Crafting Intimate Luxury: A Dark Floral Transformation in Kinzie Park
13 February 2024 in Projects

Crafting Intimate Luxury: A Dark Floral Transformation in Kinzie Park


Design: Kelly Marie Brainerd of KMB Design | Consulting (Milwaukee, WI, USA)

Photography: Ryan Hainey 

Embarking on the journey of renovating a 4-story townhouse in the heart of Kinzie Park (a gated community including townhomes, condos and apartments on the Chicago River in the Fulton River District neighborhood of Chicago), was not just about transforming a space; it was about curating an experience.

Kelly Marie Brainerd set out with a singular goal - to infuse the home with the intimate ambiance of a small, luxury, London hotel, a sanctuary where the client's friends and family could retreat and revel in the allure of refined indulgence.

EC: Can you give us some background information about yourself, your firm, and about this project? What was your process for coming up with this concept/inspiration?

KMB: At KMB Design | Consulting, we design residential and commercial spaces that are personal, have deep meaning and reflect the extensive research we do into the scope of the project and desired outcomes. Great interior design is a study of form and function, that expresses who you are in ways you never imagined!

This project is a perfect example of our process, because we originally worked with this client on a Converted Warehouse Loft in Milwaukee, WI. Our client always had a dream to turn an abandoned warehouse into a luxury living space, and we worked alongside him to make his dreams come true. When his job took him back to his hometown of Chicago, he had a different vision for this new property, which would allow him to have an entire floor to himself that he could retreat to, but also allow visiting friends and family to enjoy the whole house. This gave us the opportunity to create a small luxury hotel feeling that was intimate, moody, dark and dramatic. 

Creating the Right Vibe

Dark wood, carefully chosen for the floors, cabinetry, and paneling, sets the stage for a luxurious retreat. The play of shadows against the rich wooden textures creates a sultry, sophisticated mood.

EC: Lighting seems to play a fundamental role in this interior. How did you – or do you - generally use lighting to create the right vibe?

KMB: Absolutely. Lighting is EVERYTHING! We all know when we are in space that makes us feel good. Lighting can be such a key element in that experience. We painted the walls, doors, trim and ceiling Black Magic by Sherwin Williams, which created a whole mood unto itself. I came home after the house was painted and wanted to paint my whole home BLACK MAGIC! We used new, clean-lined modern fixtures mixed with vintage fixtures; That helped tie together the old + new feeling of the property.

Dark Floral Wallpaper

Opulent, Indulgent ‘Dark Floral’ Wallpaper:

Kelly chose our ‘Dark Floral’ Wallpaper for the primary bath. The large tub occupies an alcove, surrounded on three sides by the larger than life, floral motif, and overlooking two vanities boasting large mirrors framed by the same. You can just imagine that this sanctuary-within-a-sanctuary is at its most opulent and indulgent when the Chicago weather outside is bitter and blustery. Meanwhile, inside this inviting space, you are surrounded by the beauty, softness and three-dimensionality of one of our best-loved botanical prints.

EC: What made you choose our ‘Dark Floral Wallpaper’ for this project?

KMB: As soon as I saw it, I knew it was the PERFECT complement to the mood we were looking to create. It was subtle and bold. Light and dark. Neutral and full of color. A bold pattern but also a neutral backdrop. It was able to hold all the contrasts!

EC: Did the wallpaper meet your expectations in terms of the effect it has in the space?

KMB: Absolutely. It has such depth to it! It responds well to being lit from the side by natural light, and also seems to bounce the artificial light from the vintage chandelier around the space too. I was so thrilled when the wallpaper was installed, and it really seemed to tie the space together beautifully. I can't imagine the space without it!

Layers of Lush Textiles

We often encourage our clients to heighten the elegance of our wallpapers by complimenting them with layers of sumptuous textiles – satiny, silky, fluffy, fleece-y, velvety, woven. You can choose to work with colors drawn from within the print, or, as Kelly has done here, provide a contrast to ‘Dark Floral’s’ basically black-and-white palette by going for a bold, bright red – in the velvet curtains and plush upholstery, the floor-coverings, and more. Together, the tactile materials and shadowy floral motifs beckon you further, inviting you into an absolute feast for the senses: a warm, soft, enveloping comfort.

EC: Can you describe your bold choices to combine these colors, textures, prints, materials, lighting/fixtures, etc. How did you know it was going to work, and result in the warm, cozy, luxury-London-hotel-vibe you were going for?

KMB: Good question. It all came together pretty quickly and easily. The client bought the property in September and he wanted to be living there full-time by February. We made that happen! We sketched out the plans in a few days and were off and running. We started with deciding the floors needed more depth and warmth. We wanted them to be a deep, warm mocha with lots of exposed grain. Then we made the bold (but ONLY) choice to paint the whole home - top to bottom - Black Magic by Sherwin Williams. That really transformed the space and gave us almost a neutral background to go full force into texture, pattern and color. Fill your home with things you LOVE, and magically they will work together because they are tied together with that love. 

Hibernating in Nature's Embrace

The townhouse becomes a warm and wonderful place to hibernate, cocooned from the chill of winter. In this calm and cohesive space, the connection to Nature is palpable, thanks to the Dark Floral Wallpaper. The floral motif brings the outdoors in, and reminds us that, even in the heart of the city, one can be close to the burgeoning beauty, softness and tranquility of Nature.

EC: You have mentioned that this was one of your favorite projects to work on in your whole career. Please explain why, and please share any further thoughts you would like us to know about the process and the end result.

KMB: It seemed impossible. We had just finished the client's warehouse project in Milwaukee. That had taken about 2 years start to finish. This project had a VERY tight timeline, a completely different vibe in a city (Chicago) where we had limited connections. But we hit the ground running! We met a general contractor who was familiar with this development and had navigated its red tape. He helped make sure we kept the neighbors happy. Once that was in place, I knew how to do the rest. We sourced product that was in-stock and readily available. We worked with some of our partners that had just helped us complete the warehouse project in Milwaukee, because luckily it is only a 90-minute drive away. Working with a team of people you trust helps everything go smoothly, because you have each others’ backs and want to see each other succeed. 

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Thank you to Kelly for sharing this beautiful project with us!

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Stay wonder-ful,