Name: Christina Dunne-Anderson
Location: Graceland West — Chicago, Illinois
Size: 1,300 square feet
Years lived in: 10 — owned
A friend introduced me to Christina by telling me that she has the most beautifully stylized home in which she throws the most fabulous parties. Knowing that Christina has worked in visual design and as a stylist for a number of years, I had no doubt her home would be fabulous. However, I wasn't prepared for exactly how fabulous it is!
Christina's history in visual design has definitely had an influence on her home décor. You can see it in her ability to turn unlikely items into beautiful furniture — like the old workbench turned bar. You can also see it in the details — the sisal-wrapped radiator pipes and the jars of dog treats and flatware in the kitchen. And you can see it the dramatic flare — the bright, playful monkey painting in the dining room and the colorfully striped entryway.
The styling isn't limited to the interior of Christina's condo. The large back porch off Christina's kitchen feels more like a living room than an outdoor space. The repainted old glider stands in as a sofa and two repainted bamboo club chairs rounding it out to create a conversation area. As lovely and well-appointed as Christina's home is, on the day I visited for the house tour, I wanted to spend all my time on the back porch!
One thing I took away from Christina's tour is the confirmation that it's possible to make your home look like a million bucks at a fraction of the cost. I'll admit that when I first toured the condo I thought to myself how lovely it is but that I could never afford something similar. Then, when Christina returned her survey to me and I realized how many of the pieces came from flea markets, garage sales, antique stores and even IKEA, I was comforted by the fact that a home this lovely can be achieved on any budget.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: I like to think of my design style as being relaxed, humorous and inviting, but with the cultured irreverence of a Parisian Flea Market.
Inspiration: I have a huge collection of interior design books and magazines that I reference regularly, but I would honestly say that represents about twenty percent of my esthetic. The rest comes from all over: A Paul Smith shopping bag; a Veuve Clicquot bottle; the humor of Simon Doonan's Barney's NY windows; the mash-up of Tony Duquette. And then I find it in nature, like the 100-year old cherry tree that my porch overlooks — it's like an ever-changing piece of artwork, from the blizzard of pink and white blossoms in spring to the brilliant red cherries of summer. I guess my philosophy is that inspiration is everywhere. You just gotta be open to it.
Favorite Element: Years ago I bought a Shetland sweater with an illustration of a red-headed monkey woven into it, and every time I wore it, it made me smile. Unfortunately, it had an unexpected rendez-vous with the dryer and ended up small enough to fit a toddler. When my friend and former co-worker, Tom Swanson (the Window Director of Neiman Marcus) found out how broken up I was about it, he painted a picture of the monkey on a canvas measuring 5 foot by 4 foot. That picture is now a focal point in my home — it makes me so happy to see it every day.
Biggest Challenge: I couldn't stand the look of the peeling metal floor-to-ceiling radiator pipes in my living room and dining room. Rather than re-paint them or try to hide them I decided to acknowledge the elephant in the room and improve them. I wrapped one in Sisal to match my sea-grass rug; the other one I wrapped in clothesline to blend with the color of the wall and the drapes. (Side note: best not to attempt this while the radiator is on. I learned that the hard way.)
What Friends Say: I'm always flattered when friends tell me how much they enjoy hanging out at my place and that they wish they could live here. I've had people ask me if they can throw parties in my place — and I've said yes to a few of them.
For some reason, my guest bathroom gets a lot of attention — if I didn't know any better I'd think my friends had stomach issues. (Just kidding.) I have a large collection of cigar band mosaic plates displayed on the walls in there — I'm a collector at heart, and my guest bathroom is a true testament to that.
Biggest Embarrassment: When I was moving cross-country from Los Angeles to Chicago I had a massive yard sale to edit down my belongings. It was flattering for me that so many people showed up to buy things I'd spent years collecting — except that my friends kept finding things they'd given me over the years. I found myself saying over and over, "it's not that I don't love you, I just don't have the room for these (fill in the blanks)".
Proudest DIY: Turning a Chicago city porch into an outdoor cabana that's so inviting that it even gets used during my annual holiday party, thanks in part to a small space heater and long canvas drapes that help to contain the heat.
Biggest Indulgence: I've obsessed over a Louis Vuitton trunk for over 20 years. My sister ended up getting one at a Paris Flea Market about 15 years ago. I stole it from her last week — she thinks it's on temporary loan. (P.S. — it's not!)
Best Advice: Good taste doesn't have to be expensive. One of my favorite pieces was a work bench. I found it sitting in an alley behind a thrift store — they wouldn't even take it as a donation. There was just something about it — quirkiness crossed with functionality — I took it home, cleaned it up and turned it into a bar. I can't tell you how many times I've been offered money for it, by high end boutique owners, stylists, you name it.
Dream Sources: If I had all the money in the world to shop, I would spend it at places like Scout, Elements, Jayson Home & Garden and Urban Remains in Chicago; ABC Carpet in NY; and Blackman Cruz in Los Angeles.
Resources of Note:
• Stripes painted by Tom Swanson
• Mirror: IKEA
• Leopard rug: Rexx Rug
• Tin Chandelier: Salvation Army
• Couch: Crate & Barrel
• Coffee table/ trunk : Paris flea market
• Sisel rug: Pottery Barn
• Paintings and Drawings: LA Flea markets,garage sales, Brownstone Antiques
• Leather and wood club chairs: Estate sale recovered and refinished by B.C.F Upholstery
• Pillows: Hermes, Pottery Barn and custom designs sewn by Urban Workroom
• Bench: Thrift shop find with recovered with tapestry from Devon Avenue Chicago
• Mission side table: estate sale
• Bottle lamp: flea market bottle, shade by A Lamp and Fixture
• Garden stool: Home Goods
• Dining room table: Home Goods
• Chandelier: Brownstone Antiques redesigned by me
• Green Chairs: IKEA
• Orange and red monkey painting: Artist/friend Tom Swanson
• Metal workbench/bar: found behind a thrift store in LA
• Ice Cream artwork: designed by me
• Mercury glass lamp: Garage sale
• Red Asian Alter: estate sale
• Arm chair: The Brown Elephant
• Daybed: Estate sale recovered by Urban Workroom
• Pillows: West Elm
• White Shelves: IKEA
• Wooden bead chandelier: Flea Market
• Painting of bottle: Anthropologie
• File cabinet: West Elm
• "Kindness" artwork: Doug Wilson
• White schoolhouse stools: Pottery Barn
• Mosaic Urn: made by me!
• Oversized bird wood-burned wall hanging: Brownstone Antiques
• White bamboo club chairs: Brownstone Antiques
• Vintage fabric cushions recovered by Urban Workroom
• Vintage Metal Glider: flea market
• Solid pillows by CB2
• Tory Burch Pillow: designed by Tom Swanson and Christina Anderson for Tory Burch
• Orange side table : CB2
• Orange metal factory chairs: found in alley painted in Popsicle orange
• Bistro table: Home Goods
• Tin Palm Chandelier and matching floor lamp: Brownstone Antiques
• 2 Striped Paintings by Tom Swanson
• Standing brushed stainless cooler/bar: Home Goods
• Rug: Pottery Barn
• Canvas Drapes: IKEA
• Metal Hanging Lanterns hung on orange bungee cords: CB2
• Gnome Stool: gift from a good friend
• White Garden stool: Target
Images: Jason Loper
(Re-edited from a post originally published 10.29.2010 - JEL)
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