B, Joe & Rachael’s Eclectic Split-Level

published Aug 7, 2009
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Name: B, Joe & Rachael
What We’re Into: B: Hold the Onions, Joe: Bookish Us, Rachael: Literature for All of Us
Location: Ukrainian Village, Chicago
Size/Type: Three bedroom, two bath apartment
Years lived in: B: two years. Joe: one year. Rachael: two months.

It’s pretty incredible how B, Joe and Rachael (with the help of former roommates Dave and Matt) have transformed their rental apartment into a custom-made home. They constructed a “built-in” shelving system and space divider that’s pressure-fitted, making it removable. The dining room’s textile rack and table are also handmade by Dave and B. With very little money, they’ve crafted a space that’s unique, functional, and beautiful…

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

The space itself is also one-of-a-kind. According to their landlord, it was a nightclub in the 50s and 60s, which may help to explain the odd angles and split levels. Rather than trying to cover up the apartment’s idiosyncracies, the roommates have worked with the space. Ornate frames surround vents; thrift store sculptures decorate the oddly placed nooks; and a diverse mix of antiques and salvaged furnishings mirror the space’s anything-goes aesthetic. We found intriguing details and good ideas at every turn.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

AT Survey:

Our Style: Thrifty & eclectic, hoping to eventually achieve a nautical feel.

The Inspiration: Odd and ornate. The most important thing about making a home is to be able to really live in your space. It’s essential that our home feels comfortable and cozy at all turns. We like to fill it with odd finds. The unusual architectural style of the apartment has elements that give a natural feeling of being on a boat. Our common fascination with the sea makes the goal of a nautical theme a fun thing to always work towards.

Favorite Element: Overall, the house’s layout is quite bizarre; there are many quirky elements throughout, such as the trapezoid window cut-out in our kitchen, the bedroom with interior windows, and the steel railing in our dining room that divides the two levels of the house.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Biggest Challenge: Finding a working helm to attach to the steel railing.

What Friends Say: Can I live here?

Biggest Embarrassment: Our kitchen supplies are pouring out of the cabinets! We need to figure out some additional storage.

Proudest DIY: When we first moved in, (B plus former roommates: Dave & Matt) built a removable pressure-fit wall that has shelves on both the hallway and bedroom sides. We built it because there was enough space to have a third bedroom and create a hallway out to the back porch. It provides us with great book shelves and plenty of extra storage.

Biggest Indulgence: Our biggest furniture purchase was our sectional couch, which itself wasn’t very expensive. The real indulgence in our house can be found in our refrigerator and kitchen cabinets.

Best Advice: Fill your home with things you can use and make comfort a priority. Who cares about expensive anything or name brands? Not us!

Our Dream Source: Salvage One

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)


Dining Room and Hall
Dave Ksander – dksander(at)gmail(dot)com – built the dining room table (can be easily disassembled and moved, no screws or tools necessary), and built (with B’s help) the paper and textile racks, as well as the back pressure-fit wall. He can be contacted for people interested in his carpentry work.

Many antiques, including the featured shelf in the bedroom and various picture frames, were purchased at Penn Dutchman Antiques in Lincoln Square. Other antiques found at Jan’s Antiques on Racine & Fulton, and various other stores throughout the country.

Living Room
In the living room, the sectional couch is from Home Dream Furniture, a dive furniture store on the North Side that went out of business soon after our purchase. The television stand is from Ikea. Our large metal ship is a trash salvage, compliments of our neighbors to the west. The larger of the two green lamps was a gift given to B’s grandmother from her uncle, and has since been passed down to her; the smaller was a lucky thrift find. The wood ship statue is from an antique store in central Illinois, purchased by former roommate Matt. Window boots by Frye. The turquoise case is a former gun cabinet from B’s house growing up, converted into an art supply cabinet. Of the two sewing tables converted into desks, the table on the lower level belonged to B’s grandmother and the table on the upper level was from our neighbor’s trash.

Embroidered art pieces “Digestion, Lungs, & Nerve Cells” by Dee Clements/Paper Crane.

Window transfer hanging above turquoise cabinet by Mike Nourse. (You can find some of his work at Salvage One.)

The shower curtain is from Urban Outfitters, boxes from Ikea, and the 3 cameos are a kitschy thrift find.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

(Thanks, B, Joe & Rachael!)

Images: Sarah Coffey

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