Courtney & Michael's Scandinavian Comfort

Courtney & Michael's Scandinavian Comfort

Carolyn Purnell
Feb 1, 2013

Name: Courtney Davis, Michael Rohd, Nina Rohd, and Lola
Location: Evanston, Illinois
Size: 1,200 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years; owned

When they purchased their house three years ago, Courtney and Michael knew that they were signing themselves up for a lot of projects. After many renovations, fix-ups, and a hefty dose of elbow grease, their home has become a fresh, bright, and open space. Having focused for so long on the renovations, Courtney reports, "I feel like I've only started decorating." If she's only just begun, then things are off to a remarkable start.

Michael and Courtney are certainly an ambitious couple. Fixing up a foreclosure, raising a young daughter, and, in Courtney's case, starting and running a business, all in the span of a few years, would more than fill any couple's plate. But they handle it all with ease and grace, approaching their varied roles with seeming effortlessness. The morning I came to photograph their house, Michael and Courtney had already tended to the house, Courtney and her business partner Lauren were already discussing work matters, and the whole time, the trio were keeping Nina entertained.

And there are no half measures; they are good at what they do. Courtney, a designer and stylist, has successfully created a home that matches her welcoming and generous personality, and seeing her in her element makes it clear that she truly understands how a home should function. Before I arrived, they had all feasted on a breakfast that made the house smell of berries and pound cake, a spread that I was not only lucky enough to photograph but also to enjoy. Nina played the perfect hostess by offering me a breakfast of black beans from her play kitchen and chatting about Yo Gabba Gabba (which I quickly learned is the best show on television).

Everything in the house, while well designed and styled, feels eminently livable. Flooded with light and filled with soft, neutral shades and an array of textures, the house exudes a sense of calm that's punctuated with just enough bright accents to keep things interesting. White walls become a backdrop for vibrant art, neutral furniture allows pillows to pop, and plain curtains filter the light so that the rooms gently glow. The focus at Courtney and Lauren's company Kelly & Olive is one that will resonate with Apartment Therapy readers: real homes, real people, and stylish decor that caters to life more than to the camera (although Courtney's obviously suits both). Looking at Courtney and Michael's home, with its refinished pine floors, functional layout, and Scandinavian influences, it's clear that Courtney took her own principles to heart, creating a home that's the perfect balance of comfort and beauty.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Scandinavian, with a little classic twist and a splash of color.

Inspiration: I love so many different styles, and I'm most inspired by homes where different styles play together. I love light, white interiors that let the beautiful pieces you've collected stand out.

Favorite Element: My grandmother's walnut dining table. I played under it as a little girl, and I hope my daughter will do the same!

Biggest Challenge: Renovating an old foreclosure. When we bought the house it had no kitchen, no toilets, appliances, or bathroom sinks. We had a tiny budget to make that livable. After 3 years, I feel like we're finally starting to decorate!

What Friends Say: It's a cozy, happy house.

Biggest Embarrassment: The laundry room. It's scary in there.

Proudest DIY: My faux tulip table! It's a 10 dollar marble table top from craigslist, and the base of my old Ikea Docksta, whose original top had seen better days. Now the baby can bang her forks on the table all she wants.

Biggest Indulgence: A velvet sofa.

Best Advice: If you like it, it goes together. Don't try to match everything.

Dream Sources: Ferm Living, White Attic in Chicago, The Alameda Flea

Resources of Note:


    • Paint Color: Simply White by Benjamin Moore
    • Curtains: Ikea
    • Coffee table: Ikea
    • Couch: Room and Board
    • Chair: Room and Board
    • Lamps: Crate and Barrel
    • Pillows: Ikea, Target, and Earth Cadets
    • Shelves: Crate and Barrel

    • Paint: Simply White by Benjamin Moore
    • Table: Hand-me-down from Grandmother
    • Chairs: and Ikea
    • Candlesticks: 3 from PUB Stockholm, and the rest thrifted
    • Brass tray: Hand-me-down from my parents
    • Painting: Thrifted
    • Curtains: Ikea


    • Vanity and Mirror: Ikea
    • Lighting: Lighting Direct
    • Shower Curtain: Crate and Barrel
    • Rug: West Elm
    • Art: Ashley G and Petit Collage

    • Paint color: Mistint section!
    • Couch: Discount Furniture in Portland, OR
    • Pillows: Ikea, Henry Road, Target, Handmade from vintage scarves
    • Rug: Target
    • Cabinets: Kitchen uppers from Ikea with a laminated pine top
    • Lamp: Ebay
    • TV stand: Ikea


    • Paint: Paper White by Benjamin Moore
    • Dressers: a resale shop in Portland
    • Lamps: Salvation Army with new shades from Urban Nest in Chicago
    • Chest: Hand-me-down from parents
    • Duvet: West Elm
    • Pillows: Ikea, Target, Handmade
    • Headboard: DIY
    • Desk: A hollow core door we took down and two wire shelving units
    • Star lamp: Ikea

Thanks, Courtney & Michael!

(Images: Carolyn Purnell)

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