Liz’s Bangin’ Chicago Apartment & Rad Rooftop

updated Feb 20, 2019
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(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)

Name: Liz Klafeta, founder of BANGTEL
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Size: 1,000 square feet
Years lived in: 9 years owned

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Often you hear people use words such as “daunting” or “time consuming” while referring to renovations. “Fun” and “having a blast” don’t come to mind. However, these are the exact words you’ll hear Liz use while describing the renovation process of this space. She fearlessly takes on projects that express her daring vision.

(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)

The house search took a whopping three hours. Liz says she wanted a seamless modern home that contrasted with the outside. When you walk up, it looks like a storage unit, but when you walk in, it’s another world. Despite its original pink matted carpet, Formica countertops and laminate cabinets, right away she knew it had potential. Once she completed renovations on this house, she craved more.

Liz is now the founder/owner of design and hospitality company BANGTEL, which encompasses multiple short and long term vacation rentals and apartments. Naturally, this property is special, as it was her very first. Liz considers this home the seed that sprouted her enterprise and inspired her transition from wardrobe styling to interior design.

(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)

She loved sourcing design elements for this home on a limited budget. She was fresh out of college, so progress was slow at first. This led to many innovative DIY solutions to maintain her bold vision. All of the vanities are made from remnants from the floor boards as well as previous roof decking. All the trim is custom. The doors and stair treads are leftovers from her brother’s remodel. All of the wood for the back deck was $90 from the Rebuilding Exchange. Not every design element is meant to appeal to the masses, but Liz states that the home “sparks inspiration and helps visitors to step outside of traditional thought and into imaginative action.”

(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Modern with unexpected pops, bordering on the absurd, such as a Giant Papier Mache Bunny or a hot pink stripe down the length of the stairs. I like mixing different elements and making a cohesive feel.

Inspiration: I was a wardrobe and prop stylist for 13 years for commercials and print ads prior to BANGTEL, so I am used to sourcing the impossible in the most random places.

Currently I design furnished rental spaces for my design and hospitality company, BANGTEL, and my interior clients. Therefore, I am constantly sourcing and seeking out the coolest and most reasonably priced things. I like to mix unique finds with DIYs and off-the-wall interior design elements to create hip hideaways that encourage folks to step out of their usual routine.

Traveling and bouncing among hotels stays is also super inspirational.

Favorite Element: Tile

Biggest Challenge: I bought my home right after I graduated college and had very little money. I had to remodel slowly, room by room. Once I had remodeled the first back bedroom, the ceiling started leaking from a faulty roof. I turned lemons into lemonade, though, and turned the hole into roof access. As a result, I gained an amazing rooftop spanning the length of my home.

Another challenge was the coral pink carpeting that covered the entire second floor. It was in such bad shape that I refused to walk on it without shoes. For months, I slept on a bed that I pulled down onto the floor of my living room until I was able to remove the carpeting myself and have a wood floor installed.

What Friends Say: Friends gasp when they walk in. The building looks like a storage unit from the outside. When you enter, it is a completely different world. I love the contrast. I think it makes entering the home way more impactful.

The deer head when you walk into the downstairs powder room is also a welcoming unexpected surprise as well as the glass wall overlooking the stairs from the Master Bath.

Biggest Embarrassment: My messy garage that is always locked for company.

Proudest DIY: When I started rehab on the master bathroom, my demo guy started knocking down the small closet in the bathroom to open up the space. When the wall was opened, you could look directly down onto the stairs. I saw the opportunity for so much more light and space in the unit and suggested we just install glass and two skylights in the roof. It was a decision that I am still happy with to this day.

Another proud DIY is the hanging bed in the master bedroom. I wanted to make a bed that was awesome. I was searching amazing beds and kept seeing treehouses with rope beds. The hanging bed is Faux as there is a solid base built underneath that you can not see. It is also secured to the back wall with a custom headboard that reaches the ceiling. I used rope that was in my garage leftover from a previous job to give the illusion that it is hanging from the ceiling. This was the first hanging bed I designed in 2009. Recently, I designed another hanging bed for a furnished rental called Mr. Clark under the BANGTEL umbrella. This bed has been getting reposted a lot by some amazing interior Instagram peeps.

Biggest Indulgence: I have two big indulgences in the home. One is the freestanding bathtub. I was hell bent on getting a freestanding tub and having a rain shower combo. I was very much anti-shower curtain. I did not want to take away from the beauty of the tub. Therefore, the entire floor had to get built up and sloped with a handicap drain installed in the floor behind the tub. It was an ordeal. Not to mention, the space for the tub was so small and customized that it was not the easiest to find a tub that fit.

