“The tension between opposites makes design interesting—and makes every space unique,” explains designer Alexandra Kaehler of her approach to interiors. The North Shore native had a path to design just as unique as the spaces she creates. Fresh out of college, Kaehler pursued a career in advertising, starting a lifestyle blog as a creative outlet to corporate life. It was a friend who recognized design as Kaehler’s true calling, encouraging her to pursue her passion: “I applied to Harrington College of Design, got a couple of small clients through my blog, and formed a business out of it! It was a happy accident,” she shares.
Though she has stopped blogging, the career born from that online presence has blossomed. Kaehler opened her first location at Sheffield and Armitage in 2011. It was during these Lincoln Park days that she and husband, Spencer—who began dating as students at New Trier—welcomed a daughter, Sadie, now 3. Just two weeks before the birth of their second child, Jack, the family relocated to Winnetka, closing the Lincoln Park location and opening up shop in Hubbard Woods.
Though her taste is rooted in traditional design, clients across the city and North Shore most often come to Kaehler for her expert ability in blending ideas and styles: marrying new and old, masculine with feminine, round with angular, and budget finds with high-end custom design.
Her most recent project, the Wilmette home she brought to life with the help of its new owners, both recent transplants from Arizona, is a perfect showcase of Kaehler as mix master. Keeping the home’s original stained glass, wood moldings, fireplace mantles, and terracotta floors created a jumping-off point to add a sense of fun for the homeowners.
The first step was personalizing the space. Previous owners had done major updates on the property, including a huge renovation of the kitchen, shipping in marble floors from Europe, but the new owners felt the house was still missing a show-stopping master suite. “We had to add on a master closet, but the space for a master bathroom was there. It just needed to be reworked. It now has a gorgeous mosaic floor from The Fine Line in Chicago, soaring ceilings, and a huge tub.”
What was originally a formal living room is now the family room, comfortable, and cozy with an Oly Studio leather daybed, a velvet couch, a custom ottoman covered in Mokum fabric by Holly Hunt, plenty of storage, and eye-catching accents of color. Off of this airy space is the “Whiskey Room,” an undeniably masculine space with leather wallpaper, a selection of rare whiskeys, a card table, and a funky, modern light fixture from Noir Furniture, all grounded by the home’s original brick flooring.
“For the dining room,” Kaehler describes, “we chose a gray and white Schumacher wallpaper that brings a little interest but is not overwhelming—it reads as a neutral but brings in pattern. The custom Cisneros Furniture chairs covered in emerald green fabric by Pindler really pop against that background.” The cherry on top is hanging over the dining table: the chandelier, a family heirloom. Kaehler sums up the room best, saying: “It’s modern meets meaningful meets traditional.”
Possibly one of the favorite spots in the whole home for the family is the breakfast nook, situated in the kitchen. Rendered in kid-friendly (read: easy to clean) indoor/outdoor fabric, the eating area gets beautiful light and, as Kaehler says, “It’s just a happy spot”—a description that could apply to every room the designer touched.
For more information on Alexandra Kaehler Design, visit alexandrakaehler.com.