A Vintage Furniture Collector’s Thrifted Home

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(Image credit: Kelly Wheeler)

Name: Kelly Wheeler and three kids
Location: Darien, Illinois
Size: 1,500 square feet
Years lived in: 6 years, owned

I bought my home six years ago and live here with my three kids, Jack, Brice, and Ireland. The home is a split-level that was built in the ’80s and when I moved in, it had wall-to-wall carpet and white walls. It was very dark and generic but I loved that it had lots of windows and space. I had a small budget and I used it all on the hardwood floors—which meant I had to DIY everything else. Since I had absolutely no money left for furniture, I started thrifting/junking to fill up my home.

(Image credit: Kelly Wheeler)

The first piece of furniture I bought was a $12 Danish chair from Goodwill and it made me fall in love with vintage. It also turned into a business and I’ve been an antique dealer for the last five years, mostly selling at local antique markets in Chicago including the Randolph Street. I don’t have a vision for my decor and I never plan out a room in advance; I just collect things that I love. I’m always on the hunt for good art—it’s the first thing I notice when I enter a space. I’m usually drawn to big/bold and weird/complicated pieces—something that moves me and produces a strong energy. I really want my home to have a happy/cheerful vibe with a lot of personality, which I hope is the same vibe people get when they meet me.

(Image credit: Kelly Wheeler)

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Eclectic, happy, artsy, bright, and fun.

What is your favorite room and why? My favorite room is the family room. There’s no TV and lots of light and art and it’s where the family has the most fun. It’s also where my favorite piece of furniture sits—a bright blue velvet 1970s Henredon barrel sofa—and it has hosted many parties/puppet shows/sleepovers/game nights.

(Image credit: Kelly Wheeler)

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? I just picked up this Russell Woodard Rocker from an estate sale last month for $40. The upholstery was gross but I had it redone in a cotton velvet for $250 and now it’s an interior designer’s dream.

(Image credit: Kelly Wheeler)

Any advice for creating a home you love? Be bold. Go vintage. If you don’t love it, don’t buy it. If you don’t have the money, make it. Find art that touches your soul and hang it everywhere.

Thanks, Kelly!

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