House Tour: Emily's Crisp & Contemporary Studio

House Tour: Emily's Crisp & Contemporary Studio

Heather Blaha
Mar 12, 2009

Name: Emily Ballard
Profession: Gallery Assistant/ Appraisal Supervisor
Location: Lincoln Park, Chicago
Size: Roughly 300 sq ft rented studio
Time lived in: 7 months


With solid bones and some interesting history, Emily has been able to make her Lincoln Park studio an open, light, whimsical yet thought-out home in just a few months. In a building that used to be a hotel, the (small) floor plans of each unit replicate those of vintage hotels. Beyond the great details we find dotting her home life, Emily created a layout drawing for us to get a better overall sense of how her space flows...

Without having had the privilege of visiting Emily's place in person, we see a lot of care and attention to making the small space open and inviting. A few of the things we love include: placement of mirror on bookshelf and (surprisingly) above the stove; that there's a full-on "dressing space" that includes upholstered panels for hanging jewelry; that the end of the kitchen counter doubles as a work space for laptop, etc.; that the tufted headboard of Emily's bed commands attention and the bed isn't shoved into a corner to conserve space (she must get good sleep here!); and of course, the DIY night tables Emily and her father created. Read on:

My style: Contemporary, though eclectic

Inspiration: Martha Stewart (updated)

Favorite Element: The deer head that I purchased from eBay and painted white.

Biggest Challenge: Preventing all of the furniture that I need from becoming clutter, or taking up too much of my very limited space.

What Friends Say: My former roommate said, "Wow, it's so nice, and so clean… I miss living with you."


Biggest Embarrassment: The bathroom door doesn't close/open if the toilet seat is down.

Proudest DIY: On Apartment Therapy I saw these small side and corner tables featured, yet they were not available in the US. While I'm sure they were pressed metal of some kind I proposed materials and measurements to my father who went to work with a friend of his making a "prototype." He sent two tables to me disassembled and I put them together in my apartment. They're great because they lean against the wall and take up very little space. They're sturdy, and can be painted any color. I chose to keep it simple and paint them the same color as my walls.

Biggest Indulgence: My reproduction Barcelona chair found on Craigslist.

Best advice: Come up with a floor plan, assess what you have, and figure out what you need. Use some of your favorite magazine images or a favorite movie scene, or some inspirational visual to create a color scheme and feeling that you want your space to have.

Dream source: Wright Auction, having stepped into their warehouse prior to last year's mass modern auction… made me wish I had thousands of dollars and a Saturday at my disposal.

Resources: Craigslist, Ikea, Anthropologie, the Antique Mall (just north of Broadway Antique Market), Target and many other antique stores.


(Thanks, Emily!)

All photos by Emily Ballard
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