Chris's Art Nouveau Style

Chris's Art Nouveau Style

Janel Laban
Feb 12, 2010

(Welcome to Jason from Chicago, one of the bloggers trying out for a place on the Apartment Therapy editorial team as a House Tour Contributor. Enjoy his work!)

Name: Christopher Davis
Location: Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood
Size: 1000 square feet
Years lived in: 6

Chris, a mutual fund analyst for Morningstar, has given his home a decidedly old-fashioned feel which compliments all of the vintage elements of the apartment. Initially attracted to the apartment's "good bones" - see the beautiful built-in hutch and original woodwork - he has used the space to showcase his love of art nouveau.

A self-described DIY novice, Chris has used his space to showcase his collections. From the collection of vintage pitchers and Pebbleford plates in the kitchen to the original and reproduction art throughout the apartment, Chris' personal style and love of art is evident. Many of the fun collections - like the the aforementioned plates - were purchased on the cheap at flea markets but look like a million bucks when displayed in Chris's home.

Chris has created a masculine, classic home with little investment and the occasional splurge.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My style: Mostly classic--but with a touch of flair for drama and modern accents to add some fun and bring it up to date.

Inspiration:My biggest inspiration--and it's perhaps not as apparent as I'd like--is architect Louis Sullivan, who most famously designed the Auditorium Theater and the old Carson Pirie Scott building. I love that he brought elements of art nouveau--a style which I adore for its ability to evoke the beauty and drama of nature--to America (it originated in Paris in the 1890s) and rooted it firmly in Chicago.

Favorite Element: What sold me on the space to begin with is its good architectural bones, most especially the woodwork and built-in hutch in the dining room. The architecture doesn't always dictate every design choice I make, but I hope I can continue to honor the history within it.

Biggest Challenge: Built on the typically narrow Chicago lot, the common area rooms are long but not terribly wide, especially the living room. It constrains the size and quantity of the furniture I can have, and as far as I've figured out, there's just one plausible way to lay the room out.

What Friends Say: When they're nice, they tell me it's tasteful, warm, and inviting. When they're giving me a hard time, they tell me it reminds me of their grandma's house. I can live with that.

Biggest Embarrassment: The paint color in the living room. I'm on my third attempt to get it right, and while it's less awful than its previous incarnation, it turned out way too light. So, one day, hopefully, I'll be proud of its neutral grayish-green color I'm dreaming of.

Proudest DIY: I'm admittedly not quite so adept in the DIY department. I sorta kinda like the unfinished bright blue canvas above my bed, though I'd say the collage of Pebbleford plates above my sink is pretty darn cute.

Biggest Indulgence: Hmmm. It's not the most expensive thing in my apartment, but the Charles Rennie Mackintosh print hanging in my living room was an indulgence. The poster itself wasn't so much one, but that I ended up spending more than $400 to frame a $22 print was. But the gorgeous wood frame and beautifully-matted print still brings me happiness. I don't care if my future husband doesn't like it--it's always going to be hanging wherever I live!

Best advice: Your space is a constantly evolving work in progress. Don't try to make it look like a magazine cover or furniture showroom. Make it reflect you.

Dream source: As an inherently pragmatic person, I don't spend lots of time thinking about the impossible. But if I had to choose one, it would be Thomas Moser ( Its hand-carved wood furniture is understated and elegant. The level craftsmanship makes me swoon. But it's crazy expensive.

Resources: Room & Board, Pottery Barn, Urbanest, Scout, eBay, Kane County Flea Market, Target, my fabulous thrift store shopping friend Cristofer, Blick (for frames, ready made canvases)

(Thanks, Christopher!)

Images: Jason

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