Name: Gabriel Fontes de Faria & Grant Gochnauer
Location: Wicker Park; Chicago, IL
Size: 4,000 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years; owned
If I had to summarize Gabriel and Grant’s home in two words, I would pick “beauty” and “restraint.” The couple’s townhouse is elegant and pared down, and each element seems considered and loved. Gabriel is an architect and interior designer (check out his work on Homepolish), and the minimalistic control that he has had over the space is far from cold or stiff. Every area of the townhouse exudes confidence, and the space is bathed in warm gray hues, filled with luscious textures, and energized by plants and dynamic jolts of green.
Gabriel and Grant’s home is a perfect blend of the manmade and the natural. Clean, modern furniture mixes seamlessly with naturalistic accents, giving the space a streamlined but organic feel. In fact, as I photographed the space, I kept thinking about French gardens, which are perfectly planned, sculpted, and tended, all in the service of creating a beautiful and inviting area.
In the living room, photographs of plants are given a tailored, crisp look thanks to their white mats and grid placement. A tangle of antlers, found on Grant’s family farm, loosen up the look and temper the sharp lines. By the front window, a streamlined glass case houses a Brazilian headdress that was given to one of Gabriel’s relatives—an anthropologist who researched Amazonian cultures. In the dining room, arrowheads—also found on Grant’s family land—are arranged over a creamy backdrop of linen and set in a modern, white frame, offering a perfect balance of the past and the present.
Throughout Grant and Gabriel’s home, there are many touches like this, and while it may sound cliché, the more you look at their home, the more you see.
As you’ll see in Gabriel’s interview below, there have been some mishaps that prevented the bedroom and guest bedroom from coming together. As such, there aren’t any photos of those spaces in this tour. But as I’m sure we all know, mishaps are par for the decorating course, and Gabriel and Grant are good at taking things in stride, recognizing that a home is always a work in progress. Having seen behind the scenes, though, I can tell you that even their “works in progress” look good. The soft, clear warmth that characterizes the rest of their home also suffuses their bedroom and the sunny guest bedroom.
While the visually immaculate results may not let on, Grant and Gabriel approach their home with an informality and comfort that immediately puts you at ease. Nothing is too precious for use, comfort reigns supreme, and happy, loving dogs are just as welcome as people. Gabriel says that he doesn’t like a lot of color, but their home is filled with an array of textures, plants, and well-organized collections of meaningful objects. (Possibly my favorite of their collections is the wallpaper in the powder room, which they have created out of vintage black-and-white photographs. Collected from thrift stores, travels abroad, and gifts from friends and families, these photographs could keep you entertained for hours.) All of these elements obviate the need for additional color and give the space a distinctive sense of calm and comfort.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: I would say our style is modern, maybe even minimalist, but still homey and warm. I’m an architect who grew up in a family of architects, so I was taught to love modernism and clean open spaces from a young age. Grant grew up in a more traditional home where comfort ruled. Our main goal for our place was to merge the two backgrounds in some way. We chose to go with a modern and somewhat minimalist aesthetic because Grant liked that too, but tried to choose pieces that not only looked good, but were also comfortable.
Inspiration: Architecture, work by other designers I admire (can’t get enough of Joseph Dirand, Vincent Van Duysen, and Yabu Pushelberg at the moment), the Case Study Houses, and Scandinavian design blogs and magazines.
Favorite Element: Our two favorite elements in our home are the wood-burning fireplace, and the roof terrace. When it's cold out, we love to light a fire and sit in the living room reading, or drinking wine and playing Cards Against Humanity with our friends. In the summer we love to barbecue and enjoy the terrace.
Biggest Challenge: Designing with our dogs (and their hair) in mind. Bella (an Italian Greyhound we adopted from Paws 8 years ago) is gray and white, and Trooper (a Rottweiler we inherited from Grant’s sister) is black and brown, so we had to choose rugs and upholstered pieces that wouldn’t show their mess. We ended up choosing fabrics with a lot of texture, so that even if they are covered in dog hair, you can’t notice it!
What Friends Say: Gabriel’s architect friends say they love it. Grant’s non-architect friends probably think Gabriel is OCD… and they are right!
Biggest Embarrassment: Pretty much all of our latest online purchases. We bought a bed for the guest bedroom, and a coffee table for the living room, and they were delivered completely broken not once but twice! Third time is a charm I guess.
And then there was that time we bought a 300lbs petrified wood side table on Ebay, and it was delivered to the sidewalk, so we had to carry it upstairs ourselves by hand. It was so heavy that when we sat it down on the tile floor of the mudroom, it crushed the tiles! Oops.
Proudest DIY: I (Gabriel) bought a Lindsey Adelman DIY Chandelier kit and put it together, which I was very proud of because I had never done any electrical work before, and the house didn’t burn down.
We also hung the gallery wall by the stairs ourselves, which involved a stair ladder, acrobatics, and near death experiences.
Biggest Indulgence: Grant says: “everything”. Gabriel says: the Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen, which I bought with my first few paychecks (I know… my priorities in life are messed up).
Best Advice: Edit, edit, edit! Although we appreciate homes with a lot of artifacts and collections, the two of us have found that we function better and feel more comfortable in spaces that aren’t cluttered, and that are edited down to just a few beautiful things that will inspire us daily.
Dream Sources: Wright (the auction house), Espasso, Minotti, and Luminaire
PAINT & COLORS
- Living room, dining room, kitchen room, family room: River Gorge Gray by Benjamin Moore
- Gabriel's Office: Stonington Gray by Benjamin Moore and Rust-Oleum Magnetic Primer from Home Depot
•Credenza: Line Credenza from Design Within Reach
•Glass case (with native Brazilian feather headpiece from Gabriel’s great uncle): Clarus Box from Crate and Barrel
•Table Lamp (on credenza): Cestita Table Lamp by Santa & Cole, gift from friends
•Insect art (on credenza): ‘Variant A’ by Pheromone Gallery/ Christopher Marley, from Fab.com
•Lounge Chair: Eames Lounge Chair by Herman Miller, from Design Within Reach
•Wood Chair: Eames Molded Plywood Lounge Chair, by Herman Miller, gift from family
•Sofa: Reese sofa from Room and Board
•Coffee Tables: Tray tables by HAY Denmark, from Huset
•Wood Box (on coffee table): Parquet Box from Jayson Home
•Rug 1 (small one on top): Painter’s Cotton and Wool Rug from West Elm
•Rug 2 (large one at the bottom): Distressed Wool Rug, Restoration Hardware
•Urn: Ceramic Filigree Jar from Z Gallerie
•Picture frames (above fireplace): Walnut Box Frames from CB2
•Floor Lamp: AJ Floor Lamp by Louis Poulsen, from Y-Lighting
•Pillow (G): Reversible Letter Pillow from Jonathan Adler
•Pillow (City Drawing): Alexander Girard Retrospective Pillow from Design Within Reach
•Pillow (Pattern): Stockholm Cushion from Ikea
DINING ROOM•Dining Table: Blox Dining Table from CB2
•Fruit Bowl: Crushed Bowl by Muuto, from Design Within Reach
•Painting: commissioned from artist Mallory Page, through Dimmitt Contemporary Art Gallery
•Drape Hardware: Industrial Pipe Rod from West Elm
SITTING ROOM AND STAIRS
•Oars: Vintage Michigan oars, from Brimfield (brimfieldus.com)
•Pillows (Large stripes): discontinued, from Unison
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Thanks, Gabriel & Grant!
*Re-edited from a tour previously published.