B&A: This Dated Chicago Condo Now Has the Coolest Built-In Ideas We’ve Ever Seen

B&A: This Dated Chicago Condo Now Has the Coolest Built-In Ideas We’ve Ever Seen

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Name: Annabell Ren and Steven Karvelius
Location: Lincoln Park — Chicago, Illinois
Size: 900 square feet
Type of Home: Condo
Years lived in: 2 years, owned

Creative couple and designers Annabell Ren and Steven Karvelius are two thirds of Chicago-based architecture office, NEW OFFICE (they cofounded it with friend and designer, Elliott Riggen). The office specializes in architecture, furniture, and small renovations, and Annabell and Steven’s own home — a 900-square-foot Lincoln Park condo they found it on Redfin when they were home hunting about two and half years ago — is an amazing showcase of the team’s work.

“As architects, we didn’t want to build a new home in the city, but instead find an existing historical structure to work with. There are plenty of beautiful old homes in Chicago that just need some time and attention to bring out their original beauty,” Annabell writes. “It’s a 120-year-old historic four-flat. Our unit is on the 2nd floor. With its tall 10’ ceilings, south-facing windows and beautiful historical hardwood floor and cabinets, it has beautiful natural light throughout the entire day. The building is in a residential neighborhood in the city, but the windows are all hidden behind the top of tree branches which capture a view of greens. The living room is filled with light and shadow of dancing tree branches blown by the Chicago wind.”

“After we closed this home purchase in 2019, the pandemic came into our life. This home became the place we had to live in 24 hours and the place we had to work from. We jokingly call it our ‘Covid project’ as architects. We spent our weekends and nights looking at our life routine, designing the space and building the built-ins while we couldn’t go outside. The only reason for us to go out was a trip to Home Depot to curbside pick up our construction materials. We spent all our time in the living room, dining, and kitchen designing, drawing, building, cooking, and imagining the day Covid would be gone and we can have our friends in this space.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Function = Fun + Function

Inspiration: Materiality, craftsmanship, and space play with light.

Favorite Element: There’s a balance and contrast between the original dark woodwork and the newly constructed red oak.

Biggest Challenge: Upon move-in, the unit interior was dated and there was very limited storage space. Much of the original woodwork still existed throughout the unit.

Biggest Indulgence: Our time. We managed the cost of materials, but we put a lot of time into the design and building process. We redesigned a lot and spent a lot of time figuring out the details and structure to hide all construction joints. It was so worth it. This is the main reason all designers love what they do: seeing a design that was once only imagination come into real life.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? The two full-height millwork pieces take advantage of the ten-foot-tall ceilings but offer much more than just storage. They’re also used for seating, naps, and lighting. Playfully painted wall murals transform a dated dining room into a multi-functional gallery and dining space. Each shape was created by projections onto different corners and surfaces of the room. When viewed from one vantage point, the shapes are a perfect circle, but from anywhere else, they’re stretched, squeezed, and warped. Utilizing chalkboard paint for the murals allowed us to record messages and sketches for our daily life. 

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? The furniture comes from many different places and was procured in many different ways. There are secondhand nesting Kartell coffee tables, auctioned Ufficio Tecnico Spoleto dining chairs, IKEA rugs, and EQ3 lighting. These Kartell coffee tables we found in a secondhand modern furniture store. It is made of three different round tables of different heights. It can be used by stacking on top of each other to become one table and three different tables.

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: With this kind of historical building, usually the ceiling is 10’. Built floor-to-ceiling storage can save you a lot of space in plan.

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Reuse secondhand. Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, local vintage stores, and local auction houses are all great places to go find pieces that can be reused in your home.

Thanks Annabell and Steven!

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.

Adrienne Breaux

House Tour Editor

Adrienne loves architecture, design, cats, science fiction and watching Star Trek. In the past 10 years she’s called home: a van, a former downtown store in small town Texas and a studio apartment rumored to have once been owned by Willie Nelson.

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Each Room in This Brooklyn Apartment Is a Nod to a Distinct Era of Art History

Each Room in This Brooklyn Apartment Is a Nod to a Distinct Era of Art History

Erin Derby

Photographer

Originally from California, but turned New Yorker since 2000, I’ve been shooting my entire life and am still inspired and excited about it. Lately I have been putting my energies into my Fine Art, which can be seen on my website and on Saatchi Art. Being infatuated with interior design doesn’t hurt either, which mixes well with my love of photographing interiors.

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A 1959 Michigan MCM House Has a Stunning Wall of Shelves & All-Black Kitchen

A 1959 Michigan MCM House Has a Stunning Wall of Shelves & All-Black Kitchen

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Name: Colin Tury and Ellie Ingram
Location: Southfield, Michigan
Size: 1,300 square feet
Years lived in: 5 years, owning

Colin Tury is the co-founder of Midwest Common, an independent Detroit-based design firm. In his words, he lives and breathes furniture, lighting, and interior design. “I have been making and designing things since I can remember. Luckily, I’ve followed my passions and get to do it for a living,” he explains.

