The Style Files: Wendy Labrum

Chicago-based interior designer Wendy Labrum considers herself a true Francophile, so naturally, both her clients’s homes and her own home are infused with her signature, Parisian-influenced style. Wendy’s aesthetic is a wonderful juxtaposition of masculine and feminine, traditional and modern, all executed through soft, classic color palettes . Each space Wendy designs is undeniably glamorous, yet a sense of comfort and practicality is ever-present. After living abroad in Europe for two years, learning as much as she could about art, architecture, and fashion, Wendy returned home to establish her eponymous design firm in 2007. In the years since, Wendy has completed numerous projects in Chicago as well as across the country. Her projects have also appeared in Luxe, Interiors, and Rue magazines, as well as online on My Domaine and ELLE DECOR. I feel that Wendy and I are kindred spirits of sorts because we share a very similar design aesthetic and gravitate to many of the same things, so it was a treat to finally meet her in person at Legends of La Cienega in Los Angeles back in May. I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know Wendy as much as I have!

Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Wendy Labrum: I always say I’m part Parisian/part Prep – French design is in everything I do, but I can’t escape the preppy influences of my upbringing. I always strive to create a curated mix of periods, styles and textures – every yin needs a yang.

PC: Has living in Chicago influenced your style in any way?

WL: Chicago is a town with a great sense of understated style, in fashion, in art, and in architecture. Things that are overly flashy feel inauthentic here. It also possesses a certain practicality – call it Midwestern sensibility – that is inherent in all of my designs as well as my everyday life.

PC: What does your home say about you?

WL: My home is a collection of my favorite things and colors. When we bought the house we did a substantial renovation that brought the home to life – it felt like a banal blank box beforehand. By adding architectural interest and detail, it created a backdrop for my collection of antique and contemporary pieces. My home also says that I have three young children.  

PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

WL: My first love was fashion and its still a big part of what drives my design. I also find inspiration in books, art, shelter magazines, Instagram—everything! I rely heavily on travel to give me fresh perspective—it’s hard to reframe your mind when you’re walking the same path everyday.

{A Pretty Moment Wendy Shared on her Instagram account @wendylabruminteriors}

PC: Who are your personal style icons?

WL: Elsie de Wolf, Albert Hadley and Jacques Grange

{Albert Hadley’s influence is evident in the chic room Wendy designed for this year’s Lake Forest Showhouse.}

PC: What trait do you most admire in a person?

WL: Selflessness. It’s so easy in our busy lives to get wrapped up in your own stuff and forget about the world around you. My parents are the most generous people I know—they never really talked overtly about it, but they taught us the principle through their actions.

PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

WL: I have too many and most come in edible form. I’m a foodie at heart even though I can barely boil water. A doughnut (or three) possesses magical powers to make any day better.

PC: Who or what has been your greatest professional influence?

WL: At the risk of sounding gooey, I have to say my clients. They inspire me, challenge me, and are an integral part of my personal evolution.

PC: What is your idea of living “la dolce vita”?

WL: Having the time to spend with the ones you love. It doesn’t matter where you are if you’re laughing with loved ones.

PC: What can we look forward to next from you?

WL: We’re working on several exciting projects in Chicago—both new construction and historic renovation. Out of town we’re working on a gorgeous San Francisco pad for longtime clients, a south Florida house and a mountain retreat in process that is a passion project for me.


Go To Outfit: Jeans and a Balmain blazer

Style Mantra: Wear what you love

Scent: Tocca Giulietta

Piece of Jewelry: I’m a jewelry minimalist for day. My staples are my engagement and wedding rings, an Elsa Peretti diamond necklace, Cartier man’s watch and Cartier bracelets—all gifts from my husband.

Color I Never Tire of: Lavender—it can be sweet or edgy.

Flower: Peonies, classic for a reason.

Indispensable Design Element: Antiques—they add interest and flavor.

Era for Design: 1940’s France

Dream Project: A giant pre-war Paris apartment with all the original plaster mouldings OR one of the great old American estates from the first part of the 20th century.

Fabric/ Textile: Mohair and silk – preferably in the same room

Hostess Gift: A pie from Bang-Bang Pie Shop in Chicago’s Logan Square

Meal: A heaping plate of fresh pasta pomodoro

Drink: Diet Coke (After several unsuccessful attempts to kick it, I’ve now embraced it!)

Way to Unwind: An hour-long run every morning. It pairs well with my doughnut routine.


3 Things I Love About My City: We have some of the best museums, restaurants and weather in the country. Okay okay, I’m kidding about the weather.

Weekend Destination: We head to Park City as often as possible. I’m never happier than when I’m in the mountains. We also try to sprinkle a bit of Miami in whenever we can for napping in the sun.

Hotel: The Ritz in Paris

Museum: Musee D’Orsay

City: Paris!

Artist: Cy Twombly and Elliot Puckette

Actor/Actress: Jessica Chastain – she’s badass

Risk Worth Taking: Having a child

Greatest Extravagance: Frequent travel with my children—we splurge for convenience

Go-To Color Palette: Ivory and Grey—punctuated by rust, lavender or rose

Rule to Break: Don’t paint a small space a dark color—I think small spaces look best when painted glossy dark colors!

Movie Set Design: Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby

I can never have too many… Fancy shoes!


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  1. Great read – thanks
    Please tell me if that is a Lee Sofa in the show house – possibly in an extra long length

  2. Gorgeous! There’s something about her style that immediately drew me in. The green high-gloss room is beautiful, yet on the wall above the valance, towards the left, there is an obvious reflection of a zebra rug but there’s no such rug on the floor. Where did it go?