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Inspiration from the Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens, 2015

Not only did I tour a bunch of Frank Lloyd Wright and other historical homes this past weekend, I also went with my mom to see the Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens. The tickets sold for the home tour benefit the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago, and this year they presented the former home of the late John W. Hughes, Jr.

Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens, 2015, Exterior

My mom and I are both house looky-loos, and we love John Hughes movies (The Breakfast Club is a favorite for both of us), so I bought tickets for us as a Mother’s Day present. I figured we’d spend the morning touring the house, have lunch and enjoy the day, but I wasn’t sure what to expect from the home itself. I’ve been to a handful of showhouses before and while they’re always beautiful, they can be a bit stuffy and too traditional to pull practical inspiration from. Not the case this time!

In front of the Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens, 2015

Again, photography was not permitted, but I was able to obtain photos to share of the interiors this time (hooray!). This was my favorite room: the butler’s pantry, with its original cabinetry receiving a fresh coat of paint (Farrow & Ball’s ‘Drawing Room Blue’) along with other updates by Wily Designs LLC.

Butler's Pantry, Wiley Designs LLC, Photography by Werner Straube

My mom’s favorite space was the living room designed by Alessandra Branca. The designer posted several shots of it on Instagram.

Designed by Alessandra Branca for the Lake Forest Showhouse, 2015

My mom also absolutely loved this girls’ bedroom, designed by Jeannie Balsam. A great layout, a window seat, and patterns upon patterns!

Teen Bedroom by Jeannie Balsam for the Lake Forest Showhouse 2015

Some of what I took away was simply giving myself permission to be more bold. I find myself pulling back a bit in my house sometimes, deferring to the house’s style and history, but yawn. The showhouse was a multi-million dollar historical home, and they painted original dark wood, wallpapered the heck out of it, remodeled the kitchen and bathrooms, took apart and opened up built-in closets, and on and on. There was respect for the home, but it was also fun. The kind of place you could actually see a family living in and enjoying themselves. I mean, how could you not enjoy the type of house that has a hallway with monkeys all over the place (by Sarah Whit Interior Design)?

Back Stairs, Sarah Whit Interior Design Copyright © 2015 Janet Mesic Mackie

And behold, a nursery by Steve + Filip Design, drawing inspiration from The Grand Budapest Hotel. Those diapers. Ha!

Nursery Inspired by The Grand Budapest Hotel, Steve and Filip Design, Photograph by Wittefini
Nursery Inspired by The Grand Budapest Hotel, Steve and Filip Design, Photograph by Wittefini

There were many other rooms I wish I could share with you, but the Showhouse didn’t have photos available of every space. There was a garden room with a pink settee (be still, my heart!). A master bath and “women’s reprieve” (former closet) with the most amazing antique furniture. A killer redesigned kitchen by Christopher Peacock Home — not too large — that had me wishing for its pair of built-in fridges with a black interiors. My mom and I both walked out of the home feeling inspired, and we had so much fun touring it! I’ll end here with a floor plan. And hey, feel free to put an offer in on the place. It will be available in June, “price upon request”.

Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens, 2015, Floor Plans
Photo credits: JS Eckert Photography, Nicole Balch, Werner Straube Photography, Alessandra Branca, Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens, Janet Mesic-Mackie, Wittefini

Pink for Boys (Pink for All!)

A reader named Karin wrote to me with a request.

“Nicole, I am wondering if you have a suggestion for pink shades in a boy child’s room. My youngest (3) loves pink. His room needs painting, and he’s been clear about pink being the color for months. I have never had a pink room, am a blue, silver lover, so I’m at a loss for how to make pink work in a boys room. I would love if you did some suggestions on your blog for how to honor little boys who love pink – what colors would go with it, shades you suggest, etc… any thoughts would be so appreciated.”

This is totally in my wheelhouse. First, up: paint colors, as requested! I put together a post years ago on picking perfect pink paint colors, and that’s a good place to start. The trick to choosing a color for a boy is to avoid baby pink, but then I also think that’s a good idea in general. You can go subtle or muted, bright and clear, or more toward the coral end of pink. Below are some excellent choices, depending on your personal preference.

Pink Paint

Row One – Subtle ChoicesWild Aster, Benjamin MoorePeony Blush, BehrRosy Outlook, Sherwin-WilliamsBarely Blush, Glidden
Row Two – Bright and ClearCarnation Bloom, BehrPink Moment, Sherwin-WilliamsPantone Quartz Pink, ValsparHopeful, Sherwin-Williams
Row 3 – Coral PinkStrawberry Mousse, BehrFruit Shake, Benjamin MoorePale Shrimp, BehrRed Grapefruit, Behr

There are also some fantastic pink wallpapers out there.

