Andrea's Repurposed Rental

Andrea's Repurposed Rental

Jason Loper
May 21, 2010

Name: Drea and Josh Eisenberg (plus dogs, Murphy and Tiberius)
Location: South Side, Chicago, IL
Size: 1,200 sq feet
Years lived in: 6 months

I've been checking out Andrea's blog, The Maiden Metallurgist, for a while now. Whether refinishing furniture, making her own pillows, or painting self portraits, Andrea is always involved in a DIY project or two. Of course, I just had to see where all these repurposing projects live.

By making a habit of recycling furniture, Andrea has an interesting story for everything in the apartment. The dining room shelves she painted and wallpapered were mismatched hand-me-downs. The bar cabinet, a thrift store find that was originally a hot pink disaster, required stripping layer after layer of paint.

Beyond recycling, Andrea is a DIY-er who enjoys finding thrifty alternatives for cute decorating. When she fell in love with marquee letters at Urban Outfitters, Andrea opted to make her own for a fraction of the cost. The wallpaper she used in the dining shelves makes another appearance as art in the bedroom.

This house tour will be a swan song for this apartment. Andrea and Josh will soon be moving into their first house in the same south side neighborhood. It's an old bungalow that hasn't seen much updating in the past forty years. After seeing what Andrea has done with this apartment, I can't wait to see what she'll do with the house!

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My/Our style: Repurposed, refurbished, thrifty

Inspiration: We're really inspired by our neighborhood- but not in the way you might think. We are so fortunate to live right on the lake and next to a huge beautiful park, but that's about as far as our neighborhood goes with respect to amenities. We live on the far South Side, and in our neighborhood there aren't restaurants, grocery stores or bars nearby. When we moved south from Lincoln Park we wanted to create a paradise in our apartment so we wouldn't miss what we were used to - being within walking distance to all the city of Chicago has to offer. We try to always have the bar and pantry stocked, we have lots of games and movies to entertain us, we're both always in the middle of projects and the dogs bring a lot of joy into our lives. Our home has to be set up to accommodate all of that.

Favorite Element: The apartment itself I think - it's been beautifully maintained, it has gorgeous light and a lot of original features. The original leaded glass window in the kitchen for example; it's thick and wavy and it distorts the light that filters in from the back.

Biggest Challenge: It's a tossup - our kitchen only has one outlet and it's very dark. I cook a lot and I'd love more light on my hands when I'm slicing and dicing. The other challenge is the dog crate. A few months ago we adopted a retired racing greyhound and he loves his huge kennel, there is no way to hide, camouflage or design around that thing, it's a beast.

Favorite Room: I like the dining room a lot; I refinished most of the pieces myself so I think they're all special.

Biggest Embarrassment: Probably the couch! It's not the most comfortable, nor is it particularly beautiful, but for now, while we're saving up to buy a house of our own, thinking about starting a family and wrangling two rambunctious pups, we just can't justify making the investment in a new one.

Proudest DIY: A lot of our things are "DIY-ed", the desk in my office, the marquee in the kitchen, the "headboards" above the bed, the shelving units in the dining room, all of our curtains, pillows, dog beds... just about anything made out of fabric is something that I sewed myself; I hate to spend money on things I can make. One project I'm especially proud of is the bar cabinet. It took forever. For every layer of paint we stripped we found two underneath. I think it took us three weekends just to get the paint off. After I sanded it and refinished it I didn't like how it looked so we had to strip it again!

Biggest Indulgence: We have a HUGE TV. We try not to watch too much, but when we do the picture is amazing.

Best advice: You don't have to spend thousands of dollars on the designer furniture you see in all the magazines and blogs. That's not to say I don't covet those beautiful things, it's just that I can't bear to throw things out that still have a purpose. Everything we own is on its third or fourth incarnation.

Had Forever: The coverlet in the bedroom is quite old. It was my grandmother's. She brought it back to the states when my grandfather was stationed overseas; it is bright and pink and it took a lot of convincing to get Josh on board.

Resources: All of the fabrics used in the sunroom are bright prints from Ikea. The wall stickers and the wallpaper used for our headboard are from Ferm Living. The dresser in our bedroom was my great-great grandmothers- it even has a cupboard to store your bonnet. Most of the art is by me. Everything else has been thrifted, refinished, refurbished or found.

(Thanks, Andrea!)

Images: Jason Loper

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