In 2019, after spending nearly 20 years in Austin, Texas, interior designer and owner of Stone Textile Studio, Elizabeth Mollen felt it was time for a change, and—along with her husband, Russell, and two young sons—moved just outside her hometown of Chicago and into their dream “project” home.
“We flew in to look at houses and only had two days,” recalls Mollen. “We knew we wanted something with character that we could make our own, and this one had just come on the market—but I think some people were scared away because there was a lot of work to do.” As a designer, that’s exactly what she was looking for, so the couple took the leap and made an offer that very day.
What they fell into was a four-story Tudor-style home, built in 1910 and set on an acre and a half in a coveted suburb a short drive from downtown Chicago. Though it had incredible bones and magnificent period details, the dark wood–clad walls made the space feel a bit oppressive, despite massive windows throughout the 6,000-square-foot house. “There was just so much wood—the whole house was that color—so we immediately refinished a lot of the moldings in white, and it totally brightened up the space,” Mollen says.
Apart from lightening things up, Mollen—known for her studio’s collection of bold geometric print wallcoverings and fabrics—set out to create a colorful, contemporary home that maintained the century-old house’s original character and could evolve with her growing family—which now includes the couple’s newborn daughter. “There are so many special elements of the original house that, to some people, would feel like a lot, but my husband and I just love all the details.”
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