Pink Wallpaper

Harlequin (Rose) Wallpaper, Ferm LivingSpear (Rose) Wallpaper, Ferm LivingTriangles (White, Gray, & Pink), Lisa Congdon for Hygge & West

Pink is a warm color, and it mixes well with a combination of reds and oranges, which would be great for a boy’s room. Pink and yellow, pink and green, and pink and blue are also fantastic (especially if you’re already a fan of blue), and pink with black and white can look awesome. Below are a few accessories and pieces of furniture that could also be worked in to a pink room for a boy.

Pink Accents

  1. TPS Pink File Cabinet, CB2

  2. Cargo Pink Bedding, The Land of Nod

  3. Snöig Wall Lamp, IKEA

  4. Stella Cabinet, CB2

  5. Alfabet by Leise Dich Abrahamsen, Stilleben, via Door Sixteen

  6. Wire Basket in Rose, Ferm Living

  7. Canted Wool Rug in Salmon, West Elm

Karin, and anyone else looking to do a not-so-girly pink room, I hope that helps!

The Design Dash, and The Captain’s Retreat

I went to North Carolina a few weeks ago to design a room with La-Z-Boy. (Note: It is OK if you’re incredulous here. I wasn’t sure it was a good fit at first either.)

I was flown out and put up in Proximity Hotel. The event started innocently enough with drinks and dinner, but we were advised to wear comfy shoes without exactly knowing why. After dinner, we all went to the High Point showroom for the “Design Dash,” which was basically a version of Supermarket Sweep. (High school Nicole would have been jazzed!) Eleven of us bloggers were set loose upon the La-Z-Boy showroom, armed with shopping carts and sticky notes. We had two hours to mark or grab everything, big and small, that we would need to decorate our rooms.

The Design Dash

(I grabbed so many fake flowers because I didn’t know if we’d have access to real blooms, but luckily we did.)

We had each gone to a local showroom to pick out a sofa a couple of weeks in advance, and I chose the Kinsley sofa in its stock upholstery and brass nailhead trim. We were also asked to choose a Sherwin-Williams paint color, and I went with Loyal Blue, which is the same color I used for Eleanor’s room. It’s beautiful, and I wanted the chance to use it in another space — without having to work in pony bedding.

Each room had a different layout, with unique flooring, trim, and architectural elements. This is what I started with.

Room Design Starting Point

An hour or two in, and I was at this point.

Room Design Beginning

It was then that I was asked, while being filmed, what I would name my design. My thought process when a little something like this: Nautical? Maybe a ship captain. Wait, why can’t the captain be a lady? Of course it’s a lady! Let’s let the world know that this is a lady captain! So, on camera, I stammered out “this is the Lady Captain’s Retreat.” Oh, you guys. I’m so glad that didn’t make it into the video.

I had a canoe in the room already, but I did go off in search of more props to support my new theme. Model ships? You bet. Messages in a bottle? Let’s get literal!

Bookshelf Styling

Captain's Retreat Chair

The room came together pretty easily, and I was happy with my progress after the first day. We had a little time the next morning to put finishing touches in place. I arranged my flowers and lowered a painting on the wall by six inches. I was also glad to see that my heretofore missing lanterns were found! I had them hung, which through showroom magic looked real.

Hanging Lantern Lights in the Showroom

Nearly everything you see in the room came from La-Z-Boy’s design showroom. I was surprised by the variety they had there. I didn’t design the room for me, but with a few tweaks, I could see myself in it.

We were told on the last day that we could each choose a favorite piece to keep, as a thank you gift. I’d been crazy about that barrister-style bookcase from the start, and now I’m looking forward to its arrival. I think I’m going to claim it for my office because it’s a great size for large art and design books, but I could see it working in the second parlor, too.

Bookshelf Styling

More details. Star bursts (sea urchins, if we want to stay on theme) and compass roses. Brass decanters. A blue and white vase that I love so much.

Star Bursts and Compass Roses

Brass Bourbon Decanters

Blue and White Vintage Pottery as a Flower Vase

You can see my room and video, along with everyone else’s, on La-Z-Boy’s Facebook page. You can also vote for your favorite once per day (which I think is just a total matter of taste because there wasn’t a bad room in the bunch), and you’ll be entered to win $10,000.

La-Z-Boy Room by Making it Lovely

La-Z-Boy Sofa

At the end of the last day, I had dropped “lady” from the room’s name, and it became known simply as “The Captain’s Retreat.” But you and I know who was running this ship.

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