A Pragmatist’s Simple Sky-High 640 Square Foot Chicago Studio

updated Apr 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Franke Chung)

Name: Franke Chung, Jason Wark, Neko the cat, and Ozzy the dog
Location: Streeterville — Chicago, Illinois
Size: 640 square feet
Years lived in: Rented 1 year

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Many folks who live in studio apartments might agree — they function quite efficiently… until you have company over. That’s when there’s a sudden shift in the equilibrium. There’s one too many bodies in here. Following a handful of drunken sketches at brunch and debates before stress-inducing vignettes at IKEA, we were able to resolve this scenario as best as we could with the layout of our current convertible studio, just a stone’s throw away from Navy Pier.

(Image credit: Franke Chung)

Like many small space dwellers, we negotiated square footage for a palatable location between our respective work posts. Jason initially shut down the notion of moving to a place half the space we had become accustomed to while living in Cleveland. But coming from a flat city, and before that, the even flatter valley town that is State College, PA, we needed our pie in the sky. Plus I tend to love all outcomes that are ‘small-but-mighty’. It’s why I love designing mobile UIs at my job, and why I wanted to take on the challenge of this apartment.

Get the look! → Streamlined Stylish Studio

(Image credit: Franke Chung)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Relaxed contemporary with a dash of eclectic. We’re content with practical and accessible home furnishings and are far more interested in experimenting with layouts. Jason spent the last 7 years pursuing his doctorate in biology and animal behavior, which has led to a natural acquisition of animal-related decor, but we try not to get too crazy with it. The smaller the space, the thinner the line between “eclectic decor” and the pile of books you just never put away.

Inspiration: Scandinavian thoughtful minimalism. Edokko sensibility around clever, space-conscious solutions.

Favorite Element: The living room windows are the only source of natural light in the place, but they overlook gorgeous Lake Michigan. It never gets old. And they’re deep, so we like to perch on them while enjoying our morning tea.

(Image credit: Franke Chung)

Biggest Challenge: The living room is this annoyingly narrow rectangle. Most of the residents who share our same layout will push the couch to one end and the television to the other — super far apart — which is blasphemous for gaming. So we had to craigslist our couch before the big move and opt for a far cozier one to float in the middle of the room. It helped partition the space comfortably. And no squinting to watch the telly.

What Friends Say: Our visitors naturally flock to the amazing views, which we can’t take credit for. But we also get a lot of good feedback on how homey it feels, as opposed to claustrophobic.

(Image credit: Franke Chung)

Biggest Embarrassment: Pop pop popcorn ceiling. We still haven’t found an elegant solution for the pets’ eating area either. Someone’s always tripping over it.

Proudest DIY: I’ve always admired KnollTextiles and was able to snag a few yards on sale. Since college and throughout grad school, we’ve always lived in one-bedrooms, so never had a separate space to craft a ton on our own. But the headboard was totally feasible, hard to mess up, and saved us a lot of money.

Biggest Indulgence: The Eames chairs. Those things are indestructible. Possibly the Miele vacuum cleaner too. When you have pets, getting a good vacuum cleaner is key, people. It’ll make completing the task more fun and satisfying.

(Image credit: Franke Chung)

Best Advice: When you move into a new place, make it a point to get stuff up on the walls sooner rather than later. It’ll start to feel like home pretty quickly. Also, it’s okay to embrace non-character pieces. Furniture that has stuck with me over the years tend to be the most straightforward designed ones as opposed to ‘unitasker’ or ‘multitasker’ types.

Dream Sources: Egg Collective, Phylum, Forage Modern Workshop, Burke Decor, Rikumo, every room from The Style Files, the super smart design of everything at iQ Hotels from the vending machines to the bathrooms.

Get the look! → Streamlined Stylish Studio

(Image credit: Franke Chung)
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The unit is a 640 square foot convertible studio. (Image credit: Franke Chung)

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