When Chris and Kerry Kelley relocated to Lake Forest from Atlanta, they were ready for a project. They had renovated a kitchen in a past home and wondered how hard a full rehab of a 1903 home could be. They quickly learned.
“We were in way over our heads,” says Kerry. “We fell in love with the charm of this old house and its amazing in-town location. But it had to be fully gutted. We knew we needed to bring in some professional help.”
Through word of mouth, the Kelleys were introduced to interior designer Jessica Margot Federighi (“Margot”), owner and founder of Jessica Margot Design.
“We wanted the original exterior of the house to stay the same and put an addition on the back, as well as a deck on the side,” Kerry explains. “And we just love the beach. We asked Jessica to incorporate that feel into the plans.”
Margot had her work cut out for her but wasn’t disheartened in the slightest by the challenge. Instead, she drew inspiration from a home featured in one of her favorite movies—Something’s Gotta Give—starring Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson.
“The only thing the Kelley’s home was missing was the ocean view in the movie,” says Margot with a laugh. “But the cute exterior just shouted, ‘Hamptons country home’ to me, and that’s what we ran with.”
Margot knew the Kelley’s home was special and a unique opportunity for her as a designer.
“I was given the chance to create something completely unique in Lake Forest,” she says. “When you’re standing at the darling red front door of this home, located in the historic district of this community, you would never expect to find such a sophisticated oasis on the other side.”
Coastal, light, bright, and timeless were the themes Margot wove into her plans as she finalized the scope of work for the Kelley’s four-bedroom, four-bath home, just blocks from Lake Forest’s Market Square. She was inspired by things that the Kelleys loved from their time living in the country’s warmer regions to recreate the tonal, beachy vibe they craved.
At the heart of this project is the home’s kitchen. While the homeowners are empty nesters, they wanted their new space to be a place where they could host and entertain both indoors and out.
“The kitchen tells its own story,” says Margot. “It’s very high-end, beautiful, and completely functional, as the Kelleys really enjoy cooking. It has a two-toned island base made from petrified wood that I can’t stop dreaming about. We spent a lot of time selecting the tile and stone we used from Fine Line and those details made such a difference. And to keep this space timeless, we sprinkled in touches of brushed brass hardware that is so popular now from Studio 41, but we just did it here and there. We don’t want anyone ever coming into this space and being able to tell us the year it was renovated based on the selections we made.”
The kitchen opens into the dining room where the couple chose a round table instead of a more traditional rectangular one.
“This table is definitely one of my favorite things,” Margot says. “How many times have you been at a dinner party and you can only visit with the people sitting right next to you?” she asks. “The round table lets everyone be part of the conversation and just adds to the warmth of the space.”
Another dining room element Margot is quick to highlight is the custom rug designed by Oscar Isberian Rugs. “I do a lot of work with this company,” she says. “Their products are extraordinary. And for the Kelley’s dining room, they cut the rug on-site to match the curve of the table. Kerry thought this was the coolest thing and commented she had never seen anything like it.”
Lighting also plays an important role in nearly every room of the newly designed home. “It was such a joy working with the Kelleys because they really appreciated what I brought to the table and how the design process works,” Margot says. “For example, lighting is one of those things that can have a dramatic impact but is often overlooked. We worked very carefully to make sure every room was beautifully lit, even adding picture lights to the built-ins that now house Chris’ collection of books on the lower level. This made that wall a statement piece that Chris loves.”
No empty-nester space would be complete without proper attention being paid to the master bedroom and bath.
“Next to a beautiful kitchen, the master bedroom and bathroom spaces are some of my most favorite to design,” Margot says. “This is the first Chicago winter the Kelleys will spend in this home, so I wanted to make sure it felt warm. The heated floors in the master bathroom will come in very handy.”
As the project came to a close, Margot carefully selected art from a variety of talents that captured the beach, ocean, and nature to tie into the overall vibe for the home.
“A colleague of mine who is a formally trained interior designer himself presented the clients with an incredible array of artwork,” Margot explains. “The Kelleys carefully selected a handful of prints from the many he shared and had them specially framed. It was an incredible finishing touch.”
It’s this attention to detail that differentiates Margot as a designer. Even the laundry room was treated to special tile from Fine Line and some whimsical wallpaper.
“That was something the Kelleys really embraced,” she says. “They had great taste and they didn’t limit it to the larger living spaces in this home. Little details like decorating the laundry room make this whole home feel special and is something anyone can keep in mind when they’re embarking on a design project.”
With much of the work on the Kelley’s home taking place during the pandemic, and the process sometimes being slowed due to long wait times for construction elements or furniture deliveries, Margot can’t help but look at this renovation as a tremendous success.
“There is nothing I like more than thinking about the Kelleys truly enjoying their home,” Margot says. “As a designer, you can’t ask for anything more.”
For more information about Jessica Margot Design, visit jessicamargot.com.