Fainting rooms and dumbwaiters are not typical amenities in most houses today, but the homeowners of a 6,000-square-foot Lake Forest manse couldn’t part with these anachronisms when they undertook a renovation of their home. Built in 1924 by Russell S. Wolcott, the yellow shingle farmhouse was featured in John Hughes’ 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street and was chosen partly for its strong resemblance to the home in the original 1947 film. And though previous residents updated the house, the contemporary family of five who live there now reinvented it once again with some ideas of their own.
“We wanted to maintain as much of the history of the house as we could,” the wife says. “No one needs a fainting room anymore, but I didn’t want to get rid of it if I didn’t have to.” Her question to interior designer Kathryn Scodro of Kim Scodro Interiors was “How can we give the house a face-lift—brightening it and making it more useful for a family with three kids—while preserving as much charm as possible?”
Easy. Add zebra-print wallpaper and other contemporary accents, upholster the furniture in kid-friendly fabrics and retain the home’s inherent character where it makes sense. “We kept furniture in classic shapes and took chances when it came to color,” says Scodro, who knew the home, since she had been a childhood friend of the previous owners. “It’s a historic landmark. The family is young and fun, and we still wanted the home to have an air of classicism but make it very livable where the kids can touch everything.”