Shelley Johnstone Paschke is a woman who needs no introduction. The Chicago area interior designer is nationally renowned and sought after by clients worldwide. So, we were especially thrilled to see the design diva’s own Lake Forest home featured in the May issue of House Beautiful. Inspired by Paschke’s flair for bringing luxurious interior touches to her villa-like exterior decor, we asked her if she would share a few design secrets with Country. Always generous with her time and talents, she agreed.
Your pool and surrounding grounds look like a Mediterranean villa on the Italian coast. You mentioned in the House Beautiful feature that the pink towels were inspired by your visits to Capri’s La Fontelina Beach Club. What other details are Capri influenced? The colors and enjoying family and food are definitely inspired by Capri. Long lazy days with meals served on linen tablecloths with a fun mix of ceramic dishes and objects, rattan chairs, colored water glasses, and striped towels reminiscent of La Fontelina Beach Club, and all the beautiful hotels and restaurants on the island. We wanted to bring that lifestyle into our home.
How do you choose fabrics and materials that look fabulous and yet endure the elements? The cushions for the larger pieces of furniture are all covered using a Sunbrella outdoor fabric. The smaller decorative pillows are put under the covered awning or pool house when it rains. I mix up the pillows a lot and use everything! Some of the decorative pillows are custom made using Manuel Canovas fabric while others are by Roberta Roller Rabbit or Madeline Weinrib.
Tell us about the blue and white pots and the ornate white lanterns. The blue and white pots were purchased at a local garden center years ago and are only valuable because they are harder to find in that size and pattern. They are left outside for the entire season and can endure the elements. Same with the blue and white garden stools and all other furniture. The lanterns are all for outdoor use as well and have battery operated candles that all come on as the sun descends into the horizon.
There are several “rooms” in your outdoor living area. How did you approach creating these spaces? I created different sitting areas based upon how we wanted to use this outdoor space. Sitting in the pool house, one can lounge and even nap on the sofa and be out of the sun or rain. We have different places for dining based on how many people we are entertaining and if we want to be in the sun or shade. The covered awning space is perfect for reading and is quiet because it is a bit away from the activity of the pool. Like rooms inside the home, each space can be used differently but the design flows together cohesively.
What have you learned over the years about what works and what doesn’t for outdoor entertaining? I have all my things accessible and easy to grab to set a table in minutes. Everything works together both inside and outside and I use it all. My advice is to have fun, enjoy, and make it easy.