If you can dream it, you can make it happen.
This is the life philosophy Victoria Lidstrom lives and works by. The Lake Bluff resident and interior designer/architect isn’t interested in the latest fads or luxury for the sake of excess. What she and her partner Carol Carani at Leggy Bird Designs have built their empire on is creating beautiful, yet functional spaces for people to live their best lives.
Stepping into Lidstrom’s own well-appointed abode (a picture perfect, powder pink beach house in east Lake Bluff) is like stepping into an artist’s laboratory. Elegant yet decadently comfortable, every detail is designed around the things that matter to this working mother—her 13-
year-old son, Arlo; visiting niece and nephew; her dog, Max Ranger; and the community she is proud to call her home.
“I designed it and built it around living there forever,” says Lidstrom, a Highland Park native who grew up with a father who built one-of-a-kind homes on the North Shore and northern suburbs. “One of my favorite things about Lake Bluff is whenever I go outside and go for a walk, I hear people on the front porch—forks clinking, having breakfast and talking. It’s such a lovely feeling, and made me feel so at ease and at home here.”
Playing on the property’s location along the route of the annual Lake Bluff Fourth of July parade, Lidstrom added multiple balconies in the front of the house just for “parade viewing”—creating the ultimate venue for large Independence Day celebrations.
The main living spaces evoke everything the designer envisioned when she called her business partner and long-time friend Carani one day from Florida.
“One of our family rituals is going to the Naples Beach Club. We’ve been going there since Arlo was born and I have walked by this beautiful pink beach house,” explains Lidstrom. “I called Carol and said if I can’t live in Florida, I’m going to build my pink beach house in Lake Bluff.”
The story about how she found the lot that it’s built on is one of those tales of kismet that Lidstrom so loves to tell. “From my perspective, I believe you need to ask for what you want in life—to really put it out there,” she says. “I decided that I wanted to live and raise my son in Lake Bluff. I made that decision and literally the next day I thought I’m going to call this realtor that I know and he told me to walk by this lot, and he was going to be listing it on Monday, and I was like “Oh my god, this is the lot. This is where I’m going to build my house’.”
Today, four years later, this labor of love is still somewhat a work in progress. As a forever home, it won’t be all done overnight. The place where the pool will go later this year, for example, is still a patch of grass surrounded by decks that will someday replicate the Florida resort vibe she envisioned. There is also a bathroom that will someday serve as a spa-quality changing room.
What is finished, however, is an inspiring testament to how Lidstrom not only views design, but how she lives her life.
The sun-drenched main levels are undeniably cozy, yet eclectic and sumptuous—an artful mix of that casual beach aesthetic with fine art, exquisite antiques, and the finest materials. “I designed it around having children in the house all the time,” she explains. “The floors are heart pine that you can just grind and they will always be beautiful. The fabric on the sofa is a washable velvet. Everything about the design appeals to that part of human nature that wants to be safe, happy, and cocooned.”
With multiple fireplaces and an open main floor that offers flexible furniture arrangement for entertaining (Lidstrom hosted more than 40 people for a formal, sit-down Thanksgiving dinner), every part of the space has purpose. Even the hallways and landings serve as an extension of the rooms and living areas, with barn doors on the upstairs bedrooms that slide open to the hall to make it feel like a hotel suite.
A recent tour through the house felt like opening a series of little treasure boxes, one after the other; each space with its own identity and purpose. But the real treat—and unexpected delight—of the home is the one that comes when you descend the staircase into what is affectionately known as the “speakeasy.”
For as beachy and casual chic as the upper levels are, the lower level bar and party room exude over-the-top glam. With shimmering chandeliers, exotic fabrics, and a “wow” ambiance that feels like you’ve just walked into Gertrude Stein’s Paris apartment in the 1920s, this space is an example of how thoughtful design can transcend place and time.
“There are no windows in the basement. A basement is not bright and it’s not sunny. So when I decided to do the basement, I wanted cozy and glamorous, which is in contrast to the upstairs which is sunny and beachy,” she says, explaining that the lower level project also serves as a portfolio piece for her work designing restaurants and bars. “I don’t do model homes. This is my showplace. And I just love the cozy vibe. People come and they don’t want to leave.”
With the pool going in later this summer and Leggy Bird Studios now located just four blocks down the street, Lidstrom says her life in Lake Bluff is everything she wished (and asked) for.
She is within walking distance of the beach and now keeps paddleboards there. Arlo, a former student at Lake Forest Country Day School, is happily attending Lake Bluff Middle School. He rides his bike through the neighborhood, hangs out with friends, and is able to walk back and forth to school while Lidstrom is working at the nearby studio.
It’s perfect in every way—right down to the color.
“When I started drawing up the plans for the house, I said ‘Honey, are you OK if the house is pink?’ He said “Sure, Mom, as long as there are rooms inside that are blue’.”
For more than a decade, Lidstrom’s goal as an architect and a designer is to create homes that make people more happy and productive and joyful so that they can “live their truth”
Here in Lake Bluff, she’s done that for herself and her own family. “I’m a big believer in putting it out there to the universe,” she adds.
“Everybody gets something different, but it’s what they need.”