A blank slate can be a daunting undertaking, especially when it comes to an empty apartment. Dr. Peter Harnois, DDS, a single father of four, was looking to transform his new place in Downers Grove, Illinois, into a stylish space that was all at once masculine, mid-century, made for entertaining and child-friendly—particularly for his youngest, Isa, a very active 4-year-old. He worked with interior designer Jennifer Murray of Jennifer Murray Designs, who then collaborated with general manager Amber Speck of the West Elm Oakbrook Design Crew to create the perfect new home for him.
Jennifer came into the West Elm Oakbrook store looking for inspiration with this project, and she and Amber immediately connected on the aesthetic vision. “My vision for Peter’s apartment was to stay business casual with a modern twist,” Jennifer says. “I wanted the space to feel clean and simple with hints of richness and sexiness… thus lots of gold accents and greenery.” She loved many products that were right on the store’s sales floor, and she ultimately decided that she wanted to furnish the whole apartment with West Elm to knock it all out with one large order instead of working between several different retailers. “Working with Amber was an absolute delight,” she says. “She was professional, organized, patient, and filled in any gaps that I’d missed!”
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The apartment is a bit smaller, so the designers were conscious of choosing pieces that wouldn’t dwarf the space. “It was really just a total blank canvas for him,” says Amber. “He’s a very busy man running his own dental practice, and what we were trying to create for him was just something very cozy and welcoming, a little masculine, and something where he could have friends over and entertain and be proud of the space.”
Tour the full apartment and shop the rooms below!
Photography by Landon Vonderschmidt
Making sure the apartment was child-friendly was the number one priority. “He wanted something where he and Isa could curl up together and watch movies – she has her own little corner on the Andes Terminal Sectional where she can snuggle up,” Amber says. Peter didn’t want any sharp edges on anything, since his daughter runs a mile a minute, so the Marble Round Nesting Side Tables were perfect for the small space. The Pictograph Media Console adds interesting dimension and goes nicely with the color of the wood floors.
Peter’s favorite color is blue, so the designers leaned into that for the pillows, Slope Leather Counter Stools and Wire-Frame Dining Chairs. To complete the mid-century look, they chose amber and brass accents for the Round Lush Velvet Pillow, the Foundations Vases and the Overarching Metal Shade Floor Lamp.
Kitchen + Dining Room
The Anton Solid Wood Dining Table and Bench had just hit the sales floor at West Elm Oakbrook, and Jennifer was immediately drawn to it. “My favorite element of the apartment is the dining area,” she says. “The larger-scale table we paired with the sleek gold and velvety chairs made for an amazing combo.” She also knew that Peter would love the table’s smooth, slightly rounded edges for Isa. The cushy Wire-Frame Upholstered Dining Chairs and Pharoah Distressed Rug ensure a soft landing every time. Peter is also an avid tequila collector, so the designers worked with his existing antique cabinets to show off his bottles.
“Peter liked the idea of a chair that was almost big enough for him and his daughter to sit in together to read out on the patio,” says Amber, so they chose two Playa Outdoor Lounge Chairs for the balcony. If you look closely, you can see the Portside Outdoor Dining Tables in the building’s communal courtyard down below.