By artist and interior designer Linc Thelen
What was once the first Italian Methodist Episcopal Church on a quiet street in Little Italy, southwest Chicago, has been reinvented to a simplified, contemporary seven-bedroom, six-bathroom home for a couple with three children, stained glass, a majestic five-storey tower, a cross on a gray slate roof, a cream-colored brick façade.
Directing the renovations, including the initial demolition phase, the architect, interior designer and artist Linc Thelen, worked with the local Chicago company Scrafano Architects on the drawings. Thelen paints for more than two decades and transposes artistic principles of composition, texture, shape and light into three-dimensional spaces. In the interior design business for the past 17 years, he describes how his background art influences his design work to give him a unique insight: "Whether designing a home or painting, I begin to work with composition. My goal is to create balanced compositions with a minimum of bold accents. I am on site throughout the beginning of the build up to the final installation, which allows me to grow with the project and interact with it during each phase. This allows me to make design changes and additions as the project unfolds. "
Adopting a "master builder" approach in his work, taking on the roles of artist, designer and contractor, Thelen choreographs spaces that are timeless but inject a touch of the unexpected. The challenge was to respect the existing architecture and adapt it to a modern residence, maintaining the right balance - the old and the new had to blend harmoniously. The church was over a century old and nothing was level, so everything had to be rebuilt. To give a contemporary look, everything had to be symmetrical to the smallest detail. Finishes have been chosen to create a modern and eclectic atmosphere combining attractive wallpapers and fixtures.