Architecture · Chicago · Design · Dining Room · Flowers · Gardening · Home Exteriors · Inspiration · Interiors

A Visit to the Lake Forest Showhouse and Gardens

A dear friend brought me with her to visit the Lake Forest Showhouse and Gardens this week, and it was a treat! Lake Forest is a lovely leafy suburb about an hour’s drive north of Chicago. The home being used as the showhouse was built in 1922 and is an arts and crafts style estate designed by architect Howard Van Doren Shaw as a summer retreat for a Chicago businessman and his family.  The estate occupies two park like acres of manicured sunken English gardens and handsome old elm trees, with multiple bluestone patios and a fountain.  There is also a five room coach house on the grounds that is decorated and open for viewing.

The exterior of the home:


DSC02961.jpgThe landscaping is incredible.  I loved the idea of the climbing hydrangeas on the trellis to the left of the door.  The slate roof is something, too!DSC02965.jpg

Each of the home’s 22 rooms was decorated by a different interior designer from the area. Some were beautiful, but others did not appeal to me at all. I am going to share with you the rooms that I enjoyed the most.

The dining room by Shelley Johnstone Design was one of my favorites:

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The ceiling was highly lacquered in a beautiful sky blue, adding a modern touch to this otherwise traditional space.


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Notice the matching striped fabric on the walls and on the corner banquette. It is from the Mark D. Sikes line for Schumacher.

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I’m always pleased to see some blue and white and a chinoiserie panel (above)!

The table setting was elegant, but relaxed. The Chippendale style rattan chairs and bamboo flatware bring an air of informality to the table.


DSC02979.jpgThe flower arrangement above was stunning—a perfect mix of apples, artichokes, orchids, peonies, and hydrangeas.

The lovely kitchen (shown in the next two photos) and adjacent office nook (shown in the two photos after that) were designed by M and M Interior Design:



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The cozy and cheerful office nook, above, had lots of charm. The walls and the window seat cushion were upholstered in a black and white ticking stripe by Schumacher, and the seat had fun fringe. I loved the purple painted ceiling and light fixture.

The mudroom shown in the next four photos was designed by Soledad Zitzewitz and is the prettiest mudroom I have seen!

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DSC03015.jpgThe mudroom walls, pictured above, were a lovely shade of green and were covered by vertical herb gardens. The mudroom windows, like those throughout the rest of the home, were beautiful.

Wendy Labrum designed the fabulous sitting room, accessible through the girl’s bedroom, on the second floor:

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Originally, this sitting room would have been a sleeping porch. The views from the sitting room windows (above) out to the back garden were breathtaking. Our tour guide said it took eight coats of paint and six weeks to achieve the look of the sitting room’s olive green lacquered walls, pictured below.

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The back yard was stunning. Here are a few photos:




Notice the black and white tablecloths, umbrella, and upholstery (pictured above and below). Interior designer Alessandra Branca furnished the patio area.


Aren’t the mini boxwood hedges and classic English garden design pretty? (See below).


There was also a coach house with a small store (below) featuring blue and white goods, which pleased me immensely!


The upstairs of the coach house was adorable. The kitchen by Jodi Morton was my favorite. It was Scandinavian inspired and was clean, simple, and neutral.

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The Lake Forest Showhouse is open to the public until May 21.  If you are in the area and would like tickets,  click here.  Proceeds from the event benefit the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago.

The house is currently for sale if you are interested!  Our tour guide said it is listed for roughly $4 million.

I hope you enjoyed this tour as much as I did!



6 thoughts on “A Visit to the Lake Forest Showhouse and Gardens

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