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Author Archives: Lisa Wolfe

Penthouse-the reveal!!!

this has been a labor of love for EVERYONE involved. very little to go before we can call it a ‘wrap’ (you can still see workman’s ladders and trades folks in some of the pictures b/c it was still a ZOO when we were there!!!!). we shaved 2.5 months off our original timeline and came in under our initial budget projection. and that’s just the beginning.

let me introduce you to 5700sf of party space with one of the best views in chicago. we folded in EVERYTHING in this project — reclaimed vintage classics, bathroom renovations, custom stencils & wall treatments, custom furniture & built-ins, light fixtures galore (hello antique gold!!! yum!), flooring (including a hand painted black & white checkered floor), a new bar, a tree that grows out of the top of a sofa..all wrapped in an art deco meets banana leaf-inspired elements — all thanks to our muse and design icon Dorothy Draper.

i broke my record for the most wallpapered spaces on this one!  with nicknames like the BIRDCAGE and VERSACE suite…what more could we bring to the table????  enjoy the show!

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Penthouse — countdown starts NOW!

Our penthouse project is actually going to wrap FASTER than our original timeline AND UNDER our original budget! (hey…this small miracle does happen sometimes!)

we have 9 more days until our big install — we have folks working nonstop to meet my deadline of 10/19. its feels like Xmas everytime i do a site visit — wallpaper is installed, all faux wall treatments are complete, bathrooms are done, most of the carpet is in….  but the work is not over and my phone continues to ring off the hook with last minute questions.

we still have a kickass black&white checkered floor to PAINT on the floor…shower enclosures & mirrors…hardware to install…windows…furniture…towels to fluff…robes to monogram….





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Wilmette renovation complete!

Our Wilmette Client longed for an interior that reflected her quirky and colorful sense of humor and served her busy family better. We focused first on functionality — better lighting for their family to work and read…better storage to house the kids toys and her husband’s electronics…textiles &materials that were kid-friendly and nothing to stress about…comfortable furniture that the family could sink in and stay for hours (hello: sit tests!!!!).

Then we focused on aesthetics.  Bright colors, pops of her favorite shades, an design that connected all the pieces without being boring…all wrapped in a ‘happy’ cocoon of textures and pattern.  This was the case for all the spaces EXCEPT the Master Bedroom.  Both Clients wanted to reclaim that bedroom for themselves — taking advantage of the gorgeous sun that comes in during the day and the orange sunsets in the evening and creating space for wonderful peaceful moments…peace after the kids have come in to hear bedtime stories and cuddle. We’re very proud of the work here and our collaboration with our awesome Client. What a vision!

This stunning renovation is not possible without great team members: Thanks to Kurt and his team at DKB/Deerfield for the beautiful custom cabinetry, Cara for the wallpaper installation, Laura/Haute-Handed for the stencil work & decoupage, Nina/Curtain Couture for the custom drapes and pillows, Eurocrat for the custom furniture and TomCat Construction for the guts and beams!

After & before pictures attached.


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Before pics:

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New use for old wallpaper

Often times we end up with fragments of a roll of wallpaper. You would think nothing can come out of scraps likes these — think again! recently i used my own stash of wallpaper remnants to cover my dining table for a party.  we max-ed out our table extension but i didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a new tablecloth (who has a 160″ w tablecloth???)…so we taped wallpaper strip bands around the table to create the perfect color-frenzied backdrop.  the other pro — no dry cleaning! we tore those strips off and threw them in the trash.    thumb_IMG_3911_1024








Facelift for our Bucktown family!

We finished this project a while ago but just now had an opportunity to take photos! This family wanted a more modern front room that the family could actually enjoy! Ultimately we decided the dining room table was only used as a storage facility……so we transformed that space into a small den that the Clients could make a quick getaway to to watch their favorite show and still have the kids around the corner. The overall living space was created so there was plenty of seating for entertaining in a pinch. This seating configuration allows the entire family to hang out in one room while giving them their own personal space to color, read books or all the above.

















