Our Annual Gift to You: Our Treasured Secret Sources


Image: Jessica Lagrange Interiors

All luxury interior designers have their trusted secret sources who produce or restore extraordinary furnishings, decorative treatments and accessories. We take this practice to a new level and take great delight in scouring Chicago and beyond to find these artisans and craftspeople. Central to our search is the vetting process to make sure their work meets the high standards we set in our luxury interior design practice. While most of these suppliers are to the trade only, some welcome business from the public. To thank those that are willing to be shared for their brilliant work—and you…our clients, readers and friends—here is our fourth annual list of treasured secret sources, updated with several fabulous new additions. We highly recommend everyone on this list! But remember the concept of caveat emptor, or “buyer beware;” if you have a business relationship with them directly and issues arise, know that we cannot intervene.

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Images: MCM Fine Framing

Art Services: Museum-quality frames cost dearly—more so if they’re archival or feature UV-blocking glass. And framing can be confusing; what style, material and border widths to use? MCM Fine Framing is an incredible go-to source for beautiful, fairly priced and cost-effective frames in every decorative style and with every feature an artwork requires. They’re also the place to go when a piece has “special needs” that other frame shops can’t fulfill. Their client list reads like a “Who’s Who” of Chicago’s art world. (MCM Fine Framing; www.mcmfineframing.com; 2019 N. Damen Ave., Chicago; 773-252-7525) Bill Dougherty has solutions (often for the top Chicago artists who use him for their work), whether the piece is paint, paper, textiles or sculpture. He also builds large-scale 3-D box frames and custom pedestals. (Bill Dougherty Studio; billdstudio@gmail.com; 1907 N. Mendell St. 112-B, Chicago; 312-208-5190) Before you frame anything made on paper—maps, etchings, drawings, documents, watercolors or photos—it may need restoration (often a must to prevent further damage). Paper conservator Jackleen Leary trained at the Chicago Conservation Center and has worked wonders on whole series of etchings, wood blocks and prints we have mounted in clients’ homes. (Paper Restoration & Conservation; www.ireparipaper.com; jackleen@irepairpaper.com; 708-771-5607) When it comes to hanging art, from a single work to salon-style grouping, art installer David Kargl, a fine artist in his own right, is our go-to guy. He excels in problem solving, from installation geography (what to put where or how to craft the perfect gallery wall) to how to work with difficult surfaces. For example, one resourceful solution he developed for us is a wood mount he created so we could attach a major piece of art to a mirrored wall. (David Kargl, kargl@att.net; 312-550-1836)


Image: Jessica Lagrange Interiors

Keeping Things Clean: When we install upholstered pieces, window treatments and carpets, we call on Fabric Life to “seal” these luxury textiles, a process that keeps dirt at bay and protects them from UV rays and wear. (Fabric Life; https://fabriclife.com/; 800-266-7023) For cleaning challenges, as well as expert pressing, steaming and renewal of furniture, drapery and pillows, we head to Davis Imperial Cleaners. All the substances they use are hypoallergenic, odorless, don't leave residue or cause discoloration—and they know how to work with the high-end, and often tricky, fibers that are used to fabricate these textiles. (Davis Imperial Cleaners; http://www.davisimperial.com/; 3325 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Chicago; 866-267-4560) For cleaning carpets and rugs, plus disaster restoration from spills, floods, fires and moths, we call on Mathew Klujian and Sons. (Mathew Klujian and Sons; https://klujianrugs.com; 1421 W. Devon Ave., Chicago; 773-743-1300)

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Images: Simes Studios

Decorative Painting: The ancient art of decorative painting is alive and well in Chicago thanks to Simes Studios. Fine artists Cindy and Jorge Simes know every decorative application and technique in the book—from gilding, glazing and marbleizing to working with Venetian plaster and églomisé—and are experts at dealing with every medium (be it walls, floors, mirrors, furniture or textiles). (Simes Studios; 1809 W. Webster Ave., Ste. 200, Chicago; https://simesstudios.com/; simes@simesstudios.com; 773-327-7101). Faux painter Amanda Rieb transforms furniture and walls through a repertoire of special decorative finishes such as crackle, glazing, metallic leafs, marbleizing, wood graining and more. She also emulates finishes found in nature, from tortoise to stones. She studied at the respected Lorenzo de’Medici University in Florence; is a licensed Gold Label Faux Effects pro; uses the highest quality products available; and is constantly adding new finishes and techniques to her repertoire. (Friends of Faux; www.friendsoffaux.net; Amanda.Rieb@gmail.com; 773-899-3101)


