Reisling / Feingold House

When interior designer and homeowner Emanuel Feingold needed his kitchen replaced, he knew he needed to call the best.  The reason for this was because this wasn’t your typical kitchen, and it wasn’t in your typical house.

In 1958, Feingold commissioned Arthur Dennis Stevens, the youngest apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright, to design and build a beautiful home, nestled among the trees in Highland Park, Illinois.

The kitchen was just one of the fabulous rooms of the house, but like the house itself, it was starting to show its age.  The goal was to keep its original layout and feel but introduce Feingold’s love of the decorative arts; utilizing subtle details and hidden surprises. Updating the appliances, electrical service, and adding some much needed storage were also all priorities.

This job would require a unique shop, not just one capable of making melamine boxes with machine made doors.  This shop had to not only share Feingold’s passion to create something truly amazing but it had to have the leadership, skills, and expertise to execute them.

“ I knew we were onto something special when Manny and I spent hours discussing the herringbone inlay for the front edges of the shelves- inside the upper cabinets” Keith recalls.

For the kitchen, Clayton and Feingold chose quartered Anigre veneer for the cabinets along the walls because of its warm golden tones and particular flash under the right light.  Speaking of lights, Clayton milled out the original square fixtures and fit them with new, round, dimmable halogen fixtures.  This truly was a case of square hole, round peg. The peninsula has a African Mahogany veneer to tie in with the rich tones of the rest of the house’s extensive mahogany trim and paneling.  While the kitchen was being built at Clayton’s shop, the rest of the house was undergoing and extensive makeover which included a new tile floor over about 90% of the house, laid within an aluminum grid, each grid containing six tiles, each tile precisely cut for an exact fit.  The living room and stairs are carpeted with a tile and aluminum border.

The completion of the kitchen wasn’t the end of their relationship; it was just the beginning.  Before long, Clayton and his crew of artisans would transform this already great interior into the perfect backdrop to showcase Feingold’s beautiful art and design objects, acquired over a lifetime of travel and collecting.

Over the course of many years, Clayton created numerous pieces of both built-in and freestanding furniture.  These include:

  • Multiple maple display cabinets with brass details and suede back panels.
  • A kitchen table made from olive-ash burl veneer and original Thonet bent legs.
  • A Machintosh-inspired chair for the foyer, made no wider than a cinder block, one of the houses unique building materials.
  • Two half-round cabinets sprayed in a butter cream color in the breakfast nook, one houses a slide-out toaster oven, the other a small flat screen television.
  • A round powder room vanity cabinet sprayed in a metallic bronze finish to support the home’s original marble sink.
  • Two Chinese-inspired cherry stands that frame the front doorway and hold vases with flowers.
  • A zebrawood veneer and mahogany bar with an antique carved horse relief from India recessed into one of the lower doors and lights to highlight Feingold’s collection of  antique hand-painted French glass slides.
  • A bird’s- eye maple veneered entertainment cabinet that hides a flat screen television and a working record player; framed with matching bookshelves on either side.
  • A coffee table with a removable antique Arabic tray for its center.

Keith and his team even replaced the 100-foot long fence along the western edge of the property; it too had seen better days.  The new fence is capped off in the front with two of Feingold’s collectibles: an antique Indonesian carving and an antique Chinese dragon.  At the back of the fence there is a trellis, also made by Clayton, that has a hand carved Chinese panel suspended within it.

In 2009, the Reisler-Feingold house was chosen to appear on The Highland Park House tour.  That same year, it was unanimously approved for placement on the National list of Historic homes.  Because of Feingold’s vision and attention to detail throughout the life of the home, including during its extensive renovation, generations to come will be able to appreciate this jewel of the north shore.

Although Keith Clayton is in the business of designing and fabricating unique contemporary furniture, this house showcases his ability to collaborate, adapt, design, and build within numerous styles.