Moody Blues

Designer Alexandra Kaehler creates an English country-inspired nest for a special client—her sister.

THIS WAS A PROJECT YEARS IN THE MAKING. Alexandra Kaehler, of Alexandra Kaehler Design, says that she and her sister had been thinking about the perfect house for a very long time. “It was something that the two of us had fantasized a lot about over the years; what it would look like, the things she wanted to include. So when the time came and they finally bought this house, it was just a really fun process for me and her.” Kaehler says about her sister, “She has a distinct point of view. Aesthetically she loves English-inspired interiors, but she also likes the saturation of a more American style.”

The 100-year-old historic house in the Chicago suburbs is sophisticated and elegant, and not at all stuffy. It retains heritage architectural details like moldings and hardware, but also incorporates saturated color, tailored patterns, stylish furniture, and a lived-in feel that comes from a layered approach. “She wanted this way of using color that wouldn’t feel like a circus that still felt inviting and classic, but also playful and whimsical.” To achieve that mission, Kaehler made sure that an intense palette like the rich blue of the formal dining room lived adjacent to the more subtle tones in the beige-and-powder-blue kitchen.

In the formal living room, terracotta walls create a cozy feel in a room that didn’t have a lot of natural light. “We really wanted to lean into that cozy, nestlike feeling,” says Kaehler. To offset the richness of the walls, she chose a pale turquoise for the sofa and bright yellow on the armchairs. Beyond the living room, a den in deep emerald green evokes a British library. “That room is right off the kitchen and is probably where they spend the most time. It’s my personal favorite in the house, it’s just so welcoming,” Kaehler shares. “Green is my favorite color, and also I think that people always gravitate to the smallest room in a house.

In the sunroom, there are more touches of blue in the cushions on the classic wicker chairs. Kaehler says, “We live in Chicago so they don’t get to enjoy it all year, but they use it a lot during the three nice months of the year.” The lush greenery outside the screened windows is the backyard of the home, and Kaehler says it’s an integral part of how the family enjoys their outdoor space. “When it’s too hot you can sit in there and turn on the fan and be protected from the humidity a little bit.”

In the primary bedroom, Kaehler created a strong visual story by using the same floral pattern on the walls, headboard, seating, draperies, and pillows. “We really committed to this idea of repeating the same pattern. It’s a very British style, and this is a pattern from Soane in the UK. It’s obviously a busy pattern, but it’s actually a very quiet room to be in. “You feel like you are sitting in a garden. It just swallows you up, which I love.”

In the end, the finished home was a success, and Kaehler’s sister and her family couldn’t be happier. It incorporates some family heirlooms and collections that add to the layered look but has a modern, layered feel befitting a family with young children. Kaehler says the house really suits her sister’s personality. “She’s really bubbly, and very visual.” That assessment must be correct because her sister texted her saying that the house was her “ultimate nest.” High praise, indeed.