Home For the Holidays with Designer Dan Rak

For Chicago-based interior designer Dan Rak the holidays have always been his favorite time of year. Never mind the Chicago weather, cold, snow and traffic! He embraces the festive nature of the season and taking the time to celebrate with family and friends. Each year, Rak hosts a jubilant gathering in his city-chic home to celebrate the season in high style. With his typical razor-sharp precision Dan tends to every detail from the décor, menu and tablescape; bringing in a bartender to make sure the drinks keep flowing and having a world-class meal for his guests to enjoy. It’s become an event that guests look forward to each year (almost as much as he does!).

While persuing his gorgeous holiday images, I checked in with Dan to discover his Midwest industrial-chic décor tips:

Don’t be afraid of large-scale ornaments. When decorating a tree, I start with large (8″-10″ diameter) ornaments to fill gaps in the spaces between the boughs. I’ll use more toward the bottom of the tree and just one or two towards the top.

I love mixing organic elements with classic crystal and china, it gives the setting an authentic vibe that is warm and welcoming. I do have a tendency to like a very orderly tabletop! So I keep the do-dads to a minimum, after all, it’s about the guests and the meal. A stunning setting is the best supporting actor in this theatre.

Have multiple trees in your home, and put some thought into your color palette ahead of time. When creating a holiday decor concept, I always start with the color palette of the room as it exists all year. The best results happen when the seasonal decor coordinates seamlessly with the other colors in the room. Don’t be afraid to work with non-traditional holiday colors in putting your palette together. Blues, purples, and oranges can look great (as just as festive as traditional green and red!).

Everything, as always, is more festive with champagne!


Home décor and interiors aside, I also checked in with Dan to chat about some of his favorite holiday traditions and what’s what in the Windy City!

Christine – OK, when you curl up at the end of a hectic day prepping for Christmas, what’s in your DVD player (streaming)?
Dan -The Holiday with Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet. It’s a sappy rom-com, but I love it and watch it a couple of times per year.

Christine – Time to dress up! Who is your go-to fashion designer for holiday attire?
Dan – I love anything Ted Baker. Also, I love the brand Theory. Clean and simple shapes, luxe fabrics, and great drape.

Christine – Let’s talk playlist, what’s filling the air at Casa Rak during Christmas?
Dan – When it comes to music I truly am a traditional guy, no funky remixes for me. When I’m relaxing with guests I don’t want to be jolted into oblivion! Let’s spin this….
Bing Crosby – White Christmas
Andy Williams – It’s the most wonderful time of the year
Jose Feliciano – Feliz Navidad
Natalie Cole – Caroling, Caroling
Tony Bennet- My Favorite Things

Christine – Now, for my personal favorite topic….What is your favorite holiday cocktail?
Dan – I’m a year-round vodka/soda or gin and tonic guy. I have never been into exotic cocktails, but for holiday time I do add a splash of cranberry for color and garnish with a sprig of rosemary- you’d be surprised what a hit those drinks are with guests!

Christine – OK, so when your entertaining is over and you are ready to relax, where is your favorite restaurant destination during the holidays in Chi-town?
Dan – There’s a restaurant in Lakeview called Wilde. I love going during the holidays. It has deep toned wood paneling, multiple fireplaces and the holiday decor is amazing. It’s a great Friday night burger and beer spot.


ABOUT DAN RAK | Chicago-based interior designer Dan Rak has become known for his unique style and ability to create individually tailored interiors that are both sophisticated and livable. Dan’s work has won multiple awards and has been published in a variety of regional and national publications. The team is currently working on projects throughout the Chicagoland area as well as select projects nationwide. Dan’s first line of furniture, a collaboration with California-based ModShop, is expected to launch in early 2019.

ABOUT CRISTINE PHILLIPS | Christine Phillips is a public relations, marketing, licensing and design expert specializing in the field of interiors with a splash of fashion. Phillips began her cross-platform career in Chicago where she worked on fashion shows, advertising campaigns, photography sets and showroom design, revamping luxury retail spaces on Michigan Avenue. In early 2005, Phillips created her own firm, Viola!~ PR and Design, a one-stop shop for high-end design implementation/branding/marketing/event planning/licensing negotiations and new business development strategies with high-end interior design projects rounding out the mix.

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