Chicago Transitional Rowhouse: Rae Duncan Interior Design


April 6, 2021



Our Landmark Revival Project was an addition and renovation of a beautiful landmark rowhouse. The transitional style has been immensely popular in the past decade and we see this look often in many cities and towns across the country. When done well they can be elegant and stunning, but when poorly done they can look cheap and builder grade. I believe this look when well done, will never go out of style. Its contemporary and classic at the same time, the ultimate crowd pleaser. I do think current trends are departing from the mainstream in favor of more color, originality, and character, but a stunning white home will be forever.


The most significant constant in the transitional style is decorative millwork and custom built-ins. Designing millwork is my fave!! For this project, we were spoiled with custom kitchen cabinets, custom built-ins throughout the entire home, coffered ceilings, tile and wood wainscoting, and trimmed out openings.



This may surprise you, but this entire home is only 2400 square feet, that’s only 800 square feet per floor for a family of four. Hardly space for actual furniture and a desperate need for storage and functionality. As I often say, use every inch, in this home every single little space was utilized. We added a garage and boot room addition to the home, but it was a particularly short lot and we had to get extremely creative to design each and every corner. Never forget to stick in a bo room! Even if you have to squeeze it onto a staircase. And don’t forget to make it accessible to the little ones!!



Sneak in some funky! We had very few walls left went we were done with this one, but we did what could!! Thank you again Timorous Beasties!!



Open it up!! Older homes are full of little nooks and crannies not conducive to modern living, knock out walls when you can, but try to maintain some division and variety to distinguish formal living and dining rooms.


White kitchens, white kitchens!! Make yours unique! Add channels, inlaid metal, details!! Jewelry- That is what makes a kitchen. Face frame/ no face frame- make it unusual and original NOT generic, think outside the white kitchen box. It’s okay to close up windows too- You lose function in a kitchen with too many windows in the wrong places


We did some major rejiggering on the lower lever. There was a mechanical/laundry and a main area and a half bath. Using every las centimeter we squeezed in a full bath with soaking tub, guest room with full built-in dresser and closets, a laundry nook, cleaning closet, full wall of built ins for toy storage including a build-in office area. For more of this you can also check out the article in Better Homes and Gardens!! Storage, storage, storage ins small spaces. Keep things put away-

Ugly soffits? Cover em’ up!

Add as many full baths and bedrooms with windows for egress as possible. Big winner when it comes to resale and functionality.

Carerra is getting boring but it’s crowd pleaser heaven- can’t go wrong.

Do we really want to see all that nasty desk mess??? NOOOOOOOO!

All you need is 60” by 30” for a fully functioning laundry room!!

And have fun with the bedrooms! These were the only colored rooms in this home, and they were so fun- small, but fabulous!! Statement piece. Use unique objects, art and heirlooms, let it inspire!

If you go transitional, have FUN with it! Stay tuned for our next blog “Accessories that are NOT lame