Maximalism in Miniature: A Style-Filled 320-Square-Foot Chicago Studio

updated Apr 30, 2019

Maximalism in Miniature: A Style-Filled 320-Square-Foot Chicago Studio

updated Apr 30, 2019
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Name: Rene Valdez
Location: Lakeview — Chicago, Illinois
Size: 320 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, rented

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The tiny size of this studio apartment hasn’t stopped designer Rene Valdez from hosting and entertaining friends. He actually hosts a Christmas party for 30+ people every year. In only 320 square feet! For everyday gatherings, he removes the books from the coffee table, transforming it into a cocktail table. The closet stores over-sized pillows for extra seating. Decoration adorns every surface. And yet it’s a cozy space that doesn’t overwhelm. It’s a magnificent example of maximalism in a compact space!

Rene, who works as a designer at Ginny Blasco Design Studio, loves strolling through the city sourcing antiques and artwork for his home. His passion for travel has also fueled his beautiful home’s design. As Rene walked me through his home, he told me about the artwork from Italy, plates from Greece and native artifacts from Mexico. Inspired by richly layered spaces, Rene has created an enticing space filled with fascinating objects.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Updated Traditional with a feeling of being collected over time. I enjoy the mixture of design styles and finishes within one space.

Inspiration: A few years back I saw a project by designer Scot Meecham Wood and I remember loving the rich layers of his apartment. I have tried recreating that feel with objects collected in past travels. From bringing home a jewelry box from Paris, a plate from Mexico to a rug from Greece, it all has a personal story.

Favorite Element: The gallery wall of collected artwork that is constantly evolving and rotating within the apartment’s walls. Favorite pieces are the two 1930s Greek plates above the sofa.

Biggest Challenge: I have lived in this apartment for two years and I find it difficult to successfully have a dining table without taking too much valuable space. For everyday dining I set up the cocktail table by removing the books and accessories. I have over-sized pillows stored in the closet that get pulled out when needed and can comfortably be used as a seat.

What Friends Say: Despite being small and heavy on traditional finishes, the apartment feels large and inviting. Most friends are shocked when I invite 30 people to my annual Christmas Party.

Biggest Embarrassment: The outdated ceiling fan! When turned on it makes an annoying loud clicking noise.

Proudest DIY: Stretching a vintage linen canvas of a boy soldier. His name is Eldo and cost around $50 to stretch.

Biggest Indulgence: Bedding! In this studio the bed is the focal point and the biggest piece of furniture in the space. Purchasing quality bedding gives the feel of a boutique hotel and can easily be changed out. I enjoy the many layers of pillows even if it adds a few minutes of extra work in the morning.

Best Advice: Don’t be scared of dark bold wall colors in a small space. Dark walls seem to disappear, making a space feel larger yet cozy.

Dream Sources: Don’t quite have a specific in mind but put me on a plane and send me to The Paris Flea Market!


Walls — Benjamin Moore Salamander 2050-10
Trim — Previously painted

Vintage Duncan Style Sofa — Antique Store in Beverly
Antique chair — upholstered in Garrett Leather
Antique side table with marble top — Gift by a friend
Rug — Baker
Glass Cocktail Table — Resale shop in Andersonville
Candle Sticks — Restoration Hardware
Display Cabinet — American by Martinsville
Pillows — Eastern Accents
Celadon Green Lamp — Port 68
Wood Lamp with Tassel — Dunne and Masse (One of a kind)
Slim Line Task Floor Lamp — Restoration Hardware
Swing Arm Sconce — Restoration Hardware
Accessories — Sourced on previous travels
Artwork — Sourced on previous travels and custom framed in Chicago

Antique 1920s Dresser — Estate Sale
Kitchen Runner — Purchased in Greece
Greek Key Pillow — Barclay Butera
Silk Velvet Lounge Chair — Estate Sale
Bowls — Jonathan Adler

Headboard — One Kings Lane
Bedding — de’ Medici
Duvet — Barbara Barry
Coverlet — de’ Medici
Pillows — Eastern Accents
Drapes — Custom designed

Thanks, Rene!

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