This mid-century modern house built in 1959 is the first house for him and his partner, Ellie Ingram, but it didn’t look like the beautiful modern home it is today when they first purchased it five years. The creative couple have put A LOT of work into transforming it into what you see today. “Every square inch of this house has been affected by us and we’re proud of it” he writes. “I know that there will always be things that we ‘need to do,’ but for now it’s turned into a very special place. Also, this house has become a mini gallery for all the wonderful artist and craftspeople we’ve met along the way. All of the artwork in our home is from someone that we personally know and support.” 

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Style: Soulful Contemporary

Inspiration: Isamu Noguchi and Dolly Parton

Favorite Element: There are so many moments we are proud of. I personally feel like the glass doors I built between Ellie’s studio and the living room truly transformed the house the most.  

Biggest Challenge: Doing everything ourselves while living in it.

What Friends Say: It’s been a running joke that our house doesn’t actually exist because we’ve never truly hosted a formal event here due to ongoing renovations. We will let you know after the belated housewarming party…

Biggest Embarrassment: The only embarrassing thing has been my assumption of how long all of the renovations would take. We are pretty proud of everything we’ve affected thus far. 

Proudest DIY: This entire house. It’s hard to believe what it used to look like and the condition it was in versus how it looks/feels now.

Biggest Indulgence: A selfish display of my own furniture and lighting. And dog toys, of course.

Best Advice: Don’t be too critical of your own efforts. Truthfully, you’re the only who really cares. 

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

Diana Paulson

Photographer

Equipped with an eye for photography and an interior design background, Diana has been blending these two passions to create stunning images for Apartment Therapy.

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B&A: A Dated 1889 Victorian Italianate’s Been Respectfully Brought Back to Life

B&A: A Dated 1889 Victorian Italianate’s Been Respectfully Brought Back to Life

Name: Kevin Reid-Morris, Sarah Reid-Morris, and Henry Floyd Reid-Morris, a 4-year-old Bernedoodle
Location: Prince Edward County, Canada
Type of House: 1889 Victorian Italianate house
Size: 3000 square feet (main house), a carriage house (photos not included here) is about 800 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, owned

Our home is an 1889 Victorian Italianate in Prince Edward County, Ontario. It’s a classic example of 1800s architecture in North America at the turn of the century. What’s funny is that when our search originally started, we were looking for a vacant lot in the country where we would build the modern Scandinavian barn of our dreams. The day we came to do a second walk-through of a lot, we drove down a street we hadn’t been on before, saw this house for sale, and Sarah said, “Whoa, that place is cool. We need to see it.” She had a feeling. I was hesitant, but an hour later we were in the house. Ten minutes later, we knew we had found the one. We fell in love with the big porch and veranda out front, the original details, the two staircases, and the fact that it had enough room for both of us to have dedicated workspaces and studios.

We became particularly passionate about researching the history of the house and the families who had lived before. Even in our rentals before this, we’ve loved designing ever place we’ve lived. But this 1880s Victorian was so far from anything we’d imagined, we were almost intimidated by its history and grandeur. We figured that if we had a better idea of what’s happened here over 150 years, we could respect its past but also bring our own signature modern and creative touch.

When our jobs went remote amidst COVID, we had been looking at buying our first home in Toronto, with a dream of ultimately living in Prince Edward County. We thought that was 15 or 20 years away for us, but remote work changed everything. We quickly changed gears to start looking in the County. By May 2020, we were making the trip each weekend to look at properties. By July 2020, we had found this house. And by the end of September, we had made the move. Six weeks later, we got married on our front porch during COVID, with about 10 family members socially distanced on the sidewalk. Neighbors, who we hadn’t even really met yet, came outside with sparklers to watch and celebrate. It was magical!

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Our style is one that mixes modern and traditional together — the new and the old — and in every case introduces a sense of fun and whimsy. No space feels right to us until it’s got that mix of elements and we’re still working through that in a lot of the house!

Inspiration: We’re inspired by the huge and growing community of old house lovers out there — a new generation of homeowners making the decision to preserve and enhance old homes that need love. Designer-wise, our biggest inspirations are Nate Berkus, Justina Blakeney, Lauren Nelson, Jean Stoffer, and Leanne Ford.

Favorite Element: It’s got to be the original parlor room in the front of the house. For one, Kevin just loves saying the word “parlor” even though it’s really just a living room! But it has a few things we absolutely love: character-filled moulding, huge windows, a view to the detail on the veranda, sight lines to the original staircase, and lets you look right through to the back of the house through the kitchen. It’s the room we most looked forward to designing and the room we most enjoy unwinding and entertaining in!

Biggest Challenge / Proudest DIY: Our biggest challenge to-date was the fact that the primary bedroom didn’t have a closet, which isn’t uncommon for old homes. For a few months we lived with our clothes in cardboard boxes. We had received quotes for $15K and $20K to build custom wardrobes and just couldn’t stomach that kind of budget given all the other work we’re doing around the house. We decided to DIY a built-in wardrobe and set a budget of $2K to do it. We ended up using IKEA PAX as our base and used matching baseboards, crown, wall moulding, and antique brass hardware to make it look like it had always been here. Assembling a PAX unit is one thing — doing so to make it look original to an 1889 home, sloped floors and all — was a whole other challenge. We came in under budget and, after sharing it on Instagram and Pinterest, the interwebs kind of went crazy over it! So many people were asking us how we did it, so we ended up writing a really detailed how-to.

