04/13/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Open House: Karl, Dawn, Kitt and Kendall's LaGrange Life


Karl and Dawn knew they were tempting fate when the visual display merchandisers flaunted Marshall Field's rules about dating co-workers, but their near instantaneous attraction could not be denied and a mere two shifts after meeting they were an item, hot and heavy. Six weeks later they were engaged and one year later it was "I do," "I do too," and all that jazz. Thankfully for all involved, Field's quickly remedied this flagrant violation of company policy and transferred Karl from the classic State Street store to the less inspired Water Tower Place place. Corporate crisis averted.

Visual display was a natural way for the artistic minded duo to make a living using their skills. Karl's an artist, a painter and sculptor who creates amazing, large Cubist-influenced canvases, many of which are reminiscent of the urban realism work produced during the WPA period. You may recognize Karl's work from the very cool Andersonville mid-century boutique Room Service.

Karl's bold use of color in his art contrasts nicely with the neutral colors in their traditional brick home, and the couple's clean mid-century modern furniture, Karl's sculptures and a few glam rock-and-roll touches close the deal. It's a far cry from how it looked when they bought the home, which was incognito, its wallpaper and wall-to-wall carpeting (even in the kitchen) the equivalent of a wig, trench coat and sunglasses.

Continued . . .


Karl and Dawn's kids, Kitt, 12, and Kendall, 9, can be summed up by their rooms - Kitt's thoughtful, introspective and smart, his bedroom orderly, each of his belongings say something about him; Kendall is a force to be reckoned with, creative, energetic and soulfully spunky (one gets the sense she will develop an acute sense of irony as she grows up, breaks a bunch of hearts and eventually takes over the world). "She has some sort of fairy dust she sprinkles when no one is looking," says Dawn. "Kitt is as good a kid as you will ever meet, truly kindhearted in a way boys rarely are."

Hold on two seconds . . . sniff . . . ahhhhh . . . eyes watery . . . just tired.

OK, back to Dawn:

"Our house is filled with furniture, art and photographs that tell our stories. I wanted our house to be colorful and creative and perhaps a little chaotic. A place that does not so much speak to trend or style, but rather is a place that expresses us as we truly are."

Thanks guys. Mission accomplished; I really enjoyed hanging out with you.

Visit Strange Closets every Thursday for new "Open House" home tours.