Name: Carly Martin, my husband, and our rescue pup, Norman
Location: Wicker Park/Bucktown — Chicago, Illinois
Size: 1600 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, renting
My husband and I moved from NYC a few years ago where we lived in a 500-square-foot apartment for four years, so now that we have nearly triple the amount of space (for less money!) we try to use it wisely and don't take an inch of it for granted. The building is a three-flat greystone that was built in 1893 and ours was the owner's apartment so it was kept in really great shape and has all the original wood moldings and a built-in wooden bar with an antique mirror. Our dog Norman keeps watch on the daybed in the living room and we have a little side deck that leads down to the front yard area so it's easy to let him out, which has been a huge perk of living on the first floor. I also have a little art studio off the dining room, which is an amazing upgrade from working out of my living room the last four years!
What is your favorite room and why? Our living room where our fireplace is. It has wide, curved windows that overlook our pretty street and it's the perfect place to spend the eight months of Chicago winters. I wanted it to feel like a cozy library so we got wood planks and steel pipes to make bookshelves at Home Depot (thanks, Pinterest!). I stained the wood to be as close to the original fireplace mantel as I could get, and then my father-in-law and my husband installed them on either side of the mantel. It ended up being quite the project since the building is so old and the walls were unpredictable, but it was so worth it.
Looking into the dining room from the TV room. The horse painting is my own, the dining table is from Nadeau in Ravenswood, the bench against the windows is another Craigslist find.
The house was built in 1893 and has incredibly kept-up original details like all the wood molding and this wooden bar hutch in the center of the dining room.
Our main living room where our dog Norman has claimed the daybed to look out on the neighborhood and cozy up in front of the fire during the long winters. My grandfather's knock-off Eames chair is the perfect reading chair next to our custom bookshelves that my father-in-law built around the fireplace. The tiger tapestry is my own "Woven Watercolor" blanket that I design and sell in my shop.
To the right of the dining room is my little art studio space. It's the perfect size room for an office or studio as it doesn't have a closet so is a little too small for a bedroom.
Our kitchen is a great size and we needed a pretty big island to fill the space. My husband scoured Craigslist for two weeks and found this gem for a great price.
Any advice for creating a home you love? Mix up your sources! Everything starts to look the same when you get your stuff from the same big-box retailers as everyone else. We like to support independent stores or thrift whenever possible and I think that helps give your home more personality. Vintage, Craigslist, and small shop finds are also way more fun to talk about when someone asks where you got something!
Thanks, Carly Martin!
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