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6 Project Collaborations to be Envious of
By Wendy Cohen
Posted on 8/16/2019 1:25 PM
What a day it was on Wednesday, August 14th. We had a jam-packed day of Hard-Hat Tour stops beginning in Lake Forest and ending in Wilmette.

First Stop – Lake Forest, Catherine Schager Designs

Catherine Schager’s* design specialty is kitchen and bath but she loves to run the full gamut of interior design. This Lake Forest project began as a powder room gut with a re-fresh and furnishing of the living room,  dining room, family room, laundry room, and office. 

Catherine said her client was her “dream client” because they worked so well together. Once Catherine began in the powder room, the client added remodeling of the master bath, bedroom, hall bath plus entryway. Truly a beautiful finished project that took quite a bit of planning and collaboration. 

Project Collaboration by:

Builder: David Callahan, Michelle Chircop & Dave Peters, Callahan & Peters
Tile & Marble: Leslie Smith*, Tithof Tile & Marble
Lighting: Kimberly Colarossi*, Circa Lighting, and Rachel Sotoloff*, Idlewood Electric
Closets: Sue Trainor, Closet Works
Flooring & Rugs: Joe Poklop, Lewis Floor and Home and Mo & Afshin, Shabahang Rugs
Plumbing Fixtures: Steven Gertz, Crawford Supply and Dina Michaels, Ferguson
Cabinetry: Karla Krengel, Greenfield Cabinetry
Window Treatments: Sue Hermann, Chicago Design Source

Catherine Schager Project
Catherine Schager Designs


Second Stop – Lake Forest, Tina Dann-Fenwick Interiors

We were pleasantly surprised by the absolute beauty of First Presbyterian Church when we first approached. This project was a renovation and remodel of First Presbyterian, built in 1886.  The goal was to create a new multipurpose, open-plan gathering space in the existing choir room, adjacent to the sanctuary. The church wanted a place to allow the members to linger, mingle and feel totally at home after exiting mass. Mission accomplished!

Tina Dann-Fenwick* and collaborators created a flexible floor plan suitable for the new fellowship space designed by the architect. It was a challenge to blend the old with the new and make the area feel like a home away from home while staying within the budget. The blending of the building from 1886 to now is absolutely seamless. One cannot tell what is original and what is new. We could tell this was a true labor of love for all involved.

Project Collaboration by:

Architect: Diana Melichar, Melichar Architects
Construction: Chris Horton, Altounian Construction



Third Stop – Lake Bluff, Kipnis Architecture + Planning

Nathan Kipnis, FAIA* and team took a nondescript, 1950’s ranch and are transforming it into an open-concept, age-in-place home. This is a total gut renovation that will highlight a mid-century design. The homeowners joined us at the tour, (what a treat), which was in rough framing stage, and they were just beaming! You could see the wonderful relationship they had with the builder and architect. This couple will never have to think about moving again.

Project Collaboration by:

Builder: John Tiedmann, Tiedmann Enterprises, Inc.



Fifth Stop – Deerfield, Davis Audio

David Davis* and Dave Mandel's* stop covered two new homes in an empty-nester community that they wired and installed the technology. Our first visit was to a completed and occupied home where Dave explained that Davis Audio’s main goal was to please it’s customers. The second stop was recently drywalled and we could see how technology peripherals and outlets were placed in convenient but unobtrusive locations. Dave stressed how Davis Audio’s goals are to listen to the client while maintaining a budget, keeping in mind future system expansion or addition. They provide systems training until the customer is completely comfortable.


Sixth Stop –Highland Park, Chalet Nursery & Landscaping

Garth Sager*, Chalet presented a sleek, contemporary style single-family home that was a total rebuild on a challenging site that included steep grades towards the home and a ravine in the rear yard. The homeowner wanted the home and landscape to complement each other using a modern and minimalistic style and approach. 

