Name: Laura Gannarelli
Location: Logan Square, Chicago
Size: 800 sq. ft., 2 bedroom, built in the early 1900s, owned
Years lived in: 9
One of the first things you see upon entering Laura's Logan Square home is a sketch of her as a young girl, by a street artist. This portrait launched a life-long love of masterpieces of all kinds. From giant painted canvases to vintage advertising prints, from traditional Korean scrolls to black and white photography, from a keyboard that will someday give way to a baby grand, the mix in Laura's home is bold yet refined...
It's not every house tour that the host sits down to play Brahms. But Laura seeks warmth in her home at every turn: beyond the casual live music, there exist thoughtful accent pieces, fresh flowers, evidence of personal and far-away journeys, and an evolving definition of what "masterpiece" really means.
My style: Cozy, warm, vintage, modern classic
Inspiration: Artwork, Travel, Apartment Therapy, Dwell, Herman Miller, Room and Board
Favorite Element: All the original woodwork, including the doors. I bought this place because it had the right mix of "vintage" (original floor, window-frames and doors) with the combination of new drywall and appliances. All the original wood elements are built so solidly. But, my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE is the coffered ceiling; it adds a lot of depth and warmth.
Biggest Challenge: The combined kitchen and living area makes for a larger space, but it also means keeping all the kitchen items always put away (easier said than done for me).
What Friends Say: They love it. They feel that the space is warm and inviting. They love the neighborhood and the Boulevard, which feels like I have my own large lawn without the upkeep.
They also like the bold colors and artwork that I have collected in the past 15 years through travels or from talented friends (or friends of friends). I have a personal connection with every piece of artwork. They may not be famous artists, but I love them because they make me feel good when I see them every day. I strongly believe that artwork in my home should feel like a piece of furniture, in the sense that it's part of the home and an extension of me, and not…"don't touch that!"
Biggest Embarrassment: My closet in the second bedroom. I need to get it redone and reorganized.
Proudest DIY: I painted the entire condo all by myself when I first bought it. Since then I have changed the wall colors several times. Okay, have to admit I hired painters since the first painting onslaught.
Biggest Indulgence: I had Closet Works come in and they re-did three of my closets last year to maximize the space, and it really helped. I turned one of the smallest closets into a shoe closet. When you can see what you have, you are less likely to go out and buy similar things because I see what I have every day. And yes, I have to admit it, the shoe closet is my favorite.
Best advice: Buy things that you love, whether it's artwork, a pillow, etc. And...pay more for quality. It's better to have less of the best than more of the so-so. Pick a "point of focus" in each room, and think about proportion when you buy furniture for a smaller space. You can still fit in a lot of furniture, but it needs to be proportional to your space. It's like dressing for a petite frame (I'm 5'2"). I shop in the petite department because it's proportioned for my height; you can still have the same style, but the wrong fit is terrible for a small frame. I think the same way when it comes to my apartment: I can still have the same great style and items, but must keep proportion in mind.
Also, I totally believe that the physical environment affects our mood. My home is my sanctuary, and I always look forward to going home and relaxing. It's worth the extra effort of what it takes to create a "home."
And one more item I can't live without and would advise for anyone: dimmer switches (on all my light switches).
Dream source: Dwell magazine. I find the ideas and images quite inspiring.
Sofa and coffee table—Crate and Barrel
Side table—flea market
Rug—Crate and Barrel
Media storage—Room & Board
Kitchen table and chairs—Pottery Barn
Hutch in kitchen—flea market
Bed—Room and Board
Metal shelving—Crate and Barrel
Closet Works for the closet
Vintage milk crate—flea market
Pull-out twin bed sofa (this was one of my BEST purchases for that room. I wanted to create a sitting room, and not have a bed in there. Much more functional for my every day and when guests stay over, so they can have their own room.)
Shelving—Room and Board
Images: Heather Blaha