House Tour: Jim and Kari’s Evanston Modern

published Nov 9, 2007
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: Jim & Kari (and Elsa & Henry)
Location: Evanston, IL
Type: split-level ranch house, owned
Size: 2000 sq ft
Years lived in: 1

After more than a year of house hunting and several months of updating and renovations, Jim and his family spread their Scandinavian style all over their 1950s split-level. With two kids and hectic lives full of work, fun, and blogging (Jim’s Modern Craft blog thoughtfully covers the best of modern design and production techniques), they desired a home that conveyed their love for pattern, clean lines, and a sense of calm. The results are purely, and personally, Modern Craft – the great skill of planning (inspiration) and executing (talent and hard work) design. Enjoy their tour!

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

our Style… Modern Scandinavia with a touch of granny.

the Inspiration… We looked for over a year for a 50s modern house that was affordable and hadn’t been “ruin-ovated.” Having realtors who understand who you are and what you’d like is key—and ours, Sheryl and Ginny, were a phenomenal help—they brought this house to us. We also went to Sweden and Copenhagen last year to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, and that trip cemented our love for Scandinavian style.

favorite element… For me, it’s the telescoping exhaust fan in the kitchen. Soooo cool. Plus I love the house at night—the wood glows and the white pendant lights look like lanterns.
For Kari, it’s the dramatic rise of the ceiling and the scale of the walls on the main level. And the storage! So much storage.

biggest Challenge… Making big design on a small budget. We gutted the 50s kitchen, and used sources like Lowe’s and on-line stores to construct a high-style kitchen without the price tag.

what Friends Say… Your house is so Brady Bunch.

biggest Embarassment… The outside sidewalks; the carpet in the basement; the 80s bathroom (the one NOT pictured here)

proudest DIY… One of them has to be building the backyard stage for the kids. With a simple curtain from IKEA, the stage is perfect for putting on shows and using all the costumes we’ve collected from thrift stores and hand-me-downs.

biggest Indulgence… The bathroom vanity (Sonia “Atic” vanity in beech) was outrageous. But we wanted the guest bathroom to feel like a luxury hotel. Very plush, very expensive. And when you’re working with small spaces, it’s important to make the proportions just right, and this vanity fit the bill.
Second biggest extravagance: dining room chandelier. Don’t let the eBay source fool you, this is a newly manufactured light from Germany that was completely out of our budget. It’s called “Zoom” and it fully expands or contracts to create different looks.

best Advice… Ginny and Sheryl, our realtors, told us to put an island in the kitchen. We thought it was far too narrow, but doing so reconfigured the entire space and allowed us to create so much more storage by placing cabinets on the “tall” wall that extend up to 9+ feet. And Williams-Sonoma has excellent ladders, as it turns out.

our Dream Source… Design Within Reach, which is completely OUT of reach, but shows great design.
We also like blogs like Apartment Therapy and Desire to Inspire.


Kitchen hardware: Bauhaus bar pulls from

Quite a mix! Vintage stores like PRAHA and ModLife on Lincoln Ave, Chicago are great sources
“Court Rook” table (stool in bathroom) (
“Big Sur” dining room table (
Dining room chairs: West Elm
Couch and armchairs from Walter E. Smithe
Buffet is vintage 50s
Living room / bedroom cream chairs: vintage (from Kari’s grandmother)

• Jenn-Air refrigerator, wall oven, microwave
• GE Profile cook top
• GE Profile telescoping vent
• Ceiling fans from Modern Fan company
• Dualit toaster

Thomas Paul pillows
CB2 pillows
Ceramic tile by Xenia Taler (
Vases by Heath ceramics (
Kitchen towel from Patapri (
Animals in Henry’s room are all vintage Kunstlerschutz Wagner (can be found on eBay)
Henry’s planet mobile: Pottery Barn Kids
Candlesticks in living room (and also the hurricane) handmade from Martha Sturdy (
Satellite Bowl (on dining table) from MoMA design store
Wooden bowl in living room from Stitch (
Dishes: Apilco (
Cookware: All-Clad

Tolomeo wall spots in bedroom (
George Nelson bubble lamp (
Dexter accent lamp (
IKEA pendant (Henry’s room)
Dining room “Zoom” chandelier from Floyd Paxton for Serien Lighting (new, via eBay)

Living / dining room: Ralph Lauren “Polaris” and white
Bedroom: Sherwin Williams “Relaxed Khaki”
Henry’s room: Sherwin Williams “Hearts of Palm”

Rugs and Carpets
“Beads” rug in charcoal (Room & Board)
“Union Pier” wool sisal (
FLOR tile in Morning Coffee, Pet Hair, and Stripes (Henry’s room)
Sheepskin throws from IKEA
Cotton rug from Urban Outfitters

Tiles and Stone
Commercial charcoal ceramic tiles 16×16 from Tile Works, Chicago
Bathroom tiles: ceramic wood grain also from Tile Works, Chicago

Window Treatments
The Shade Store for all roller shades (
West Elm curtains
Curtains for the backyard stage from IKEA


Living Room:
Frank Stoeckel, “Eekholt” via LUMAS (deer photograph)
“Random Geometry” by Nama Rococo (

Dining Room:
Maira Kalman (a favorite of ours) via
Ted Boggs “Buffalo Soldier” painted on found window (
Other artwork by friends and family. Master printmaker Maurice R. Bebb did the etching of the bluebird (Bebb can be found on eBay)

Silhouettes of our children Elsa and Henry by artist Sally Newcomb, colored by me.

Dave Darian (tree photograph over bed)
Howard Finster’s “Mary” on dresser
Hybrid Home “Monsters” (in Henry’s bedroom) via Velocity Art and Design
Ted Boggs “Viking” in Henry’s room (

Bedding in Henry’s room is “Trees” by Boodalee (
Bedding in master bedroom is from Design Within Reach
Sonia “Atic” vanity in bathroom
Sink fixtures all from
Kraftmaid Venicia kitchen cabinets from Lowe’s
Kitchen countertop is Zodiaq quartz

(All photos taken by Jim. Thanks, Jim, Kari, Elsa and Henry!)