Emily’s Light & Bright Shabby Chic

published Jul 23, 2010
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: Emily
Location: Ukrainian Village, Chicago
Size: 1,000 sf
Years lived in: Just over one year

When I wrote the post about Emily’s welcoming guest room earlier this month, I knew I had to see the rest of her apartment. Luckily, Emily was willing to have us all over for a House Tour! And just as I expected, the rest of her home is decorated with her cute, light, bright, and mostly DIY shabby chic style.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Emily’s crafty guest room is just the beginning of her stylish home. The dining room, with its refurbished dining table and chairs, is an example of Emily’s DIY attitude. The living room, with the wall of art behind the white sofa, is inviting. The little craft room/home office is perfectly appointed for weekend DIY projects.

As Emily mentions in her survey, she is limited as a renter by color in this apartment. I think she moves past this limitation with ease. By keeping most of her furniture white, the pops of color Emily does use in her décor are appreciated even more. It also helps her apartment look light and bright without feeling sterile.

It’s obvious that Emily has put a lot of thought and hard work into creating a perfect little bachelorette pad. And at the end of the day, she can climb the back stairs up to the rooftop deck and enjoy an amazing skyline view (see photo #26 of the slideshow).

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My/Our style: My style has always been very organized, clutter-free, light and bright with a tendency towards clean, straight lines and white. With this apartment, I decided it was my chance to be totally girly, fun, and a bit more shabby-chic than previous apartments. I’m fairly traditional, but love unexpected touches of quirkiness to make me smile.

Inspiration: There’s so much inspiration out there today in both magazines and blogs! I’m in public relations and spent the first five years of my career working with home furnishings, paint and window coverings brands, so I was surrounded every day with the décor. While my clients now are mostly consumer technologies, I stay entrenched in what’s going on in the design world in my spare time. I love the great ideas Beth Eslinger and her team at Better Homes & Gardens DIY shares, Country Living is now a great resource, thanks to Sarah Gray Miller’s leadership, and Elle Décor, Apartment Therapy and bloggers like This Young House, I Suwannee, and Life in the Fun Lane.

Favorite Element: It’s hard to compete with my rooftop’s view, but my favorite indoors element is the wall behind my sofa. Everything on that wall tells a story about where I come from, who I am or what I love and really serves as a focal point for the apartment. Over the years I’ve broken my tendency to make everything very matchy-matchy, and this definitely proved that I could be eclectic!

Biggest Challenge: It’s a rental, so I’m limited to what I can do with the permanent fixtures and paint. My landlords did a great job restoring the apartment that was built in 1894, specifically the kitchen, but if I owned it I would have made different choices. I LOVE white kitchens with subway tile, for example!! If it were up to me, there would be a lot more white all around, to be honest.

What Friends Say: Once friends get over how easy it was to park compared to my long-time residence in the Gold Coast neighborhood, they tend to remark that my place is “cute.” Once they realize how much of the décor was DIY, they are usually pretty surprised that I’m that crafty. Apparently I don’t look crafty!

Biggest Embarrassment: It’s been over a year since I moved in and I’ve owned a Pottery Barn chandelier for a year before that, and yet it’s still not installed in my master bedroom. Why? No clue. I just need help doing it and no one who offers ever follows through and I haven’t been pushy. It’s gotten to the point of embarrassment for sure.

Proudest DIY: The dining room table and chairs are by far my most prized project to date. I scoured Craigslist for months looking for a drop-leaf table that would take up a small amount of space on a daily basis, but expand to seat 8 or so. I finally found one in my price range – and with four chairs! It was pretty ugly, but I have refinished furniture before and decided I could learn to reupholster, too. I blogged about the whole process, too. It was quite the endeavor!

Biggest Indulgence: The yellow damask chair in the living room has been, by far, my most expensive furniture purchase. I bought it last year at the Merchandise Mart’s spring sample sale at a greatly reduced – yet still expensive – price, but I love it and hope to have it forever!!

Had forever: I started from scratch when I moved to Chicago seven years ago. I showed up with a vintage bed I had refinished with my mom after graduation, and that was about it. (That’s the bed in the guest room.) Spending my college years in the sorority meant that I barely had dishware to my name and certainly no furniture of my own. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t some history in my décor. The secretary desk in my dining room has been in my dad’s side of the family for four generations. I’d like to refinish it one day, but until then I added my own personality by lining the cabinet with sticky gift wrap from Hallmark.

Best advice: Much like my wardrobe, I splurge on classic pieces and bargain shop for trends. I also decorate for me. Because this was the first place of my own I’ve ever had that was actually big enough to host large dinners and get-togethers and even overnight guests, I did want to make it welcoming and comfortable for others, but at the end of the day, I’m the one that lives there every day and needs a smile after a long day at the office.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Resources: Craigslist, Etsy.com, Target.com, IKEA, Crate & Barrel, Cost Plus World Market, West Elm, Home Goods, my family’s leftovers!

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

(Thanks, Emily!)

Images: Jason Loper

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