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PAGODA RED Picks: Six of Our Favorite 2023 Rooms

We always describe PAGODA RED as a gallery of the extraordinary, full of objects that represent centuries of decorative arts. Our clients are also extraordinary. Here are a few of our favorite rooms from 2023, each designed by a PAGODA RED client–featuring antiques, art, and curiosities found at our gallery. From Michael Smith’s redesign of the Illinois Governor’s Mansion to Atelier AM’s minimalistic bathroom, each room brings the past firmly into the present.

Michael Smith and MK Pritzker show how no room feels complete without Chinese porcelain

AD Hall of Fame member Michael S. Smith is known for his beautiful renovations of historic homes, including his 2010 renovation of the White House. In 2023, Smith worked with Illinois First Lady MK Pritzker to redesign the Illinois Governor’s Mansion. The result is a chic blend of historic antiques, contemporary art, and wallcoverings thoughtfully designed with regionally significant motifs. We enjoyed helping Smith and Mrs. Pritzker choose porcelain for almost every room, including famille rose baluster jars and blue-and-white brush pots for the library and the Lincoln Parlor. Because Smith’s team is based in LA, we worked closely with them via email, phone, and shared photography to exchange ideas about scale, motifs, and color. We particularly love how the indigo bamboo vase in the First Family’s living room plays off of the wallpaper by DuFour in a sepia edition of the 1812 Les Monuments de Paris.

A 19th c. Mounted Well-Head offers a focal point beyond a reflecting pond in Louisiana.
A 19th c. Mounted Well-Head offers a focal point beyond a reflecting pond at a family home in Louisiana.

We knew this Mounted Well-Head would end up somewhere spectacular, but this family home installation, where a meditative outdoor “room” was created, exceeded every expectation. Chosen by one of our longstanding clients, who works often with our Design Concierges Mike and Laurene, the found limestone object with ridged sides was mounted on a steel stand custom designed for the site. The round stone represents eternity, which resonated as a fine marker for a home built from scratch. It complements the gracious green of nature and the serenity of the architecture. The stone sculpture adds depth and creates a strong focal point.

A 19th c. Queen Anne-style chest of drawers in a colorful California home office.

A client in California chose a 19th c. European Queen Anne-style chest of drawers for a layered office full of interest. She told PAGODA RED that she loves how the honeycomb-patterned maple veneer pairs with the bold blue lacquered walls and trim. We love the distinct personality of the room, particularly that the floral motifs on the antique throw carpet subtly complement the six-petal floral brass escutcheons on the chest.

Atelier AM chose a limestone drum as the primary object of interest for this Southhampton wetroom. Photo: Stephen Kent Johnson

A Southhampton estate designed by AD 100 firm Atelier AM features an austere wetroom with a soaring ceiling. It reminds us of our favorite wabi sabi Ming dynasty spaces and objects that exhibit thoughtful restraint. In keeping with that philosophy, Atelier AM chose very few, select accents. One choice? A 19th c. limestone drum that echoes and highlights the luxurious imperfect Venetian plaster walls and fantastic curves that surround it.

Vintage teaware, including a Crackle Glazed teapot, in a pantry by Evan Millard.

Designer Evan Millárd chose several PAGODA RED antiques for his West Cottage Retreat at the Lake Forest Showcase House. We especially loved the pantry, a treasure box brimming with wonderful objects, from a mirrored floral tea tray to enamelware teapots. Peeking into the tiny space felt like stumbling on the fabulous trove of a well-traveled collector, with every object displayed to full advantage.

A meditation stone table in the sunroom of Lorimer Mansion, designed by Patricia Miller.

This stone meditation table found a perfect home in 2023, set among the arches and marble floors of Lorimer Mansion in Crystal Lake, Illinois designed by Patricia Miller. Lorimer Mansion was a personal project for Miller who approaches every endeavour with vision. Professionally, with her team of creators, makers, engineers & designers at M4 Factory, her mission is to build a world full of sustainable, regenerative products that bring value, delight, and meaning to the lives of everyone involved. Miller discovered the meditation stone table unexpectedly while browsing our Bucktown gallery. She was drawn to the immersive stone for her sunroom where she meditates daily. With it’s organic shape and hand-turned supports, the table creates balance between the room’s original marble floors, Mies Van Der Rohe lounge, and Miller’s very personal contemporary art.

We have a fantastic time working with our clients and supporting their creative visions. While these six rooms were some 2023 notables, every day was full of inspiring projects and endless creativity. Please keep us in the loop so we can share what you do. We look forward to seeing what the PAGODA RED community designs in 2024.

Photo Credits: 1. Scott Shigley from A House that Made History: The Illinois Governor’s Mansion 2. Provided by client 3. Provided by client 4. Stephen Kent Johnson for Architectural Digest; 5. Jeffrey Johnson


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