Penthouse Renovation — has to get ugly before it turns a corner!

finally! we’re seeing a sliver of all our hard work and vision come to life in the Penthouse project. (hannah — i hope you’re reading this!)

the old green trim has been painted over (after bleeding thru 3 coats of paint, its done!) and many of the jungle/rose/bird murals are going bye-bye. we now have the beginnings of a clean, crisp palette. bathrooms are taking shape — tile was just completed and now we’re measuring for countertops. still so much work to go — finish carpentry, wood floors, bar design, mirrors and glass work! not to mention our magical wallpapers and faux finishes that will set this place aglow with fabulousness!

our final install for this project is just 6 weeks away…can’t wait to see this come together!

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Hannah the Intern’s Great Adventure — LAST BLOG

It’s my last blog with Lisa Wolfe Design….FOREVER (sobbbbbb). This week will be a combined blog of last week and this week. Twice the amount of info, twice the amount of fun 😉

Last week another funky monkey week since Lisa was out of town for the majority of it…which means ANARCHY IN THE OFFICE!!! Hahah just kidding. Lisa gave me some guidelines and direction on what to do while she was away! I had another Mart trip on the agenda along with some trips to IKEA and Mitchell Gold. I’m designing a furniture floor plan with all the goodies for Mark’s new Chicago office and since we’re on a shoe-string budget just to get in, IKEA fits the bill!

All week long I hunted for the perfect items to present to Lisa, Maria and Melinda on Monday morning. I took trips to Staples and IKEA to test things out. (Lisa is a big fan of sit-testing as much as possible). Aside from the Office, Lisa appointed me as wallpaper girl for our Bannockburn Client. This was a main focus during the mart trip on Thursday. Lisa wanted me to check out every showroom that sold wallpaper, especially the ones we rarely frequent! Despite my full day trip, I was only able to hit up a handful of shops. But I got some winners!

Friday was a really fun day as well! I took a trip down to Halsted Street to visit our friends at Mitchell Gold. I found some awesome furry pillows (it’s a known fact here at Lisa Wolfe that I love all things fur) and a few new options for a chair in the Penthouse project! While in the area, Lisa encouraged me to check out the other stores for chairs and I ended up finding a GREAT chair! It’s already been presented and approved by the Client (look at that mom! I’m making it in the world!!).

But THIS week has been a sad one. I definitely had to restrain the tears from fallin’. We had a lot to accomplish before my send-off on Friday. Lisa and I really took the Bannockburn project by the horns and worked up a storm coming up with the overall concept with favorite fabric options for upholstery, wallpaper, drapery and pillows. We spent all of Wednesday playing with the different options and (much to our surprise) reached our favorites in record time! (Someone call Guinness World Records…quick!)

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Lisa and I visited the Penthouse on Friday to meet up with the foreman & plumbers. We started at one end of the condo and worked our way to the other end with Mike — showing him all electrical/lighting locations. The bar is actually framed-in and it’s super sweet to see it coming together.  We placed all the plumbing fixtures in each bathroom. ..marking exactly where they should go! An inch there, and inch here…seeing it on the plan then placing it in real life is VERY DIFFERENT.  I was so excited to see the space for the last time 🙁



Lisa and I made a quickie-stop at the mart with her VIP parking spot for some fabrics and wallpapers… we were running out of time so we divided and conquered with the clock ticking! I literally ran right by her i was so focused!!! Did mention that we just RETURNED 50lbs of fabric! We just can’t get enough of fabrics here at LWD

This is my last blog folks. Its been a great ride and I’m going to miss everyone at LWD and writing for you guys! I hope you all stay well and have a great rest of your summer!

Top Five Best Experiences at LWD (these of course aren’t the only ones!)

1). Going on a tour of John Hughes’ house in Lake Forest (it was the Lake Forest Showcase house) on my third day of work…and knowing from that day that this is the best place to be working!

