Ashley & Emily’s First Chicago Apartment

published Apr 29, 2015
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(Image credit: Mike Hetu)

Name: Ashley Gerou & Emily Drake
Location: Lakeview; Chicago, Illinois
Size: 800 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years; rented

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Cousins Ashley and Emily grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and attended college in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. After graduating from separate schools, they moved to Chicago. Now they rent a condo together in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood.

(Image credit: Mike Hetu)

The ladies’ personalities shine in their own rooms. Ashley’s room is carefully layered, geometric and orderly. (The rows of framed family photos, the Expedit shelving with multiple squares, the wooden charger made up of small circles.) Emily’s room is bohemian, ornate and unexpected. (The bed on an angle, the lamp with an Edison bulb, the MSU foam finger.)

(Image credit: Mike Hetu)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style:
Ashley: Warm and charming, with a hint of new and dash of vintage.

Emily: It changes all the time. Right now I am in a vintage/French/all-gold-everything phase.

Ashley: I love everything Sarah Sherman Samuel does – might be because she is originally from Michigan too. Her renovations and design are fantastic. I also enjoy Emily Henderson, SF Girl By Bay, Pinterest, Apartment Therapy, Design*Sponge and Domaine. I visit those sites daily to browse spaces and get new ideas.

Emily: I find inspiration everywhere. Lately, I find myself getting inspired by small things I see at friends’ places when I visit… and Lauren Conrad’s Pinterest. That girl has great style. I didn’t watch “The Hills,” but I am definitely a fan.

Favorite Element:
Ashley: I love having my great grandmother’s artwork in our home. It’s awesome to have artwork readily available to choose from and then coordinate the artwork in different rooms. Each piece of art carries a special meaning and has a different theme and story due to where my grandmother was (location and stage of life) while creating it. My grandmother is one of my biggest influences. She passed away when I was young, so I enjoy surrounding myself with her things to remind me of her everyday.

Emily: I love the marquee “E” in my room. I found it at Michael’s after it was taken off the shelf for what felt like a long time. I almost caved and spent way too much for a similar-style marquee letter online before looking again at Michael’s.

Biggest Challenge:
Ashley: Downsizing from living solo and in a much larger space to making the same (and additional) furniture work in this smaller space.

What Friends Say:
Ashley: Our home is clean and cozy. Friends usually comment on some of the unique finds and more “grown up ” and put-together furniture and feel of the space.

Emily: Every time a new friend visits, I find myself hearing the same comment, “Wow, this is a really nice place.” Sometimes it’s variations of that, but there seems to be a consensus of hominess from each new person who comes over. A huge part of that is because Ashley’s style and my style blend well.

Biggest Embarrassment:
Emily: My bathroom. I am still not pleased with how it looks because the luxury of adding color is lost when you cannot have a shower curtain. I feel limited in that space and I have given up.

Proudest DIY:
Ashley: The dry bar was a great find for $40 on Apartment Therapy classifieds. My dad helped me with the project. We stripped the paint and added legs, rosettes to the corners and molding. Then we painted it grey and added new knobs – all for about $30 more.

Emily: The jewelry frame in my bedroom.

Biggest Indulgence:
Ashley: The couch was my first big furniture purchase.

Emily: My headboard.

Best Advice:
Ashley: Things are better when they have a story. I love having a story, people and fond memories associated with so many elements in the space I call my home.

Emily: Make your place your own no matter how long you plan to stay there. At the end of each day, it’s important to come home to even just one room that feels like home. If you’re not comfortable enough to sit back and read a book in a space, change it.

