Northwest Business Magazine

Success Story: Wickham Interiors

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Wickham Interiors: Where making lives more comfortable is a joy.

The staff of Wickham Interiors. Seated are Felicia Steinhauer and Gwen Medford. Standing, L-R, are Julia Gasparic, Lynne Wickham, Fred Wickham and Jennifer Jost. Not pictured is Wendy Smith.

When she was embarking upon her adult life, Lynne Wickham could have developed a career in healthcare after she finished nursing school. Instead, the Crystal Lake resident followed her true passion – interior design. It turned out to be a good move, both professionally and personally. “It’s also a nurturing business, which is why I was drawn to both careers,” she says. “As designers, we try to bring harmony into any setting.”

Wickham started her business in 1982 and worked out of her home for the first seven years, before moving downtown in 1989. Wickham Interiors has been at its current location, 67 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake, for a decade.

With nearly 30 years of experience serving both commercial and residential clients, Wickham offers space planning, lighting design, wall finishes, flooring design, color consultation, window treatments and accessorizing. The firm also helps clients to prepare their homes for sale.

Wickham sells finer accessories from brands like Limoges, Jay Strongwater, Lady Primrose, Lampe Berger, Arthur Court, Spode, Mariposa and Wildwood.

In addition to design services, Wickham sells fine furniture and gifts, lamps, artwork, chairs and tables, framed prints, bedding, armoires and fine crystal. Her brands include Limoges, Jay Strongwater, Lady Primrose, Lampe Berger, Arthur Court, Spode, Mariposa and Wildwood. Her wallpaper and fabric libraries are extensive and she maintains a baby boutique in the lower level.

There’s no shortage of ideas to improve the look and feel of your home, says Wickham. “There is no perfect house,” she adds. “You try to make it the best you can.”

Susanne Frey had never worked with an interior designer before she met Wickham 12 years ago, at the annual Crystal Lake Service League House Walk. Since then, Wickham has transformed not only Frey’s Crystal Lake home, but her family’s condo in Chicago as well. “We have a joke around our house – ‘In Lynne we trust,’” Frey says. “She’s never steered us wrong. A great designer makes a room appealing to everyone. Lynne has a vision that’s perfect. People love our house.”

Wickham’s interest in interior design reaches back to her childhood, when she built her own dollhouses. For a high school home economics class, she completely redesigned her bedroom. She earned her interior design degree at Harper College after nursing school. A member of the American Society of Interior Designers, Wickham worked for another local interior design business until the owner encouraged her to hang out her own shingle, selling window treatments. She wanted to offer clients even more, however. “I really like pulling everything together,” she says. “A lot of people don’t accessorize – lighting, wall hangings, pictures, paintings, mirrors. That’s what brings a room together.”

“Her taste is elegant, unique and distinctive,” says longtime customer Karen Barry of Barrington. “That’s one of her greatest attributes. If you are passionate about something, she incorporates that into the design. She pays attention. She’s into detail and I like that.”

Wickham opened her own business a year before she finished college. Before long, business was so good that she ran out of space to continue working from home. Today, Wickham Interiors has seven employees, including Gwen Medford, an interior designer who’s been with the business 11 years.

There’s a baby boutique in the lower level of Wickham’s shop.

Most of Wickham’s clients hail from northern Illinois, including Bull Valley, Crystal Lake, Cary, McHenry, Mount Prospect and Woodstock. Some come from Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Tennessee and Hawaii.

Commercial projects include banks, offices, model homes, country clubs, churches and medical offices. Wickham is especially proud of her commercial work, including décor at Home State Bank. “People spend as much time at work as they do at home,” she says. “It’s important to feel comfortable at work.”

The designers at Wickham work in all periods and styles, including contemporary, country and traditional. They know how to handle challenges related to styles, colors, wall coverings, kitchen cabinets, traffic flow and accessories. “I like to create spaces for people no matter what the style is,” Wickham says. “I want our clients, their friends and family to feel comfortable.”

Ideally, clients should approach an interior designer with some basic information. First, know your budget. Many times, people buy large homes, but can’t afford to finish them, and live without enough furniture or proper window treatments. “People get carried away with size,” Wickham says. “I’ve always wanted to see people buy smaller homes and have a budget to do the interior so that it looks finished.” Lighting also is an issue. Wickham says homeowners have a tendency to use lamps that are too small and inadequate.

When it comes to color choices, there are plenty of neutral and vibrant colors that can enhance any room in your home, says Wickham. Neutrals provide a good background for other color accents; greens calm and soothe; yellows motivate and stimulate. There’s a trend toward using shades of purple, such as deep plums or bright violets, in both the residential and business worlds. Purple is popular in the living room as well as the master bedroom.

Wickham has worked with many long-term clients and counts those relationships among the great joys of her profession. “When they’re happy with you, they keep coming back to you,” she says.

Among those satisfied customers is Barry. Wickham has worked on three of her homes in the past 19 years, including her former home in Crystal Lake, her current home in Barrington and her summer home in Rome, Wis. Wickham has influenced virtually every room, starting with a nursery.

Today, she continues to oversee Karen Barry’s decorating upgrades, from furniture, wallpaper and drapes to fabrics and floor rugs. “She has a great understanding of expectations in a room,” Barry says. “My Crystal Lake home was new, and she made it so warm and inviting. She turned it into a great place to spend time with family and friends.”

When Barry and husband Chip were decorating their summer home, they were unsure whether to choose a rustic or nautical theme. “My husband loves the north woods, but Lynne said, ‘You’re not the rustic type,’” says Barry. “So we have a nautical theme in the middle of the woods and we love it. She was dead on.”

Over the years, Wickham Interiors has received many accolades from media and industry organizations, and its residential design projects are often featured in the Crystal Lake Service League House Walk. Wickham is active in the community, and has served as president of downtown and Main Street associations. “I like being part of a real business community,” she says.

For Wickham, interior design continues to be more than just a job – it’s a journey and a calling.

“It’s helped me to be the person God wanted me to be,” she says. “Everyone is given certain talents, and I’ve been able to use the talents He gave me. He’s brought good people to work with me. It’s been wonderful to work with clients and help them to make their lives more comfortable.” ❚

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