2). Flipping through a mini mount Everest of fabrics on the floor with Lisa and Boo!IMG_2077

3). Every single one of the trips to the city… no matter how long the drive was to the city and how early we started (5:55am!). Thank God for Guns and Roses…Lisa and I would jam to it to help pass the time! “Welcome to the Jungle” is her sign-off song.

4). Being able to work on a project where Lisa fully trusted me to shop for fabrics and furniture pieces all by myself. I’m sad I won’t witness the final presentations and actual reveal post-installation of our Bannockburn and Penthouse Clients.

5). Hitting up the Argo Tea kiosk at the mart regularly. And have Lisa pay for everything. IMG_2413


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Hannah the Intern’s Great Adventures — Week 9

This week we’ve been working like dogs to finalize our Penthouse selections and fabric (we have a crazy deadline!!!!!). But, before we get to that, the week started off with a presentation! As you remember, I was in charge of starting fabric and furniture selections for our Bannockburn Client. So I presented the options to Lisa, Maria, and Melinda on Monday morning. Most of them ended up being favorites for the space…weeeeehehehehe!!!

Lisa and I decided I need to work on my presenting skills. So I’ve been appointed to present a new office furniture plan to mark’s company! Cross your fingers that I don’t turn bright red and earn a new nickname…”tomato baby”. This new Chicago office project is in the works with a bunch of great IKEA selections (we’re going low budget just to get us in!)! IKEA has definitely become a close friend to us this summer. Basically we’re all bffs. The concept is coming along swimmingly; just one more table to select and it’ll be good to go! Get pumped DCS Midwest…I’m coming for ya!


Lisa and I were at the Penthouse all day Friday…from 7 am to 2pm to be exact! Of course it was the one day (of the whole summer) that got above 90 degrees and we’re stuck working in a space with zero working A/C or general operable windows (hello hi-rise). By the time we were ready to leave, Lisa and I were dripping in sweat…yum. We joked that if someone sprinkled glitter on us or tossed us against a wall we’d stick! It’s not all glamor and fluffy pillows for us interior designers, you know. 😉 We presented our final fabric, lighting and furniture selections to the Penthouse Client and met with one of our vendors to brainstorm directions. Except for a few minor changes, we’re all set to begin ordering everything. Snaps for the dream team ova here! (Getting all the bags back downstairs in 100 degree heat was not fun…Lisa made me carry most of it!)






After a long day in the city, Lisa and I had to make a quick stop to pick up some samples at the Mart (insert excited squeal here). Of course, Lisa and I hadn’t eaten ALL DAY so we stopped at our favorite place…Argo tea! Unfortunately they no longer have our favorite teaña coladas, but that’s ok cause they have sandwiches!! Whoop whoop! So we wolfed down sandwiches AND shopped at the same time. I had a hard time keeping up with Lisa as she zipped down the hallways..talking and eating…talking and eating…


Had a scary moment in a self-park garage downtown!  So small and so skinny, we witnessed one truck scrape the cement wall and one guy in a little Jetta go backwards down the ramp because he couldn’t make the turn! Lisa is a pro parking in the city so no drama…except for the 45 degree incline up and down the garage we felt like we were on a roller coaster! We were squealing (me) and cussing (Lisa).


It would have been my last day with Lisa Wolfe Design today.. So I can’t help but think how lucky I am to be staying on for the next few weeks! I keep feeling a sinking feeling in my stomach every time I think that today would have been my last! I know, stop being so sappy, Hannah, but I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like not working with Lisa, Maria and Melinda in a few weeks :((

Top Five Discoveries of The week

1). Make sure all the fabric samples are clean of lint, dust bunnies and loose threads before presenting them to a Client. Hint: vacuums and lint brushes work super well (noted from experience ;))

2). Be sure to re-measure all spaces yourself. Even though an architect may have measured everything, its always good to double check! We had a tricky, sticky situation earlier with some plans, but with Lisa’s eye for detail and my AutoCAD skills, everything was worked out so we’re A’OK!

