Hunting for a new house stirs up all kinds of hopes, memories and preferences, some of which we didn’t know we had. Ultimately, choosing just the right residence is always a combination of head and heart. Is it a good investment? Do I love it? Will I be happy there? Does it feel like home?
Beth Scherr says she knew right away that she would love living in the South Side house she bought in 2007. Situated on an acre of land in a quiet, leafy neighborhood, it reminded her of her grandmother’s house, a place she loved visiting as a child. “I fell in love with the house because my grandmother’s ranch had the same cool brick thing and the picture window and fireplace. … I had fond memories of running around the yard chasing rabbits.”
Since purchasing her 1952 home, Scherr has infused it with her own style, an eclectic look that also characterized Du Soleil, the Carytown home decor shop Scherr owned from 1998 to 2008. “I’ve used the same design philosophy that I had in my shop for my house,” she says. “I’ve bought pieces I love and mixed it all together. There’s a story behind everything.”
After working and learning the textile business for five years at local home-furnishings emporium Williams & Sherrill, Scherr and business partner Erika Vaden started up a full-scale interior design business. “We do a lot by feel,” Scherr says. “I call it ‘intuitive design.’ That’s how this house is. … it’s all about how the house feels.”
“I’ve bought pieces I love and mixed it all together. There’s a story behind everything.” —Beth Scherr
Her intuition came into play when Scherr and her fiance (now husband) Don Libbon began planning for an expansion of the house. Over the years, Scherr had collected lots of ideas for what she wanted, so when the time came to make changes, she was ready. “I pulled out the pictures and went from there,” she says. With a kitchen enlargement and a master-suite addition, the couple doubled the original square footage of the house to 2,400, making it infinitely more livable for everyone after Libbon and his teenage daughter moved in.
For the kitchen area, Scherr wanted a fresh look with notes of color in pendant lights and art, also a mainstay throughout the house. Opening up a couple of walls and adding lots of glass created a bright spot for her kitchen table, where she spends mornings working with a laptop, phone and coffee. “I’m so lucky,” she says. “I get to look out all day.” On the expansive deck that Libbon built outside the kitchen — “My husband does the outside of the house, and the inside is mine,” she explains — she’s mixed Crate and Barrel with Home Goods, a frequent destination for items she places in her own home and those of clients, and where, she says, “You get a ton of look for the money.”
“I’m so lucky. I get to look out all day.” —Beth Scherr
While Scherr is a pro at sourcing furnishings from the likes of Wayfair and Ikea, she has her indulgences — a Jonathan Adler lamp here and a Noguchi table there. Everything mixes together naturally. “If I see something I love, I find a place for it,” Scherr says. A favorite designer is Philippe Starck, and she has a Starck-designed fly swatter to prove it. “It’s useful and cool!” she says, waving it in the air to demonstrate its sleek resin composition and flexibility. Starck’s sense of playful design and hers are clearly a good match.
For the master suite addition, Scherr pulled out all the stops and created a sanctuary of calm and luxury. “I wanted it to have a natural palette, just easy-peasy,” she says of the modern bedroom with soft, neutral colors on surfaces floor to ceiling. Windows feature unobtrusive pull-down shades instead of fabric treatments to keep the view in sight, and a velvety cover on the bed sets a warm and comfy vibe that makes this a don’t-want-to-leave kind of room.
Pocket doors lead to their expansive bathroom with a soaking tub, a glass-tiled shower and marble vanity — all connected to a roomy walk-in closet for two with built-in storage and the piece de resistance: a Mies van der Rohe daybed in the middle. “It’s a favorite piece … we built the room to fit it,” Scherr says.
A door leads from the bedroom to a diminutive deck with seating for two overlooking a zen garden complete with water, stone and wood features, plus a moss-covered Buddha, Japanese maples, gazing balls and grasses. “It’s a place I can sit, read, veg and think,” Scherr says of this oasis that Libbon built.
Eleven years after choosing this house, Scherr is falling in love with it all over again. “It’s close to everything, but I’ve got this,” she says, nodding toward her lush yard and woods beyond. Bird feeders hanging from tree limbs beckon to feathered neighbors, while a stand of bamboo and other flora ensures privacy. Scherr admits that she is so happy with the view and comfort of the new spaces, indoor and outdoor, that she often would prefer not to venture out. But she’s too energetic and full of ideas to sit still for long, and there are a few to-dos on her list — next up, a summer tomato garden.