Image: Oggetti Veneziani

Fabric Applications; Pillows, Drapes, Shades & Accessories: Artisans who make exquisitely crafted decorative accessories such as pillows, throws and more—the extras that make life visually richer, more tactile and luxurious—are incredibly hard to find. With an impeccably crafted collection of pillows, lampshades, bedcovers, runners, benches and wooden frames, Barbara Rapattoni keeps alive the ancient textile traditions she fell in love with in her adopted city of Venice. She personally selects all the materials and textiles she uses, and has a penchant for using Fortuny fabrics in her pieces. (Oggetti Veneziani; https://www.oggettiveneziani.com/en/, oggetti.veneziani@gmail.com; Venezia, Italy, +39 333-6630-652) Here in Chicago, Lynda O’Connor collects antique and vintage textiles from around the world and turns them into pillows and throws. She also takes on custom work that might show off favorite trims. (Textures; www.textures4home.com; 2041 W. Grand Ave., Chicago; 312-576-6200) For custom drapes, roman shades, pillows, cushions and more made out of textiles from some of the most revered sources in the design industry (think Schumacher, Clarence House, Kelly Wearstler and more), visit Lynn Chalk’s Etsy shop. (LynnChalk; Etsy) Closer to home, Fishman’s Fabrics has an extensive interiors department featuring many of the same textiles you can find in the Merchandise Mart, at lower than showroom prices. This 116-year old textile purveyor also has a vetted list of sources of their own and will refer customers for upholstery, bedding and drapery services. (Fishman’s Fabrics; http://www.fishmansfabrics.com/; 1101 S. Desplaines St., Chicago; 312-922-7250)

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Images: Villa Savoia

Fabric Applications; Custom Embroidery: For a bespoke touch, we add custom embroidery to textiles and upholstery to transform them from pedestrian to spectacular with the help of Michael Savoia. He earned a Master in Fine Arts in weaving and textile design, and designs and executes custom embroidery for curtains, upholstery, bedding and pillows—sometimes embellished with delicate beads and shimmering paillettes. He also imports fine linen textiles. (Villa Savoia; www.villasavoia.us; 89 Eddy St., Providence, RI; 401-277-9900)

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Images: Asrai Garden

Floral Finds: We’ve used many fine florists over the years, but this year we discovered Asrai Garden. Although Chicago retailer (for they carry so much more than just floral offerings) just turned 20 years old and has two locations (West Loop and Wicker Park), they are new to us. And we are so impressed with their service, floral arrangements and commitment to sustainability (much of their stock comes from four different local growers who are all highlighted on their site). (Asrai Garden; https://www.asraigarden.com/; 309 N. Morgan St., Chicago, 312-344-1467; 1935 W. North Ave., Chicago, 773-782-0680)


Image: Jessica Lagrange Interiors

Furniture Remedies: Furniture workshops are among every interior design team’s most closely guarded secrets. And because furniture is the backbone of every project we do at JLI, we are rigorous when we vet our sources, be it for faux painting or repair and restoration work. A.H. Self Furniture Service specializes in furniture repairs of every type. That means spot finishing and repairing scratches, dings, gouges, cracks, French polishing and even the parts of a piece that don’t show, such as drawer glides, motion hardware and more. They match stain hues, grains, patterns, textures and sheens. Best of all, they will work on location if a piece is too large to move. (A.H. Self Furniture Service; https://www.ahself.com/; victoria@ahself.com; 847-485-8858) Covers Unlimited can revive upholstered chairs, sofas, chaises and ottomans with revamped styling and different textiles or leather. This family business also crafts covers to protect outdoor furniture, and repairs and rebuilds frames, refinishes wood and refurbishes leather to bring back its original patina. (Covers Unlimited; https://www.coversunlimitedinc.com/; 6328 Oakton St., Morton Grove; 312-492-7860) Finishes by Partida, another luxury design source and family business, focuses on renewing, restoring and repairing wood furniture, cabinetry, and doors and can add new luster to silver and gold leaf and bronze surfaces—a skill that’s hard to find and greatly appreciated in our business. (Finishes by Partida; https://www.finishesbypartida.com/; 3300 W. 48th Pl., Chicago, 630-863-9350) Favorite furniture should be lovingly used rather than just viewed, which means it periodically needs repair or restoration, especially centuries-old antiques. European-trained furniture conservator Kristopher Kwasny is our go-to-guy to recreate carving when parts are missing or “magically” remove watermarks and scratches. (Kristopher’s Furniture Service LLC; mrsour@sbcglobal.net; 2416 W. Barry Ave., Chicago; 773-972-3882)


Image: Jayson DeGeeter

Garden Design: Talented garden designers can make outdoor spaces not just visually delightful, but also a place for relaxing, entertaining, alfresco dining and growing your own fabulous edibles. Jayson DeGeeter, who has designed and planted some of Michigan Avenue's most dazzling medians, sees his role as forging relationships between clients and their environments to produce personal art that yields joyful sights and scents. (Jayson DeGeeter; www.jaysondegeeter.com; Chicago; 312-608-3657) Deirdre Toner, known for her lush and sustainable landscapes and exceptional plant materials, is gaining attention for restoring large native sites. She's also our muse for perennial gardens, seasonal containers and healing gardens with soothing waters and aromatic plantings. (D.T. Design LLC; www.dt-landscapedesign.com; Old Mill Creek; 847-338-2963)


