In Chicago, Design by Vincere

For the past decade, Tom Konopiots and Mike Stornello have plunged themselves into second careers.

They formed a design company called Vincere – that’s “to win” in Italian. It’s a far cry from the brokerage firm Konopiots sold in 2010, and the television syndication business that Mike was engaged in until 2008.

It’s not like they dropped out of business and jumped headfirst into design. In fact, they’d been working on interior design projects and spec houses on the side for years. “We were always involved in the design of homes,” Konopiots says.

Now the Chicago-based firm is working on projects across the nation and around the world, including Los Angeles, Palm Beach, Williamsburg, Va. and Vienna, Austria.

“We do a wide range of things – some are only interior design, but some are construction and design,” Stornello says. “We have a background in building so we understand how something gets built and integrates itself into a client’s lifestyle.”

Their largest project is in Chicago’s Wicker Park, on a street known as Beer Baron’s Row. “It was on a double lot, for a 5,500 square foot building built in the 1870s,” Konopiots says. “We gut-renovated it and added 2,700 square feet – and did all the design there.”

Sensitive to neighborhood restrictions and guidance, they took the home back to its original splendor and grandeur, using the addition for modern living. “In the 1990s, the millwork was stripped and we went back and replicated it,” he says.

Their smallest project was exactly 37 square feet, and seven feet, four inches tall. “We had the good fortune to be selected to do the annual Palm Beach Kips Bay powder room,” Stornello says. “The room itself was really scary when we saw it – but we embraced it and had a lot of fun with it.”

They included a crown of thassos and Calcutta marble, with wallpaper in a Bahamian style painted red, green and blue. “It’s beachy oriented,” Konopiots says. “It has a silver background – a silk, and a tarnishing that gave it pearlescence and the design was painted on top of that.”

There’s a grandness to the room though the materials they uses, he says.

Or, to paraphrase Shakespeare, though it be small, it’s mighty fine to look at.

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