A native of London, England, Dr. Shazia Khan is elegant by nature, with an affinity for afternoon tea, formal entertaining, and graceful, well-appointed interiors. But she’s also a busy mom to four young children in a family known for hosting elaborate parties for friends and kids of all ages.
Is it possible to have it all under one roof?
With the help of Barrington builder Mark Cornwall of Grand Traditions Homes and Kate Marker Interiors, Dr. Khan says she got everything she had hoped for and more.
The nearly 10,000 square foot South Barrington home, situated on the edge of a private airstrip once owned by the late Bill Rose, is luxurious, but sturdy. A formal living room doubles for cocktail parties and reading time for the Khan children. The kitchen is bright and airy, opening to a spacious family room and eating area, all perfect for hosting large family parties and neighborhood gatherings.
“Both Mark and Kate really helped a lot with our home. We wanted a place that was peaceful,” says Dr. Khan, a doctor of internal medicine who met her cardiologist husband, Dr. Mohammed Khan, while doing a residency at a hospital in Cleveland. “With four kids, there is so much chaos in our day-to-day life. I look around here every day and I feel the peace and tranquility. I love it.”
The Khans were already living in South Barrington when they decided to build a bigger house in The Glen. They wanted a place where the family of six could live comfortably with enough space to host visiting family members. Completed in June 2015, the home has six bedrooms upstairs on the top two floors and additional guest space in the 2,500-square foot lower level.
“We have a very large extended family, and we love to entertain,” Dr. Khan says. “Our neighborhood parties often include 50 to 100 people, when you include adults and kids. Everything we do is family-friendly.”
The house itself incorporates such distinct architectural details as a wood plank ceiling, wood beams reclaimed from a barn in Wisconsin, glass cloth wall coverings, and wood plank floors that are lightly stained and lend to the Zen ambiance. Sliding barn doors add character and flexibility throughout the home. And the lower level has been customized with special features created with the Khan children and their young friends in mind—including a secret “Hobbit room” play area with a leaded glass window and a deluxe movie screening room, complete with leather theater seats.
“We love hosting Friday night movie nights with our friends and their kids,” Dr. Khan says.
As the home was being completed, Marker was brought in to help decorate the upper two levels. Dr. Khan says most of the major decisions came from the floor up—literally.
“Collaborating with Kate, we picked the rugs together for each room and she designed everything else around it,” she says, explaining that Houshi Mouradi from Rugport in Palatine brought a selection of imported rugs to her home for her to “live with” for a few days before making a final decision. Once the rugs were chosen for each space, Marker would choose wall coverings and window treatments that were complementary.
“Rugs are an investment, not just for a family but for generations to come,” explains Marker. “Selecting a rug is selecting a future heirloom in a way. The rug styles selected for Shazia’s home blend with a traditional, transitional, or modern space, so even as furnishing trends or family needs and tastes change, these high-quality rugs becomes more beautiful as the years pass. The muted and neutral color palettes will always blend beautifully.”
The collaboration continued, with Marker and Cornwell working closely to make sure each room in the house has its own look and feel but flow together in harmony.
A long, wide foyer anchors all first-floor spaces with custom built-ins that house Dr. Khan’s tea pot collection from around the world, Moroccan pots, and other Arabic artifacts collected on travels. At the end of the long corridor hangs a holy cloth from the al-Haram Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
“It is my most coveted piece. A friend brought this to us. It was gifted to the families who help maintain the sacred mosque,” says Dr. Khan, explaining that her parents and her husband’s parents are both originally from India. “I thought about putting it in a frame, but when you think about all the people who travel to Mecca just to touch this sacred cloth, I wanted visitors to be able to feel it.”
Marker says being able to incorporate such rare personal collections and unique touches helped raise the sophistication of the home while keeping furniture, fabric choices, and other accessories more resilient and kid-friendly.
“Shazia loves a little sparkle and glam,” Marker explains. “We wanted it to be soothing but not overly feminine, thus the subdued neutral tones with little touches of metallic or fine textures to complement the color palette and add depth through texture and shine.”
Hues of blue and rose are present throughout, carrying upstairs to a high-ceiling family study painted with rich “Inchyra Blue” paint by Farrow & Ball.
In contrast, continued use of light wood grounds the spaces and adds an organic element. No detail was overlooked in the process—right down to a custom doorbell straight out of Downton Abbey.
“I can’t resist the little English details,” Dr. Khan confesses. “My family moved to Detroit when I was 3, but it’s still a part of who I am.”
With the lower-level entertaining space complete, the next project will be finishing the patio and backyard landscaping. Dr. Khan says she looks forward to large neighborhood gatherings outside this summer.
“I have a lot of friends who have nice homes, but I don’t feel comfortable taking my kids there,” she adds. “I want my home to be nice but it also needs to be durable and kid-friendly. I just can’t say enough good things about Mark and Kate and how they accomplished this for us. They’ve been so wonderful.”