Image: Riohamilton.com

Household Upkeep. All of our clients occasionally need a handyman, housekeeping help or organizing services—and we do too. This year I used professional organizer Lori Lehman to orchestrate a move from my home of 30 years, and our team was so impressed with her work—which ranges from staging homes and moves to organizing and deaccessioning furniture, clothing and collectibles—that she has become one of the trusted consultants on our team. Among her biggest strengths is rid of the old judiciously and profitably, and making the best use of storage spaces. (PS Lehman; https://www.pslehman.com/; lori@pslehman.com; 773-882-2242) Paint JAR Inc. vets maintenance and service professionals to do everything from painting to renovating, and the more nitty-gritty tasks of installing hardware; replacing faucets, batteries and light bulbs; and more. Handyman services cost $85 per hour; painting is $55 per hour; and both require a minimum of $150. (Paint JAR Inc.; www.jarcorp.net; info@jarcorp.net; 847-926-9476) For those who need to channel a little Downton Abbey cachet, staffing agency Louer fills the myriad needs of luxury homeowners with house managers, personal assistants, housekeepers, butlers, nannies, private chefs and drivers. (Louer, https://louerstaffing.com/)


Lampshades, Nightlights, Finials & Trays: Susan Schneider, the proprietor of Shandell’s in Sheffield, MA, uses exuberant vintage wallpaper and marbled papers and shibori-dyed fabrics she makes herself to craft lampshades, nightlights, tissue boxes, decoupaged glass trays and lamp finials that look like fine jewelry (she calls them lamp candy). (Shandell’s; http://shandells.com; thingsthatmakeyousmile@gmail.com; 500 S. Main St., Sheffield, MA, 413.248.1063)


Image: besselink.com

Lighting Revival: Lamps are a functional and decorative essential we can't live without in the world of luxury interiors. Fortunately, we don't have to. ARCHistoric, dating back to 1923 when Chicago was a lighting hub and now owned by Tom Stemen, restores historic lighting, manufactures decorative lighting and fabricates custom lampshades to best reveal light’s special glow. (ARCHistoric Products; www.archistoric.com; 2444 W. 16th St, Chicago; 312-829-6290) For shaky harps, missing finials, outdated shades or worn wiring that needs upgrading to meet American UL standards—all common dilemmas with lamps—we head to A Lamp + Fixture Shoppe in Chicago or The Lamp Shader in Glenview. Both meet our lamp needs with a surfeit of shades—often from options that are in stock so we don't have to wait weeks for a custom order—and in-house lamp "doctors" who can update wiring, retrofit European lights and reconstruct chandeliers. (A Lamp and Fixture; https://www.alampandfixture.com/; 3181 N. Elston Ave., Chicago; 773-866-0220) (The Lamp Shader; http://www.thelampshader.com/; 1710 MacLean Ct., Glenview; 847-998-1220)


Image: Katonah Architectural Hardware

Hardware Help: Great choices abound for those who hope to restore, fix or trade up hardware. We revere Al Bar Wilmette Platers for its impeccable service and craftsmanship in fixing and restoring historic and new finishes such as lacquer, wax and powder coating. They also work wonders restoring lamps and chandeliers, refurbishing locks, plating new hardware to match historic versions and replacing parts. We’re lucky enough to have several comprehensive sources for new decorative hardware in Chicago. (Al Bar Wilmette Platers; http://www.albarwilmette.com/; 127 Green Bay Rd., Wilmette; 847-251-0187) The Nanz Company, a national manufacturer of handles, hinges and locks in finishes that range from pewter to nickel, brass, gold and verdigris, has a Chicago showroom that is by appointment only. (The Nanz Company; https://www.nanz.com/; 312-324-3105) Katonah Architectural Hardware at the Merchandise Mart is a custom designer and fabricator of door, cabinet and window hardware as well as lighting and grilles in traditional, contemporary, and period styles. (Katonah Architectural Hardware; Merchandise Mart, Ste. 163, Chicago; 312-670-1313) With dozens of the home design industry’s most respected brands under one roof, Studio 41 Home Design Showroom caters to contractors, builders, remodelers, designers and consumers with fixtures and hardware for kitchens and baths, as well as windows and doors. Also, it is now home to the decorative hardware lines of the legendary purveyor Clark & Barlow. (Studio 41; https://www.shopstudio41.com/; 225 W. Hubbard St., Chicago; 312-321-5900)

27 Dec 2019

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