A Stunning, European-Inspired Home
Chicago designer Tom Stringer creates a masterfully blended home
A well-traveled Denver couple enlisted celebrated Chicago designer Tom Stringer to focus new light on a lifetime of collected pieces. The pair, with a passion for antiques, asked Stringer to re-imagine their 5,900-square-foot Cherry Creek residence, so that Asian art and European furnishings would look at home in an urban setting.
Stringer, a globe-trotter himself, is a master of the mix, merging pieces from different periods and styles to combine a harmonious whole. “To bridge the classic and the contemporary, you need to introduce certain details to create balance,” he says. “It’s important to think of the house as a whole, so that elements work together and complement each other, including light.”
Hallway Stringer, who travels the globe in search of pieces for his clients, called himself the perfect match for a couple who likes to collect art. The seated Maravijaya Buddha in antique gold from the clients' collection watches over a long, lateral hallway that rotates around its core.
In the entrance hall, for example, he harnessed natural light from the ceiling in the second and third stories to breathe new life onto the pieces below.
In the formal living area, Stringer updated classic French and English furnishings by choosing cotton and silks on the bergères for a relaxed, contemporary feel.
“A home must feel cozy and familiar,” Stringer says, “ideally, a place where you are free to walk without shoes. Blue jeans are luxury.”
Master Bedroom Patterns, pieces and periods mingle skillfully here. The floor lamp is by Visual Comfort, and the chandelier and coffee table are from the clients' collection. The love seat wears Romo fabric, while the pillows are dressed in Brunschwig & Fils.
On the next breath, he confesses to his weakness for bergères. “Those two hairs in the living room are my love. The fabrics I selected to reupholster them were the indulgences.”
In the bedroom, Stringer achieved a sense of serenity by carving out a space that is not too crowded and that invites you to relax. “The abundance of natural light in the master bedroom adds to the feeling of calm,” he says.
Dining Room Let there be soft light. A wall of smoked mirrors reflects the outside light, while a handblown-glass chandelier lends contemporary character. The Murano glass chandelier above the dining table is by Visual Comfort. The vintage porcelain dragon plate (an acquisition) recalls touches of Hermès orange used throughout the home. A black-and-white piece by French conceptual artist Bernar Venet graces the far wall.
Stringer’s genius lies in his seamless juxtaposition of the complex and the streamlined. In the kitchen, he stained the walnut floors in a deep espresso to contrast with the rich color of the bar stools. “A splash of Hermès orange is a great foil to mahogany. It makes the kitchen look crisp and clean. Mahogany is a natural finish—durable, renewable and food-safe.”
Kitchen Three pear-shaped balons from Bobo Intriguing Objects shine light onto the mahogany kitchen island, punctuated by three leather bar stools from Charles Stewart.
Outdoor Lounge To make the outdoors accessible year-round, Stringer uses durable performance fabrics. DeLany & Long fabrics cover the chairs, while Jim Thompson fabrics adorn the pillows. To create privacy from the street, Stringer designed a hedgerow of closely spaced pear trees.
Stringer—an artist, historian and art collector—brings all of these elements into his work, never forgetting that a well-designed home is not just the arrangement of pieces within but also the effect they have on individual lives. To that end, he brings in the light, reflecting it through mirrors, letting it shine through French doors and windows, allowing the stories of those who live in the home to come to life.
Formal Living Room A Wes Hempel painting from the clients' private collection hangs on a wall of mirrors, making the surreal real in the light-filled living room. Under Stringer’s adept eye, the formal living area invites visitors to both see it and touch it, with textures ranging from silk to acrylic. The drapes are faux silk from Fabricut.
Tom Stringer's 2018 book An Adventurous Life serves up a delicious bit of eye candy for the design junkie. Stringer combines his worldly adventures with lush photographic evidence of his ability to seamlessly merge meaningful global treasures within the personal spaces of his clients. "To me, design is storytelling," he writes, "and in fact, I cannot imagine delivering an interior that, however aesthetically pristine, is devoid of personal narrative. My first and perhaps most critical task on every project is helping my clients distill and articulate their stories."