There is so much new excitement around the Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens that is set to open on Saturday, July 11. Although Covid-19 threw a big wrench in the plans of its interior designers, landscape architects, and co-chairs alike–not even a pandemic could derail making this year’s event a successful fundraiser for the Angel Harvey Family Health Center of the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago.
One of the many interior highlights of this year’s Showhouse has been designed by sister duo Leslie Martin and Kim Meardon of M&M Interiors in Kenilworth. With nine children between the two of them (yes, nine! my heroes!), Leslie and Kim were tapped by the extraordinary wallpaper designer de Gournay to debut their newest collaboration with fashion label Erdem.
“We were floored that they trusted us with such a special project,” explains Leslie, who had reached out to de Gournay to see if they might be interested in partnering with M&M Interiors on the sun room at the Showhouse. “We would have been happy with a few of their leftover scraps, so to be given a never-been-seen before, hand-painted mural was such a gift.”
But the mural didn’t come without its challenges. It forced Leslie and Kim to think outside the box and design the space around this statement wall-piece.
“We completely leaned into it and let the mural guide our plans,” Leslie says. “The wallpaper is so maximal, with its bright colors and big patterns, that we made our choices for the room so that it all felt cohesive. We envisioned the homeowner being just as comfortable gardening in her muddy Wellies as she would be hosting a party in a ballgown. We hope Showhouse guests feel that vibe when they visit our room.”
While Leslie and Kim are design partners, the sisters favor very different aesthetics. “Kim tends to go for ‘granny chic,'” says Leslie with a laugh. “And I like things that are more modern. But this room so perfectly lets us show both.”
The stop-and-start the coronavirus imposed on this design team instigated a few panic attacks.
“The mural was being hand-painted in Shanghai, so when China shutdown because of the virus, we had to start thinking about what our backup plans were,” Leslie says. “We definitely had those days where we wondered if we’d made a big mistake making the mural the focal piece. The mural was the very last piece to arrive for our space, but it was so worth the wait. We are beyond happy with how our room turned out.”
One last story to underscore the level of care designers go to when participating in this event is about the special prep the M&M Interiors team did so that the wallpaper panels can be returned to de Gournay when the Showhouse concludes.
“De Gournay ultimately wants the mural back, so a lot went into making sure that was possible when we hung them,” Leslie adds. “But again, all the extra planning for this–totally worth it!”
If you’d like to get a sneak peek of this home before it officially opens in July, honorary chair and designer extraordinaire Paloma Contreras will host an Instagram Live from the Showhouse itself on Saturday, June 27, at 11 a.m. CST. Just follow @PalomaContrerasDesign on Instagram to tune in.
The Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens will officially open daily from Saturday, July 11, through Sunday, August 9, 2020. Following State safety guidelines, a restricted number of tickets will be sold per day, divided by morning and afternoon sessions, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets for $40 must be purchased in advance at lakeforestshowhouse.com. This is a perfect opportunity for design enthusiasts to coordinate with friends and family to plan a group visit. The home benefits the Angel Harvey Family Health Center of the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago, which is celebrating more than 108 years of providing healthcare to Chicago’s medically underserved.
The 23-room, 11,000-square-foot, turn-of-the-century east Lake Forest estate has been transformed by over 30 interior and landscape designers, including Studio Gild, Studio CAK, Elizabeth Krueger Design, Shelley Johnstone Design, Sarah Vaile Design, James Thomas Interiors, Wendy Labrum Interiors, Joey Leicht Design, and Konstant Home. Upon entering the 3-acre estate, guests will be greeted by an entrance garden designed by JMR Landscaping. Other gardens have been created by Scott Byron & Co., Mariani Landscape, Schmechtig Landscapes, and JLC Landscaping. A 16-foot tall garden folly, constructed by Bulley & Andrews (in collaboration with Parenti & Raffaelli, Hull Millwork, and Hester Painting & Decorating) and designed by Manhattan-based architecture firm Bories & Shearron, will be available for purchase with 100% of the sale price benefitting Infant Welfare Society of Chicago.
In fact, many of the items at the Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens will be for sale. A price list of items for sale from furnishings to accessories will be made available in each designer space. Purchased items can be picked up following the close of the house, with 15% of the sale benefitting Infant Welfare Society of Chicago. All designers, along with their room renderings that reference paint colors, wall treatments, art and textiles, used in each space, will be detailed in the Lake Forest Showhouse program book, making it a great keepsake. A Lake Forest Showhouse & Gardens program book is included with ticket purchase.
To learn more or to purchase tickets to the Showhouse & Gardens, visit lakeforestshowhouse.com.