As I mentioned yesterday, I love the relationships that often develop from writing All the Best. Just last month, after writing a profile on Frank Ponterio, I received an email from his friend Stephanie Wohlner—a fellow Chicago designer. The name was vaguely familiar to me, so I had a quick glance at her website. Looking through her impressive portfolio I found a photo of her work from Traditional Home (November 2004). This particular room has been a favorite of mine for years. Stephanie’s quote, printed across the pages of the 2004 article, “Symmetry promotes serenity,” has always stuck in my mind.
Excited to have made the connection, I picked up the phone and called Stephanie. Without a doubt, she is as charming and interesting as the interiors she creates. I am most fond of the way that she mixes periods and textures to create looks that are modern, yet warm, inviting and sophisticated.
A graduate of Harrington School of Design, her work has appeared in many publications including as House Beautiful, Better Homes & Gardens, Traditional Home, Renovation Style and The Chicago Sun-Times. Currently, she is working to complete a project at the renowned 15 Central Park West in New York City. That is one project that I would certainly love to see.
How would you describe your personal style?
My style is classic, livable, layered and soulful. At the same time, as reflected by my choice of Hugh Newell Jacobson as a style icon, I enjoy and respect the modern classic as well as traditional. I love mixing vintage with new to achieve depth. I also like to wear Bakelite jewelry and vintage accessories with crisp, white linen or grey cashmere to make ordinary, edgy.
What inspires your creativity and designs?
My primary inspiration comes from nature and natural materials. When I look at my garden I see colors that work together naturally. When I travel I see design in a fresh and new way. I am always inspired by the contrasts and differences.
What is your most prized possession?
My most prized possession(s) is my family photos, of which there are many in my house. The faces of the people that bring me the most joy always surround me.
What is the one thing in life you cannot live without?
As a mother, I cannot live without my three children. Along with them, my husband. He is my best friend.
Who are your style icons?
Jeanne Marie Lanvin
Hugh Newell Jacobson
Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
H.N. Jacobson, I.M. Pei or Robert A.M. Stern; they would be able to create the ideal space in which I could achieve my most fulfilling designs.
What books are currently on your bedside table?
Numerous shelter magazines
Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
What is your favorite luxury in life?
Travel and staying in the world's finest hotels. I enjoy great service in beautiful places.
What is your idea of earthly happiness?
To laugh often, to love much and to be there for others when I am needed.
Past or present who has most influenced your direction in life?
My mother most contributed to my direction in life overall, as everything that she touches becomes beautiful. However, my life's circumstances have influenced where I am today.