Katherine & Jem's Humboldt Park Bazaar Apartment

House Tour

Name: Katherine Raz and Jem Hilton
Location: Humboldt Park — Chicago, Illinois
Size: 750 square feet
Years lived in: 6 months — rented

The last time we took a tour of Katherine and Jem's home they were in a 900 square foot three bedroom apartment in the Albany Park neighborhood. The couple has since downsized to a smaller two bedroom and shifted to the Humboldt Park neighborhood and I followed right behind to get an updated house tour.

When we took at look at Katherine & Jem's Haphazard Collectedness last year, their home was practically overflowing with furniture that would eventually be sold through Katherine's business, BackGarage. Since then, Katherine has moved her business into a small studio, which has allowed the couple to move into a smaller apartment. It also means that they are now able to decorate their apartment with only their own belongings because they are able to store Katherine's in her studio.

While Katherine has been settling into this new apartment, she's also been busy preparing for the next edition of The Vintage Bazaar. This season's Bazaar returns to the Congress Theater on September 18th.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Inspiration: Last year we toured of Columbus, Indiana for a weekend with a bunch of bloggers who are into Mid-century furniture and architecture. We had a private tour of the Miller house, designed by Eero Saarinen. I loved that place. It's modern and clean, with clean lines, built-in bookshelves, a sunk living room... But it also had a lot of texture in the form of bright textiles, wall hangings, pottery, folk carvings, and books. I also love decorating books from the 1970s, because they have the same clean lines but incorporate plants, textiles, books and art. I'm inspired by that style.
I just hope it doesn't come off as too Cost Plus World Market-ish.

Favorite Element: We really like the office nook that we separated out with the Ikea Expedit shelf. The ceiling in there is high, there's a small closet that we can stick the filing cabinet in. It's small but it's really close to the main living space so we actually spend time in there. Oh and we have an in-unit washer-dryer, plus parking and a garden out back. We're living a renter's dream, dudes. Took 13 years to find this place.

Biggest Challenge: Our bedrooms are tiny. Only big enough to fit a bed. So we had to figure out how to work with zero closet space, and somehow incorporate a guest room into the second bedroom. Kelly + Olive helped us plan out a guest room slash walk-in closet in the second bedroom that solved that issue.

What Friends Say: People love the wall color. We love it, too. We're psyched to live in a place where we could paint and where stuff we stuck on the walls would really stand out. Also friends are like, "What's with all that crap on your front landing?" and we're like, "We're still in the process of paring down."

Biggest Embarrassment: The vanity in the bathroom (not pictured) looks like something you would find in an alley. It's Home Depot cheap-o quality AND it's all banged up and gross. We really want to switch it out -- and we can, even as renters! -- but we haven't gotten around to it yet. So the bathroom is kind of brought down by this rotting particleboard hulk.... gross!

Proudest DIY: Our bed was Jem's idea. We couldn't find headboards or side tables we liked for our bedroom, so we bought this ugly varnished 1950s blonde bookcase headboard off Craigslist for $40 (seriously, a heavy smoker died in this bed, I think), sanded it, and painted it gray. It works perfectly in our tiny, tiny bedroom, actually, because we wouldn't have otherwise had room for a bed plus two side tables. We also dragged our dining table out of an estate sale basement and varnished it for that farmhouse industrial look on the super-cheap.

Biggest Indulgence: Maybe our sofa, $250 at an estate sale. Most of our stuff comes from thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets, so we don't really have a big-ticket item that we splurged on as far as decor goes.

Best Advice: We recently moved from a giant 3-bedroom apartment to this small 2-bedroom, and in doing so had to purge a lot. A LOT. But we both actually like living in a smaller space. We're just two people and we don't need an expansive floor plan. So my current advice is that you don't have to have a huge amount of space in your home if you can be creative about storage and use of space. (I think that's what it says on the cover of the most recent Ikea catalog, but whatever, I'm sticking with it!) Also, I just discovered the wonder of using outdoor rugs inside in high-traffic areas like the kitchen and bathroom. What a miracle! Especially if you have pets, which we do. Just hose it off and it's good as new!

Dream Sources: An estate sale with a bunch of 1960s and '70s designer furniture, way out in the country somewhere, that was somehow mis-publicized so only I know about it and there's no line or competition. Then discovering a large church thrift store around the corner where wealthy retirees have donated their lots of similar furnishings and plastic housewares (Dansk, Heller), and no one knows about it and everything is a dollar. Does that exist? Probably in Northwest Indiana somewhere.

Resources of Note:

ENTRY

    • Our steel cabinet is from Brownstone Antiques. Love those dudes.

LIVING ROOM

    • Our sofa was from an estate sale.
    • The Kent Coffey credenza from Craigslist.
    • Orange vinyl two-seater from eBay.

DINING ROOM

    • Table from an estate sale. factory.
    • Blue vinyl chairs from going-out-of-business sale at a Fulton Market.

BEDROOM

    • Bed from Craigslist

OTHER

    • Most of our wall decor comes from estate sales. Such a great resource for nice art and textiles on the cheap. That giant Panton fabric mural was $15.

Thanks, Katherine & Jem!

Images: Jason Loper

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