Name: Shaun Sperling & Matt Leyes
Location: Andersonville; Chicago, Illinois
Size: 1,100 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years
Matt and Shaun’s loft is a study in the type of creative freedom that comes from having a loft space, loving DIY projects, and joyfully merging two design styles. When the love of clean lines and uncluttered space meets with a love of gaudy chic and “too much is not enough,” what you get is a dynamic space that is peaceful and relaxing, with areas of loud, boisterous fun.
Both Shaun and Matt loved the idea of finding an old loft space to move to, but wanted to stay close to their Andersonville neighborhood on Chicago’s north side. Most of the neighborhood is comprised of traditional Chicago-style walk-ups, but a friend pointed them to a little strip of warehouses along the Metra line, and in a historic building where classroom maps once were produced they found their home.
Shaun’s love of uncluttered, industrial, mid-century style is felt immediately upon entering the front door – the top floor of this duplex is an open plan layout with an entryway, kitchen, living room, dining room and stairway. The space is open, calm, and cheerful. Even downstairs, where an office and master bedroom are more segmented, the feeling is still relaxed. It’s only when you get into the details and scenes of each space that Matt’s inner Liberace sings out (check out a tour of his Parlor here). So while the dining room table and chairs are a simple smoky resin with white leather, the backdrop is a wall packed with an eclectic collection of found (and made) paintings and framed images, and the chandelier is composed of a refurbished frame with hundreds of costume jewelry pieces that bounce the light around.
Shaun and Matt especially love to play with light in the apartment. In the corner of the living room you'll find a plethora of lamps, with shades of varying sizes hung at different heights. The lamps draw attention upward to the group itself, and also downward to the beautiful sculptures beside the sofa. And when you’re lounging under this installation, you have a great view of the wall of sequins over the mantel. I found myself captured by the way light bounced around in the apartment – at one moment more subtle and the next wild and free.
While the openness of the upstairs allows for bold gestures, the more delineated space downstairs calls for subtler strokes. We find a subdued version of the picture wall and hanging light fixture installation at the bottom of the stairs, and the doors of the bathrooms are covered in a graphic wallpaper, while their surroundings are free of pattern. Even the bedroom, the most relaxed room in the apartment, has moments of surprise — while we often see beautiful classical paintings hung over modern beds, it’s not often that the painting is of Barbra Streisand!
Shaun and Matt’s home is a combination of their two styles, but the execution is seamless. As their home evolves, they continuously learn from each other: where to push the envelope and where to exercise restraint. Any successful collaboration brings together the best of two worlds, and this home certainly hits the mark.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Shaun: Clean lines, uncluttered, retro chic, with playful, colorful accents.
Matt: Hollywood Regency, 1970’s retro, gaudy chic. Too much is not enough. Sentimental decadence.
Inspiration: Shaun: Mid-century modern, industrial, orange.
Matt: Liberace, Mexican Glamour Grandma, glitter and sin.
Favorite Element: The tall ceilings, the spiral staircase (a childhood dream), the sound of the metra passing by.
Biggest Challenge: Our styles are very different, so putting them together was a challenge, but also became the greatest source of inspiration.
What Friends Say: “Wow!”
Biggest Embarrassment: We tried to hang a flat-screen TV ourselves and it ripped out of the wall, so we covered it with a wall of sequins.
Proudest DIY: The chandelier made out of gold earrings that each cost $1.
Biggest Indulgence: The entire place is pretty low-budget — lots of DIY projects.
Best Advice: For couples, combining styles and aesthetics is really challenging, especially when your aesthetics are as different as ours, but you can really learn a lot from each other, and amazing things can come from the combination. Also, your place can always be a work in progress, which allows for continued creativity and projects.
Dream Sources: 1970’s movies, Retro Las Vegas, K. Modernica, Mpma, Travel, Apartment Therapy
Resources of Note:
PAINT & COLORS
Benjamin Moore – Black Pepper
Benjamin Moore – Pigeon Grey
Various Sacred Hearts from Mexico
Old door found in trash
Bradley Dolls purchased on Ebay
Random Items purchased at antique/thrift shops
Sequin wall is made with graphed foam core, pins and large sequins
Couch – Decorium Furniture
Table – Manly Vintage
Gallery Picture Wall – collected pieces from thrift shops over 15 years.
Chandelier – made from $1 earings from Elim Wig and Beauty Supply
Bed – West Elm
Dresser & Side Tables – Domicile
Barbra Streisand portrait – Volo antique mart
Art – Mel Odem
Furniture – CB2
Art – Thrift shops, antique marts and garage sales
Thanks, Shaun & Matt!
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(Image credits: Arthur Garcia-Clemente)