Summer Thornton Transforms A Dreary Gold Coast Co-op Into A Modern Marvel

J.P. Anderson | January 14, 2021 | Home & Real Estate

Given carte blanche by a trusting client, designer Summer Thornton transforms a dreary Gold Coast co-op into a modern second home with serious wow factor.

Summer Thornton Drake Tower Living Room
An eye-catching bamboo silk lapis rug from The Rug Company adds stylish pop to the living room.


Aiming to create a chic pied-à-terre downtown to enjoy with their two young sons, a successful pair of entrepreneurs in their mid-30s turned to star designer Summer Thornton to create a modern take on a classic co-op.

Summer Thornton Drake Tower Boys RoomThe sons’ bedroom is a vision of verdant green thanks to upholstery and Raphaël wallpaper by Scalamandré and carpeting by Stark.


“They wanted something urban, chic and more colorful than what they live with in their primary residence—a design fantasy,” notes Thornton. “They allowed us to take that and translate what that meant.”

Summer Thornton Drake Tower Kitchen“I’m obsessed with the kitchen,” raves interior designer Summer Thornton, noting its incredible spaciousness and daring lacquered red inset cabinets and crimson range.


The kitchen’s original location—smack in the middle of the apartment—meant a lost opportunity to capture the space’s stunning lake view. Thornton’s solution? Moving the kitchen to the front of the apartment, more than tripling its size and opening it up to the main living space. “In a co-op high-rise building this was a feat of engineering,” says the designer, “but it made such a big difference in how the space lives and feels. No one had ever done this in the building before, but we found a way to make it work, and it totally transformed the way the apartment flows and modernizes the layout.”

Summer Thornton Drake Tower Master BedroomIn the master bedroom, Gilbert wall lights by Balineum frame a caged king-size bed in oil-rubbed bronze and black leather upholstery by Baker Furniture.


“I’m obsessed with the kitchen,” enthuses Thornton. “I love how spacious it is, how it has an enormous lake view and how it connects to the living area. I’m also obsessed with its color and overall style—the red insets in the cabinets and on the range are so unexpected and bold. The white oak around the insets keeps it chic and sophisticated. Kudos to my client for being so brave. I also love how the primary bathroom turned out. It feels masculine and very different than your standard white marble situation. The push for more masculinity came from the client, and the wood paneled walls helped us achieve that.”

Summer Thornton Drake Tower Master BathroomThe combination of Calacatta Monet marble and rich white oak wood paneling gives the master bath a masculine vibe.


Says the designer, “They love the results, and I think the bathroom is one of their favorite spaces. Their sons also love the bedroom with two twin beds, which occupies the old dining room. It’s a little fairy tale in the middle of a very grown-up apartment.”


Type Co-op renovation

Location Gold Coast

Contractor Soffer Construction

Interior Design Summer Thornton Design

Millwork KWI

Paint and wallpaper Miroslaw Snarski Decorating, 847.309.9548

Stonework D & D Stone


ABC Stone Kitchen countertop and master bathroom stone

Art Culinaire Kitchen range

1stDibs Living room artwork, kitchen dining table

Holly Hunt Foyer bench fabric

Paris Ceramics Foyer stone floor

Stark Boys’ room wallpaper

Urban Archaeology Kitchen dining pendants

Waterworks Powder room sink

Photography by: Werner Straube