Sarah’s Cheeky & Whimsical Chicago Coach House

updated Feb 19, 2019
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(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

Name: Sarah Montgomery
Location: Chicago, Ilinois
Size: 800 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year rented

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Sarah is proud of her entire 800 square feet, tucked away in a Ukrainian Village coach house, and rightfully so. She has brought art and whimsy into each of her rooms with a true DIY and frugal spirit, all while leaning on her past experience as a window display designer at Anthropologie and her current gig as a product designer at Eastern Accents.

(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

At work, Sarah is immersed daily in the world of gorgeous textiles and home furnishings. This could make it easy for one to jump right in with big purchases, grand scale furniture, and wall coverings galore, but Sarah stresses patience and thriftiness.

(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

She has made choices that are the proper scale for her current living space and has taken the time to curate her surroundings, creating a completely customized and unique space that is both super stylish and peaceful.

(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Cool and bright walls, vibrant textiles and warm wood, pops of black and cheeky vignettes. I thrive on thriftiness, so making something look really intentional out of randomness is really rewarding. I also work as a product designer for Eastern Accents, which was featured in a factory tour. I was able to design and make all of the bedding, pillows and curtains in my home through our custom workroom.

Inspiration: Being around beautiful textiles all day, DIY, pinterest. I started out my career doing window displays for Anthropologie so I learned how to make (or fake!) almost anything. I also attend a lot of textile and product design trade shows so I get inspiration from showrooms and booths.

Favorite Element: The light and plants in the living room, the large kitchen and my cozy bedroom. I also love my private deck (not shown), which is rare in Chicago.

Biggest Challenge: Not wanting to have too many little things on the wall, not having enough big things for the wall. The things I have access to and are inspired by working in the home furnishings industry are not always apartment sized so I always have to pay attention to scale.

What Friends Say: You should be on Apartment Therapy.

Biggest Embarrassment: The grout/tile in the kitchen and bathroom, my loud heater.

Proudest DIY: The whole place is a DIY. I painted all the rooms by myself and wallpapered one wall in the living room. I did this in two days before I moved in, with the help of my parents. I’ve never been so tired in my life. But I couldn’t stop, I live for this.

Biggest Indulgence: The black upholstered chairs I had recovered in the living room. Gold drapery hardware, wallpaper! I feel like this whole place is an indulgence and I’m very lucky.

Best Advice: Be patient. You want your space to look curated and lived in, not like you put it together overnight with big box purchases. Don’t buy on impulse; if you like it long enough you can justify the purchase and appreciate it more in the end. Also be thrifty, if you get inspired by changing trends you will want to switch things up more frequently. Buy used.

Dream Sources: Anthropologie, Schoolhouse Electric, Lulu and Georgia, Serena and Lily, Cole and Sons, Room and Board, Craigslist and Krrb. Someday I hope to be able to have most things custom made and designed by myself and other artisans.


(Image credit: Emma Fiala)


  • Kitchen cabinets and bedroom – Behr Submarine Grey
  • Kitchen walls and living room – Behr Eon
  • Bathroom – Benjamin Moore Salmon Beauty
(Image credit: Emma Fiala)


  • All furniture is thrifted
  • Coffee table – Kalalou
  • Lamp – West Elm
  • Wallpaper – Anna French by Thibaut Design
  • Framed animal prints – from the book Animal House by Catherine Ledner
  • Painting above couch – a resale shop
  • Pillows and curtains – custom from my work
  • Rug – the Montauk from Capel rugs
  • Chairs – reupholstered in Kravet fabric
(Image credit: Emma Fiala)


  • Table and chairs – Craigslist recovered in a Lacefield fabric
  • Artwork – found, family, or DIY
  • Plates – Anthropologie
(Image credit: Emma Fiala)


  • White cabinet – an antique auction
  • Artwork – found, family, or DIY
  • Curtains – custom made at my work and
  • Curtain hardware – Urban Outfitters
  • Leather cabinet pulls – DIY
(Image credit: Emma Fiala)


  • Bed – metal canopy from Overstock which I cut the canopy to be a four post so it
  • would fit better in this space
  • Dresser and vanity – passed down from my grandparents
  • Oval mirror – antique auction
  • Leather hook – Anthropologie
  • White pendant and nightstand – hand me downs
  • Curtains and hardware = custom from my wor-
  • Bedding – custom from my work, the coverlet was designed by me
  • Sheets – Calvin Klein
  • Tassel wall hanging – DIY
  • Shadow puppets – cards from NYC stationary shop that I hoarded for years until
  • I finally found a way to display them.
  • Lamp – Port68
(Image credit: Emma Fiala)


  • Shower curtain – West Elm
  • Rug – Target
  • Knobs – Anthropologie
  • Tassel trashcan – DIY
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Sarah and her cat in their living room. (Image credit: Emma Fiala)

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Thanks, Sarah!