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Natural Reign
A historic Fox Point colonial is transformed into a tonal oasis

Photos by Doug Edmunds

February 2016


With good bones, this kitchen needed only a cabinet paint refresh, a marble top and chandelier to give it a stylish, family-friendly vibe.

A North Shore couple with a colorful business portfolio discovered how to put their home life in neutral (no pun intended) with the help of a local interior designer, who is ironically now part of their corporate family.

The transformation began a little more than six years ago, when Kelli Gabel walked into Kate Kazlo’s The Home Market store in the Historic Third Ward. She and her husband had just purchased a 3,500-square-foot colonial in Fox Point on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, just south of Doctors Park.

"The house really felt like home, but it needed work," Gabel says. Turns out, the homeowners and Kazlo took much of the home’s first floor, originally built in 1940, down to the studs.


Designer Kate Kazlo created a comforting master bedroom retreat with an upholstered headboard, tan leather winged chair and a Brazilian cowhide area rug — a signature element seen throughout the home.

"They wanted a livable space where they could unwind," Kazlo says. The couple, expecting their first child — a daughter, also wanted to move in quickly.

"I had a pretty tight timeline, just 12 weeks," Kazlo says. It would be the project’s first phase.

Not only did she meet the timeline, but Kazlo continued to work with the homeowners. The result is a blend of a soft neutral color scheme dotted with myriad pops of dark as well as brighter colors, geometric patterns and conversation-inducing fabrics such as Brazilian cowhide area rugs.

The master bathroom extends comfort and clean lines with a stand-alone tub and dual vanity on a penny-round marble tile floor.

While neutrals reign, various rooms exude individuality. A rustic farmhouse table, layered patterns and a combination of winged and captain chairs round out the dining room. An upholstered scalloped headboard, rustic chandelier and winged chaise share the master bedroom. Bright pink splashes across furnishings and cornice trim in the child’s bedroom create a playful oasis, and penny-round marble tile gives a throwback character to a neutral, spa-like bathroom.


Neutral gives way to whimsy in the homeowners’ daughter’s bedroom.

Homeowners and designer alike agree the home’s centerpiece transformation is the open-concept family room and kitchen. Like the rest of the home, the family room is a blend of rustic and modern with furniture draped in stylish, washable slipcovers that protect an active family lifestyle, which includes a youngster and two rescue dogs. Kitchen cabinetry was retained, painted and refreshed with antique silver hardware. The island, built to be a family-friendly informal gathering place, is topped with Calacatta marble that extends white walls and ceiling.

Gabel says the project’s success was forged through trust. "I look at anyone who is a professional that they know what they are doing," she says. "We had very few changes because she (Kazlo) knew what we wanted, and our vision was compatible."


The family’s favorite hangout is the informal section of the living room that sports layered floor coverings of hides and geometric pattern as well as a leather ottoman table and washable blue-gray and off-white slip covers. Style and pragmatism coexist here, no doubt.

Kazlo’s work also impressed Gabel’s spouse, Craig Karmazin, CEO and founder of Good Karma Brands. The company’s holdings include radio broadcasting, sports marketing and retail, and given the basis of her home design expertise, Karmazin recruited Kazlo and The Home Market into the Good Karma Brands umbrella.

"When you work with people, you find those who have brilliant minds and others who are good project managers," Karmazin says. "Kate is both. I am not a person who loves houses or furniture, but I spend 90 percent of my waking day at home in that living room. It is comfortable. I have learned to love the neutrals." M



This story ran in the February 2016 issue of: