Lauren's Dark & Dramatic Design

House Call

Pin it button big

Name: Lauren Diane Svenstrup
Location: Andersonville, Chicago, Illinois

This apartment is in a vintage courtyard building and is around 700 square feet. I have lived here almost two years. As an interior designer, my space is an ever-changing canvas. Just when I think I am done, I find another project. Deep down at the core, I have an affinity for vintage finds. I love the hunt, I love the history. Up until this past year, I would say about 90% of my furniture was either inherited or found. The first piece of furniture I "invested" in was my sofa, right out of college. It was a $50 craigslist find, I saved up and sent it to the upholsterer and with a coat of paint and some stormy blue velvet… I was in the big leagues, sort of!
Pin it button big

I have a love for vintage and bright bold colors. Mixing the old with the new. Somewhere along the road I referred to my style as "grandma chic." It is something I came to regret in my social circle; I don't know that I will ever live it down. A few years ago I made a big career change and jumped from a more commercial setting were I was designing model homes, to a high-end residential design firm in Chicago as Design Director.

Pin it button big

All of a sudden I was in this world of high-end residential design and I was saturated with new products and ideas on a daily basis…there were too many to choose from! After a year working at that firm, I decided on a whim that I needed to ditch all the color and go for a more sophisticated, worldly look. I needed a total overhaul! Working in the model home industry for years, pretty much everything in my home was a cast off, slightly damaged or made of fabric samples! I had never before made a conscious decision of what my aesthetic would be… it just was… and it was, bold! This is what my place looked like immediately before I decided to redesign:

I fought with myself for a long time over the concept of purchasing new furniture as opposed to vintage finds… and I tried, unsuccessfully to make myself sell my beloved sofa. I struggled with color, ridding my life of all the kitsch, and validating the cost of new furnishings.

Pin it button big

What I ultimately decided was that I could validate buying new furniture, nice furniture at that, but only if they were new classics. An Eames Lounge and black Panton chairs will never really go out of style; I'll make my grand kids sit on them someday. With the exception of my coffee table (I fell in love and had to have it) and a few smaller things here and there, almost everything else in my apartment has some history or it is something I made. I got in an eBay bidding war over my 100-year-old Pakistan rug. I searched the internet high and low for an affordable option to buy oil portraits, when that didn't work out, I stole the images fair and square from the internet, had them printed at Kinkos and framed them in the finest IKEA frames I could get my hands on. I haggled with street vendors in Cape Town, South Africa for some tribal bracelets, a mask, a table runner and a pillow and some other trinkets. When a friend and I fell in love with a pretty gold chandelier that cost over a thousand dollars and realized it was made out of ordinary lamp parts, we ordered all of the pieces for $40 and had a lamp making party.

I decided to turn my living room into an art installation. The over-ambitious weekend project sat unfinished for two months! I finally got bored enough over Christmas vacation that I decided to finish it. Eleven spools of red yarn, a few dowel rods, some hot glue, and four seasons of Breaking Bad later, I made what, some have pointed out, looks like a ten foot self portrait of my hair.

Pin it button big

My favorite thing about my apartment is that I finally feel like it really represents me. My place is definitely still bold, as is my personality. Love me, or hate me, just like my decor, I am an acquired taste!

As my apartment is finally starting to feel complete, I have come to a few realizations:
1. It is a million times easier to design for a client, than to design your own home.
2. I will never be anything but bold, and that is okay.
3. I like kitsch, and no matter what anyone says, I don't have to let it go completely.
4. I will probably completely redesign my home every few years until the day I die.
5. When I run out of projects it's time to move, and I think it's about that time!


Thanks, Lauren!

• Interested in sharing your home with Apartment Therapy? Contact the editors through our House Tour Submission Form.

(Image credits: Lauren Diane Svenstrup)

You might also like

Recommended by The Kitchn

Categories

Main, Style, House Call, Interior Design

Adrienne photographs beautiful homes in and around her home base of Austin, Texas. She's a contributor to UPPERCASE Magazine and spends all her free time exploring small town Texas. She watches a lot of Star Trek.

43 Comments