Brian & Brad's Artfully Modern Apartment

House Tour

Pin it button

Name: Brian Cobb and Brad Harris (Benny, greyhound & Chi-Chi, chihuahua mix)
Location: Rogers Park; Chicago, Illinois 
Size: 901 square feet
Years lived in: 9 months; Owned

Brian and Brad have the eye, the patience, and the motivation that is required from artists who create perfectly harmonious and balanced spaces.  They are also able to pull it all together in quick order — just nine shorts months.  That’s how long they've been in their new home, but from the moment you walk in, the space has an air of warmth and invitation.  Each room has its own particular arrangement that is so novel and interesting that it begs to be examined and dolled over. 

Pin it button

Pin it button

They tend to select masterfully produced objects of design and craftsmanship, some sought after and some just stumbled upon, that almost beg to stand alone, atop a pedestal.  What makes their home so unique is how they've brought all these artifacts together to created a series of intriguing places that not only speak to each other, but to the couple’s wonderful taste. 

Their apartment was originally the model apartment for the building, but the couple quickly fell in love with its layout (it gets light from the eastern courtyard and the small street to the west), and its views (big, old trees on one side, and a view from the bedroom directly out to the deck).  It’s a mix of modern architectural expressions, best exemplified by the ceiling soffits that add variety and interest across the apartment, and classic details in the molding, room arrangement, and stone pattern in the sun room.   

If they had simply decided to retain their previous design aesthetic upon moving in, the place would have looked completely different.  Instead, they ditched their previous country-chic look for a new style — cleaner and a little simpler, but without completely forgetting who they once were.  That’s why you’ll find a classic ship painting in an ornate frame, hanging next to industrial metal sconces, above southwestern blankets and pillows.  Or why they paired a wooden secretary desk with a modern metal chair and a deco sunburst mirror in the most charming sun room, complete with a tall fiddle-fig tree and hanging lantern.

The palette is full of modern neutrals, but the large bursts of desert colors add a dimension of life and fun that would not exist otherwise.  You see it in the wicker baskets artfully arranged over the dining table in the kitchen, the deep, red carpets in the bedrooms, and the colorfully patterned curtains in the living room.  They have a knack for intriguing art displays, from the collection of farm ropes over the master bed, to the large quote commissioned from artist Risa Posner. 

All this combines to make a uniquely charming space for entertaining — one that takes visitors on a tour of the history of this couple — but also creates a place for just hanging out, surrounded by meaningful objects.  Brian and Brad’s home reflects who its owners are now, while never forgetting who they once were. 

Pin it button

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: It’s really difficult to classify us into a specific style. Our style influences and inspiration include elements of modern, ethnic, found, mid-century, natural, and industrial. 

Inspiration: We draw inspiration from design magazines, specifically Dwell, Elle Décor, and Architectural Digest. Working in the visual field, Brian is consistently subjected to amazing inspirational images, visual merchandising concepts, and artistic influence/display. He has found over the years that as they conceptualize and translate inspiration at work, specific elements tend to also work their way into our personal aesthetic. 

Favorite Element: What appeals to us about our place is how it’s situated in the building as well as the light that we get throughout the day. We feel tucked away and almost have a feeling of anonymity even though we live in the city and are surrounded by people all the time. While there is not really any specific interior element that is a favorite over another, the thing that is most important to us is that our space reflects us and that we are surrounded by the things that make us happy. 

Biggest Challenge: Our space had formerly been a model unit in our complex so the finishes and colors were very traditional and somewhat generic. Our biggest challenge was figuring out how to take the space from traditional to modern without any construction. We did this by utilizing light and color, and worked with the features of the space instead of against them. The few additions we made to the structure of the space were done to draw attention away from those traditional features and neutralize the space so the furnishings became the focus. 

What Friends Say: Our friends and family have been very surprised by how drastically we changed our decorating style.  Our previous spaces have been very traditional with elements of “French Country,” combining prints such as toiles and florals with rustic, found elements. Both Brad and I are from the southern Midwest where this kind of decorating style is popular. It tends to incorporate larger furnishings that are not really that practical for “city living”.  We decided that it was time to embrace our new space and start from scratch with a style completely new. We sold or donated almost everything and started over using the proceeds from old to buy new. It was a very liberating experience! 

Biggest Embarrassment: We tend to be very specific about color and its relationship to the elements of the room as well as with adjacent rooms. This being said, we spent a huge amount of thought in choosing a paint color for the living room. We initially talked about painting it a shade of white but after much deliberation decided that white would be too far of a departure from what we were used to, which was usually a darker more saturated color. We decided to look for something on the lighter side but a color nonetheless.  We searched for quite some time trying to find the right shade and eventually we found what we considered the “perfect color” that we were calling “smoke white” (a kind of light grayish, brown-white).  We painted the entire room. When we were done the light had changed and in the softer evening light, the walls looked exactly the same color as a No.2 pencil eraser! The next day we had a custom white mixed and went with our initial plan! 

Proudest DIY: I found this great chair at an antique store that was upholstered in this awful teal velvet. We decided to recover the chair ourselves in a snow-white fur. We thought it would be interesting to contrast the modern lines of the chair’s structure with a material that was more natural and organic. 

Another item that we are particularly proud of is a painting that we had commissioned by a local artist, Risa Posner. The excerpt from Robert Frost’s poem, “The road not taken”, is a reminder of our journey thus far and a guide as we continue to make our way in our life together.

Biggest Indulgence: We found this great Eames era lounge chair by Plycraft at an antique store. It was one of those things that we knew we had to have and we would probably not find again easily. Even though we got a relatively good deal, it still was the one of the most indulgent purchases. 

Best Advice: Decorate with items you love, don’t get stuck trying to match, and don’t be afraid to draw from several design styles to create your own unique space. Also, vary the sources where you get items for your home. It is also important not to try to do everything at once. Live in the space and let it happen organically so things don’t look forced. 

Dream Sources: Jayson Home and Garden, Room & Board, Restoration Hardware, Scout in Andersonville, West Elm

Pin it button

Resources of Note:

PAINT & COLORS

  • Living Room – Glidden, Custom White
  • Guest Bedroom – Restoration Hardware, Charcoal
  • Master Bedroom – Benjamin Moore, Stunning
  • Guest Bedroom – Restoration Hardware, Charcoal

ENTRY

  • Ceiling light fixture: Restoration Hardware
  • Charcoal still-life with reclaimed wood frame: Anthropologie



      LIVING ROOM

      • Sofa: Domicile
      • Lounge Chair: Broadway Antique Market (Chicago, IL)
      • Mid-Century china cabinet: Broadway Antique Market (Chicago, IL)
      • Robert Frost Poem painting: By Artist, Risa Posner (847-910-0863, raizeldesigns13@gmail.com)
      • Cow hide rug: World Market
      • Tripod lamp: Secret Treasures Antiques (Evanston, IL)
      • Gold floor lamp: Ikea – Shade: Anthropologie
      • Vintage metal No.5 sign: Rustic Dairyland Antique Mall (Kenosha, WI)
      • Coffee table: CB2
      • Lucite nesting tables: CB2
      • Buffet lamp: Brown Elephant (Chicago, IL)
      • White fur chair: Shine (Highland Park, IL)
      • Toss pillows: Restoration Hardware
      • Curtains: World Market
      • Wall sconces: Crate & Barrel
      • Pottery Vase: Heritage Trail Antique Mall (Wilmette, IL)
      • Alexander McQueen fashion book: Anthropologie
      • Blown glass sphere: Crate & Barrel
      • Rock crystal trinket box: Anthropologie
      • Tree trunk planter: Anthropologie
      • Test tube bud vases in wire frame: Anthropologie

      SUNROOM

      • Fiddle leaf fig tree: Gethsemane Garden Center (Chicago, IL)
      • Secretary desk: Heritage Trail Antique Mall (Wilmette, IL)
      • Desk drawer pulls: Anthropologie
      • Stainless Steel desk chair: CB2
      • Crystal cube lamp: Home Goods
      • Starburst mirror: Pier 1 Imports
      • Glass orb pendant light: Anthropologie

      KITCHEN

      • Wedding Basket collection: Anthropologie
      • Scissor wall light: Anthropologie
      • Dining Table: Ikea
      • Clear acrylic dining chairs: Ikea
      • Hardware: Anthropologie, Lowes

      BEDROOM

      • Bed: Ikea
      • Bedding: Restoration Hardware
      • Vintage equestrian ropes: Anthropologie
      • Bedside lamps: Ikea
      • Kilim runner: World Market
      • Credenza(s): CB2
      • Equestrian photo print: Z Gallerie
      • Lamp: Van Briggle pottery (Colorado Springs, CO)
      • Brass pharmacy task lamp: Anthropologie
      • Curtains: Ikea
      • Cactus oil painting: Heritage Train Antique Mall (Wilmette, IL)
      • Sand art pottery souvenir vases: Secret Treasures Antiques (Evanston, IL)
      • Closet door Pulls: Anthropologie 

      BATHROOM

      • Shower curtain: Target
      • Chinese sewing baskets: River City Trading Post (Tulsa, OK)
      • Hooks and fixtures: Ikea, Lowes

      GUEST BEDROOM

      • Bed/night stands: Ikea
      • Kilim rug: World Market
      • Vintage lockers: Secret Treasures Antiques (Evanston, IL)
      • Floor mirror: Ikea
      • Wall sconces: Restoration Hardware
      • Bedding: West Elm & Restoration Hardware
      • Toss pillows: Ikea
      • Curtains: Ikea
      • Wall clock: Crate & Barrel
      • Schooner oil painting: Home Goods
      • Closet door pulls: Anthropologie

      OUTSIDE DECK

      • Chairs and Settee: Lowes
      • Cushions: Made by Artist/Crafter, Lindsey Crawford-Reese (267-231-2892, lindseycraw@gmail.com)
      • Hanging planters and baskets: Lowes
      • Wood lanterns: Home Goods
      • Wood top side table: Target
      • Zinc urns: Pottery Barn
      • Hanging metal hundi lantern: Anthropologie 

      Pin it button

      Thanks, Brian & Brad!

      (Images: Arthur Garcia-Clemente)

      • HOUSE TOUR ARCHIVE: Check out past house tours here.
      • Interested in sharing your home with Apartment Therapy? Contact the editors through our House Tour Submission Form.
      • Are you a designer/architect/decorator interested in sharing a residential project with Apartment Therapy readers? Contact the editors through our Professional Submission Form.

      31 Comments