Before and After: A Chicago Fixer Upper’s Layout (and Staircase) Was Beautifully Opened Up

Before and After: A Chicago Fixer Upper’s Layout (and Staircase) Was Beautifully Opened Up

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Name: Tim and husband, Ravi, plus Hobbes (orange tabby cat, who loves running up the rooftop stairs)
Location: Prairie District — Chicago, Illinois
Size: 1,500 square feet
Type of Home: Condo penthouse
Years lived in: 3 years, owned

Three years ago, we were enjoying an unseasonably warm Easter and decided to enjoy a beer after a long bike ride. I tricked Ravi into visiting this spot to notice the old factory building across the street. I had been eyeing it for months for available lofts. We looked up its tall façade and saw an amazing multi-floor unit that we agreed would NEVER go on the market. Who wouldn’t want to call it their forever home? Close to downtown, near the lake, cute neighborhood with tons of history…

To our surprise, that exact unit went on the market in a few weeks and had an open house. It had everything I, Tim (lake/park views, lots of sunlight, an outdoor space), and Ravi (multi-floors, tall ceilings) wanted. I was nervous to get Ravi’s opinion during the open house because it was a fixer-upper, but to my surprise Ravi immediately said, “I love it.”

Over the next few weeks, I spent many sleepless nights drawing up renovation floor plans and budgets to beat the closing hourglass to make sure we could make it our dream home. It needed a lot of love.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Modern Bohemian

Favorite Element: The 20-foot tall ceilings! Our home feels like an escape from the city every time we come home.

Biggest Challenge: Our biggest challenge was figuring out how to get our kitchen closer to the living space. Our solution was to build a dry bar for setting out food and drinks. It actually works really well because our guests see their food/drinks instead of our messy kitchen!  

Proudest DIY: There were multiple DIY projects, but my favorite is our bi-fold closet door makeover. It was a MUST to beautify the louvered doors since they were front and center in our living space, while not messing with the air flow needed for the mechanical room. The solution is modern, discreet, and creative.

Biggest Indulgence: Our bathroom vanity units. We had a terrible time finding vanities made of quality material. The splurge was totally worth it.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? Our home originally had a large staircase and an ensuite guest bathroom. By modifying both, we were able to create a dining space, a dry bar, a larger guest closet, and a guest bath closet!

What’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Matching is overrated. It’s always a struggle for me to convince Ravi that we don’t need to get things that match. What’s more important to me is using color/scale to create focal points. I suppose we’re still pretty match-y. Also, it takes a lot of time and teamwork to find finishes you are in love with. Pro tip is be as specific in your google searches as possible (ex. “White matte 1×5” modular tile”)



  • Sherwin-Williams “Pure White” SW 7005








Thanks Tim and Ravi!

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