Suzanne and Dan Kipp had no plans to move. The couple was perfectly content in their Winnetka, Illinois, home, which had provided many memories for the two of them and their three children since they moved in 1995. The Kipps weren’t looking at real estate listings or touring open houses. But as they drove through one particular neighborhood, a classic example of Georgian architecture always cast a spell on them. They decided to devote their time and energy restoring the dated home to glory.
To someone without a design sixth sense, the house and its dated aesthetics (think millwork painted bright turquoise!) would have offered only a pleasant way to while away a Sunday afternoon. Built in 1910, it had been home to four owners, all with their own visions and revisions. But Suzanne, who had ventured through the renovation process many times professionally, recognized the beauty that lay within.
To add substance to the generously sized foyer, Suzanne Kipp added a round center table and a secretary.
The square proportions of the dining room suited the Kipps’ existing antique round table, but Suzanne also wanted to soften the room’s stately architecture, which included a pair of French doors leading to the sun porch that were weighed down by door panel curtains.
Suzanne removed the patterned wallpaper, pulled pale blue from the rug and applied it to the ceiling, added extra seating with a settee covered in linen, and reupholstered the dining chairs in a steel-blue velvet. A final fillip is a traditional crystal chandelier descending from the ceiling in front of a gold-framed mirror.
Now, soft sunlight filters in through the French doors. Dining chairs have been reupholstered in fabric from Manuel Canovas.
The Kipps’ new purchase had its limitations. Zoning laws prevented adding square footage to the brick house. But given its spacious rooms, which merely needed a visual facelift, the couple was glad to keep structural alterations to a minimum and to retain the home’s architectural integrity. They called on Elissa Morgante and Fred Wilson of Morgante-Wilson Architects, with whom they had worked on a previous home. The pair drew plans to bump out the kitchen slightly, which created space for a mudroom, half bathroom, and den. Transformed from a 1970s update that included columns and laminate cabinets, the kitchen now reflects the family’s contemporary lifestyle and is the heart of the home.
“The layout and the original moldings of the house were perfect,” Wilson says. “You wouldn’t have wanted to change them. Within the kitchen, we enhanced efficiency by creating a butler’s pantry and the other utilitarian spaces.”
Enhanced by a pair of elegant crystal chandeliers, the all-white kitchen exudes glamour. The color scheme is evidence of Suzanne’s commitment to making a neutral palette flow throughout the home’s formal and grand public spaces.
Updated architecture, a large working island, and bookcases installed in the breakfast nook were all parts of the renovation.
While the palette of the Kipp home consistently follows a neutral path, it’s not all in pale colors. Dan’s office and library, formerly the sunroom, was stripped down to the studs and rebuilt with new windows, doors, and millwork.
With so much natural light flooding the room, Suzanne was confident that it could handle a dark hue. So she painted the room’s perimeters a handsome, masculine black that is balanced by ivory-colored wall-to-wall carpet. The room is appointed with dark furniture, too. An oval mahogany desk sets the tone for brown leather club chairs. Punctuating the space is a large-scale ottoman covered with houndstooth hair-on-hide in chocolate brown and white.
Two substantial pieces of furniture—a desk featuring a feathery grain from Jonathan Charles Fine Furniture and the Hancock & Moore ottoman—command attention in the room painted in a shade of black from Farrow & Ball. With leather armchairs from Pottery Barn and a three-tier occasional table from Baker, the study is simply handsome.