Lauren Fasolo discovered her passion for design during a community college drafting class.
The longtime Naperville resident was fascinated by what could be done with the right materials in the right space, so much so that a winding road led to a leap of faith as she forged a career. Years later, she’s still leaping.
Fasolo has spent the bulk of her adult life building credentials as an interior designer, but she recently expanded her operations by opening a shop in downtown Naperville. Ellce Home Design Studio and Shop not only offers design expertise, but associates also sell furniture and other merchandise for homes.
Fasolo, a 1993 Naperville Central graduate, flirted with the idea of a design shop for years. She sold a small number of items at her former location in a house behind School of Rock on North Washington Street, but she never had the perfect space.
When Lululemon vacated its location at 21 W. Jefferson Ave., Fasolo grabbed it. Ellce Home Design Studio and Shop opened in early February.
“Downtown Naperville was the place for us to be,” Fasolo said. “It was a little overdue. We were probably ready before COVID. Our space was great, but there wasn’t any street exposure. I wanted a space that functioned better.
“Our clients were ready to come in and see more pieces of furniture,” she said. “We had developed relationships with all these great dealers, and we needed more space to show it. This is perfect for us.”
Fasolo first leaned on her design skills as one of six siblings growing up in Naperville. She became an expert at maximizing every inch of space throughout the house, but especially in a bedroom she often shared.
Not knowing what she wanted to do after high school, Fasolo registered for classes at College of DuPage. That’s where she took the drafting class that changed her life.
Fasolo got her associate degree, spent time with an engineering firm and even worked at a private detective agency before reclaiming her passion and earning a degree from Harrington College of Design in Chicago.
From there she worked at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago managing high-end furniture showrooms. That led Fasolo to a job with Henredon, where she supervised showrooms with Ralph Lauren and Barbara Barry furnishings.
She quit her job with Henredon to move back to Naperville and focus on her growing family. She gradually built an interior design business out of her home before returning full time about 10 years ago.
“It wasn’t your typical path, but that’s OK,” she said. “Sometimes I wish I had that normal college experience, but I don’t look back. I truly love what I’m doing.”
Fasolo embarked on her first project for an entire house in 2014. She’s since designed homes around the country through word-of-mouth, but the bulk of her business remains local.
At Ellce Home Design Studio and Shop, customers can meet with designers or shop for their home needs in a 2,000-square-foot showroom. They can buy everything from sofas, upholstery and rugs to bedding and lighting.
“It’s all the products I’m putting in my clients’ homes,” Fasolo said.
Foot traffic has been somewhat slow, but much of that is because of the winter weather, she said.
Fasolo said she is confident it will pick up. If there’s one thing she knows, it’s her customer base.
“I feel like even in the last five years, people are really into their homes,” she said. “And everything’s so accessible with Pinterest and Instagram. People want a beautiful home.”