House Tour: Elizabeth & Ben's DIY Digs

House Tour: Elizabeth & Ben's DIY Digs

Sarah Coffey
Jun 28, 2007

Name: Elizabeth and Ben
Location: Wicker Park
Size/Type: 2000 sf / 2 bedroom apartment with attic
Years Lived In: 3

The list of things Elizabeth and Ben made for their Wicker Park apartment would make even Martha tired. Artwork, quilts, pillows, cabinets, kitchen countertops, curtains, lampshades - even the bathroom shower tile!

Most of the paintings on the walls are Ben's (you can see his art online here). He also works as a carpenter and cabinetmaker. Elizabeth is a writer (check out her collections of short stories here). With no shortage of skills between them, Elizabeth and Ben have spent the last few years turning their 2-bedroom apartment into a cozy home.

Our Style: Eclectic traditional.

The Inspiration for Our Home: Farmhouses.

Favorite Element: Elizabeth: Ben's art. Ben: The combination of the wood and the paint colors.

Biggest Challenge in Designing Our Home: Where to start! Because it's a really old house, we had limited options for arranging furniture in the living room and bedroom because of the ancient heaters. The bathroom had one of those awful plastic showers, but our landlord gave us tiles so Ben and a friend had at it. It also had no medicine cabinet, mirror, towel rack, or shelves at all. The kitchen had some open shelves, but no cupboards at all, so we went to Ikea for that. We really don't have any closets per se, but we do have lots of space, so we made a little "room" into a closet. And the nice wood floors were all painted puke pink, so rather than strip them, Ben painted them all and that was a huge job.

What Friends Say About Our Home: They say, your home is awesome! Or with some of my family: Huh.

Biggest Embarrassment in Our Home: The mess of wires and cords everywhere. Also that we never painted/patched the guest room/Ben's office.

Proudest DIY: Elizabeth's quilt(s), and button bear. Ben tiled the shower. Ben's paint color selection.

Best Indulgence with Respect to Our Home: Stuff we got on our wedding registry like Donna Karan sheets and Ralph Lauren towels.

Dream Source for Stuff: Architectural Artifacts. Salvage One. Robin Richman. Anthropologie.


• Couch and chair: $15 at estate sale.
• TV stand had been left on the porch at Elizabeth's old apt.
• The pug bench was rejected from Dad's house (the fabric we recovered it with was an indulgence!)
• Parlor Chair - family heirloom.
• Dinner table from the apartment Elizabeth grew up in New York.
• Red velvet Victorian parlor chairs from Elizabeth's Mom and Dad.
• Blue desk from Elizabeth's childhood bedroom (painted by Mom).
• Ben made the stereo cabinet.
• Ben's great granddad made the desk with glass doors.
• Ben built the shelves in his office.
• Shelves to the right of the desk came from Penelope's for $40.
• Antique typewriter from grandparents' barn.
• Elizabeth's grandmother bought their dresser for $2 and refinished it.
• Elizabeth got their nightstand at a garage sale for $10.
• Elizabeth's mom got the bedroom trunk at an antique store for $10 and refinished it.
• The little wrought iron bench and pink bowl in the bathroom came from Elizabeth's grandparents' barn.


• Needlepoint pillows made by Elizabeth's mom and grandmother. Mirror made from a frame Elizabeth's mom picked up for $10.
• Misc. knicknacks in the hall collected over a lifetime.
• Petit point on Elizabeth's desk made by her grandma.
• Petit point on nightstand made by Elizabeth's grandma. Pillows made by Elizabeth. Flower prints above the bed were from her grandmother's house.


• Standing Lamp next to Ben's chair: $10 at flea market.
• Office chair from Ben's sister (on permanent loan). Herman Miller.
• Ben bought the Charlie the Tuna lamp for a dollar at an auction when he was a little kid.
• Pink lamp from flea market in NY for about $40 was kind of a splurge 20 years ago. Elizabeth made the shade.
• Elizabeth's lamp from flea market in LA, $5. Ben's cost $2 at a garage sale in Iowa. Elizabeth made both the shades.


Benjamin Moore


• Living Room: From Elizabeth's High School bedroom.
• Hall: From Ben's mom's house.
• Bedroom: From Ben's mom's house.
• Bathroom: Anthropologie.
• The rest we'd like to throw out and get new ones someday.

Window Treatments

Elizabeth made most of them in all rooms, but the lace curtains in the kitchen and guest room were her mom's, and the flowered ones in the LR were her best friend's.


Bedroom headboard was an extra one of Elizabeth's mom's. Guest BR: Ben got this at an antique store, stripped the paint and varnished it.


Mostly Ben's, but we have stuff by Jessica Dickinson, Seth Nehil, Dann Gesink, Chafe Hensley, Sean Williams, Shauna Angelblue, Christopher Furman, Jesse Ritter, a Chagall (poster) print in the bedroom.


Elizabeth's crafts scattered around.

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