This Rental Apartment in a Former Car Wash Has a Retro Glass Block Wall and a Verdant Inner Courtyard

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Living room with white walls, burnt orange/rust colored velvet sectional sofa, white and gray patterned rug, white round coffee table and white accent chair, large black bookshelves on back wall, geometric type art above sofa
This is our living room. The squiggle art was built by us using discarded plywood from a Chicago building.

Name: Kate Halvorsen; partner; and cat, Finn
Location: Ravenswood — Chicago, Illinois
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 1,400 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, renting
Rent: $2,275/month

A view of our dining room space looking into the courtyard and kitchen.

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I live in Chicago with my husband, Andy, and our sweet cat, Miss Finn. We’ve been living in this amazing city for about seven years now. One thing that Andy and I have in common is our love for all things design-related. We both enjoy carpentry and interior design, and making things with our hands. We love nothing more than spending our free time creating beautiful things for our home. Overall, we’re just a couple of kids at heart who love to create and explore.

The "sunroom," featuring a giant glass block wall that was previously a garage door.

Our apartment has a fascinating history — it used to be an automobile dealership and car wash. It was converted into six apartments in the early 2000s, and you can still see the remnants of the old garage door in the glass block wall.

We absolutely love the enclosed feeling of our space, which offers privacy while still being open to our neighbors. The extra-tall ceilings and super-green courtyard during the summer are bonuses.

We both enjoy having a spacious and uncluttered living space, but at the same time we have so many interests and hobbies that are a huge part of our lives, and we want to incorporate these elements into our home as well.

One thing that’s important to me is sustainability. I make an effort to avoid buying new things for my apartment and instead source items from thrift stores, antique shops, and second-hand marketplaces. About 80 percent of the things I buy come from these places, and I love incorporating historic designs into a very modern building. It’s definitely a unique challenge.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or fewer: Newstalgia or Eclectic Minimalism meets industrial.

A few of the plants we picked up as a Covid hobby, along with art and our record player.

What is your favorite room and why? I think most people would list this room as a sunroom? The big glass block wall used to be a garage door that was used to bring in cars off the street. But now it is more like a solarium. Both my plants and cats love it. Sitting in this room with a record on, sun shining in, and reading a good book is on a whole new level of chill.

Prints we recently purchased from the Chicago Printmaker's Collaborative.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The Chicago Printmakers collaborative just had a show that featured local artists and I went a little wild with my purchases. I love it when art has a sense of humor, and the Yoga Sasquatch print was seriously such a find.

Any advice for creating a home you love? To me, your space has to reflect who you are. I don’t believe in playing it safe with design choices, and I think it’s essential to make choices that make your heart happy — even if others don’t quite understand them. I’m a big collector and enjoy bringing in antiques, local art, cool rocks, and taxidermy insects. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it brings me joy, and that’s what matters most.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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