House Tour: Apartment Therapy-Style

A few months ago now, I posted a teaser pic of an apartment in Edgewater. I couldn’t explain any more than that at the time because… I was trying out to be a House Tour Contributor for Apartment Therapy! Well, sadly that didn’t pan out—I never actually heard anything back!—but why let the pictures (interiors photography is much harder than you’d think, especially on a cloudy day!), words and inspiration go to waste? Enjoy—and click through to the jump for more pics and a resource list!

Name: Tom Matthews, a children’s respiratory therapist, his boyfriend Chris Lalamay, a printmaker-turned-marketing exec, and their dog Kota
Location: Edgewater, Chicago
Size: 1,265 square feet
Years lived in: 14 months; owned

Green. Sure, it’s a great color—the Color of the Year even—but for every single wall in an apartment? That’s another story. But that’s exactly what Tom and Chris were dealing with when they moved into their condo in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood in April 2012. Room by room, they’re repainting, repurposing and finding the perfect pieces to fit their new home.

Tom and Chris collect items from Chicago’s vintage stores and secondhand markets, as well as pick up pieces during travels around the Midwest (and even scour alleys), to create a quirky but sophisticated living space. The 1920s moldings and window frames play off the mid-century and modern furniture pieces, while the trinkets (think antlers, barware and binoculars) give the space a playful—but masculine—edge.

But it’s the artwork that really pulls the space together. One of Chris’ friends, a printmaker, was relocating to a tiny apartment in New York City and couldn’t house all of her work, so they’re on loan to the couple’s gallery-like space. And the unique picture holder in the hallway? “We stole the idea from a print display at The Inventorialist in Indianapolis,” said Tom. “Chris made that with some twine and pulleys.”

The last frontier is the kitchen (where you can still see that ominous green paint). “We have a lot of ideas but not a lot of time or money for them,” says Tom. Eventually they hope to replace the linoleum flooring, countertops and appliances, and adapt the original cabinets. Sounds like a Before & After in the making.

Our Style/Inspiration: We try to not stick to one type of style and just buy things we love or repurpose things we already own. Most everything we own has some story or memory behind it, which we think is important.

Favorite Element: I think just the space in general. The moldings and window frames are all original, and we don’t want to get rid of anything. Our most recent purchase was the gas station 5s, which we thought worked perfect with the colors and the feel of the space.

Biggest Challenge: Painting. We’re still working on it slowly. The plaster walls soaked up the paint super fast, so it took extra effort to get even coats. We’re still trying to fix up a few spots that we find. Additionally we are trying to be conservative with how much we buy. By Chicago standards we have a huge space, so we’re making an extra effort to not fill it up too quickly with junk or kitsch. We want everything to have a purpose and place and to be as uncluttered as possible, yet still provide a warm, homey feel.

What Friends Say: They’re usually blown away with how huge the place is for a one bedroom. Not many of our friends consider the Edgewater area, but when they see how much more space is available, they seem to consider the four or five L stops farther worth it.

Biggest Embarrassment: Probably the paint. It’s a work in progress. We’re also trying to slowly work up to replacing some elements in the kitchen, mostly the old flooring.

Proudest DIY: Replacing the lighting without a major electrocution or fire.

Biggest Indulgence: Our Crate & Barrel sectional. We lived in a 550-square-foot one bedroom before with an old tiny love seat from my college apartment so we wanted to splurge on this.

Best Advice: Design slowly, and pick things that have meaning to you.

Dream Sources: Anywhere that makes something timeless and of great quality.

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Resources of Note:

LIVING ROOM

  • Numbers: Craigslist
  • Orange chair: Craigslist
  • Rug: Tom-“We actually had one of my parents’ cows hided. Hope that doesn’t offend any vegis!”
  • Couch: Crate & Barrel
  • Coffee table: Found in an alley
  • Schoolhouse chair: Bloomington, Ind., antique store
  • Pillows: Etsy-Chantell Herrera
  • Bookcases: Overstock.com
  • Lamp: Take 2 Vintage

OFFICE

  • Desk: Craigslist
  • Chaise: Crate & Barrel
  • Picture on easel: From Chris’ art school supplies

BEDROOM

  • Bed frame: IKEA
  • Dressers: IKEA
  • Chair: Kansas City, Mo., antique store
  • Fan: Midland Antiques, Indianapolis, Ind.

DINING ROOM & KITCHEN

  • Table and bench: Crate & Barrel
  • Chairs: Interior Express Outlet (Tom-“Don’t be thrown off by their awful website; it’s practically a MySpace.”)
  • EAT letters: Vintage Garage
  • Credenza: Kenny Kinzco, flickr.com/people/kinzco
  • Butcher’s block: Bought from previous owner

MUDROOM

  • Couch: Kenny Kinzco, flickr.com/people/kinzco
  • Chair: Found in an alley
  • Lamp: Target
  • Coffee table: Urban Outfitters

ARTWORK

  • Printmaking: Sharon Lindenfeld

Thanks, Chris and Tom!

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