Name: Scott & Kim Vargo (plus two cats and a dog – Maddie, Libby, & Jack)
Location: Logan Square, Chicago, Illinois
Size: 675 square feet
Years lived in: 5 years; owned
Walking into Kim and Scott's condo was like stepping into a dream. Perhaps it's because I had already seen Kim's sunlight-filled photographs or because the soft, oneiric color palette made me feel immediately at ease. Or perhaps it was the touches of whimsy that greeted me at every turn. Whatever the case, it's hard not to fall in love with a home that contains such refreshing color, chic wallpaper, and a picture of a doughnut in an ornate gold frame.
We featured a tour of Kim and Scott's condo back in 2010, and the comparison makes for a wonderful before-and-after experience. A lot has changed since then: Kim has transformed the back room into an office for her pet portraiture business, there are many more custom features, like the entertainment console and the office shelving system with built-in speakers, and the color palette has been toned down from punchy greens and oranges to a more soothing mix of soft mint, gray, and white. (That said, Kim and Scott haven't become shrinking violets: pops of melon, yellow, red, and pink still demonstrate their love for vibrant color, but these are meted out in accents instead of being used as wall colors.)
While their space was charming before, it seems their style has evolved to perfectly fit their creativity, humor, and fun, easy attitudes. Kim and Scott elegantly mix the quirky with the understated, letting their vibrant personalities shine through with small elements of surprise, like the hot pink dinosaur rampaging across the office shelves or the chalkboard backsplash offering up drinks from a vintage toolbox. Given that Kim is an artist, it makes sense that the art in their home would be striking, and their selections manage to blend a refined aesthetic with mirth. Ranging from a My Milk Toof print and a hip-hop armadillo to a ten-legged bear and two bison, their art brings in the love of animals, absurdity, and flights of fancy that gives their home such a cozy atmosphere, at once stylish and eminently livable.
Their blog is a treasure trove of small-space-living tips, DIY instructions, and lovely photography. To get your fix of power tools, pets, and painting, I highly recommend following Yellow Brick Home.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Second-hand finds meet industrial feminine. We're always looking for balance in our tiny space — I'm drawn to metal and natural wood tones, and Kim needs pink in her life, so we focus on layering our two styles and making sure one doesn't dominate the other. We have a rule that nothing enters our home that we don't both agree on.
Inspiration: We find inspiration everywhere. My work leads me in and out of industrial warehouses, foundries and manufacturing facilities, and I'm always fascinated by how things are built and put together. Kim is absolutely hooked on Pinterest, but I'm still trying to figure that one out!
Favorite Element: The floor plan is a huge part of why we ended up purchasing our particular unit. We love the open concept and that our kitchen and living room are one large space, separated by our half-peninsula counter. This combination makes entertaining friends easy and seamless. The best parties end up in the kitchen anyway, so why not integrate it into the living room? The fridge and cold ones are never more than a few feet away.
Biggest Challenge: Finding furniture that fits our unique wall layout has proven difficult at times. "Apartment-size" furniture is often a bit too small, whereas standard furniture is often too large. We've constructed semi-built-in custom storage units in both the living room and Kim's studio, to maximize every inch of space and those crazy, chopped up wall patterns.
What Friends Say: We often hear that the space feels larger than it actually is. We've chosen furniture carefully and try to keep everything up off the floor on legs or casters to keep things open and light. It's really just an elaborate system of trickery — ha!
Biggest Embarrassment: A few years ago, we were up to our elbows in a furniture-refinishing project that required the use of mineral spirits and oil-based primer. It was January in Chicago, so the house was sealed up tight, with a complete lack of ventilation. In a moment of fume-induced idiocy, we decided to take a break and heat some dinner up in the gas oven. The odor hit us immediately, and we knew we'd screwed up. People's Gas came out to confirm our mistake and make sure we were safe, and we ended the evening with open windows and Chinese food. We still laugh about that ridiculous rookie mistake!
Proudest DIY: We're super proud of our custom media wall storage unit. It integrates the television, the surround sound receiver and 3 speakers, turntable, and vinyl collection — along with open storage for books, art and photos. It was built in a friend's wood shop back in Cincinnati over one hectic weekend. We designed it back and forth over email and phone conversations using Google Sketch-up, then ultimately brought it back unfinished and in pieces in our Subaru with about an inch of room to spare.
Biggest Indulgence: We try to keep everything on a pretty tight budget around here, with almost all of our furniture pieces being sourced from Craigslist, yard sales and flea markets. We have, however, sent two vintage chairs to our favorite upholstery shop (Covers Unlimited, if you're in the Chicago area) for makeovers that we couldn't handle ourselves. It can be pretty gut wrenching when you realize you've got the equivalent of a monthly payment on a pretty nice car tied up in a chair you found on Craigs!
Best Advice: No matter what design dilemma you're facing, we're willing to bet someone else has already found a great solution. We're not afraid to admit that we're heavily influenced by designers, blogs and the like. That said, we do try to put our own unique spin on projects we tackle, whether that means a fresh coat of paint or simply the unexpected use of an ordinary item.
Dream Sources: The Rose Bowl Flea Market would likely bring heart palpitations to both of us. While we visit friends on the West coast as often as possible, we've forced ourselves to stay away for fear of finding something we couldn't pass up and refusing to sell a kidney to be able to afford shipping it back to Chicago.
Resources of Note:
ENTRY AND HALLWAY
- • Paint: Behr, Porpoise and Rustoleum chalkboard paint (entry wall)
• Wallpaper: Anthropologie
• Console table: Bombay Co, painted teal
• Chalk ledge: Ikea
• Rug: West Elm
• Art: Jess LC (Just Keep Going Print), Sharon Montrose (pig), pet portraits by Kim, all other art DIY-ed or picked up at craft fairs and Etsy
- • Paint: Behr, Winterfresh
• Couch: Room & Board Loring Sofa (found on Craigslist)
• Chairs: Craigslist & yard sale
• Curtains: West Elm & trimmed with fabric
• Coffee table: Craigslist
• Rug: FLOR in Roadside Attraction
• Photo ledge: DIY
• Art: See full list here
• Media wall: DIY
- • Paint: Behr, Winterfresh and Rustoleum chalkboard paint (backsplash)
• Light: Overstock
- • Paint: Martha Stewart, Opal
• Medicine Cabinet: Ikea
• Shower Curtain: Amazon
• Mirror: Ikea and painted yellow
• Photobooth frames: Jo-Ann's
- • Paint: Behr, Relaxing Green
• Bedframe: Overstock
• Bedside lights: DIY
• Duvet Cover: Overstock
• Curtains: Ikea
• Rug: World Market
• Art above bed: Laura Basiden print (bison) and Row Boat Press (text)
- • Paint: Olympic, Diana
• Desk: Target and painted
• Desk chair: Wayfair
• Peach chair: inherited and upholstered
• Rug: FLOR, Sophistikat
• Floating storage: hacked Ikea cabinets
• Shelving: DIY
• Art: See full list here
• Mirrors: flea markets
We have an entire source list right here, too!
Thanks, Kim & Scott!
(Images: Carolyn Purnell)
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