Kate's "Home is Where the Art Is"

House Tour

Name: Kate Lewis, husband Ed, and children Sadie & Eli
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Size: roughly 4,000 square feet
Years lived in: 3.5

Kate Lewis wins major points for being the coolest mom around. She lets her kids draw on the walls, climb on the furniture, and swing from the ceiling. She is a painter, and every aspect of her home encourages the creativity of its inhabitants. Somehow, with all the mayhem, the house remains lovely, calm, and inviting.

Pin it button big

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our style: It's fancy, sparkly and plush meets small town/country. Growing up in the South and then being transported to an urban environment 12 years ago has created my city/country flare for style. I love the energy of living in the middle of Chicago and having access to all sorts of treasures (hello, Jayson Home… more on that later). However, I have very fond memories of growing up on a farm in Tennessee and I want that to be expressed in my style whether it's in my home, clothes or art!

Inspiration: I am a hunter of inspiration. I find it in home decor and fashion magazine like Elle Decor, House and Garden, LivingETC and Bazaar. I'm that girl tearing pages from a magazine as she reads. I can't help it; if I like something, I've got to capture it. That's why I'm in LOVE with Pinterest. I frequent the art museums in Chicago. The Art Institute feels like a second home. The School of the Art Institute is what lured me to Chicago. The museum is what had me stay. Last but not least, my fav store in Chicago is Jayson Home. It's no secret that this store oozes inspiration. My latest purchase from Jayson was four espalier trees for our back yard! Oh, I'm so excited to nurture them and watch them grow!

Favorite element: My studio! It is a dream come true to have a space to create art while watching my children play. Plus, the natural light and high ceilings seal the deal. It's a magical space. Tears started welling up in my eyes as I walked up the stairs to this space when we first saw this home. It was completely dark and full of exposed insulation, but I knew it had amazing potential. At that moment, this house had to be mine!

Pin it button big

What's your proudest DIY (bedsides the staircase!)?: Ha! The staircase was a labor of love. If I had foreseen the chiroprator bills before I started, I may not have begun. They are the first thing you see when you walk in the house and have made our home feel like ours!

Other than the stairs, I had a blast making the lighting for the dining room. I discovered some lights that I love, but could not find where to buy them. One cold day, I used floral wire and line-like fabric and created my own shades. Then I bought simple pendants, had them installed, and wired the shades to that. Done!

Biggest challenge living in an older house? Oh my! Our kitchen and bathrooms have not been updated since I was born. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but I'm pretty close. Plus, our only shower is right off the kitchen. It makes for a few awkward moments when we have guests. :) Our portable dishwasher is not so glamours either. We literally have to roll it to attach it to the kitchen sink. Doing this every night helps me stay humble, and I will be so grateful when we are able to put our grand plans in action and gut the kitchen and baths!

Biggest embarrassment: Hands down it's the black clawfoot tub, toilet and sink in the upstairs bathroom combined with the wallpaper of lounging victorian women staring down at you. Let's just say you don't feel alone when you're taking a bath. This bathroom is so bad, it's delightful. However, I will be thrilled when the time comes to say goodbye to the black toilet!

Pin it button big

Biggest indulgence: It's the house itself! Do we really need this much space? Nope! But, who could pass up the original heating grates, Victorian molding and trim, high ceilings, and awesome backyard and studio??

What was your favorite part of your home that was there when you bought it?: There are these amazing built-in cupboards in the kitchen with huge glass doors where we are able to shelve dishes, glasses, etc. I love being able to see everything that we have. And to think, this piece was part of the butler's pantry and hidden behind a wall in the kitchen! Now, it's the showstopper in the room.

Biggest change since you've lived there?: The top floor a.k.a. the studio! It was the studio of a photographer who lived here for 30 years. She needed no natural light and had boarded up all of the windows and put plywood over the ceiling beams for extra storage. We immediately uncovered all the windows, removed the plywood from the ceiling beams, reinsulated, drywalled and gave the entire space a fresh coat of while paint. Ahhh, it's a clean, open, and light-filled space now.

Do you have any advice on creating an inviting and put together home while living with kids?: Don't take your house too seriously because once you do, your favorite piece will get marker all over it! Have fun and intermix your children's things with yours. Add a fun child-sized chair to your living room. Create specific spaces for toys throughout your home. Not a ton of toys, but a few! We have a little chest in the living room with toys and the play kitchen in the kitchen, with the majority of the toys in the children's bedrooms and studio. Finally, I love swings. I think every home should have at least one! We have two swings and a trapeze bar in the studio. :)

Dream Sources: Jayson Home combined with Ligne Roset mixed with Ann Sacks.

Pin it button big

Resources of Note:

• Jayson Home (have I mentioned that I love this place?)
• Craigslist
• Wisteria
• Mom and Dad's house
• Anthropologie
• Design within Reach
• Blick

Pin it button big

Thanks for sharing with us, Kate! I love that every inch of your home exudes creativity. And please don't change an inch of that bathroom!

Do visit Kate Lewis and her art at her website, Kate Lewis Art.

(Images: Kate Lewis 2-5,7-20,22-26,29-33,35, Rebecca Conway 1,6,21,27,28,34)

• 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.

26 Comments