Anne & Leo's Cozy Cosmopolitan Loft

House Tour

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Name: Anne, a writer (most recently of the novel Love Like A Dog) and professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Leo, a creative director 
Location: South Loop, Prairie District; Chicago, Illinois
Size: 3,000 square feet
Years lived in: 10 months; Owned

When my former professor and dear friend Anne and her husband Leo decided to move their family, including their teenage son and two dogs, from a 1950s-style home on Chicago's Far North side (complete with basement rumpus room featuring built-in back-lit framed woodland scenes and a wet bar) to an industrial loft in a former South Loop engraving factory, I wondered how their style would translate across such drastically different spots. The alluring effect is a testament to Anne and Leo’s taste and years of careful collecting, as well as their spirit of taking chances on places and objects that truly captivate them.

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The layout of this new-yet-old home works like a puzzle. In the L-shaped floor plan, the master bedroom, closet, bath area and television nook branch off from the main body of the home, including the kitchen, living room, and home office, while the second bedroom with private bath is tucked away just off the living room. Unexpected amenities and quirks keep the design fluid and functional, while still aesthetically intriguing and protective of its original bones. Some favorite details: the tiny floodlights built into the heated floors, the compact chef’s kitchen with clever built-in storage bins and knife block, and the open hallways and crafty movable metallic walls that hide more closet areas and even create a shower near the powder room. 

I love how the old loading dock of the warehouse becomes a piece of furniture in the space, and how its solid industrial mass plays off the delicate ornamentation of the antique Chinese marriage bed. With the apartment’s modern amenities and turn-of-the-century industrial frame, Anne and Leo’s charming and worldly style fits right in.

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: A combination of antique, found and modern elements, and as much world art as we can bring home from travels.

Inspiration: Various homes of loved mentors in my (Anne’s) past who were always eclectic and personal. Their homes were theirs, unlike any others, their aim not perfection but, instead, to be dependably inviting. Their homes told the stories of their journeys and choices. And Dwell magazine!

Favorite Element: The eastern morning light, and the vaulted ceilings.

Biggest Challenge: Balancing the need for a private work space (for Anne, the writer) with a completely open layout, having downsized from a house with four bedrooms, with doors that could shut one away.

What Friends Say: They say the loft/condo looks like it should be in a magazine!

Biggest Embarrassment: Our two big dogs who discovered that having a radiant heat floor makes having “accidents” quite pleasurable for them. And, for us, discovering what it is to clean up cooked poop.

Proudest DIY: The arrangement of found nests in the entryway; a small homage to Joseph Cornell, who found so much and made the finds into magical boxes.

Biggest Indulgence: The antique Chinese marriage bed, shipped from China, and assembled by Leo (it is held together without one nail, all dovetail joints and press-fit fastening). Leo calls it the bed that ate the living room.

Best Advice: Don’t overcrowd the condo. Give it its space and air. 

Dream Sources: Dwell, Restoration Hardware, Lightology, Nadeau, CB2, and Secret Treasures.

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Resources of Note:

PAINT & COLORS

  • Sherwin-Williams Custom colors: Blue Moon, Nickel, & White

ENTRY

• Nests: found

• Gathering of a dozen hanging lights: Lightology? (came with the apartment)

• Prairie stained glass window panel: Secret Treasures

• Antlers: from Wyoming

• Welcome/Goodbye mat: Target

LIVING ROOM

• Red leather armchairs: Pottery Barn

• Railroad tie bench with steel base: Nadeau

• Indonesian display case: Secret Treasures

• Lighting by Lightology

• Funky marble top end table, Asian white marble end table, various Buddhas and Guangin statue, old clothes wringer: Secret Treasures

• Red Chinese Marriage bed, circa 1870-90: Ebay, “Chinese Antiques”

• Tang Dynasty Lady (7th century +) & Han Dynasty (200 BC +) rider: Dragon Culture in Hong Kong

• 19th century papier-mache Deposition of Christ: Flea market in Florence, Italy

• Reclining Buddha: Golden Triangle

DINING ROOM

• Walnut dining table and chairs purchased from loft's previous owner

• Large painting by Brian Long

• Pillows on facing stairway: Ikea and CB2

KITCHEN

• Sub-Zero, Miele and Bosch appliances

• Small marble plank: CB2

MASTER BEDROOM

• Bed: Ikea (Sultan design)

• Upright oak desk with stained glass front: Secret Treasures

• Burled walnut armoire: Father Time Antiques

• Overhead lamp and sconces: Fortuny in Venice, Italy

• Low bench-burea: Nadeau

• Rugs: Embelazar (no long in Chicago, moved to Milwaukee) and Minasian 

• Art: from Spain, Italy, Chicago

MASTER BATHROOM

• Everything came with the loft purchase

• Towels: Target

BEDROOM

• All furniture from Ikea (Hopen design), except desk, refinished by Leo 

• TV stand bought second-hand

OFFICE

• Desk: Leo’s father’s

• 1920s black laquerware screen: Lofty Aspirations

• Multi drawer filing cabinet: garage sale

• Bookcases: Ikea (Billy Balbo style with glass panels)

• End table: handmade by master carpenter Carolyn Kelly of South Bend, Indiana

• Futon-couch: Ikea

• Afghan rug: Embelazar

• Art from Rome, Italy; Massawa, Eritrea; Cape Town, South Africa; second-hand stores, and our children

LONG HALLWAY

• Art by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago students and others

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Thanks, Anne and Leo!

(Images: Alexis Buryk)

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