Bright Chinoiserie Classic on Chicago's North Shore

The suburbs of Chicago, particularly the northern suburbs hugging Lake Michigan, are chock-full of some of the most lovely residential architecture in the country. Wonderful, sprawling, estate homes, many from the late 1800s to the early 1940s, dot the acreage by the shore for 30 some-odd miles up the coast from the city. Many of these homes are tudor revival style, which are lovely, but have always scared me -- tudor homes can veer very dark and moody. However, this Winnetka, IL tudor revival home, decorated by Ruthie Sommers is light-filled, bright, and bursting with peppy preppy style. Let's have a look!


A classic, early 20th tudor revival home. The subdued, understated exterior, although lovely, gives no hints at the colorful Chinoiserie style within!


The wide yet shallow foyer is handled with complete ease and lack of pretension.The large scale buttercup yellow wallpaper transitions easily up the stairs and echoes the similarly scaled pattern painted on the floor.

How do I love this living room? Let me count the ways. Dentil mouldings abound, skirted round table dividing the long space, green velvet sofas with bullion fringe, giant brass palm tree lamp, and, oh yeah, scalloped and flared hipped pelmets. And all against unstoppably peppy sunshine yellow walls.

A closer view of the seating area in front of the fireplace reveals beautiful millwork surrounding the mantelpiece and greek key tape trim on the sofa cushions (causing my death!).

Ah yes, the green Gracie wallpaper of my dining room dreams! But I wouldn't have been bold enough to pair it with candy pink upholstered seats (with contrasting tape and nailhead trim, mind you) and pale turquoise trim to make my heart flutter! Excellent sense shown in leaving that leaded window well enough alone too - no curtains, no paint, no nothing, just let that bad boy shine.

The red lacquer library with its sleek black accents is classic Chicago to me. Mirrored inset panels, and a curvy striped lambrequin push this clubby space over the top.

Guess what everybody? I love me a honey colored knotty pine. I don't care if it's stodgy and kind of 90s - I love it! Especially when its millwork-ed (is that a verb? It should be) to perfection with attached columns, framed panels and fluted pilasters in this fabulous family room. The country vibe of the knotty pine tones down the formal elements of the millwork and gives this room undeniable coziness. Separately, that blue, red, and orange Suzani is killing it. Also, tape trim roman shades. Double also, bouncy white Ming style coffee table. Ok, let's move on or I'll be here all day.

Fancy-pants Zuber wallpaper in this downstairs bathroom. Because if you're not going nuts in the first floor powder room, you've missed the point.

The sitting ares of the master bedroom is a little like what I imagine the inside of the tea pot where the mouse lives in Alice in Wonderland is like. Do you guys follow me on that? Hand painted Chinoiserie wallpaper in sky blue is dotted with butterflies, as two candy pink sofas with white welting and pleated skirts face off politely. And let's paint the insides of those built-in shelves in the window nooks peach just because we can!

The opposite side of the master bedroom houses the bed, completey with acid green floral canopy cascading down from a mahogany corona (and matching bed skirt, natch). I'm obsessed with those chartreuse silk draperies trimmed out in multi-colored pompoms, and the watermelon velvet bench with lucite legs adds some nice mod punctuation.

The candy striped master bathroom in pink and cream is fit for a queen. And the mirrored pagoda lantern is the perfect Chinoiserie pop in this uber femme space.

This upstairs sitting room is as close to "neutral" as we're getting around here with milk chocolate brown walls and the ubiquitous (because it's great) Stark Antelope rug. The shades of brown and tan really ground the pastel pinks and greens as well, so this space reads more cozy than candy.

A son's room is anglo-tastic in cobalt blue with a geometric Hicks style rug, crenelated valances, monogramed bedspread, and menswear plaid x-benches. A handsome highboy grounds this space and gives it a bit of grown-up manliness.

A daughter's bedroom is similarly formulated with a pair of beds with monogramed coverlets, and shapely valances revealing matching roman shades. The palate of crisp pale blue, lime, and lemon is a pure sugary citrus teat.

Tucked in the third floor eaves, this guest bedroom is wonderfully enveloping with blue and brown birds and branches making a tranquil spot for any overnight visitor. Also, I see you tiny zebra chair sassing it up under the window.

When you're up in the third floor eaves, you'd better take that crazy wallpaper all the way up! The  brown colorway of the Vase paper from Clarence House looks great in this girly hangout, accented with white and pink. How perfect are those fretwork chairs nestled around the games table? Such a fun spot to escape to.

It's worth noting that this awesome house (which is now for sale  - these are the listing photos) looks quite different from the pictures on Ruthie Sommers' website, and even a bit different from when it was featured in Town & Country Magazine about five years ago. Not matter how "done" a home may seem when installed, the best designs can still grow and change with a family over a relatively short time. Now when can I move in?