By Kate Templin – Photography by Jeff Dahlgren

After 12 years in a Gold Coast single-family home (the first new construction single-family home built in the neighborhood in 75 years), the Besser clan– all nine of them– was feeling a little, well, too close. “Just another day at the Besser madhouse,” patriarch Charlie Besser jokes.

So when Charlie (the owner of the Emmy Award-winning sports and entertainment media and marketing company Intersport and CelebTV.com) and his wife of 18 years, Rebecca, got a tip on a 16-unit apartment building going on the market a few doors down, they immediately pursued the rare real-estate opportunity. A few years, one total demolition, and one rebuild later, the lot is now home to the family’s 15,000-square-foot new residence– the Gold Coast’s second new-construction house built in almost 90 years.

“Our previous home was 25 feet wide. We were able to double that here,” Rebecca says. While such a vast space is appealing to any urbanite, for this energetic family– which includes Charlie and Rebecca; 11-year-old Brennan; Elena, 15; Rachel, 17; Lauren, 28, who lives in Wicker Park but is a constant visitor; Jacqueline, the couple’s 14-year-old special-needs child, and her two live-in helpers; and one spirited golden doodle named Mudge– it was an absolute necessity.

Such a unique crew requires an equally exceptional space, and to create a home that fit the family the Bessers turned to Soucie Horner, the chic interior-architecture and design firm founded by Art Institute of Chicago grads Shea Soucie and Martin Horner.

“I had interviewed a ton of designers, but when I met Martin and Shea, there was an instant connection,” Rebecca says. “I loved their personalities, their style, even their office.”

Over the course of two years, the design duo planned “the whole shebang, from the interior layout and the kitchen and bathroom designs to the custom lighting and furnishings,” Horner says. The final result: an interior plan perfectly suited to the Bessers’ needs. Within the main house’s four floors and carriage house are spaces designed both to bring the family together (i.e., an enormous kitchen-family room combo complete with overstuffed couches, flat-screen television, fireplace, and an oversize table with banquette seating) and to give each family member breathing space (each of the seven bedrooms has its own bathroom and walk-in closet). “We truly use every room,” Rebecca says. “Everybody is really happy here.”

While comfort and convenience were key to the design, elegance and style were equally essential. “It was important for our home to have a family feeling, but when we want to throw a great dinner party, we can do that, too,” continues Rebecca, who, with her husband, is involved with organizations including Teach for America, the Joffrey Ballet, the North Dearborn Association, the Latin School, the Keshet-School, and the Special Olympics (Jacqueline is a star participant).

When the Bessers entertain in support of their business or one of their philanthropic causes, they do so in the formal living room (located directly off the foyer and complete with a Steinway grand piano, couches and chairs from Los Angeles-based furniture designer A. Rudin, Larsen drapes, and a custom Nero Portoro stone fireplace), which leads into a large dining room featuring two round tables, each with its own grand crystal chandelier– designed by Soucie Horner and fabricated by Chicago-based New Metal Crafts– hanging overhead.

But formality is quickly shed just a few steps back in the kitchen-family room, where Carrera marble and custom cabinets housing multiple refrigerators and massive amounts of storage (think candy drawers!) meet a light-filled family room that features Ralph Lauren, Charles Pollack, and Scott Yerkey seating and overlooks a large open courtyard and a rear carriage house.

Up the dramatic front staircase, the second floor of the home is Mom and Dad’s domain and includes a large master bedroom and bath along with oversize his-and-her walk-in closets. Down the hall, each has a personal hideaway– Charlie’s, and office filled with leather, books, and sports memorabilia; Rebecca’s, a modern media room stuffed with family photos. (The fashionista-friendly powder room next door is highlighted by walls covered in ostrich-embossed vinyl.)

“In our old house it seemed that everyone had a space that was just theirs, except me,” Rebecca says. “So when we started planning this house, it was a priority for me to have a room where I could go and disappear for a while, like everyone else.”

Upstairs from their parents, Brennan, Elena, and Rachel– a sixth grader, a sophomore, and a senior, respectively, at the Latin School– have rooms inspired by their personality. Brennan’s is full of sporting goods and collector’s items, and has an extra bed for sleepovers; Rachel’s is sophisticated and calm; and Elena (who moonlights as a host on the teen beat at CelebTV) sleeps in a girly paradise in tones of pink and silver. A few stories down, Jacqueline’s suite shares a floor with a rec room and a cozy movie theater– only here, those cliché theater seats have been replaced by two custom sectionals in Teton Houndstooth upholstery by Calvin Fabrics.

Since moving here on Thanksgiving Day 2007, the family has spent their first year in their urban manse quite comfortably, but their plans for the house are far from complete.

“We built this house thinking that we’ll eventually turn it into a home for five special-needs women,” Rebecca says. “When Charlie and I are old and hobbling around, we’ll move into a condo close by, but Jacqueline can always stay here, in her home, with her helpers and some friends.”

“Whenever we do anything involving Jacqueline, it doesn’t just turn out well, it turns out perfectly. Karma swirls around this kid,” Charlie says. “She’s the core reason for this house the way we built it.”

“And we wanted it to be fun,” he adds, looking around the room at his vibrant family as they happily sing songs and tease one another. “Our fun quotient is high.”