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For the Love of Neutrals: Chicago Designer Andrea Goldman
Andrea Goldman’s home is the place where everyone wants to be. It is a quaint 2-story with gabled roofs, picture-perfect windows, and a front porch lined with wicker high-backed chairs. If you were passing by, you may think it to be the sweetest All-American dream home you’ve ever seen as it sits happily in a quiet neighborhood along Chicago’s North Shore.
Inside, it is welcoming and luxe — an oasis of design perfection, and one that takes your breath away from every view. It boasts an open plan, clean lines, and timeless finishes — all anchored by a sumptuous walnut wide-planked floor from Carlisle.
The white kitchen is spacious and bright. The breakfast nook hosts a built-in u-shaped bench with a garden view, and the dining room features oversized modern art and a statement chandelier. The living room is streamlined and cheerful with natural fabrics and light, and beckons one to find complete relaxation in comfortable seating that is arranged for easy living with just the right hint of elegance.
The palette is layered in neutrals of crème and white, cotton, linen, and wool. Dark wooden casegoods play on the warmth of the Walnut floor, and woven baskets strategically add a sensible touch to keep things in order. Soft hues of blue, green, and pale pink are introduced through fresh floral bouquets, art, and a toss pillow or two, adding a personalized note of elegance and sophistication into every space.
The entire look is clean and fresh, and whispers “make yourself at home.” It represents everything Andrea Goldman Design is all about: creating comfortable yet established spaces that bring a sense of calm to everyday life.
Today, we are sitting down with Andrea to learn more about her booming business, her secrets to neutral perfection, and why clients from Penthouses to Greystones, and the affluent communities of the North Shore are lined up for her services.
Andrea Goldman, Interior Designer
C: Good Morning, Andrea. Thanks for taking time to talk to us today. We can’t wait to tap into your “neutral” knowledge. Your work is absolutely breathtaking…
AG: Hello — and thank you, that’s very kind. I’m happy to be here and happy to share.
C: We know you consider yourself a newer design firm, but you’ve actually been in the business for years. Tell us about your background.
AG: Before I started my family, I was actually the VP and a member of the development team (along with my husband) for a well-respected residential developer, the Belgravia Group. It was through this role that I fell in love with interior design and began the process of designing my home in the North Shore.
Shortly after building our home, people started coming to me and asking me to work on their homes. I was obviously comfortable with the construction and development process, but wasn’t sure if I wanted to move into interior design at the time. Eventually I found that I couldn’t say no anymore and began to take on a project here and there; seeking out full-scope work over individual spaces.
The requests increased, and as of 5 or 6 years ago, I was designing 2-3 houses a year. I’ve maintained that intensity over the years and about a year and a half ago I began adding talented individuals to my team for all of the exciting work that was coming our way. I renovated a building in downtown Glencoe, an established Chicago village, and moved from my home office into that space about a year ago.
So while I’ve actually been designing for over a decade, I still consider us to be a new firm as we have only been together as a group in our office for one year. This move has allowed us to expand further and we are now working on an average of about 12 houses at a time.
C: That’s exciting. So you designed and built your own home, and in it, specified a walnut floor from Carlisle. Tell us more about that…
AG: Yes, we are coming up on 11 years in our home. My husband is a builder and was fully aware of Carlisle and the exceptional quality of the product. We went with Carlisle right off the bat, and I’ve been specifying it for clients ever since. I love the consistency, especially in the prefinished engineered floors, and my general contractors love it as well. They rave about how fast and easy it is to install.
C: That’s always great to hear, especially from those who are working directly with the product. Let’s dive into your mastery of creating breathtaking neutral palettes: what are your clients asking for that leads to this specific look?
AG: They all come in with the same request: They want their home to be a sanctuary — and they want it sophisticated enough to feel designed and thoughtful, and more importantly, they want it to be comfortable. For me, that means creating spaces that are calm and easy on the eye, where everything within it has a purpose.
C: Comfort is key. Is this how you cultivated the look of your own home?
AG: Absolutely. It’s so natural for me in my own life. Everyone is busy. For us, we have 3 kids and love to entertain, so our house is always buzzing with family and friends — and of course our dogs. Over the years, our house has naturally become the place where everyone wants to gather, and I credit this to the fact that it feels good inside — it truly resonates in a comfortable way with everybody who walks through the front door, and there is a place for everyone.
C: How does a wood floor most impact a neutral design?
AG: It drives and informs everything as we layer. It creates the general vibe from the ground up. And when it comes to neutral palettes, I love the contrast of a deep dark brown or black wood on the floor.
C: So we have to ask, exactly what are your favorite Carlisle floors at the moment?
AG: For a while it was walnut, but with the newer prefinished options, I love the prefinished oak. It’s tougher, and I like the movement of the grain. When you see this in a wide plank, it is just beautiful. It’s really changed the way I look at oak altogether.
C: How about architectural details…what are your clients craving right now?
AG: Well, this really runs the gamut. We use shiplap everywhere — even in modern applications to create a more detailed and layered effect on the walls. We love coffered ceilings. And we stick with simple millwork that is scaled to fit but offers a clean line to the overall design.
C: We think it’s all stunning. And you’re designing all over the city — do your clients share certain personality characteristics?
AG: They do, however they are all in different places in life. I’ve got everyone from young families to retired bachelors. But they all want the same thing: to enjoy living in spaces that evoke a vacation vibe. They love the feeling of layers, textures, and the easygoing mood that comes with a tone on tone look.
C: What advice would you give to someone who wants to create a neutral design? Where do you start?
AG: When we present to a client, we do a visualization meeting focused mainly on architectural details. We use Pinterest like crazy and go through everything they love and hate in order to edit and elevate the design. As for the exact neutrals, we’ll start from the floor or rugs and build up from there. But overall, it’s really a building experience. You have to find that one thing that inspires your design and go from there.
Another thing that works to our advantage when creating a tone on tone look, is that we design all the spaces of a home simultaneously. This allows the client to visually walk through the plan to really get a feel for how cohesive their home will be.
C: And color. You seem to know exactly where to pull it in, and it feels just right in every room. What’s your secret?
AG: I like to use a lot of grays, blues, and creams. And generally, my clients are not afraid of these variations. I think a major player in my work is that I’m super cognizant of the role that light plays in every space. Because we live in the Midwest, life can feel a little overcast for much of the year, so it’s really important to bring the outdoor experience inside the home. I adore bringing fresh greens and florals into every home. And of course, you’ll see a little color play in artwork and accessories to pull it all together.
C: We think we’ve got it…but we know we’ll have to call you for signature Andrea Goldman design. Speaking of color, do you predict any color trends for the upcoming season?
AG: Yes! I’m seeing so much more pinks and purples in design these days…but when it comes to my work, I’ll probably stick with using these colors in smaller doses, like in fresh flowers or on a toss pillow.
C: Well there’s no doubt you pull this look off in style. The kind that makes us want to kick off our shoes and settle in for a while…Andrea, we are honored to be part of your work. We look forward to crafting our wide planks for you and your clients as you continue to layer your love of neutrals into the future sanctuaries of the North Shore.
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