This Colorful, Eclectic, ’80s-Style Maximal House Is One of the Most Unique Homes Ever

published Apr 12, 2021

This Colorful, Eclectic, ’80s-Style Maximal House Is One of the Most Unique Homes Ever

published Apr 12, 2021
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Name: Meg Gustafson, my cat Annie, and sometimes my boyfriend Jonathan.
Location: Bridgeport Neighborhood — Chicago, Illinois
Size: 1,400 square feet
Type of Home: 1885 Workers’ Cottage
Years lived in: 2.5 years, owned

Meg Gustafson, who by day works on parks and open space for the City of Chicago Department of Planning & Development, thinks her obsession with 1980s style started with music, specifically “Chicago House, Italo disco, and synth-pop on Thursday nights at Neo. The music video set design must have seeped into my soul,” she explains. “When I started the ’80s deco Tumblr back in 2013, I had no idea Memphis would make a comeback, but it makes sense that the minimal MCM trends would swing the other way. I started the page for my own research, and my first ’80s apartment was featured in AT in 2015.” (AT also featured her second apartment!)

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Meg purchased her most recent home, this 1885 workers’ cottage located in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood, two and a half years ago, and she’s spent the time since transforming it into a truly incredible, one-of-kind space. “I always loved Bridgeport and was excited to find a brick house (on wooden stilts from when the streets and houses were raised) in my price range,” she describes. “There were layers: ’70s carpet, damaged linoleum, and office style drop ceilings, but they were easy to look past. All workers’ cottages ooze charm. Since 2013 I’ve been having tons of fun running an ’80s interior design page. I also rent the house for music videos and photoshoots via Peerspace, which you can see by using the hashtag #80sdecobridgeport on IG.”

Meg has completed a ton of work on this house in the past two and a half years, but unfortunately she plans on selling it at the end of the year. She and Jonathan are planning on moving into another house. “Don’t worry, we have some big weird design plans!” she reassures.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Eclectic ’80s maximalism

Inspiration: Late ’70s and early ’80s interior design books by Terrance Conran, Mary Gillatt, and Karen Fischer. Designers Alessandro Mendini, Nathalie Du Pasquier, Memphis Group, Duggie Fields, Dan Friedman, craft and folk art through the ages, mid-2000s Vaporwave renderings, Pedro Almodovar films. Fave design Instagram accounts include: @alexpwhite, @casacalle_, @press_sf, @disco_art_deco

Favorite Element: The dining room is the moodiest, weirdest room in the house. The navy blue paint is the highest gloss you can buy that isn’t lacquer (which is highly toxic and better left to a professional)  It’s based on an ’80s Martin Dupont music video. The Tibetan rug is my best Craigslist score to date. I bought the large tapestry/painting at an antique store in Niles, Illinois. It depicts the Italo-Ethiopian war, which secured Ethiopia’s independence in 1896 and is frequently depicted in folk art. The illuminated column came from a basement full of 1950s Christmas decorations in Oak Lawn.

Biggest Challenge: One big challenge was the walls. I found many layers of wallpaper over damaged plaster and stucco. I decided to paint over all of it, with the exception of my bedroom, which I left raw and painted a Le Corbusier-style deep red ceiling. High quality paint is a magical thing.

Proudest DIY: Transforming the enclosed porch to a dramatic “pass through Vaporwave room” with peel and stick “Carrera” marble tile was fun and challenging. The oversized triangle painting and Caesar bust were sourced by my friend Andy Alguire @riverotterchicago.

Biggest Indulgence: The Mario Botta chair, which I got for relatively cheap on Craigslist, but it’s a legit designer piece, which I don’t do very often.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? I’m happy with the TV room in a spare bedroom. It’s cozy and gets very dark and the TV isn’t prominently displayed in a main room. I also like the guest room where I wrapped a red abstract shape onto the floors and ceiling.

