Inspiring Interiors Cover


Design Bureau Special Edition

Article By: Lesley Stanely

Step into the lobby at Parc Huron, a 21-floor residential high-rise in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, and Banks’ maxim resonates loud and clear. With its floor-to-ceiling beveled glass mir- rored wall, porcelain herringbone tile flooring, and quaint sitting area, the area welcomes resi- dents with a whimsical charm and subtle modern flair. “Designing the lobby was the most pressure I ever felt in design,” says Banks, president of Bella Maison Interior Design. “I’m a big fan of creating a dramatic sense of arrival.”

Known—partly through her gig designing a home for celebrity couple Giuliana and Bill Rancic on their Style Network reality TV show—for mixing traditional and contemporary styles, Banks says taking on the 221-unit building and its common ame- nities was the project she has been striving for her entire ca- reer. It’s especially sweet since it allowed her the opportunity to collaborate with longtime client and friend Anthony Rossi Sr., president of M&R Develop- ment, who along with business partner Thomas Moran, owns the luxury apartment complex.

“We wanted to make the design special,” says Banks. “From the beginning, I made sure I took my time, and that every decision resonated deep in me. You have to understand the demographics for homeowners and potential own- ers—really think about who lives here and how they want to live.”

When designing common areas, Banks says she aims to create a cohesive, seamless flow from one room to the next while also giving each room personal treatment. In the multifunctional cyber café, the ultra-modern, wave-like blue Snaidero cabinets contrast with, yet complement, the clas- sic Emeco polished steel chairs; their espresso wood seats add a twist to the traditional design favorite. “I like to do a juxta- position of old and new styles and materials,” says Banks. Dramatic full-height mosaic tile, imported from Italy, adds sheen to a media wall striped with televisions and computers mounted on silver poles.

Banks says one of the most chal- lenging tasks was transforming the building’s basement into a sophisticated and relaxing spa. “It had to be drop dead gorgeous, and we spent a lot of time coming up with the design,” she says. Glowing light and the pale ming green marble tiled wall in the lounge help create a calming en- vironment. Trickling water down the black stone wall at the base of the hot tub adds to the effect.

Overall, Banks says she wanted to create inviting designs that evoke emotion and bring happiness.

“The whole building was a risk, but the better you know yourself, the risks aren’t quite as risky,” says Banks.

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