Entertainment spaces, clean lines, a simple material palette and capturing views inside and out of the home were all goals for this project. The yard was completely redesigned and developed including beautiful stone walkways and patios. A custom-designed front entry water feature, complete with heated koi pond and floating pedestal bluestone steppers greet you. Also added were landscape lighting, irrigation, heated driveway, and extensive landscape plantings with a highly selected plant palate. The entire property creates a totally relaxing and zen-like feeling. Careful design consideration needed to be taken due to the site’s delicate environmental condition with the site being steeply sloped in front and located adjacent to a steep and protected ravine in the backyard. Necessary setbacks, grading and drainage systems were key factors in the project’s implementation. A restrained but highly selected plant and color palette was chosen to emphasize visual texture and year-round interest. The planting design features extensive groundcover sedges, evergreens and ornamental trees. The result is an exterior landscape that acts as an extension of the interior by mimicking the home and its distinct architectural style and aesthetic. As with any project of this nature and complexity, collaboration was key, said Garth. An ever-changing combination of contractors and specialists were on site daily. Constant communication and collaboration was required to achieve the desired outcome of the project and by working closely together the project resulted in a visually striking home and landscape that is enjoyed by the homeowners,  guests and PHS tour participants.

Project Collaboration by:

Water Features: Larry Carnes*, Reflections Water Gardens
Stonework: Hirsch Brick and Stone



Seventh Stop – Winnetka, Culliton Quinn Landscape Architecture

Our last tour stop was another amazing dream team presented by Tony Quinn* of Culliton Quinn Landscape Architecture. This majestic property was created reflecting the Adler style of design with it’s white painted brick and blue shutters. This is a tear-down/new construction that blends perfectly with the properties adjacent to it. 

Tony went above and beyond to prepare the exterior for our tour by placing cut hydrangeas in the homeowner’s favorite shades of blue strategically around the formal, manicured grounds to make everything just perfect. 

We saw how the private garden design including a pool house and screen porch were incorporated into the lush landscaping. This home is situated on a one-acre property overlooking a golf course in the front and beautiful views in the back which celebrates formality.  The design language is echoed throughout the landscape in the form of hedges, painted walls with limestone copings, Chippendale style gates and railings, and formal paving patterns.  Along the drive court, there is a boxwood hedge atop a low wall that hides an interior garden with diamond-patterned parterres and layered boxwood globes.  Colorful perennials pop in a strong visual garden, seen from the kitchen windows.  Entering the rear yard, a fountain with a custom lead spout and twin Pear espaliers, doubles as a spa, (ingenious!).  18’ arborvitaes flank the long, elegant pool maintaining privacy year-round.  White benches and planter boxes pop against a tall boxwood hedge, defining the formal lawn space from the pool area; it remains partially hidden when closed for the winter.  Bluestone herringbone inlays with corresponding furniture arrangements adorn the grand back terrace overlooking the great lawn.  The garden design strikes a balance between functionality for an active family and the client’s formal aesthetic. We could tell that true professionals worked together on this project!

Project Collaboration by:

Architect: Paul Konstant, Konstant Architecture and Planning
Builder: Kim Eriksen, Eriksen Armstrong Corporation
Landscape Contractor & Maintenance: Dan Kjeldbjerg and Paul Zuzinec, Pouls Landscaping & Nursery, Inc.
Stone Supplier: Daniel Wood*, Lurvey Landscape Supply
Masonry: Anthony Fontana, G. Fontana and Sons and John Egan, A1 Contractors, Inc.
Pool: Michael Boilini, Boilini Company
Fence & Railing: Luc Halupka, HL Stairs, Inc.
Site Lighting: Nick Miller, Lightscapes, Inc. 
Irrigation: Marty Shrero, Advanced Irrigation



Last Stop – Happy Hour Networking, Chalet Nursery & Landscaping

Our very busy day ended at the outdoor garden and nursery of Chalet where we were hosted by PHS Member Garth Sager* and Carleigh Thalmann. We enjoyed a wonderful spread of food and were served beer and wine by a great bartender. It was a great setting for some serious networking that needed to happen after visiting these stellar projects. All around the grounds, you saw groups of 6-8 laughing, talking and enjoying themselves. It truly was a remarkable day!



 *Denotes PHS Member

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