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? The tube lights in the Vaporwave room are a fave (from Hay).

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: There’s a weird leftover pantry (which also has a trap door to the basement) from when the house had two units. I was reluctant to use that space for kitchen storage because it’s two rooms away, but it’s a fine place to keep larger kitchen appliances out of sight and frees up space for more well-used items.

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? I love to mix and match eras and styles while sticking to a strict color theme/palette. I try to buy quality items and if they don’t work, I resell them. Splurge on expensive paint with primer included: It will save so much time in the number of coats. A fun twist is to mix very chalky finishes with high gloss paint. My other secret weapon was my friend and designer Amber Mortensen who came to Chicago in mid-January to help out.



  • Mostly Behr Marquee and Benjamin Moore Royal, but also some random $2 gallons in the Home Depot return section.


  • My grandma, Janis Selmarten, was a dress designer and amateur painter. Both the black-and-white face and The Drake skyline pieces were her creations from the late ’70s.
  • The Frank Lloyd deco poster was found in a Waukegan thrift store.
  • The large-format photos of Mies’ 860 and 880 N. Lake Shore Drive were from a decade ago when the Historic Preservation division moved offices.
  • The Memphis poster was a garage sale score in 2011.
  • The deco metal artwork was fabricated by my friend Arlan Derussy.
  • Paint — Behr Marquee “Greener Pastures.”


  • Duggie’s PoMo maximalism in art, fashion and interior design has been an inspiration for years. He died in March 2021 and created art up till the very end. I’ve decorated a couple rooms over the years around the poster of his Motels album cover. The faux fireplace and blue walls are an homage to his Earl’s Court apartment.
  • The hand couch was found on Craigslist, but I’m told it was hand made by a woman in Evanston in the ’90s.
  • I used a projector to paint the mural which is a backdrop from a Russian production of “Othello” in 1927.
  • The two framed abstract art pieces were made by Thomas Kong known for his collages at Kim’s Corner Food in Rogers Park.
  • The wire faces are by friend and artist Rich Salamander


  • Tibetan rug — Craigslist
  • Large tapestry/painting — Antique store in Niles, Illinois
  • The Spider chair — By a Canadian postmodern design group, Les Amisca
  • The chrome-and-tinted glass Milo Baughman dining table — Craigslist
  • The oddball chandelier (hung upside down because it looks more medieval that way) — From the Rebuilding Exchange.
  • Paint — Benjamin Moore “Deep Royal” and “Coppertone.”


  • Ninety percent of the kitchen is drenched in white paint (Benjamin Moore Regal Select: “Decorators’ White” Pearl Finish). We didn’t even prep the existing cabinets and they turned out surprisingly well.
  • The stripes behind the sink are electrical tape, and the Mel’s Diner-esque “neon” is LED rope
  • I couldn’t be happier with the tin ceiling, which is the most exciting thing to find under a drop ceiling. It was moderately damaged and had last been painted white about 40 years ago. We painted over it with high-quality glossy grey (Benjamin Moore “Black Chiffon”) with little to no prep and it looks like new (which is both a blessing and a curse).
  • The hand-made pickle rug art is by Meg’s friend Moira Quinn.


  • I couldn’t wait to get a new vanity and re-tile the bathroom, but friend and designer Amber Mortensen decided to paint it while I was at work one day and it turned out great! The royal blue vanity makes the faux sandstone tiles almost palatable, and once the light fixture above the sink was painted black it instantly looked ’80s.


  • COVID really forced me to make my tiny yard more usable. I had the double doors installed last fall and they were exactly the game changer that I hoped. The garage structure is standard-issue ’90s construction, but it’s surprisingly pleasant to be under the wooden vaulted ceiling.
  • The faux fireplace is from my neighbor’s basement two doors down.

Thanks Meg!

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Correction: An earlier version of this post mistakenly linked the wrong tour as her first tour on Apartment Therapy. We’ve updated it to be more accurate.