When Jamie Schachtel launched her line of women’s couture fashion in the 1980s, the philosophy of “more is more” defined the decade. Now, as the head designer, co-founder, and CEO of Highland Park-based interior design firm Jamie Schachtel Design Group, her design aesthetic skews slightly cleaner, albeit with an edge.
Schachtel first ran her fashion label for 10 years before pivoting to the design industry, opening a high-end Lincoln Park baby and teen furniture store Bellini, which catered to celebrity clientele including the Obama family. While designing nurseries and children’s rooms, her interest in interiors blossomed. Schachtel then pivoted to interior design and launched her namesake firm from her basement 17 years ago.
“Interiors are similar to fashion in that how a client dresses tells us a lot about who they are and how they live their life,” says Schachtel. “I think of rugs as foundational pieces, for example, and pillows as accessories. There is quite a bit of overlap between the two industries that helped translate my career.”
Fast forward to today, and the full-service Jamie Schachtel Design Group has a team of five employees, a full showroom on the North Shore, and its own furniture line Couef with chairs, ottomans, upholstery, and more that blend both form and function and is available only to Schachtel clients.
Despite the pandemic, Schachtel says she and her team have never been busier and are currently juggling upward of 30 active clients. They are currently up against a Memorial Day deadline for two vacation homes in New Buffalo, Michigan that has lent an air of summertime anticipation to an otherwise dreary winter.
“I literally wake up every day excited to come to our showroom,” says Schachtel.
Part of that excitement perhaps stems from the team, mainly comprised of family, including Schachtel’s daughters Danielle, co-founder and COO, and Olivia, marketing and project manager. But don’t expect Danielle and Olivia to call Schachtel “mom” at work—they purposely keep it strictly professional.
“Working with family is so special,” says Olivia. “We can almost read each other’s minds and know each other so well. It adds a level of care because, at the end of the day, we want to support each other.”
Adds Schachtel, “While it is fun to be together, it is still work. Many times, our clients do not even realize we are related.”
The team just completed work on another family affair, a project they have dubbed the Hamptons in Highland Park, for a client with four children who wanted to design a home where the immediate and extended clan could easily gather for nightly dinners or larger holidays.
“This was going to hopefully become the hub for everyone to come together,” says Schachtel. “The youngest child is still in high school, two are in college, and one is in the city, but everyone has their own room and always will. It is a true family home, in every sense of the word.”
Flow and function were equally important to the clean-lined open concept floorplan. Schachtel eliminated the formal dining room, instead opting for an oversize concrete dining table off the kitchen that comfortably seats 10 and that connects to the family room, which features an enormous sectional sofa. The family, Schachtel says, spends 90 percent of their time in the three connected spaces.
“I work with a lot of families, so durability is always top of mind,” says Schachtel. “But I still retain elements of high design by layering, mixing metals, and adding texture through wallpaper and textiles.”
Think a fringed Couef ottoman in the family room paired with acid-washed porcelain tile on the fireplace, and fur pillows against a backdrop of chrome kitchen fixtures and the aforementioned cement dining table.
A pandemic pivot, Schachtel also concepted a resort-like outdoor retreat, which can be seen from most areas within the house, complete with a pool, sport court, and patio seating. For another client, Schachtel created a home gym inspired by the famed East Bank Club for their home in the city.
“We completed the Highland Park project during the pandemic and didn’t skip a beat,” says Schachtel. “We know so many businesses are suffering right now, so we feel very fortunate. There is nothing more important than home at the moment, which is why that has become the focus for so many.”
For those considering a home project, Schachtel recommends looking to Europe for the latest trends. She’s seen greige tones slowly make their way to the U.S. from Paris, in contrast to the gray hues of years past, along with an increasingly casual style.
Or, of course, hire an expert. “Our showroom experience truly sets us apart,” says Schachtel. “We are a one-stop-shop with thousands of lines under one roof, and we are following all of the COVID protocols, so it’s a safe space.”
For more information, visit jamieschachteldesigngroup.com.