Inside Kara Mann’s Rock-and-Roll Chicago Home ⇒ The Chicago residence of designer Kara Mann is the perfect balance of elegance and luxury, with a touch of rock-and-roll. The Gold Coast apartment, from the 1920’s, was originally designed by famed local architect, Andrew Rebori.
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Since launching her residential design firm in 2005, the established designer—known for dramatic yet approachable spaces with an eclectic mix of materials—has done some high-profile projects, yet when it comes to her idea of home, her native Windy City is something of a magnetic force. “I have lived in many different cities during the course of my life and there is something about the dynamism of Chicago that always draws me back,” says Mann.
“I tend to love more classic architecture for myself to live in, so I knew I wanted something that had character and age,” she recalls. This property checked all the right boxes. “It’s just so unique for Chicago. I felt like I had hit the jackpot,” she says.
Mann was eager to give some love and attention to the unit, which hadn’t been updated 40 years, and she started the adjustments almost immediately. Mann added a powder room and utility room, she also merged a former maid’s quarters and galley kitchen to create an airy cooking and entertaining space overlooking the building’s romantic central courtyard.
Original details like checkerboard marble tile floors, leaded glass windows, and rich, dark woodwork merely required some careful restoration.
Mann’s habit of collecting art and furniture pieces, then inadvertently sacrificing them for clients’ projects, made the task of furnishing the home lengthier than intended—“It’s like how the shoemaker’s children never have shoes…” she jokes—but the finished product is marked by her curated and thoughtfully layered collection, which makes each room feel at once fresh and classic, edgy and elegant, seductive and sophisticated.
Opposing aesthetics cohabit in perfect harmony in the apartment, which speaks to the designer’s view of Chicago. “This city has soul,” says Mann. “Yes, the winters are extreme, the summers are extreme, but here we are on this majestic body of water. A city and nature, side by side. There is an incredible duality here.”
As her career evolves, Mann continues to make her mark on the city. She lent her talents to the revitalization of the historic Talbott Hotel last year, and she’s even shifting the Chicago skyline through her work on architect Helmut Jahn’s 1000M, a new luxury tower on South Michigan Avenue that will boost her interior layouts and signature decor.
The balance of old and new, classic and contemporary persists in her personal and professional lives. “I love when there is a tension between two opposing things—materiality, colour, texture—that comes up in my work again and again,” says Mann.
ART OF CARVING IS ALL ABOUT SHAPING A REALM OF DIVERSE POSSIBILITIES
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Source: Architectural Digest