Rik Lalim is not a plain-vanilla guy. But you wouldn’t have known that looking at his North Loop condo when he moved in last year.
“It wasn’t me. It had no personality,” said Lalim. With its off-white walls and light maple woodwork, the loft looked like a thousand others.
He liked his building, Bookmen Lofts, a 1902-built bookbinding factory that was developed into condos about 10 years ago. But Lalim’s unit, at 1,300 square feet, was smaller than he’d wanted, and he wasn’t sure how long he wanted to live there.
“I didn’t do anything for a while. I didn’t think I would,” he said. But he decided to at least liven up the place with some fresh paint. To help him choose colors, he turned to longtime friend Maureen Haggerty, principal of mint inc. (www.mint-design.biz).
“I knew she was going to stretch me a bit; my comfort zone has been neutrals,” said Lalim, a public relations and marketing professional whose company, Rikochet, specializes in the design and building industry.
The project started with paint chips, but soon grew into a full-blown remodel, including a kitchen and bath makeover.
“It sort of snowballed,” said Lalim. “After I painted, I got motivated.”
One improvement led to another, as Lalim became inspired to make the most of his open floor plan. “In a place like this, you can see everything.”
As the project grew, Lalim decided to incorporate pieces he’d long had in storage. “I had all this wonderful furniture I’d collected over the years,” he said, an eclectic assemblage of antiques and modern classics, as well as custom artwork, family heirlooms and artifacts from his travels. “I like to buy a piece wherever I go, and throw it all together,” he said.
His collections now line the walls and bookshelves of his home, a visual history of his life and experiences. “A friend said my house is like an autobiography,” Lalim said.
Haggerty did, indeed, stretch him out of his comfort zone, introducing him to fabrics, finishes and trims, and coaxing him to take some design risks, like the bold patterned rug on his living-room floor. “That space needed a very strong anchor,” she said.
Lalim was dubious. “I said, ‘I can’t have a big orange floral.’ It’s not me at all. But she said, ‘Take it home and try it.’ She was right. I would have gotten boring sisal.”
Lalim also won a few design battles with Haggerty, such as the bold orange accent stripe on his living-room wall. “She thought it should be blue, but I won,” he said with a grin.
Haggerty came around to appreciating the stripe. “At night, when the ambience is moody, it glows,” she said. “He was right. It’s a very cool, unexpected detail.”
It was fun to collaborate with her longtime friend, she said, and fun to see him in a home he enjoys. “It seems like a happy place for him. Now it looks like Rik.”