3).Once again, I’ve learned that no matter who messes up; a third party, a chicken, a tree, or a GC, IT’S ALWAYS THE DESIGNER’S FAULT. Communication, communication, communication…keeping an open honest dialog with your Client and vendors is critical. Hold your ground. Then use blackmail when all else fails (kidding!)

4). I learned what CFA means today: Cutting For Approval. This means that when you reserve a fabric, they send you an actual piece from the bolt of fabric to compare to your sample. Sometimes the swatch you have may be dirty or faded, so the CFA sample will show you exactly what you will be getting. Lisa says that in 12 years, she has only had a handful of CFAs that didn’t match. Its just due-diligence!

5). I learned some tips on how to give a presentation successfully without the nerves and butterflies (lord knows I need help with that!) Speak slowly. This will help your mind match what’s coming out of your mouth. It will also allow you to think about what you’re going to say next.


Hannah the Intern’s Great Adventures — Week 8

Welcome back!

Lisa took a nice vacation last week (lucky duck) so it was up to Maria and I to hold down the fort. Busy with completing financial budgets for the Penthouse project, Maria was working diligently from room to room; gathering all the final fabric and furniture selections for quoting. I, on the other hand, worked on Phase 2 our Bannockburn Clients.


Lisa appointed me to get a start on picking out some furniture and fabric options for this Client…WOW! So exciting right?! ☺ That being said, I had to make a trip down to the Mart all by myself (Big girl things, right?). But after the previous trip, I was basically a pro at this so it was no problem at all! I had some light limitations on what to choose, for the style of the room is going to be more transitional as opposed to the current traditional style. For the folk out there who may not be quick to know what transitional design is, it’s between traditional and contemporary design. This Client has picked out a more slightly traditional antique – looking rug, while expressing interest in more contemporary furniture pieces.

I spent the Mart trip searching for the perfect fabrics for upholstery, pillows and drapery. It was nice seeing our friends at Romo, Kravet, Osborne and Little, and Donghia. I got a taste for what it will be like when I get to go there on my own when I have my own company one day. Ah the life a designer. That evening I took home the fabrics to show my family, and my mom fell in love with some of them…She wants to make some pillows for our family room! Looks like I’m going to have to show my Mom the ropes in the Mart.


Once back in the office, I was on the hunt for the perfect furniture pieces for the Client. At the end of May, we took an initial Mart trip with the Client to get a feel for what they did and didn’t like so I kind of had an idea of what to look for! After picking out all the furniture pieces, Maria and I looked through some options of wallpaper for an accent wall! We thought something light and with gold would fit beautifully in the space. We knocked it down to three finalists, which along with everything else, I’m going to present to Lisa on Monday. Fingers crossed that she’ll like it! ;). Here’s a little sneak peak of my favorite fabric options! Boo also helped…mainly by just laying across everything and anything in my concept layout.

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Top Five Discoveries of The Week:

1). Drapery fabric can double as pillow fabric too! Drapery and pillow fabric typically have a rub count lower than 30,000, but could also be above that as well! Your choice ☺ . If you find a fabric that you love but is super expensive, it could make a sweet looking pillow instead of for upholstery!

2). Houzz has some great inspiration photos if you’re stuck figuring out what a certain style looks like. This helped a lot this week because sometimes I get hung up on picking wall sconces, and BAM, there was Houzz to give me some ideas. It’s also a great place to check out Lisa’s previous projects! She lists almost ALL of them on there.

3). If you’re interested in checking out the Mart for yourself, floors 6 and 14 are designated for interior design! Fabric and furniture stores are located on both.

4). I learned this week that it is important label what you choose and organize things by room that way things don’t get confusing. After a long weekend and you go back to the project, its easier to remember what goes where and what goes with what if things are labeled.

5). Be careful when matching your fabrics. Sometimes fabrics have more warm tones and other have more cool tones. This can cause some intense clashing in the space, so beware! Sometimes, it works, but usually its best to stick with one or the other.