I recently had the pleasure of working with Mara and Ryan Marks on a remodel of their Gold Coast apartment. This was a heartwarming project because it was the apartment Ryan grew up in. It is important to say that Bellehaven was introduced to Ryan and Mara from Ally Anderson of Integro Builders (Chicago) because motorized blinds were needed for 11 bay windows or 33 windows total. While the panoramic views are stunning, the heat and glare from the sun were an issue.
More than window treatments!
According to Ryan, the timing with Bellehaven coming in coincided with them not only needing help with window treatments but he and Mara had some other design and function questions, so it naturally tied in. The western rooms were a concern: the heat and glare from the afternoon sun through the windows made these rooms almost uninhabitable during that time. The living room space was utilized by his parents as a place to sit with guests along with a small portion used as an office space for his dad. This wasn’t conducive to Ryan and Mara’s lifestyle.
“We changed the living room to accommodate a large TV, taking into consideration the sun,” said Ryan. “That room is getting used far more on a daily basis than ever before.”
Bridging the gap
“Our home now reflects the way we live,” said Mara. “The windows are timeless and the details we were focusing on paid off. Little suggestions from Stephanie made the Wow difference. Stephanie has an ability to “read the room” and was an advocate to our voice. She bridged the gap with the contractors to get them what they were looking for and provided what they needed in a timely manner.”
“Our wet bar and entranceway foyer are all connected yet each one is different,” said Ryan. “Stephanie created a natural connection as you move from one space to the next; they each have their own space even though they are connected.”
“The wet bar and hallway areas brought the colors in and we receive so many complements,” said Mara. “These touches and others were helpful and all done quite efficiently, without feeling rushed.”
I failed to mention earlier that Ryan and Mara closed on the apartment in January 2020 but had not yet moved in. The pandemic ensued shortly after and the building management would not initiate any new projects that were not already under construction. Once the restriction was lifted, a supply shortage made some items difficult to obtain. This unpredictability caused us all to manage uncharted territory.
Mara states it perfectly: “There were limitations due to the building and our project was in a holding pattern. Stephanie entered the project when the stress levels were going up. There was an urgency to complete the project.”
Working with Stephanie and Bellehaven Designs
Working with Stephanie and Bellehaven Designs
“There were certain limitations relative to the high-rise nature of the apartment with what could and could not be done,” said Ryan. “There were things we wanted to accomplish but we couldn’t always envision them. Stephanie listened to what we were saying and found a synergy to make things work. She built a relationship with us quickly and understood where we were coming from.”
“Stephanie took into consideration all points of view and wanted to honor that the apartment have a feeling of love when you enter,” said Mara.
“Stephanie took into consideration all points of view and wanted to honor that the apartment have a feeling of love when you enter,” said Mara. She also understood that we wanted to make it our own while understanding what was there. Stephanie heard us loud and clear while presenting us with choices and ideas. There were times that the things that were important to us we were willing to give. She allowed us to come to our own decisions.”
Creating memories with their son in their newly remodeled home
“I am biased and have fond memories growing up in the city,” said Ryan. “The common thought is once you have kids you move to the suburbs. Our son has only lived-in high-rise buildings. One reason my parents selected this apartment was where I would attend school. Our son is attending the same school taking the same walk to school that I did!”
“There is a great vibrancy to living in Chicago, whatever your interests or lifestyle to be close to so many things: theater, music, sports, the lakefront, parks. The desire of friends who come to visit to see these things, we have the ability to see them all of the time,” said Mara.
Mara is excited that their son is being raised in the city knowing city and appreciating all of the city quirks. Embracing events and the things nearby such as Lincoln Park and other parks. “It is possible to carve out your bit of privacy in the city,” she says.
“Whenever it’s a rough day the choices the colors textures and design elements make home a pleasure to come home to,” said Mara. “Privacy and a home in the city!”