For Biscuit Home founder and hospitality entrepreneur Bailey McCarthy, a historic 1912 Chicago condo with a Parisian-inspired façade was love at first sight. The Gold Coast home-away-from-home, which is located inside a residential high-rise designed by famed classical architect Benjamin Howard Marshall, did however require a full gut renovation.
McCarthy and her husband Pete had lived in Chicago for years when they had to relocate to the designer’s native Houston in order to seek specialty medical care for their daughter, Grace. Today, the happy and healthy family of four “escape to Chicago during the summer to visit friends and family,” McCarthy says. “The space is the perfect size for a pied-à-terre.”
It had to be, thanks to construction restrictions inherent to a historic building. Unable to expand the footprint or relocate plumbing and electrical, McCarthy embarked on an extensive nine-month renovation intended to honor the original architecture with modern design upgrades. With ideal Lake Michigan– and Lincoln Park–facing views, an abundance of natural light from the east and south, and a canopy of trees outside the bay windows, the 2,000-square-foot home came with near-perfect bones. McCarthy complemented the existing features, like intricate plaster molding, 10-foot ceilings, and oversized bedroom suites, with a mix of vintage and contemporary elements.
She expertly incorporated a bevy of standout pieces, such as abstract artwork by Donald Martiny and a 1stdibs-sourced vintage Italian Murano glass chandelier. Saturated Farrow & Ball paint shades and an abundance of printed wallpaper from the likes of de Gournay, Scalamandré, and Schumacher only enriched her working canvas.
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“It’s a little jewel box, and we were able to choose really special finishes that make it sparkle,” McCarthy says. “I wanted it to feel like the best hotel room you could imagine. It’s a city pad, so it had to be unfussy and a place from which you could easily come and go.”
She added unexpected touches too, like a television hidden within a custom credenza in the living room, bunk beds with secret built-in nooks underneath, and even mirrored latticework in the once dark and narrow entry in order to set the tone and reflect light.
“I thought about it in terms of the seasons,” McCarthy says. “Chicago winters can be pretty bleak, so my goal was for the space to feel warm and cozy in the cold, but nice, bright, and airy during the summer.”
The home is also the last interior design project McCarthy took on before she stopped accepting clients in order to focus on her other business ventures. Fittingly, the project serves as a highlight reel for McCarthy’s signature use of pattern, texture, and color. “It truly has everything and is a bit of a love letter to Chicago,” she reflects.