A City Dweller Aces DIY & Design in a Chicago Apartment

A City Dweller Aces DIY & Design in a Chicago Apartment

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Julia Brenner
Oct 11, 2016

Name: Jess Goodwin and Andi (Anderson Pooper) the corgi
Location: Ravenswood — Chicago, Illinois
Size: 750 square feet
Years lived in: 1.5 years, renting

What can you do with a 750 square foot rented apartment in a multi-unit building in the middle of Chicago? If you're designer Jess Goodwin, a lot. Jess has transformed her apartment into a warm and inviting home that is filled with personal projects and smart solutions.

The term "inspiring" gets used a lot in the world of design, but in the case of Jess's apartment, I'd say it's spot on. I've certainly met people who've built dining tables. I've also met people who've transformed IKEA furniture. And a few who've built their own bed frames and headboards. But I haven't met very many who have done all three so successfully, by themselves, within the confines of an urban apartment.


"The neighbors didn't really complain, so I kept going."


Her willingness to bust out the power tools and tackle big projects without a garage, yard, or basement should give all of us city dwellers inspiration that where there's a will, there's a way. In the words of Jess, "the neighbors didn't really complain, so I kept going." Preach, sister. Also, I kind of want to get a tattoo of that...

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I would say I have a bit of an eclectic look, but I would also say I'm a bit modern and transitional. I definitely like whites and creams and natural tones with pops of fun colors.

Inspiration: Pinterest. What did I do before Pinterest? Oh, right, I spent all of my money on interior design magazines and ripped out stuff I liked and glued it into scrapbooks. So, similar to Pinterest only not as efficient. But seriously, I use Pinterest to gather inspiration all the time (probably too much). I do have some interior designers that I also go to for inspiration on the daily, like Amber Lewis, DISC Interiors, Lauren Liess, Nate Berkus and Vanessa Alexander.

Favorite Element: I have a few. The receding gallery wall flanked with some awesome wall sconces I swapped out with the $12 Home Depot sconces that were there when I moved in. The white painting above the black bench in my living room; it's minimal but adds so much to the room. The last favorite element would be the green wall in the kitchen. That kitchen was lacking any sort of design element, so I got inspired by some accent walls that carried through the space, and went searching for the right color. I originally only painted the wall but you couldn't see the green from other parts of the apartment so I went for it and painted the door as well. It changes everything and makes that green wall amazing.

Biggest Challenge: My kitchen. The rest of the apartment was laid out perfectly. I walked into the place and knew what I could do with each room. When I got to the kitchen I was like, "HOLY NO COUNTERTOPS, BATMAN!" because there is only one 12" strip of countertop space. Luckily I came up with the idea of the flip-up table for more countertop space and I really went to town with hanging storage. But I would love a larger kitchen, maybe I would cook more or better...

What Friends Say: They say my place looks like a home rather than an apartment I found on Craigslist. They really like how I've taken what the apartment had and improved on some areas. Oh, and one of my one friends can't get over my descending gallery wall, she has even shown it to her clients.

Get the look! Shopping resources for this tour → Natural & Modern Pinterest Inspired Chicago Style

Biggest Embarrassment: Andi, while a sweetheart, also sheds uncontrollably. For such small animals, you'd be surprised how much Corgis shed. I tried to keep up with the fur on the floors all the time when I first moved in, but now I mostly tackle the noticeable areas and leave the rest for my weekly clean. I wish I was better about staying on top of it, but it's never ending.

Proudest DIY: My dining table (tutorial here) and bed frame. I got a little help from a friend who lives nearby, but for the most part, I built both of those pieces by myself in my apartment after watching some YouTube videos. I first built the table using the Sketchup program to understand the construction and then went to town. Nobody in my building complained about the noise so I was able to complete both projects pretty quickly. Only now I want a woodshop because I'm hooked on building my own furniture!

Biggest Indulgence: While I saved a ton of money by building the bed frame and dining table myself, they still cost me the most money per item. However, if I had purchased something similar I would have paid WAY more than I did by making them myself. So the biggest indulgence for what it is would probably be the rug in my bathroom. I had to have it though, it was one of those things.

Best Advice: Mix styles. I once heard someone say, "I live in a condo built in the '70s, so I feel like I need to be Mid-Century." I disagree! Be whatever you want to be, find what styles match your personality and mix different elements into your own style.

Dream Sources: Anthropologie, Arteriors, thrift/ consignment shops (not one in particular, I just love finding unique pieces to add character), and lately Home Depot or any hardware store to purchase the tools to build my own items.

Get the look! Shopping resources for this tour → Natural & Modern Pinterest Inspired Chicago Style

Thanks, Jessica!


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