This Couple Is Bringing Their Design Dreams to Life with the Hilltop House in Barrington Hills

By Tate Gunnerson | December 13, 2018 | Home & Real Estate

Chicago tastemakers D. Graham Kostic and husband Fran Taglia are bringing urban chic to a sprawling 1932 suburban estate, one fabulously colorful room at a time.

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D. Graham Kostic and Fran Taglia's "Hilltop House"

In the waning days of summer, Glossed & Found Creative Director D. Graham Kostic and his husband, Weir International President Fran Taglia, hosted a “summer camp” at their French country-style estate, aptly named Hilltop House for its lofty location on more than 5 acres in Barrington Hills. The two-day bash included formal and informal meals, poolside cocktails, bonfires under the stars and plenty of live music. Says Kostic, “My love language is throwing parties.”

Although it appears modest from the front, the charming abode is built into a steep hill overlooking the formal decades-old boxwood garden below and the rolling countryside beyond. Inside, intimate rooms with bespoke moldings are connected by mazelike hallways and two narrow stairways. “I wanted it to feel like a European storybook,” Kostic explains.

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Original molding adorns the music room’s wraparound bookshelves.

The final chapter has yet to be written, but the couple, both 36, have made significant progress since they bought the place last year. In the west-facing front foyer, the two installed a new mosaic tile floor with a sun motif. “Some people are scared of color, but I wanted it to spill in,” Kostic says, noting that citron yellow, in particular, flows throughout the interior. It accents a whimsical wall covering that depicts French revolutionary soldiers in the kitchen. And in the master suite, a yellow Murano chandelier plays off of a wall covering with a vibrant ’40s-era floral pattern. “From the time the picture solidifies for Graham, in a blink of an eye, the whole design materializes,” Taglia explains.

It’s not always that easy. At Kostic’s urging, Taglia spent several evenings applying painted wooden stars to the ceiling in the pine-paneled dining room—one of many projects the two have tackled together. “In advance of starting that project, I made Graham agree to allow me to complain the entire time I was doing it, and I took full advantage of that,” Taglia jokes.


Hilltop House’s guest room features matching wallpaper and drapes in an oversize peony print by Christopher Farr Cloth.

At least once a week after dinner, they retire to the music room, which has bold citron-yellow walls that take on a mustard tone as the sun sets. When the weather allows, they’ll often open the doors to the patio, Taglia playing their favorite Broadway standards on the piano while Kostic croons beside him. “It feels like a little salon,” Kostic explains. “Be it with friends or just the two of us, I love the fanfare that this house brings out in daily activities.”



Photography by: photos courtesy of kostic and taglia