for this family to live in,” she says. Adler accomplishes this with vintage and bespoke furnishings—a 17th-century console next to a 1970s coffee table and custom sofa, for example. “The idea was to create a formal living room infused with a modern-day sensibility.” The floorplan is dotted with a series of seating areas providing the flexibility and function that the clients’ family—including six children under the age of 10—requires. “It’s not roped off. We designed it so that they could really use it,” Adler explains. It’s easy to imagine the couple sipping cocktails on the double-sided daybed in front of the antique fireplace or the children having a Monopoly marathon at the card table stationed beneath a vibrant Basquiat.

The kitchen and adjoined breakfast room are another family hub. For construction and cabinetry, Adler collaborated with Chicago-based Northworks and O’Brien Harris, while her team placed jewelry-like finishing touches, including the custom étagères and brass legs for the island. (Adler also worked with Tip Top Builders on the home.) Off the kitchen, Adler added a butler’s pantry and a scullery featuring an arched ceiling covered in mosaic tile. An artist painted the scullery’s label onto the door’s vintage glass. “These are all ideas that I’ve kept in my book of inspiration for so long,” Adler says. “To have clients equally excited about them is a dream.”

An oak and glass framed archway demarcates the kitchen from the breakfast area, which seats 12. “After school, the kids gather around the table to do homework or lounge on the window seat to read,” Adler shares. The cushioned bench is an idyllic place to tuck into a book, but it’s also where the designer added secret storage—essential for avoiding clutter in such a hardworking nook.