House Tour: Danny & Chris’ Budgeted Success
Name: Danny and Chris
Profession: Graphic Designer & author of FrugalFag.com and Pediatrician (respectively)
Location: Oak Park, IL
Type: 2 bedrm, 1 bath, building built around 1910 (we think)
Size: 700 sq ft
Years lived in: 1.5
At first, Danny and Chris were hesitant about letting us in for a tour. For some crazy reason, they thought their place might not be AT-quality. Um…are we looking at the same place?
True, their home might be filled with brand name “labels” and they might have put it together in a short amount of time, but we feel at home here. The human touch can be seen in the astounding number of framed photos of family and friends in the hallway and the errant overripe banana (which they wouldn’t let us photograph). As a whole, their home is warm, well-conceived, and lovely, in the use of the small space. We’ll let Danny walk you through…
our Style… We love a lot of different styles, which makes it hard to commit to a single style for the entire place. We love mid-century modern, but we didn’t want the whole place to feel like a ’50s time capsule. We love a bit of ethnic flair (a Moroccan pattern on a bedspread or a Caribbean- color palette), but we didn’t want a place that felt like a Pier 1 explosion. In addition, I’ve [I = Danny] also always had this fantasy of locking myself away in a very classy English library with dark Victorian wallpaper, massive cherry wood paneling, well-worn oriental rugs, ships in bottles, and walls covered in oil paintings of dead aristocrats in ornate gold frames. I’ve decided to defer this dream until we have a place where a snooty English library would work, but in the meantime, I’ve tried to bring a bit of that into the master bedroom. Whenever I buy something traditional, I start to get nervous that my grandparents might like it too much. So, I try to keep things young and hip by bringing in a bold color or something glossy and white.
the Inspiration… The Ralph Lauren store on Michigan Avenue, Dwell, Metropolitan Home, and any place where there’s an interesting combination of traditional and modern.
favorite Element… I’ve always wanted a set of tulip chairs, but I didn’t want to spend a fortune on them. So I found some pretty good knock-offs. The seats tilt and jiggle a bit when you sit in them, but overall, they were a great deal.
biggest Challenge… Furnishing the entire condo in a matter of months without making every room look like a catalog photo from one particular store or another.
what Friends Say… Thoughtful use of color and very clean!
biggest Embarrassment… I’m always envious of people who never buy any new stuff from chain home décor stores. In a perfect world, we’d all slowly assemble a great, one-of-a-kind collection of furniture and decorative stuff, and everything would have a story behind it. When Chris and I moved to Chicago a year and a half ago, I’d only recently finished my MFA and Chris was fresh out of residency, so we didn’t have much furniture that was worth keeping. We could finally afford nice stuff, but I don’t think I’ll ever be the type of person who spends a couple grand on an Eames chair (no matter how much I want one).
We went to a lot of antique shops, but everything I really loved was incredibly expensive. The pieces that were affordable (similar to prices at Crate and Barrel or West Elm, for example) were usually impractical—they just weren’t comfortable or they were falling apart. I decided to put the vintage furniture collecting on the back burner for a while. On one hand, I hate that nearly everything in my place was mass-produced and is available at “a store near you.” On the other hand, I got some great deals and furnished my entire place for a few thousand dollars.
proudest DIY… The bathroom vanity, sink, faucet, and cabinet were a DIY project we did with a LOT of help from my dad. We wanted to rip out the beige travertine and do something much cooler, but we knew – for the sake of our sanity and our potential return on investment – to just keep it simple. The bathroom had no storage and was as generic as a bathroom can be when we first moved in. Although it might not win any design awards, it’s a huge improvement that was only cost a few hundred bucks (and we didn’t have to turn the bathroom into a disaster area in the process).
biggest Indulgence… The entertainment center from Dania was about $1000. Initially, we bought a really cute Danish Modern rosewood buffet at the Edgewater Antique Mall that we planned to use as an entertainment center. However, it proved impractical right away. It put the TV above eye level, was too small for the room, and just wasn’t meant to hold electronics. So, we sold it within days (for about what we paid for it – thanks to Craigslist!) and found exactly what we wanted at Dania.
best Advice… Sign up for email newsletters at your favorite stores to get coupons and sale notices. Buy floor samples when you can. If you spot a bargain, grab it. In a big city like Chicago, you can always sell something on Craigslist later for close to what you paid for it (if you got it for less than retail).
our Dream Source… White Attic, Scout, and Room & Board
• White chair & ottoman in living/dining room: Crate & Barrel
• Couch: Crate & Barrel
• Coffee table: West Elm
• White tulip chairs: Designerseating
• Dining Table: CB2
• Black cube side tables/storage: West Elm
• Side table in bedroom: World Market
• Bed frame: World Market
• Bureau: World Market
• Bathroom sink & console: IKEA
• Bed frame & headboard in guest room: West Elm
• Desk: West Elm
• Chair: IKEA
• Storage drawer unit: IKEA
• Cube shelving in guest room: West Elm
• Butcher block: IKEA
• Photo frames: IKEA
• Rugs in hallway: Crate & Barrel
• Brown throw pillows on couch: Pier 1
• Green print pillow on couch: Ebay vendor, ContemporaryCovers
• FLOR tiles: FLOR, in “Coco Chocolate” and “La La Lime” (I think)
• White planter on dining table: IKEA
• Circular votive holder: IKEA
• White vase with roses: Crate & Barrel
• Entertainment center: Dania Furniture
• Bedding: TJ Maxx (brown duvet) & IKEA (orange print)
• Canopy fabric: Urban Outfitters
• Mirror on bureau: Pottery Barn
• Candles with orange print: IKEA
• Canisters on bathroom sink: West Elm
• Soap pump: IKEA
• Bathroom faucet: IKEA
• Shower curtain: IKEA
• Monogrammed towels: West Elm
• Bedding in guest room: West Elm
• White free-float shelving: West Elm
• Magnetic wall panel: IKEA
• Rug in guest room: West Elm
• Bamboo bowls in kitchen: TJ Maxx
• Vase in kitchen: HomeGoods
• Trashcans in kitchen: Simple Human
• Sconce lighting in living/dining room: IKEA
• Antler lamp: West Elm
• Lamp in guest room/office: Target
• Pendant light in kitchen: IKEA (It dims and/or turns off by simply touching the top part of the shade!)
• Bamboo roman shades in living/dining room: Home Depot
• Hemstitch roman shades in bedroom, in espresso: West Elm
• Shades in guest room/office: Home Depot
• Shades in kitchen: IKEA
• Antique Doctor bag: Belonged to Chris’ great great grandfather (who was a Dr. in Virginia)
• Architectural artwork in guest room/office: Gift, it’s a rendering of where Chris went to school”
• Artwork near window in guest room/office: French newspaper ad from Danny’s time abroad in France