House Tour: Jacob & Laurie Do It Themselves in West Ridge

Name: Jacob, Laurie and Matilda
Profession: Architect; Librarian; Baby
Location: West Ridge neighborhood of Chicago
Type: 2 BR condo owned in 1930’s bow front brick 6 flat; about 1200 sq. ft.
Years lived in: 2

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Jacob and Laurie have been working tirelessly for the last two years. With a desire to try their hands at never-before tackled projects, the pair set out on a clear mission: refinishing floors, installing a new kitchen, and creating a nursery for their daughter-to-be, Matilda. Daunting, yes, but they say it was well worth the effort, learning curve, and adventure.


Photos by Evan Thomas
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Using budget-saving (in exchange for time-saving) efforts, Jacob and Laurie took on much of the labor themselves, which now helps them feel all the more connected to their home. With innovation (using a CD rack for Matilda’s shoes), the talent of friends and family (pottery by Jacob’s mom, dining table by friend, Josh), and personal creativity (Laurie’s black and white photos, Jacob’s silkscreens and felt ottomans), this West Ridge home accomplishes a seemingly effortless combination of calm and style.

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Our style: Simple, functional, clean, nothing fussy or uncomfortable

Inspiration: books, buildings, and whitespace

Favorite Element: the cove ceilings in the living room, entry and dining room

Biggest Challenge: Re-doing every floor surface in the apartment: We took up acres of filthy white carpet to reveal the badly damaged oak floors beneath. The bathroom floor was covered in two layers of vinyl, with the original, busted up tile beneath that (sadly, there was a large hole in the middle of the room necessitating a new tile job). Jacob filed in the hole and re-tiled in white, hexagonal tiles. The kitchen floor was in poor shape, so again, Jacob tore up the layers and put down a floating cork floor. Lastly, we refinished the oak floors in a matte, water-based finish. The pet/pantry/mud room was fitted with Flor carpet tiles.

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What Friends Say: “Your cookie jar scares me a little.” “You did all this yourself?”

Biggest Embarrassment: It’s a toss up between the huge refrigerator (we can’t afford to replace it, but it works just fine) and the oodles of small projects that remain undone (ceilings to paint, doorknobs and the hideous back door to replace).

Proudest DIY: The floors. Plus the kitchen that Jacob put in is a dream.

Biggest Indulgence: Either the countertops or the bathroom sink and faucet.

Best advice: Try to do the work yourself. You’ll feel more connected to your home, flaws and all. Try to consider the life of your house, it will be around a lot longer than you will; consider your decisions carefully, the cheap fix isn’t always the way to go. Don’t invest in trends.

Dream source: Thos. Moser (Laurie), Wright 20 Auction House (Jacob)

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Resources:

Living room: sofas from Room and Board, felt ottomans by Jacob, floating TV cabinet is kitchen cabinets from IKEA, credenza bought on eBay, Chicago Map by Jacob, and pottery by Pots by Andrea (Jacob’s mother)

Master bedroom: bed by Blu Dot, dressing table by Jacob, one dresser from Room and Board and one from eBay, and clay wall hanging by Pots by Andrea

Bathroom: fixtures from Community Home Supply on Lincoln Avenue, and the bamboo and aluminum wall panel is by Jacob

Matilda’s bedroom: crib from IKEA, Flor carpet tiles, child’s chair from eBay, toy cubbies from Topdeq (actually a CD rack hung horizontally), bunny silkscreen by Jacob, large poster by J. Otto and Chicago poster by Ork Inc.

Hallway: mirror by Commonwealth Glass and Mirror in Watertown MA (it has survived three moves so far), bookshelves by Jacob, and B/W photo by Laurie

Dining room: chairs from Topdeq, B/W photos by Laurie, Monoprint by Jacob, table custom-made by Joshua Cooper, Flor carpet tiles, storage cart by Jacob, light from lightinguniverse.com, and dishes by Pots by Andrea

Kitchen: IKEA cabinets, cork floor from iFloors, Bosch appliances (floor models), backsplash tile from Maestro Mosaics’ discount bin, marble countertops by folks that we wouldn’t recommend, Boston poster by Ork Inc., wall lamp by Jacob, and the cookie jar is by Momoyo Torimitsu.

Dog and cat: rescues from PAWS and Animal Adoption Assoc.

See more of Jacob and Laurie's before photos and work-in-progress images here in their Picasa album.

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