At a time when most kids were collecting baseball cards or dolls, Lauren Buxbaum Gordon was amassing her collection of furniture and accessories. It’s not so hard to believe considering she grew up in the business – she was, and is, the daughter of venerable Chicago-area antique dealers. One who quickly developed an eye, an obsession, and a collection of her own.
“Every since I could afford a piece of furniture, I’ve been building this,” she says, gesturing to the assortment of treasures in her Chicago townhouse. The twist? “I’ve never actually bought anything out of necessity – everything I buy is because of love at first sight.”
But like any good love story, this one deals with some long distance relationships. As Lauren accumulated more and more pieces that spoke to her, she also started to run out of space. Alas, her collections were split. Some pieces were out on display at home, others tucked in storage, awaiting a reunion.
But in this 1883 Georgian home, it’s all finally here in one place.
Of course, that didn’t mean it was necessarily easy to furnish the home she shares with her husband, Michael Gordon and toddler daughter, Georgia.
“It was a challenge from the start, since the floorplan was fairly long and narrow,” she explains. Plus, with the excitement of landing in a dream home comes the pressure to get it right.
“I would wake up in the middle of the night and rack my brain for hours about what wallpaper would work best with certain antiques,” she laughs. And the mental gymnastics carried into the daytime as well.
Lauren lugged nearly every single piece of furniture around the home, inspecting it in every room and vignette before settling it in its place. “Truly. Just about everything circled around the house!” she tells us. “But it was fun; I had to exhaust my options, to experiment with places I never thought would work, and then turned out to be perfect.”
One such positioning – an antique desk pushed up against the home’s built-in bookshelf, wound up being one of her favorite nooks.
Meanwhile, other pieces ended up in places she truly never imagined while purchasing. Case in point, the white cabinet she purchased for her first condo when she was 26; now it’s home to Georgia’s many stuffed animals.
Ever the professional, Lauren is quick to shift the attention off her treasure’s personal history – rather than harp on her connection to a piece of furniture, she’s interested in the true provence. Her stamp is more in how she brings it all together. As well as the influences that drive her choices and composition.
Chief among those influences, there’s Nate, of course, with whom she’s worked for and alongside with for 15 years. But her other design icons are closer to home. Her parents, who continue to delight legions of fans with Old Plank Antiques (and fewer, though more devoted fans, of their stunning home). There’s also her grandmother, whose Edward Wormley chaise and leopard-hide dining chairs remind her to be fearlessly, eclectically chic in expressing herself. And then there’s her most recent muse, Miss Georgia.
“She’s not quite verbal yet,” says Lauren. “But she’s obsessed with the artwork in her room, and always wants to be lifted up to touch and babble about it.” And while her plastic cups and bibs have brought a certain amount of chaos to the kitchen, the toddler is cognizant of what pieces are off-limits for touching and throwing. Those petite busts on a side table, that pretty much any kid would likely commandeer for a game of catch? Georgia leaves them be.
Lauren recalls her friends with kids chiding her about her decorating style before she became a mom, telling her “Oh, just you wait! Once you have a baby you won’t be able to live in a place like this!'”
And yet? “Lo and behold, since having our daughter, I haven’t had to change my home at all,” she tells us.
Except? For the better. And with Lauren’s taste and collector’s eye, it’s sure to get even better with age.
Photography by Heather Talbert