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Publication Date: 2015-10-19

House Tours

Hugh Hefner Lived Here

The thought is almost irresistible: If these walls could talk. True, we often think that about any house with more than a century to its age, but for a historic house in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood with a famous past owner whose legendary guests and parties likely had neighbors constantly whispering, it seems especially apt.

Photography: Werner Straube

Built in 1899 by a prominent physician as a wedding gift for his daughter, the Beaux Arts-style mansion was once owned by Playboy founder and mogul Hugh Hefner. Hefner also bought the larger building next door, which had served as the doctor’s home, and connected the structures, designating the first house for his personal digs and the doctor’s house for, well, play. The compound became known as the Playboy Mansion. The pair of houses are now separated and have returned to single-family units. And while the history of the house that was originally gifted to a blushing bride may conjure images of lavish parties with questionable conduct, the current owners have restored the property into a magnificent example of sophistication, elegance, and propriety.

Photography: Werner Straube

The homeowners knew that Gail Plechaty, known for interiors with illuminatingly light palettes, was the designer who would massage the architecturally rich interiors into a state of timeless and breathtaking grandeur. They were right.

Neutral ivory was the base of the classic rooms. But it was an icy shade of blue, uninterrupted by any other color, that amplified the level of opulence spilling from one room to the next. To dress the house’s grand windows with soaring proportions, luxurious blue silk was fabricated into simple panels and edged with tassel trim.

Photography: Werner Straube

Formerly Hugh Hefner’s bedroom, the dining room teases with a color that is not quite blue, not quite green on an oversize silk damask that skirts the table and backs the chairs.

Photography: Werner Straube

“Although this house maintained its classic bones and had pretty details, there was a lingering tone because of its past,” Plechaty says of the project. “It was a joy to work with clients who appreciate and respect architecture and allowed me to bring their home back to the grandeur it once had.”

The kitchen remains in its original location in the home.

Photography: Werner Straube

Dubbed the "choiserie room," the sitting room features a pretty fireplace with a stunning onyx surround.

To see more of this home, visit

Written by Krissa Rossbund
Produced by Hilary Rose
Interior designer: Gail Plechaty


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