Asian Influenced Interior Design on the Northshore

Dear friends,

The homeowner’s goal of modifying the exterior of a traditional Cape Cod home to resemble an entry to Myanmar’s (formerly known as Burma) 2,600 year-old Shwedagon Pagoda was accomplished with assistance from Chicago area architect Troy Mock. Three dormers were transformed into saddle roofs, typical elements of Thai and Burmese architecture. Area landscaper Rocco Fiore and Sons chose native Illinois plant material to achieve a lush setting that resembles plantings found in Southeast Asia.

The foyer’s pendant lantern is a metal‐wrapped custom piece from Phuket, Thailand. Peking glass, Chinese oxblood ceramics and cloisonné objets d’art found by John Robert Wiltgen Design introduce spots of color to a Chiang dynasty cabinet from Thailand. The mustard colored leather upholstery on the Christian Liagre’s Padd daybed adds warmth to the massive entry. So does Chicago artist Michelle‐Peterson‐Albandoz’s circa 2008 wood constructed diptych directly above.

The 50‐year‐old teak Monk sculpture, a Bangkok find, welcomes guests. His 19th century lacquered Burmese headerboard translates to “The woman is the heart of the home’’ – an endearing thought since most Asian art is male‐oriented.

An eclectic tapestry of textures, materials and colors give the living room a lively yet comfortable aura. A pair of round occasional tables designed by the Wiltgen team and crafted of bullhorn introduce a smidgen of sophisticated bling. The designers also found a pair of Picasso earthenware clay plates to flank the owners’ circa 1952 painting “Captured” by Chicago artist Miyoko Ito.

The verdant landscape dominates a living room conversation area. A hand-carved lacquered Thai bed became the coffee table adjacent to Christian Liaigre’s Ocean sofa. This is one of many upholstered pieces the Wiltgen Design team updated with new textiles that better integrate the home’s outdoor setting with the interior.

Chicago artist Cesar Conde’s 2010 painting, “Monk Piece,’’ added by the Wiltgen Design team helps weave the oxblood red color throughout the public spaces. The printed linen accent pillows echo the overall design’s organic connection to the exterior.

In the new design scheme, deep brown upholstery gives Christian Liagre club chairs solid prominence in the family room. They pull up to an existing table base that has been treated to a new red onyx top. “Images of Ta Prahm,’’ a photograph by Luca Tettoni came with the family from Cambodia. The patterning of the silver lamp base is repeated in the custom patterned rugs.

From his perch on a Chinoiserie chest, a 300‐year‐old Shan Buddha from Burma keeps watch in the elegantly minimalist dining room. His back is reflected in a mirror framed by the top of an ancient Sudan chair. The hammered platinum steel and wood dining table was combined with a set of Sergio Rodrigues dining chairs (Brazil, 1960) made from Jacaranda. A pair of lantern‐type chandeliers add a British Colonial touch.

In the newly designed master suite, a mirrored cabinet (that stores only shoes and handbags) reflects the image of a huge silver leaf jungle painting from Costa Rica that one wall. The exotic Ikat print on the upholstered bed has ancient, ethnic roots.

Except for the tub and shower, the Wiltgen designers virtually gutted the master ensuite bath. A custom nine and half foot double vanity and a substantial pair of multi-horn rimmed mirrors update both the glamour and the function of the space.

The handsome horn-framed mirrors swing open to provide much needed storage in these custom-designed medicine cabinets.

A large mirror backed wood carving adds a touch of sparkle and intrigue above the master bath’s soaking tub while concealing an inappropriate marble mosaic that failed to enhance the space. Limestone baseboards, door and window casings were added to upgrade the bath, requiring less maintenance.

White-washed, rift-cut oak replaced the master closet’s original dark wood built-ins creating a lighter, brighter, and more efficient walk-in-closet.

The designers coordinated the textiles in this guest bedroom to compliment the client’s Burmese accent pieces and coconut base lamp.

“May your world be beautiful…”

There are 26 comments

  1. Kiyoko Binosi

    WOW!! John and Girls……I was transported (not hard for me to do) while looking at these photos.

    Residential Sales Office
    Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago

  2. Karen Schaffner

    thanks for keeping us on the list- this mimics our idea of a sensationally sophisticated , interesting and warm home that is eclectic and reflects the lives of the owners. You did a great job here. What a gem.

    Karen Schaffner

  3. Christine H. Negley

    Hi John,

    Thanks for sending the email. I forwarded the pictures around the office and absolutely everyone has responded with WOW!

    Christine H. Negley, CFP®
    First Vice President/Investments
    Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Inc.

  4. Isabel Mitchell

    Dear John:
    I’ve just opened your wonderful email about this installation. How wonderful the design is and how pleased I was to see Ambience represented in such a fabulous way. Many thanks for sending it. I hope that the Harvey’s vanity has arrived for them and that they are happy. I saw photos and it looked incredible.
    Best best regards,

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