A Watercolorist Creates in a Cozy Chicago Apartment

updated Nov 14, 2019

A Watercolorist Creates in a Cozy Chicago Apartment

updated Nov 14, 2019
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Name: Carly Martin and husband Scott Minor and their dog Norman
Location: Wicker Park/Bucktown — Chicago, Illinois
Size: 1,650 square feet
Years lived in: 1.5 years, renting

Carly and Scott have lived in this warm Chicago apartment for just over a year. It is both a haven from the busy city life and a creative space for Carly’s watercolor business, Clementine Studio.

One of their biggest challenges was incorporating their style with a space that already had such a strong style of its own. They loved the history of the building, but the wood was a lot. So, they added shelves for their books and slowly added pieces to the space that fit their style.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: A mix of eclectic and vintage with some-mid-century modern and a little Joanna Gaines.

Inspiration: Libraries and cozy spaces, antique wood furniture (like drafting tables! my dream), messy artist studios, basically any lived-in spaces that tell a story.

Favorite Element: Definitely our living room with big windows, the fireplace, and bookshelves. It’s a winter room.

Biggest Challenge: Trying to define what style we would bring into the place since it already had such a strong style of its own. So much wood and old character details that we loved but didn’t really know how to add to in a way that felt cohesive and respectful of the building’s history. We used the fireplace room as our jumping off point because I knew right away that I wanted it to feel like a cozy library and that guided the rest of the house.

What Friends Say: That it feels homey and reflective of us, which I take as the highest compliment!

Biggest Embarrassment: I love the dark floors but they show ALL OF THE DOG HAIR ALL OF THE TIME.

Proudest DIY: I can’t take full credit for this since my father-in-law did all the heavy duty work, but we built bookshelves on the walls surrounding the fireplace and I can’t imagine the place without them. We got wood planks and cut them to size at Home Depot, I stained them to match the fireplace wood as closely as possible, and then my father-in-law and my husband built them on the walls. It was a long project with some hiccups along the way, but so worth it.

Biggest Indulgence: We haven’t really made any wild and crazy purchases. My husband is a master Craigslist-finder and I love shopping vintage and thrift since I like living with things that have history. When our dog Norman was a puppy he tore up our old couch to shreds (blessing in disguise because I wanted to get rid of it anyway!), so I had my eye on this one from Article for awhile and that was probably the biggest thing we spent money on when moving into this apartment. Oh, and plants! This is the first place we’ve lived where I’ve been able to keep them alive and I’ve made it my mission to take it more seriously. It’s also the first time we’ve had outdoor space so I love planting flowers and herbs on our deck in the summer.

Best Advice: I think mixing old and new is really helpful in making spaces look unique and not straight from a single source. You hear that a lot but it’s true. For example, my current pet peeve is how every new restaurant looks exactly alike. Shiny new designs are aesthetically beautiful and it’s fun to admire them for five minutes, but when you leave you can’t remember what set it apart from every other new place with hanging brass light pendants, ya know? There needs to be personality!

Dream Sources: Oh man there’s this place in Chicago called Architectural Artifacts and it’s filled with antique everything, from door knobs to carousel horses, and it’s so fun to walk around but so expensive.


Jute runner — Overstock
Bar cart — Craigslist

Daybed — Room & Board found on Craigslist
Ottomans — Wayfair
Rug — eSaleRugs
Jute rug — Overstock
Pillows — Territory Design
Globe — Craigslist
Eames style chair — Handed down from my grandfather
Copper sconces — Linea Lighting via Amazon
Woven watercolor tiger tapestry — Clementine Studio
Coffee table — Estate sale
Mountain blanket — Clementine Studio
Framed paintings — Clementine Studio

Rug — Target
Dining table and benches — Nadeau Furniture
Woven bench — Craigslist
Otomi table runner — Bought in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Painting of Norman — Karen Martin Art

Farm table island — Craigslist
Ceramic mugs and plates — Various artists including Samantha Hostert and Chris Busse
Wall clock — Target
Chalk/Bulletin board — Nadeau

Bedding — Parachute Home in linen fog
Otomi pillow — Furbish Studio
Nightstands — Home Goods
Rug — Overstock

Shower curtain — Southhampton Shower Curtains
Shower mat — World Market
Aloe print — Clementine Studio

Thanks, Carly and Scott!

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