Toledo Geller at the 2018 Metro Designer Showhouse

Large expanses of glass and super clean lines are what make so many of the prestigious river side building like the beautiful Glass House very desirable. Putting our brand’s luxuriously livable stamp on the modern apartment in under four weeks was the challenge ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME magazine presented us with when they graciously invited us to be a part of the 2018 Metro Designer Showhouse.

Luckily, we got our start 12 years ago doing just that. While we love and appreciate modern design, a white box apartment can be too vanilla-y for our taste. Sometimes our projects had the budget to make a big impact with architectural details like millwork, or paneling, or molding, but oftentimes the budget just wasn’t there, so we infused our projects with that luxurious look through other means. Often that means wallpaper. We know what you’re thinking – Wallpaper! Gah! It’s the same reaction we get from a lot of clients (a lot!) But if you look at our portfolio you’ll barely see a painted wall, so we are always able to convince our clients of the benefits to wallpaper. Why the strong reaction to wallpaper? Sometimes it’s the connotation of a bold and wild pattern you saw in your Grandma’s house in the 60s or 70s (We’re not going for pattern 75% of the time – it’s all about the TEXTURE). Sometimes It’s the fear of commitment (But, if you’re planning out a design, aren’t you committing to everything?). And sometimes it’s the price tag (it’s not always expensive, and a good paint job can be just as costly, especially if you have to repair the walls in any way).

So, that brings us to what we consider one of the most important elements in our Showhouse design – the wallpaper! We chose a subtle pattern (did we say 75% of the time we don’t use pattern?) from Osborne and Little to transform the main living room – and yes, while there is a stripe and some etchings, so It’s a pattern, it’s very understated.  It has a hand drawn quality to it that makes It so soft and the vertical element in the design only plays up the high ceilings in the apartment and has been noticed by many of our showhouse visitors and potential buyers.

Did you know that at Showhouses, designers are often at the mercy of what vendors and manufacturers will let us beg, borrow and steal? This Showhouse is a little different because we were paired with furniture retailer Pera Design. Their bevy of modern Italian brand lines were a great fit for the architecture of our apartment. The challenge here was to incorporate almost all pieces of furniture from Pera Design, but of course we had to give it the Toledo Geller look – one that we’ve crafted over a decade. Our look has been described as “modern-ish” but it is definitely not “modern.” We are not the ones to shy away from a challenge, though, so we took this one on with excitement. We poured through the items that would be available for us to use and selected those that read like liveable luxury. Our absolute favorite piece is the showstopper credenza with it’s reeded design and the mix of black, walnut and gold. Bam!

We softened the cleaner lines with exquisite area rugs. We turned to Tibetano, one of our favorite rug vendors, and our neighbor in Englewood, for all three area rugs. We were immediately drawn to the Moroccan rug in the living room because of it’s twist on the ever-popular style. This one incorporates black as the accent instead of chocolate brown. A minute detail, but one that got us excited (it’s the little things in life that matter!). The master bedroom rug is so chic with it’s heathered wool and the whipstitch border (have we mentioned we relish in the small details?) The study rug is crafted from blue leather squares quilted together and while quilting is typically thought of as a very traditional technique, the leather here completely reinvents the look.  

Window treatments are offset in the living room and bedroom, creating the illusion that they can be drawn all the way.  That’s our expert tip for you to takeaway; the windows are not centered in the rooms so if you simply hang a pair of curtains on either side you’ll be calling attention to the asymmetry in the room. By stacking a fuller drapery panel on the side with more wall surface you will create balance in the room. The window treatments in the living room use a Lacefield fabric and were sewn and hung by CMI Interiors using the high tack pleat style, which is a less traditional look. The drapery panels in the bedroom are ready-made drapes by Bunakara, a Portugeuse designer that we adore. Ready for another expert tip? When using a ready-made drape we look for one with something to it, like the black stitch details you see in these. And, we hung three drapes right next to one another to get a wide fullness to recreate the fullness one gets from custom drapery.

We commissioned the outstanding Jerry Teters of Teters Art to paint the beautiful canvases in all three rooms. Art is a critical part in interior design and is what makes a home come to life. His work is so layered that it’s beautiful to admire it from a distance, but truly spectacular to view from up close. You might think you’re looking at a certain color, but upon investigation you’ll see that you got to that color from layering it on top of many others.

Because art is so subjective and everyone’s taste is so personal it really tells the story of who you are and what you love. With some of the edgy art that we curated alongside Shannon Bonifas Art Advisory you can almost begin to tell a narrative about the person who lives here. What do you think the origami dollar bills hung in the dining area says about this home owner? And who works in the office with the strong female portraits?

Crafting the right lighting can be magical, so we layered ambient lighting throughout: from the modern sputnik style bedroom pendant and carrara marble table lamps from Renwil, to the green felt bedside lamps and dining pendant by Pablo Designs to the more traditional reading lamp and blue ceramic desk lamp.

Have we mentioned we love details? It’s what makes the ordinary extraordinary and the bedding by Designers Guild exemplifies this. The crisp white linens are accentuated with a unique double flange and don’t even get us started on the tiny tufting detail in the coverlet. We just about went to designer heaven when we saw that special touch.

And finally, the step that is often overlooked but really can’t be – the accessorizing. A project is never complete without that final layer. One thing we hear time and again from our clients during the interview process is that their home has never felt “done,” even though many of them have worked with interior designers before. Our firm takes that very seriously so we are sure to sprinkle in personal touches throughout our client’s homes. We gather anything that might be able to be put on display (even if it’s something untraditional, and in fact, that’s even better), and while working with our clients over the course of several months we naturally learn about them and what makes them tick, where they’ve traveled and how they like things organized so that we can give them this turnkey service. It’s pretty normal for our clients to call us months and even years later asking for approval to add an accessory to the home, or what color Le Creuset teapot they should put atop the stove.

Thanks for taking a virtual tour with us, and we hope that if you’re local you will stop by to see our Showhouse and the other designer’s apartments as well!


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