Manuel & Colt's Southwest Modern Apartment

Manuel & Colt's Southwest Modern Apartment

Name: Manuel Navarro & Colt Melton
Location: Andersonville - Chicago, Illinois
Size: 1,600 square feet
Years lived in: 9 months; Rented

Manuel and Colt are masters of relaxed charm. Their parties are thoughtful arrangements of interesting people, their stories are full of curiosities and intrigue, and their home provides the perfect stage. As transplants to Chicago from Texas, they've found ways to seamlessly marry a desert modernism of crisp white lines, sun-bleached woods and bone, and pops of reds, yellow, and blues with the architecture, detailing and layout of a traditional Chicago three-flat walk-up. 

A sudden move afforded the couple a few hundred extra square feet of space, and a collection that once filled a smaller apartment from floor to ceiling now has room to breathe. It's a laid-back and elegant home, where every arrangement, nook, and wall has a magnetism that lures you to approach, sit and relax.

The first thing you notice when you enter Manuel and Colt's apartment is the lovely fragrances that are ever-present, seemingly just lofting about, having found a space to match their own allure. They come from candles and fresh cut flowers everywhere, from the delicious spreads that the couple always seem to have out, and even from the breeze that traverses the whole apartment. That they pay attention to how fragrances can uplift and change the feeling in each room is indicative of the couple's belief that good living is a result of a combination of many factors – not just furniture and objects, but a myriad of sensory stimulants that they are able to manipulate so well.

The second thing you notice is the numerous arrangements of meaningful and beautiful objects. There are statues that were unearthed in small antique shops, well-known pieces of furniture purchased at auction, even tumbleweed found on a trip to Marfa, Texas. Like a gallery where each item is perfectly positioned to look its best while complimenting the things around it, Manuel and Colt's home is a beautiful object with layers and layers of interest. 

The third thing you notice is the quality and sheer amount of open space, the very thing that makes their home so relaxed. The feeling of openness perfectly balances their artful collection: amid the memories, artwork, books and keepsakes, there is space to stretch out, bare walls that allow the eye to rest, and open floor to mingle and dance. The effect is a home that comfortably accommodates 50 (there are a lot of fun chairs!), but also allows two to live a charmed daily life. 

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Desert Southwest meets Mid Century.  

Inspiration: We are constantly inspired by our travels to Marfa, Texas every year. Since being in Chicago for 5 years, we have managed to surround ourselves with several inspiring, creative friends that continually fuel inspiration. 

Favorite Element: Roost wooden stag bust (Kuhl Linscomb-Houston) and Iittala stemware from my (Manuel's) grandmother. 

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge is trying to find a home for a litter box, which is the largest downside to owning a cat (Susan). Also, I (Manuel) tend to purchase many items that I intend to fix or reupholster, but once they get in the house I find little motivation to do those things and become okay with them being the way they are. 

What Friends Say: Our friends like our space and feel like it is a curated collection of items. We think most people are surprised by the amount of cacti we have. 

Biggest Embarrassment: (Manuel) Aside from ripping my pants getting into a car to test drive… I would have to say that being a licensed interior designer, there is a certain expectation that I have of myself and the places I create, but I have learned that it is okay to make mistakes and not take things/furnishings too seriously. 

Biggest Indulgence: The biggest splurge thus far has been on 2 pieces of art by Jonathan Dankenbring from Exhibitions 2d in Marfa. Aside from that, the only thing we have purchased full price in the house has been the Room and Board  Jasper sofa, so I suppose that could be considered another splurge. Everything else has been found at auctions, markets, Craigslist, and sample sales. I paid $25 for each BRNO chair and $50 for each Barbara Barry lounge chair for HBF

Best Advice:  It's better to wait for the right piece than to fill up a space immediately. I can't stand walking into a home where it feels like they just opened a catalog, pointed a finger, and purchased everything in the shot. A home should be a representation of yourself… curated, not serious, and beauty in the imperfections. If you love something, get it and never look back. 

Dream Sources: This is endless. ICFF in May in NYC is incredible. NEOCON in Chicago every June is a great source for new contract furnishings. Kelly Wearstler, Egg Collective, Holly HuntThe Merchandise Mart is pretty incredible. 1st dibs and Pintrest are fantastic too. 

