Colleague Spotlight: Summer Thornton

“Do at least one thing your mother wouldn’t.” This is decorating advice from interior designer Summer Thornton, and I couldn’t love it more! I’m so pleased to feature Summer on the blog this week—she’s renowned for her bold use of color and pattern, and her stunning work is featured regularly in House Beautiful, Traditional Home, Lonny, and many others. Lately I’m feeling especially inspired by her use of incredible statement light fixtures! Though Summer works on projects nationwide, we are so lucky to have her based not only out of Chicago, but Lincoln Park specifically.

Please share a little about your design philosophy.
My philosophy is really centered around the belief that every home should reflect the homeowner's unique personality. So while I have my own personal aesthetic, much of what I do is centered around creating the mood that the client wants to live in. I want people to live in homes that feel like them - where their soul is on the walls and reflected in the furniture. Every project we work on looks totally unique to that particular client - some are modern, some are traditional, some colorful - that's what makes them so personal. With that said, I do generally find that clients come to us when they're looking for interiors that feel fresh & timeless, oftentimes with color and pattern, and definitely a dash of whimsy.

What are your favorite of-the-moment trends?
I honestly don't really like to follow trends. Once something is a trend, it has lost its timelessness and its specialness. Instead of trends, I typically try to look for what's timeless but still feels fresh, and oftentimes I do that by incorporating pieces from a variety of eras. We'll mix art deco, mid-century, and contemporary pieces together to create a look that is curated and timeless but still feels current. Sure we might mix in a few trendy accessories here and there, but they shouldn't be the backbone of any design.  

What are your predictions for the next big trends we’ll see?
I think there will be a big resurgence for wallpaper over the next 5-10 years. People were afraid of it, fearing it would feel heavy and old, but I use it quite regularly and it always feels fresh. I think we'll also see a shift away from the overuse of beige/grey and more people comfortable using color & pattern.

What are your go-to classic design favorites?
You can't go wrong with classic Karl Springer, Jansen, or Milo Baughman furnishings. 

What are your favorite local shops for furniture and decor?
It's hard to pick just a few - last year we bought from more than 2000 different vendors worldwide, but here in Chicago I love Redefined Decor on Grand for accessories and vintage art; Jayson Home for furnishings & some imported flea market finds; and Asrai Garden for fresh floral bouquets. 

Do you have any tricks for making rooms look bigger/more open?
You know what surprises most people? The more you layer a home, the bigger it feels. It causes the eye to move around and draws attention to various things, which makes the room feel more complete. When rooms are sparsely furnished or empty, they oftentimes look really small.  

What is your favorite Chicago neighborhood, and why?
I live in Lincoln Park, our design firm office is in Lincoln Park on Armitage Avenue, and my kids go to school in Lincoln Park so it'd be hard for it not to be my favorite! But truly, it is perfect for my family. I've got a 5-year-old daughter and almost 1-year-old son, so we have regular trips to Oz Park, Sweet Mandy B's, and we don't feel bad bringing our kids with us to some of the restaurants. It's a great place to raise a family. But don't get me wrong - I also love a night out with my husband going to Gold Coast or the West Loop for drinks & dinner, without the kids! 

What types of services do you offer?
We are a full service design firm. Most often clients hire us to do comprehensive designs, in many cases including construction documentation, finish selections, and of course furnishings, art, and more. We've done everything from ground-up new construction builds, gut-remodels, and pure furnishings/decorating projects.