Marti & Jarrod's Graphic Modern Home

House Tour

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Name: Marti Palermo and Jarrod Routh
Location: Lincoln Square; Chicago, IL
Size: 1,200 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years; rented

There's a real effortlessness about Marti and Jarrod's home: a fresh, comfortable simplicity that immediately puts one at ease. I felt right at home on a Sunday afternoon with sunlight streaming through the windows, Wild Belle on the stereo, and a cold glass of beer.

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The open, sunny space is bordered by windows that open onto the treetops, transforming Marti and Jarrod's apartment into a verdant bower. The inside mingles seamlessly with the outside thanks to Marti's green thumb, and the couple's judicious use of color and space-planning keep the apartment feeling spacious and airy.

Marti and Jarrod's style is streamlined, clean, and modern with a few bohemian touches like woven rugs and patterned pillows. To my mind, their love of comics and graphic novels helps explain their aesthetic. Imaginative and artistic tendencies mingle neatly with a foundational palette of black and white, and overall, the home is a prime example of well-ordered creativity. Graphic elements like the gallery wall in the dining room, the scarf mounted above the sofa, and the Allan D’Arcangelo prints in the project room keep their home cohesive, while many other innovative objects and solutions give the home its wonderful depth of character. The neon "salads" sign, already a statement piece, garnered their approval because, as Marti explained it, one would expect a vice to be lit up in neon–"chocolate," or "wine," perhaps–but "salads" was an unlikely and humorous candidate for such bravado. A King Kong poster takes pride of place as the sole piece of art in the guest bedroom, and a small door in the closet allows the litter box to stay out of sight and offers a petite hideaway for Marti and Jarrod's two cats.

Marti and Jarrod are intrepid DIYers, and they've managed to work around any decor limitations that have come with their renter status. Their apartment is full of creative solutions and well-executed projects, all of which have made their home a warm, comfortable, and livable space. Their space is a professional organizer's dream; everything has a place, and even mundane objects like brooms and bottle openers, elevated to design features, add to the beauty and functionality of their home.

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Mid-century modern, for the most part: clean lines and uncluttered surfaces, with vintage textiles and brass accents.

Inspiration: A carefully curated Pinterest board keeps me focused on the overall aesthetic I’m working toward. Also, necessity: I like finding renter-friendly solutions that make our apartment more functional for us.

Favorite Element: The natural light and my plant collection, which go hand in hand.

Biggest Challenge: The cats: their fur, their claws, and their appetite for houseplants.

What Friends Say: “So, what have you been working on?”

Biggest Embarrassment: I wish our kitchen cabinets weren’t oak and I really wish they didn’t have that arch at the top.

Proudest DIY: Whatever project I most recently tackled. Right now it’s our bathroom. I’m also still proud of my dresser-to-TV-stand conversion and my VITTSJO nesting table hack.

Biggest Indulgence: Rugs, and shipping and return fees in pursuit of said rugs.

Best Advice: The Ira Glass quotation about the gap between your taste and what you’re capable of producing resonated with me. He was talking about more noble creative endeavors, like art and storytelling, but I’ve taken the liberty of applying it to my apartment. I enjoy (for the most part) the process of trying to close the gap between what I know to be good and what I’m able to achieve on my own, as renters, on our budget.

Dream Sources: Morgan Satterfield on speed dial and a professional painter on retainer; weekly first dibs at the Room & Board outlet; bottomless credit at Sprout Home and Humboldt House; Cher Horowitz's wardrobe computer.

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Resources of Note:

LIVING ROOM

  • Coffee table: Craigslist
  • Arm chairs: Craigslist
  • TV stand dresser: garage sale, hacked
  • Ekornes Stressless recliner: Craigslist
  • Rug: eBay
  • Sofa: Room & Board
  • Nesting tables: IKEA, hacked
  • Wall-mounted planter: IKEA
  • Hanging planters: Sprout Home in Chicago
  • Art above sofa: Furoshiki scarf from The Link Collective with a DIY frame

DINING ROOM

KITCHEN

  • Island: IKEA via Craigslist
  • Counter stools: Overstock
  • Runner rug: World Market
  • Neon sign: Frenchie's Antique Mall in Apache Flats, Missouri
  • Taxonomy of Local Homes art: illustration by Phil Thompson of Cape Horn Illustration

BATHROOM

  • Rug: Humboldt House in Chicago
  • Brass bird hook: eBay
  • Shower curtain: custom-made from IKEA window curtains
  • Paint: Soot by Benjamin Moore, color-matched by Behr

BEDROOM

PROJECT ROOM

  • Storage unit: IKEA via Craigslist
  • Allan D’Arcangelo prints: garage sale
  • Rolling cart: Home Depot Expo (back when Home Depot Expo was a thing)

GUEST ROOM

  • Bed: Craigslist
  • Peg rack: The Container Store
  • Rug: IKEA
  • Sconces: IKEA
  • Bertoia Diamond Chair: Grinnell College, chain of custody unknown

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Thanks, Marti & Jarrod!

(Images: Carolyn Purnell )

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Carolyn is a lover of all things colorful and quirky. She grew up in Texas and settled in Chicago by way of L.A., England and Paris. Currently, she is a professor at Illinois Institute of Technology.