The second indulgence was the cement countertop and sink pour that is all in one. I have IKEA cabinets in the kitchen and shockingly, the countertop had the same pricetag as an entire kitchen of cabinets. The seamless sink to countertop flow made the price 100% worth it to me, though!

Best Advice: Take your time when remodeling and go section by section. I feel like when one rushes is when bad decisions get made.

Also, always use tradesmen that other people refer. My tile guy did my home seven years ago and continues to do every interior tile job for my clients. He is the best.

Dream Sources: Tile Outlet, Rebuilding Exchange, Lumber Liquidators, Estate Sales, Resale Shops, My Friends

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Though the building looks like a storage unit from the outside, the interior is sleek, fun, and modern. (Image credit: Brittany Purlee)


(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)


  • HOUSE: Hosta Flower by Pittsburgh Paint
  • BEDROOM WALL: Dark Black (I forget exactly which black and by whom)
(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)


  • Couch: Found at a thrift store and reupholstered in Ostrich Vinyl from Fishman’s
  • White Geometric side table: Leftover display table from Urban Outfitters
  • Cardboard side table: Artist from the Silver Room made these
  • Cowhide rug: Scout in Andersonville
  • Pillows: Ikea and Crate & Barrel
  • Chest: From my Great Uncle and painted white
  • Bowling Pin: found in an alley
  • Blocks: Land of Nod
  • Silver Rhino: West Elm
  • Acrylic Antlers: Robin Richman
(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)


  • Cabinets: IKEA glossy white
  • Stove: Viking
  • Fridge: Leibherr
  • Hood: Zephyr
  • Dishwasher: Maytag
  • Faucet: Grohe
  • Countertops: Cement
  • Painting: Hebru Brantley
  • Bunny: Zap Props
  • Carpet: FLOR squares
  • Backsplash: Cement Board
  • Bar Stools: European Furniture Warehouse
(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)


  • Bed: Custom “Faux” Hanging bed
  • Light up Ottoman: Chiasso
  • Light Fixture: Ikea
  • Bedding: Target
  • Drapes: Custom made. Fabric from LZ Warehouse
  • black side table: Salvation Army and spray painted black
(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)


(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)


  • Bed: CB2
  • Bookshelves: refinished the sides in ebony minwax and painted the interior white
  • Skateboard collage: Damara the destroyer
  • Mural: artist Rhom
  • weird dentist figure: from her retired father’s dental office
  • Desk: Great Uncle’s hand-me-down
  • White Magnetic Board: CB2
  • Glass on Wall: Found
(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)


  • Vanity: Made from previous roofdeck boards
  • Vanity Lights: Incandescent Outdoor Lights from Home Depot spray painted Blue
  • Faucet and shower trim: Moen
  • Above Mount Sink: Decolav
  • Toilet: Kohler
  • Wallpaper: Gift wrap from Thailand
  • Ice Cream Relief: found in a junk shop in Milwaukee and spray painted
  • Towel rack and toilet paper holder: Made from plumber pipe from Home Depot
  • Bath mat: FLOR squares
  • Tile: Carrara Marble
(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)


  • Mirror: IKEA
  • VANITY: custom-made from leftover upstairs floorboards
  • Hanging Edison light: CB2
  • Deerhead: purchased from Ebay
  • Sink: Decolav
  • Toilet: Toto
(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)
  • 3rd BATHROOM

  • Sink: Glacier Bay (CHEAP) Home Depot

  • Faucet and Trim plate: Moen

  • Toilet: Kohler

  • Tile: Carrara Marble

  • Walls: Cement Board

  • Vanity Lights: Incandescent Outdoor Lights from Home Depot, spray painted Blue

(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)

  • Runner: FLOR squares
  • Paper Mache Deer Heads: Restoration Hardware made from children in Haiti and profits go directly to them
  • OH MAN OH GEEZE STENCIL: Installed by @iamdesair
  • Painted stripe on stairs and wall: Installed by @iamdesair
  • 3 Photo Prints: Bodega Dreams Series by Colleen Durkin
  • Garbage Pail Kid installation collected from my years of childhood
(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)


  • Wood: Rebuilding Exchange
  • Grill: Element Propane
  • Plastic Carved Bench: Found in a store in a Milwaukee
  • Plant pots: West Elm
  • Hanging air plant holders: Etsy
(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)


  • Sunchairs: West Elm
  • Pillows: IKEA
  • Red Geo Chairs: Domocile
  • Astroturf: Remnants from a Sprint Commercial
  • Graffiti Walls: @Stukone and @iamdesair

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Thanks, Liz!