A Small & Sweet Chicago Studio Apartment

published Jan 19, 2016
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(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)

Name: Anna Zajac and her cat, Isaiah
Location: Lincoln Square — Chicago, Illinois
Size: 800 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years; Rented

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Anna Zajac is a talented wedding photographer in Chicago with a background in design. Both she and her lovely studio apartment could not be more welcoming. The space is truly a reflection of her: warm, sweet, positive, and stylish.

(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)

Delicate thrifted pieces are carefully juxtaposed with bold, dark walls and modern elements. Every component is expertly arranged with a designer’s eye. Although most of the living and working happens in one bright room, Anna’s careful placement of the couch partitioned areas for each. The bed hides in a large closet, freeing up more living space, and the couch converts into a bed for guests. In a small corner of the living room, Anna created a charming vignette for a bar “cart” area. The kitchen is a separate room—moodier, yet delightfully cozy.

She has put so much care into the place since she moved in, fixing it up to be a warm and beautiful home. It’s clear she is very nurturing to all of her surroundings: Isaiah the cat, plants, belongings, clients, and guests. While away, Anna opens up her space to guests on Airbnb, making sure people feel comfortable even in her absence.

After browsing through her photography or spending an afternoon in her home, it’s clear that she sees the best in the world and the people around her. Reminders of beauty abound, and good vibes flourish.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Vintage modern

Inspiration: Nature, SF Girl By Bay blog, interior photographs by Winnie Au or Nicole Franzen

Favorite Element: The claw foot bathtub in my bathroom

Biggest Challenge: Living without a washing machine

What Friends Say: They love the light that comes into my open studio area. It gets pretty dreamy about 3pm every day.

Biggest Embarrassment: The hallway walking up my steps to my place. It’s old and gross and not well-kept.

Proudest DIY: Painting my entire place by myself throughout last winter.

Biggest Indulgence: My bathroom hand soap from Tatine in Logan Square.

Best Advice: If you want something to fill an empty space in your home, wait to find the right piece at the right time. There’s nothing worse than filling your home with stuff that doesn’t have meaning to you. I’d always rather have the reward of waiting to invest in a nice desk or randomly finding that unique piece at a garage sale that adds character to my place.

Dream Sources: Garage sales in Ohio and Michigan, the West Elm catalog



  • Sofa: IKEA
  • Pillows: Target, TJ Maxx
  • Blanket: West Elm
  • Plants: Gethsemane Garden Center
  • Lamp: garage sale
  • Curtains: IKEA
  • Coffee table: MegMade
  • Bowl on coffee table: Mish Mosh Paper And Clay


  • Lamp: Target
  • Letter box: thrifted
  • Red chairs: Target
  • Table: garage sale
  • Red bench: IKEA
  • Hanging cheeseboard: Mish Mosh Paper And Clay
  • Berry bowl: Anthropologie
  • Marble slab: Crate & Barrel
  • Wall clock: Target
  • Plants: Gethsemane Garden Center, Trader Joe’s
  • Pourover coffee maker: Beans and Bagels
  • Mug: Anthropologie
  • Coffee tin: thrifted
  • Art: Tiffany Wong, Studio on Fire


  • Bed frame: garage sale
  • Bedding: TJ Maxx


  • Frame: Target
  • Floral art: thrifted
  • Candle: Target
  • Hand soap: Tatine
  • Plants: Gethsemane Garden Center


(Image credit: Brittany Purlee)
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Anna on her couch (Image credit: Brittany Purlee)

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Thanks, Anna!