Byron & Nate's Nature-Sleek Urban Loft

Byron & Nate's Nature-Sleek Urban Loft

Jason Loper
Nov 30, 2010

Name: Byron Flitsch & Nathan Nally plus Dexter, the pup
Location: South Loop — Chicago, Illinois
Size: 900 square feet
Years lived in: 3 months — rented

What happens when a couple inspired by nature moves into a modern concrete loft in the South Loop? If that couple is Byron and Nate, you get a gorgeous nature-sleek apartment that finds a brilliant balance between the great outdoors and modern urban life.

The first thing anyone will notice upon first entering Byron and Nate's apartment is the view. It's impossible not to! I literally squealed when Byron opened the door of his apartment. My attention immediately shifted past all of the beautiful decor I was there to photograph and to the wall of east-facing windows. The view of Soldier Field and the lake is so Chicago. This view, plus the apartment's all-concrete construction and modern design, were deciding factors for the couple when they were searching for their first apartment together.

Byron and Nate very cleverly decided to soften up the space with a nature-inspired aesthetic. The grass-like rug and light blue walls in the living room create an outdoorsy feel that is a great juxtaposition to the urban landscape on the other side of the wall of windows. The combination softens what could otherwise be a cold space. And the dining table, handcrafted by Nate's father, has a high end picnic table quality that fits in perfectly with the woodsy vibe given by the tree decals on the wall.

There's only one small room in the apartment that doesn't share the wonderful view of the city – a long, windowless bathroom. I think it's so clever that the guys used a black and white photograph of downtown Chicago and the CB2 Cityscape shower curtain and accessories to act as stand-ins for their view in this room.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Nature-sleek with narrative.

Inspiration: Byron: As a writer, I love telling stories and feel that's the first priority of our living space. There's got to be plenty of narrative. We love to travel and share experiences with friends and family, so there are photos and art that tell tales of where we've been. Collections are big for us--like the varites of vintage travel books and ceramic dogs from around the world. Each one has a story. It makes for striking visuals and prompts plenty of conversation from guests. Nate: I grew up in rural Ohio surrounded by nature. As an Eagle Scout, I've always appreciated the outdoors, but have been fascinated by city architecture. I think we both wanted to incorporate our country-boy backgrounds (Byron was an avid 4-H kid from Wisconsin, too) with city elements we have grown to appreciate.

Favorite Element: Living in a concrete loft has always been a dream of both of ours. So when we were shown the exposed concrete ceiling, columns, and polished floors it was instant love. Then when we peeked at the view and we knew we had to make this place our home. In the end, our priority has always been to respect the integrity of the apartment's design, but warming up the space with color and elements that respect who we are as a couple.

Biggest Challenge: Let's just say this: We both have different philosophies when it comes to, oh, form vs. function. Byron: I'm the type of guy that will wear shoes that pinch my feet because they look awesome. The same goes for home style. Sure, fancy pillows aren't comfortable, but they look amazing and are worth it. Nate: I'm all about comfort with an element of style. But if it isn't functional, I get annoyed. In the end, we compromised. It's actually been pretty great for our relationship. We both ended up choosing things we didn't think we'd enjoy which developed OUR style not just each separate style melded.

What Friends Say: "Holy! Cow!" That's usually the response to the view. Then the most popular, "This is so, totally you guys!"

Biggest Embarrassment: Storage space! We have a walk-in closet that is truly built for one person. We make it work, but aren't too proud of it. Aside from the bedroom closet, we have one storage space in the main room that's shoved with everything ranging from board games to winter clothes. It's forced us to be creative when organizing, but is still a project in the works.

Proudest DIY: We wanted unique wine storage. We hunted at some of our favorite design stores, but either weren't happy with the functionality or, honestly, didn't want to pay for something that was just "meh". So, we went with our own design and building. Nate (the handyman in the house) created our wine holders made with sheets of roof-flashing, a rivet gun and a ton of patience. We had the perfect space for the holders above our kitchen cabinets. The metallic material mimics a lot of the industrial feel in the loft. There was a lot of blood (the cuts!) and sweat (Byron cleaning up on the tiny pieces of metal!), but the project turned out exactly how we wanted.

Biggest Indulgence: Hands down, our dining room table. We had it custom designed by Nate's dad (a professional wood furniture designer) based off a few pieces we had our eye on. We wanted to incorporate a clean, modern feel merged with a welcoming almost picnic-like seating setting. The walnut is covered with a light stain coating that is warm yet sleek and has caught the eye of almost every visitor.

Best Advice: Give your partner a chance to offer his or her ideas (even if they aren't the design-head of the couple). You'll be surprised by ideas that are out of your comfort zone and those unexpected suggestions could be the missing puzzle piece. Plus, ahem, it leads to a lot less bickering.

Resources of Note:

  • Glidden "Blue Collar" paint
  • IKEA
  • Lots of DIY
  • Nate's father
  • Jonathan Adler
  • CB2

Thanks, Bryon & Nate!

Images: Jason Loper

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