Dream Sources:
Ashley: Jayson Home, State Street Salvage, Interior Define

Emily: Anthropologie, West Elm


(Image credit: Mike Hetu)


· Magnetic board: IKEA
· Mail/key rack: The Container Store
· Flower hooks: Pier 1 Imports
· Floral painting: Ashley’s great grandmother’s artwork
· White shelves: IKEA
· Welcome sign: TJ Maxx
· Frames: IKEA

(Image credit: Mike Hetu)


· Couch: Macy’s
· Floral pillows: Target
· Brown pillows: HomeGoods
· Lamps/shades: Target
· Chaise: HomeGoods
· Chaise pillow: Pier 1 Imports
· Wood side table: inherited from family
· Media stand: IKEA
· Clock: HomeGoods
· Shelf: IKEA
· Low and high back chair: Target
· Vases on floor: HomeGoods
· Wood chalkboards on shelf: DIY
· “Gin for Me Please” graphic: DIY
· 3 framed paintings: Ashley’s great grandmother’s artwork
· Burning bush painting: Ashley’s great grandmother’s artwork
· Ladder: flea market find
· Barrel: flea market find
· Dry bar: DIY
· Framed factory print: French Paper Co.
· Wicker chair: World Market
· Metal vine side table: Urban Outfitters
· Rug: Hautelook
· Wooden end table: vintage sewing table (family heirloom)

(Image credit: Mike Hetu)


· Wooden table and chairs: World Market
· Tiles: Home Depot
· Lantern: a gift
· Flower pot: Home Depot

(Image credit: Mike Hetu)


· Recycle bin: TJ Maxx
· White stools: Unknown Boutique (Escanaba, MI)
· Flower vase: Michael’s
· Sweets jar: TJ Maxx
· Recipe holder: Target
· Hedgehog measuring cups: Anthropologie
· Tea set: World Market

(Image credit: Mike Hetu)


· Window panes: DIY
· Table: DIY
· High-back chairs: Target
· Chandelier: Urban Outfitters

(Image credit: Mike Hetu)


· Quote on canvas: Kmart
· Toothbrush hook: CB2
· Rug: CB2

(Image credit: Mike Hetu)


· Headboard: Joss and Main
· Rug: Target
· Throw pillows: Pier 1 Imports
· Desk: Office Max
· Desk organizer: CB2
· Frame: Urban Outfitters
· Light: IKEA
· Leaning shelves and storage bins: Office Max
· Nightstand: vintage (family heirloom)
· Jewelry frame: DIY
· “E” vase & flowers: Michael’s
· Typewriter bank: Michael’s
· Marquee “E” and pound symbol: Michael’s
· Blanket: TJ Maxx
· Hooks: IKEA
· White shelf: IKEA
· Wooden crate: HomeGoods
· Twig vase: HomeGoods
· Spartan gnome: Meijer
· Alarm clock: vintage (family heirloom)
· Canvas (magazine pages): DIY
· Lamp and Edison bulb: Michael’s and Home Depot
· Boom box calendar: Michael’s
· Storage chest: inherited

(Image credit: Mike Hetu)


· Headboard: Joss and Main
· Bedspread: Kohl’s
· Painting over bed: Ashley’s great grandmother’s artwork
· Large A: Apartment Therapy Classifieds
· White shelving: IKEA
· Tufted storage ottoman: Kmart
· Silver tray on ottoman: Wishful Thinking (Escanaba, MI)
· Bedside white tables: Kmart
· Lamp with red shade: Pier 1 Imports
· Clock: HomeGoods
· Letterpress drawer: flea market find
· Tall lamp: IKEA
· Purple vase and flowers: Target
· Gold candle jar: Wishful Thinking (Escanaba, MI)
· Desk: Crate & Barrel
· Circle chalkboard: Target
· JFK print: Ashley’s friend’s artwork
· Chair: Target
· Media center: IKEA
· Prints: Ashley’s friend’s artwork (in IKEA frames)
· Mirror: HomeGoods
· Dresser: IKEA
· Monet painting: a gift from family
· Picnic basket: Bargain Barn Antiques (Crystal Falls, MI)
· Elephant stool: HomeGoods
· Woven basket: DIY from Ashley’s grandmother
· Ceramic head: inherited from family
· Candlesticks: IKEA
· Dresser/media center knobs: Anthropologie

(Image credit: Mike Hetu)


· Shower curtain: Target
· Vintage mirror: flea market find
· Bird: HomeGoods
· Jewelry bowl: Target
· Q-Tip holders: repurposed Target candle jars

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Thanks, Ashley and Emily!