Anne & Steve’s Architectural Live/Work Space

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Name: Anne and Steve Truppe, Photographers and Visual Storytellers/owners of trü studio
Location: Ravenswood, Chicago, Illinois
Size: about 900 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years; Rented

Great art reveals new elements of itself every time you look at it, which is exactly how I feel about my visits to trü studio. For the design-inclined, the space is the art, and Anne and Steve take great care with their creation. The couple believes in the potential of “good bones,” and saw huge promise in the architectural details and wide windows of this third floor apartment, which they found on Craigslist. Moving in together for the first time after getting engaged (they met as undergraduates at an architecture program), they balance patience and persistence to fill the ever-evolving canvas of their live/work space.

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The particulars of the apartment itself – sturdy built-in cabinetry in the kitchen, an ornamental mantle in the living room, recessed shelves and nooks throughout —become opportunities for illuminating Anne and Steve’s deep connections to memories and the past, while also showcasing their interest in an innovative future. I love the cheekiness of the fireplace TV, which has been custom cocooned in soft gray scrim, a design that Anne and Steve worked out together and then had Anne’s father and brother handcraft. 

In addition to time being a great influence on the couple, nature and industry also inspire, popping up in flashes of metallic paint, earthy wood elements, and slate. True mid-century furniture finds and family hand-me-downs mingle with contemporary buys from all different price points, a deliberate decision to prevent the space from looking too vintage and keep it affordable as well.

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Curation is really the key here, and Anne and Steve emphasize patience and vision. Having the notion of what they want keeps them focused, but open to customizing when they see opportunity, whether with relatively small fixes such as staining and painting (the metallic milk-maid style stool in the studio is my favorite example) or something larger, such as their custom-cut living room carpet. “Use what you have, but don’t be afraid to make it more your own” is definitely a strategy here, and extends to the live/work aspects of the space. 

Commanding DIY-built gray flats that are necessary as backgrounds and to keep photography equipment out-of-the-way also act as guides for the eye, providing a perfect textural backdrop for the built-in chandelier (seriously, what a windfall!) and drawing attention to the art wall covered carefully in petals of white paper. Even the studio lighting stand seems to magically fit against the gauzy curtains that separate the kitchen from the work area and help reflect light back into the shooting space.

Working where you live is a luxury and a challenge that Anne and Steve handle with joy and eager ease. It’s this sense of gracious refinement that permeates their space and ultimately creates an energized-yet-ethereal home for studio work, entertaining, or simply rest, for themselves and visitors alike.

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style/Inspiration: A mixture of industrial vintage and mid-century modern.

Favorite Element: The bright natural light, the architecture and character of the space (arches, built-ins, the french doors, fireplace). 

Biggest Challenge: 1. Balancing a workspace with our living space. 2. We have certain ideas and expectations for what we would like our space to look like, but since it's an apartment we are restricted by what exists and it's a challenge to work with the space but yet make it look how we want.

What Friends Say: I want to live here! It's very comfortable. It's so bright and open! Where did you get that...

Biggest Embarrassment: Our chipped purple tile in the bathroom and kitchen. The fact that our bed is on the floor. We're having a base built for it but it's not finished yet. 

Proudest DIY: The paper art wall and the carpet tiles.

Biggest Indulgence: Our furniture, specifically the couch and our Eames rocker. 

Best Advice:  Don't go out and buy everything at once. It's fun to collect things over time, to be on the hunt for a piece, and experience the excitement when you find the perfect fit. Also, don't be restricted by what you can find in a store. We typically figure out our vision and do whatever it takes to put that aesthetic together. Sometimes it's doing it ourselves, fixing up a piece that has good 'bones' but needs sprucing, and sometimes it's paying a bit more for custom.

Dream Sources: Design Within Reach, Schoolhouse Electric Company, Dwell.

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Resources of Note:

LIVING ROOM

  • Bird cake toppers: Etsy
  • Credenza: Craigslist, from hot coffee modern
  • Wood coffee table on casters: World Market
  • Sofa: Gus Modern. In Chicago we bought it from I.D. Chicago
  • Eames Chair: Modernica
  • Slate coasters: DIY project, salvaged from scraps
  • Television cozy: DIY project, designed by trü,realized by Anne’s father and brother
  • Modern clock: George Nelson
  • Mint green desk: Hoard Antiques, Chicago (now closed)
  • Wine crate shelves: Repurposed from Anne & Steve’s wedding décor,Volo Antique Mall
  • Letterpress letters: Printers Row Lit Fest in Chicago
  • Landscape abstract print: trü studio
  • Carpet: Flor carpet tiles, DIYed design and execution

STUDIO

  • Chandelier: Amazing built-in
  • Area rug: Fab
  • Gray flats: DIY, painted insulation boards
  • Art Wall: DIY project, found through Pinterest, inspired by this
  • Marble-topped table: Craiglist, with legs repainted
  • White modern chairs: Fab
  • Filmy white curtains: Target
  • Golden stool: gift from Anne’s father, repainted gold

KITCHEN

  • Wooden ironing board/stepstool: second-hand store in northwestern Illinois
  • Metal hangers: IKEA
  • Kettle: Amazon, OXO Anniversary
  • Prints: Pig, Fab  "Cook with the ones you love" - Haymaker Shop, Chicago, can also be purchased at Neighborly, Chicago

BEDROOM

  • Wool Camp Blanket: Pendleton Crate: Volo Antique Mall 
  • Armoire: family hand-me-down 
  • Headboard + Wooden Side Table: Craigslist 
  • Photographic abstract print: trü studio 
  • Vanity: family hand-me-down 
  • Chest of drawers: family hand-me-down 
  • Metal side table: CB2 
  • Exposed light bulb fixture: DIY

BATHROOM

  • Trash: Simple Human
  • Ruffled shower curtain: Anthropologie
  • White cupboard: Elkhorn Antique Flea Market, Illinois

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Thanks, Anne & Steve!

(Images: Alexis Buryk)

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