Name: Bert Fox & David Pickett + Sophie the Pug
Location: West Lakeview, Chicago, Illinois
Size: 830 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, 10 months; Rented
When Bert and David rented their first apartment together, they enlisted the assistance of a friend and interior designer to help them turn it into a home. With a mix of vintage furniture and rich colors, they've managed to turn a standard issue Chicago apartment into a comfortable and stylish home. Now that they're about to move out of this apartment and into a bigger space, they invited us in for a house tour.
A couple's first apartment together can be a decorating challenge. Bringing the belongings from two separate spaces together into one cohesive design is never easy. So when Bert and David decided to merge households, they enlisted the help of their friend David Hopkins to give them some direction. Hopkins helped Bert and David create a cohesive yet comfortable space by working with what they have and also bringing in some fun new elements – like the paper lantern lighting in the entryway.
The only room that didn't get the designer treatment was David's LEGO production room. As a die hard LEGO fan, also known as AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO), David needs a space where he can spread out his collections. It's also the space where he creates his stop motion animation movies starring the beloved plastic toys. I didn't photograph much of this room but you can get this gist from photo number 17 in the gallery.
Even with his own production room, David's LEGO collections have managed to find their way into the rest of the home. Whether it's the custom Village People LEGO set on Bert's desk or the framed stills from David's LEGO movies displayed in the kitchen, there are little reminders of his passion throughout the house.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Mid-century design with an infusion of LEGO. Our style relies on common elements of our individual tastes: simple shapes, clean lines, and form that follows function.
Inspiration: We've been very lucky to have a muse throughout this process. Our friend/interior designer David Hopkins has been instrumental in helping us identify great pieces for our space. It helps that he has a similar design aesthetic as we do.
Favorite Element: The giant lampshade over our dining room table. It sets the mood of the room and has a great wow factor. Close second would be the blue FLOR carpet tiles in the living room. The fact that we were able to pull off such a wild floor covering still amazes us.
Biggest Challenge: This is our first apartment together, so when we first moved in we had a mishmash of furniture from our individual places, none of which went together. When we embarked on our redesign, our biggest challenge was figuring out how to create a common style that spoke to both of us as individuals and best represented us as a couple. For a while, it seemed like this might be a hopeless endeavor, but after several months of frustration we finally found a style that clicked. Once we had figured this out, everything else was easy by comparison.
What Friends Say: "This place looks fancier than I think you two are." "This has modern elements, but doesn't feel cold like a lot of modern places." "Wow! That's really blue!" "That's a lot of LEGO."
Biggest Embarrassment: The front porch needs a new coat of paint. We wanted to do that, but never got a chance before we decided to move out. However, this also makes our space impress visitors even more because of the contrast from the exterior.
Proudest DIY: Painting all the walls in the house and it actually looking really good and semi-professional. It was a lot of work, but it was all worth it and we saved a lot of money by doing it ourselves.
Biggest Indulgence: The $200 ceramic buffalo on our bookshelf from the Maker & Maker Ceramic Studio in Chicago. When Bert saw it at the Renegade Craft Fair last year he knew he had to have it. We don't regret it.
Best Advice: Don't be afraid of color. Go to lots of thrift stores and flea markets. A little upholstery and some furniture polish does miracles (and saves money).
Dream Sources: Eames lounge chair. (Can we put that on our wedding registry?) Many, many things from Room and Board.
Resources of Note:
• When we originally moved in this space was extremely dark with no hooks for coats. We installed some 2x4s along the walls and added a ton of hooks. To create more light, we hung dozens of paper lanterns from the ceiling to create a glowing "hornet's nest." We reupholstered a chair with electric blue fabric to match the fresh coat of blue paint. The upholster described the fabric "like liquid sex." Blue is David's favorite color and this room makes him feel safe and at ease every time he walks in.
• This room is a collection of pieces that shouldn't work, but manage to work together to create a coherent whole. From the cowhide chair to the extra-tall coffee table, this room gets its energy from the unexpected. All the chairs were found at thrift stores / flea markets and then reupholstered. The bookshelves came from IKEA (but we painted the backings blue before assembling). Our only regret about this room is that we didn't have the budget to replace the couch with something from Room and Board.
• This room doubles as Bert's office space and it is also the best reflection of his tastes. The dark wood of the furniture is complemented by the silver accents on the lamps and mirror. Bert's desk (from West Elm) was our first piece in this room, it set the tone for the side board and dining room table. David still snuck a little blue into this room with the big blue centerpiece.
• The first thing we had to do in this room was create more counter space. We got a great island from IKEA and stained it to make it a great surface for kitchen prep work. The light fixture from IKEA helps draw attention to the island as the focus of the room. We ordered large prints of images from David's animated web series The Nightly News at Nine to add some color and utilize the existing shelf. We painted half the room black to break up the white.
• This is our sleep cave. Both of us like it to be really dark when we sleep. There is only one window in the room which is on the far right leaving a lot of unbalanced empty space, so we decided to cover the whole wall with floor to ceiling curtain we got on sale at West Elm. We carried the line of the curtains around the rest of the room by painting the area below a similar deep gray. This also draws attention away from the unremarkable tiled ceiling. The bed came from IKEA, while the bedside tables, lamps and dresser were all found at resell shops.
• We added storage above the toilet and painted using the leftover paint from the living room to save on money. The towels, floormat, and shower curtain were all picked to match the new color.
• David's LEGO studio stands apart from the rest of the apartment. This is the only room we didn't repaint during our redesign, choosing instead to let his immense LEGO collection define the space. It is the perfect place for him to get creative and make his animations.
Thanks, Bert & David!
(Images: Jason Loper)
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