Biggest Indulgence: We are passionate about second-hand. First, we love the budget opportunities it affords us. Second, we love the sustainability aspects. In fact, in our house about 90 percent of our furniture and decor is from second-hand sources. Kevin is a big fan of a Facebook Marketplace hack — he has lists of keywords he uses, tracks data on prices across brands, and has kept a log of everything we’ve purchased to-date with prices and retail values. We estimate we’ve acquired about $70,000 of furniture and decor for about $6,000!

With that in mind, sometimes second-hand just won’t cut it. That was the case with our parlor sofa. We searched and searched for a second-hand option but couldn’t find that signature mix of classic, modern, fun, and in the right colors. We ultimately splurged — or at least a splurge for us — and bought a brand-new sofa from Crate and Barrel, the curved Josephine sofa. We absolutely love it.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? Because we moved here with the intention of both working from home, we’ve found ways to make the space work for that purpose. Sarah’s office sits on the second floor of an addition at the back of the house. It’s tucked away and quiet, meaning work and home life can still be separated at the end of the day. And Kevin has been converting what was a garage/art studio into his own office and studio. It was roughly finished when they bought the property, with no flooring and plywood walls. Each of us having a separate workspace is a game changer in a world of remote work. But meeting in the kitchen for a coffee break or to make lunch isn’t a bad thing either.

What’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? In a world of Pinterest and Instagram, pay attention to what you love and not what the internet loves. What you’ll find over time is that decisions become easier because you know what you value in your home. And that may change from home to home, which is all part of growing as a home designer.

The other piece of advice would be to take calculated risks! We have a tendency to think of everything as “permanent” but hardly anything is, really. Just a few weeks ago, we opted to paint a guest room ceiling gloss black. If we had debated it for weeks and weeks we would have talked ourselves out of it. But we just went for it, knowing we could easily reverse it, and absolutely love how it turned out. We want to do MORE of that!

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

B&A: A 1924 Duplex’s Remodel Includes an Unrecognizable Kitchen Refresh

B&A: A 1924 Duplex’s Remodel Includes an Unrecognizable Kitchen Refresh

Name: Kailee, Kyle, and our Frenchie Charlene
Location: Gorham, Maine
Type of Home: 1924 Duplex
Size: 1,378 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, owned

Kailee and her fiancé, Kyle, feel lucky to call this whole 1924 duplex home; they bought it from a family friend and live on one side while renting out the other. “Each side is a little over 1,300 square feet and is a mirror image of each other. We love the character that our home has with the crown molding and oak floors,” Kailee explains. Before this, the couple were renting a small condo that she transformed with a modern farmhouse style. Kailee has so much fun designing, she’s decided to make it her career; she offers painting and design services through her website, Copper and Pine.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Eclectic, mid-century, cozy, colorful. I love to mix old and new pieces so my home looks more collected. I enjoy going to yard sales and antique shops and mixing items with new things from stores like Target and Wayfair.

Inspiration: I get my inspiration from paintings, nature, magazines, and I love Pinterest. We found the painting above our bed at an antique store and fell in love with it. I designed our room around that painting and used it to create the color palette. I’m constantly designing rooms in my head and will often come up with my favorite ideas in bed before I fall asleep.

Favorite Element: My favorite thing about our home is our living room. I love how bright it is with the windows and the French doors leading into the sunroom. Kyle has his dad’s old record player and a large collection of records. We display them as art and it’s really fun to change them out and create new groupings. Although, I always like Kyle’s display better than mine so it’s his job now. I love the colors and how cozy the room is. It’s also Charlene’s favorite room.  She likes to sit on the top of the couch and look out the windows.

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge was our kitchen. We gutted it and did everything ourselves, with the help of family! The kitchen has very low ceilings, which was a big design challenge. I decided not to do any upper cabinets to make the room feel more open, which really helped!

Proudest DIY: Definitely the kitchen. The cabinets are stock cabinets from Lowes and my mom and brother installed them all. I painted them and added all of the shiplap, trim, and open shelving on my own. I have never done anything like that before but I just went for it and learned as I went. It’s really cool to see the before and after pictures knowing that we created it together.

Biggest Indulgence: The hutch in our kitchen is one of the most expensive items in our home. It couldn’t be more perfect for the space and it fits like it was custom made. It was absolutely worth the money and it’s a really fun piece to style and change out for seasonal decor. 

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? I love our dishes from Our Place on our kitchen shelves. I also love the coconut and honey wood wick candle from Target. It smells soooo good and the crackle from the wood wick is so cozy.

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: We love our ottoman in our living room; both sides open for extra storage!

What’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice?

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.

Adrienne Breaux

House Tour Editor

Adrienne loves architecture, design, cats, science fiction and watching Star Trek. In the past 10 years she’s called home: a van, a former downtown store in small town Texas and a studio apartment rumored to have once been owned by Willie Nelson.

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