Nothing Beats a ‘Killer View’ Says Chicago-Based Interior Designer Kara Mann
Kara Mann, an interior designer with offices in New York and Chicago, describes herself as a “punk-rock classicist.” Two years ago, she launched a furniture collection with Baker/Milling Road, and recently completed the renovation of Chicago’s Talbott Hotel. She’s also currently working on two properties in California—a single-family home in Napa and one in Palm Springs, as well as a traditional estate on the lake in Winnetka, a suburb of Chicago.
Ms. Mann has also recently been named interior designer and interior architect for 1000M, an upcoming 350-unit skyscraper coming to Chicago.
She started her career first as a fine artist and then as a fashion and interiors stylist, opening her interiors firm in Chicago in 2005 at the request of several clients.
We caught up with Ms. Mann to discuss her happy real estate accident, her go-to advice for others looking for their dream homes and much more.
Describe your dream property.
It would definitely be a beautiful, old historic house with great proportions and great views. There’d be integrity to start and then I could maybe make modifications if needed. I’m kind of a nomad so I could live many places. I can’t narrow it down to one dream spot.
Do you have a real estate property that got away?
I walked away from a deal in Chicago on closing, because there was a problem with the seller. But I took a walk and happened upon a place that’s been my home now for 10 years. I’m happy that one got away.
What does luxury mean to you?
For me, it’s not necessarily about a palatial house, but a home that’s built with interest, integrity, restraint and a strong sense of design. Something with soul. It has to have the necessities of life in a well edited way and a beautiful way.
Where are the best luxury homes in the world and why?
Anywhere that’s connected to a really vibrant city, and people will always want to live there. Or reversely, somewhere that’s completely remote with access to great amenities. Those are two extremes that fit the bill.
What’s your favourite part of your home?
I love my apartment. It’s unique architecturally. It’s in a 1920s building, and was like a jewel box. There was so much architectural integrity when I bought it, and then I made minor changes that were thoughtful. It’s very unique, and almost feels castle-like.
What best describes the theme to your home and why?
Simple elegance. It’s not over designed. I like a simplicity of life and that’s how I live.
What’s the most valuable thing in your home?
I’ve started a great art collection—a chair by Rick Owens; a collection of rugs. And I can’t forget my clothes, of course. But honestly, the most valuable things are the moments I have there with my family and friends. Everything else are just objects.
What’s the most valuable amenity to have in a home right now?
An amazing location or a really killer view. That’s the first step to get you into a space.
What’s your best piece of real estate advice?
Follow your gut. Environments evoke emotions. Listen to what your gut is telling you. When you walk into a space and you just know it, tune into that. It’s always worth a stretch, even.
f you had a choice of living in a new development or a prime resale property, which would you choose and why?
I’m a sucker for old and historic spaces, so that’s what I would tend to gravitate toward. But you need to be willing to make changes. You need both time and money for that.
Written by Lucy Cohen Blatter
Original content from Mansion Global