Name: George Morgan
Location: West Loop — Chicago, Illinois
Size: 1,150 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, owned
George Morgan saw a lot of homes before he finally found his perfect Chicago bachelor pad. As a real estate agent, he knew what was out there, and he also knew what he wanted: to be in the heart of the young, vibrant, food-centric West Loop neighborhood, big windows on a corner unit that allowed him to feel connected to the outdoors, and a blank slate for him to explore and discover his own style.
When he moved into the condo, not only was the space a clean slate — white walls, hardwood floors, giant windows for the neighbors to watch all his dance moves — but so was his furniture and accessory collection. If you can believe it, George moved into this place with only a desk chair in tow. In the span of two years he completely furnished it and figured out his style. How did he do it? If you prod him he'll tell you that the best advice when trying to figure out your own style is to date someone who knows what they're doing…and who likes you enough to help you.
For George, the key was function above all else — if it didn't work, if it didn't prove useful or meaningful — then he wasn't interested. So the first thing he picked up was his forever sofa. Not only will this black and tan Crate & Barrel sectional sofa last him a long time, but it can also go with everything and anything. That was important because George knew he wasn't going to be in Chicago forever, and when the time to move comes he wants to know that his furniture can move with him.
Something that was hard to move was the pair of bookcases that make up the living room entertainment unit — they were a gift from a friend, and they're IKEA. And IKEA bookcases and storage pieces suck to take apart and put back together. But don't they look like they fit perfectly in the living room? The side panels match the hardwood floors, and the size is just right so that the tops can hold plants and an awesome framed collection of George's running metals (his mom made it for him!).
In fact, there's a lot of stuff around the house from George's past; in particular I kept finding references to KC, Kansas City. One of the more quirky examples is in the entryway where he has this awesome baseball cap made from two different teams. I recognize the Royals, but is that a football cap? It was the Oakland Raiders — apparently George had been obsessed with Bo Jackson as a kid, and he had made a hat from the baseball and football teams that he played on!
What struck me most about the entryway, however, was that George chose to put his most memorable family photos right here, when you first walk in the door. The best is the one of him as a baby with his parents, mounted on a wavy black wooden frame/panel…and his dad's awesome hair! This and other photos are mixed with art pieces, and while much of the decor harks back to his past, a lot of art is modern, new and fresh, too. The chalk art on the blackboard wall between the kitchen and hallway was so fresh, in fact, that he drew it for me, right on the spot, as I was setting up for my shoot. "Guys, come help me with this, what does it need," he said. "Nothing! Don't touch it, it's perfect! How did you draw that?" we all replied!
When it came to colors in the apartment, neutral was the key, but green was the accent. One of the first things that strikes you is all the healthy plants. The windows are great for this, but then you notice the green pillows on the sofa, and the little bit of green accents on the floor rug. He picked a soft blue-grey color called Deep Silver for the kitchen cabinets, and a deep, complex green for the powder room called Essex Green. Otherwise everything is a mix of warm woods, grays and bright whites.
When we were getting ready to take his portrait, I asked George where he spends the most time in the apartment. Before he could answer, his fabulous designer girlfriend quickly replied, "at that desk, staring out the window at the neighbors, or working on his computer." It was true — George is definitely a go-getter, and the view of nearby neighbors can keep you engrossed for hours. But I sensed that the real reason he spends so much time there was that well-worn desk chair, the same one that came with him to his new home two years ago. Sometimes it's those things from your past that make you feel most at home.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Functional, eclectic, earthy, open
Inspiration: I'm a real estate agent by trade so I've seen a lot of homes in Chicago and all over the country. I am always inspired by the homes that blend good design with natural elements to create a warm and curated space.
Favorite Element: The floor-to-ceiling windows, which allow me to feel connected to the outdoors.
Biggest Challenge: Making the space feel as homey as possible knowing that it was going to be a short-lived space for me and only purchasing pieces I knew would transition easily to a new home.
What Friends Say: That it is a nutty, hodge-podge space that seems to encapsulate my personality perfectly.
Biggest Embarrassment: The fact that I don't have a lot of privacy because of the floor-to-ceiling windows throughout, so all of the neighbors are able to witness my dance moves.
Proudest DIY: The kitchen cabinets. I went back and forth on hiring someone to paint them, because I tend to get really excited about DIYs and then lose momentum halfway through. I knew this wasn't a project I wanted to start and end up living with a half painted kitchen. In the end I decided to tackle it myself and finished in two weeks.
Biggest Indulgence: The sectional
Best Advice: Date an interior designer!
Dream Sources: Vintage shops around the world and to build many of my own pieces
PAINT & COLORS
Benjamin Moore Chelsea Grey — Bedroom
Benjamin Moore Essex Green —Powder Room
Benjamin Moore Deep Silver —Kitchen Cabinets
Benjamin Moore Hale Navy — Master Bath Vanity
Benjamin Moore Silver Satin — Master Bath Walls
Bench — Second hand
Shelf — Ikea
Runner — Overstock
Art — Second hand
Mirror — Ikea
Sectional — Crate and Barrel
Lounge Chair and Ottoman — Ikea
Coffee Table — Ikea
Rug — Overstock
Side Tables — Second hand
Floor Lamp —Target
Media Stand/ Storage Cabinet — Ikea
Dining Table — Overstock
Dining Chairs — Industry West
Light Fixture — Etsy
Desk — Made during a woodworking class at Chicago Restoration Exchange
Desk Chair — CB2
Bookcase — Craigslist
Bed — Overstock
Bedding — Parachute/Ikea
Bedside Tables — Target
Lamps — Target
Dresser — Overstock
Mirror — Second hand
Light Fixture — West Elm
Rug — Target
Art — Posters.com w/ Ikea Frame