A Chicago Workers Cottage’s Renovation Made It Modern but Kept the Charm

published Jun 28, 2023

A Chicago Workers Cottage’s Renovation Made It Modern but Kept the Charm

published Jun 28, 2023
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Jon and Michelle Sturgis weren’t actually looking for a new home — certainly not one to completely renovate — when they stumbled across this Logan Square workers cottage for sale. But the charming size, history, and potential for an iconic yard made making an offer an obvious yes.

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The yard and house before their renovation.

“I have been enamored of workers cottages ever since I moved to Chicago, so when my husband sent me this listing it was love at first sight,” Michelle begins. “It was built in 1892 and is on the back of the lot with no garage, which allows us to have a huge (by city standards) front yard. We love our dog way more than we love our car, so this trade-off was a no-brainer. It needed some love, but had really charming details like the original brick wall, railings, doors, etc. so it was easy to see the potential.”

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"The layout was also very strange, as there was no wall for a TV in the living room, and no entry closet," explains Michelle of their entryway.

Thankfully, they are no strangers to renovations. Michelle’s interior design company, Slate Studio, was born out of her keen eye and internal drive to create homes that are easy and comfortable to live in. It’s easy to spot a home designed by Michelle and Slate Studio simply by how happy and immersed her customers are in their new and improved spaces. 

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"The old kitchen had a high bar top which made it feel cut off from the rest of the living space. It was also very small, so adding the porch to the kitchen area made it feel a lot more spacious," Michelle explains of the kitchen renovation, which took about two months to complete.

They did the renovation in two stages. “The first was the main floor (gut kitchen renovation, sun porch enclosure, and adding a closet) and then we tackled the other two floors later with cosmetic updates like millwork, paint, and wallpaper. The kitchen was definitely the hardest part to live through (one can only withstand so much microwaved soup), but it was worth it in the end!” she explains.

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Bedroom before.


Credit: Layne Dixon


  • Main level and nursery — Sherwin Williams “Pure White”
  • Doors and stair railing — Sherwin Williams “Tricorn Black”
  • Primary bedroom — Sherwin Williams “Mount Etna”
  • Basement bedroom/office — Sherwin Williams “Ripe Olive”
Credit: Layne Dixon


Credit: Layne Dixon


Credit: Layne Dixon


Credit: Layne Dixon


Credit: Layne Dixon


Credit: Layne Dixon


Thanks, Michelle!

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