Resources of Note:


  • Benjamin Moore throughout - Straw Hat 270
  • White Trim- Benjamin Moore - White Heron OC-57


  • Vintage work cart/ console - what once was Patina in Andersonville
  • Tray - West Elm
  • Black Lacquer Frame - Four Sided in Andersonville
  • Water color by Paul Munro - Chicago, IL
  • Floor mirror - Ikea
  • Sepia toned cactus photo - etsy
  • Plaster taxidermy - Four Sided in Andersonville
  • Algae by Bouroullec Brothers for Vitra
  • West Texas landscape photo - Manuel Navarro


  • Jasper Sofa – Room and Board
  • Vintage Marble surfboard table – Scout Chicago, IL
  • Orange and White Panton chairs by Vitra 
  • Wooden stag bust – by Roost at Kuhl Linscomb in Houston, TX
  • Globe - Anthropologie
  • Plants - Marguerite Gardens
  • Male Bust - Brownstone Antiques
  • Sofa table - Brownstone Antiques
  • Black two tiered side table - Brownstone Antiques
  • White console - Ikea
  • Red Tool box - Home Depot
  • 2 Maroon BRNO's - Mies Van Der Rohe for Knoll (Auction)
  • 2 Fine Line lounge chairs - Barbara Barry for HBF
  • 2 Trestle lounge chairs - Barbara Barry for HBF
  • 2 Jonathan Dankenbring Isolation Chambers - Exhibitions 2d Marfa, TX
  • Chalkboard - Brownstone Antiques vintage painting that I primed and painted with chalkboard paint
  • Vases - Umbra for Target
  • Drop Leaf table - gift from a friend
  • Wing side table - Barbara Barry for HBF
  • Trestle side table - Barbara Barry for HBF
  • Cowhide - Craigslist
  • Vintage Kilim - Andersonville Galleria
  • 4 lambswool hides - Ikea
  • Floor lamp - West Elm
  • Floor lamp by sofa - Ikea
  • Console lamp - West Elm


  • Teak table - Craigslist
  • Zebra print cowhide - small country store in Stephenville, Texas
  • 4 maroon BRNO chairs - Mies Van der Rohe for Knoll
  • Credenza - Craigslist
  • 2 teak and black upholstery lounge chairs - Brimfield Chicago
  • 36" Round molded walnut plywood café table - Edies Lab, Houston/Atlanta
  • Large hand print - HBF showroom overstock
  • Tumbleweed - found in Marfa, TX and shipped
  • Large plant in blue pot - philodendron-selloum
  • Various Cactus/flowers - Marguerite Gardens and Gethsemane
  • Gold ram head - Randolph Street Market
  • West Texas photos: Manuel Navarro
  • Art - Matthew Rodriguez 
  • Walnut frame - Edies Lab, Houston/Atlanta


  • Stainless steel work table - Scout, Chicago

BEDROOM (Master)

  • Eames molded plastic rocker - Interior Investments (dealer) for Herman Miller
  • Bed frame - West Elm
  • Bedside tables - Brimfield Chicago
  • Sconces - Thrift store
  • Accessories - Nate Berkus for Target
  • Red pillows - Jamey Garza and Constance Holt-Garza, Marfa, TX
  • Photography - Manuel Navarro


  • Wooden branch - Room Service Chicago, IL
  • Art - Linear wooden piece from Haymaker Shop Chicago, IL 
  • Hutch - Brownstone Antiques, Chicago IL 
  • Side tables - Scout, Chicago, IL
  • West Texas photo - Manuel Navarro


  • Wooden Desks - Ikea
  • Shelving - Ikea
  • Metal desk - Scout, Chicago, IL
  • Setu chair - Interior Investments (dealer) for Herman Miller
  • Leather executive chair - Dove chair, HBF
  • Carpet tiles - Shaw
  • Gold wooden letters - Edies Lab, Houston/Atlanta/Etsy

Thanks, Manuel & Colt!

(Images: Arthur Garcia-Clemente)

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