Sara & Becky’s Collaborative Abode

updated Feb 20, 2019
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(Image credit: Alexis Buryk)

Name: Sara Tunstall, Digital Producer, and Becky Kastelic, Art Director
Location: Wicker Park; Chicago, Illinois
Size: 1,200 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years; Rented

Longtime roommates Sara and Becky make cohesive cohabitation seem effortless. Friends since college, these ladies combine carefully selected additions from estate sales and big box stores together with favorite pieces from their childhood homes to give this historical space a sense of depth and timelessness.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Alexis Buryk)
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Sara and Becky’s apartment benefits from the recent renovation of this 19th century building, in which details of the place’s original elegance were fastidiously restored. Of particular note: ornate doorknobs and molding, the freshly tiled kitchen backsplash, and the marvelous (and once, of course, totally necessary) potbelly stove in Sara’s bedroom.

I’ll admit: when I saw that potbelly stove, my heart skipped a beat! So many lovers of design beautifully reimagine the use of old things in a young space. Sara and Becky have the fortune of possessing and collecting historical objects and furniture for a space that is historical-yet-renewed, and it’s exciting to see how they’ve struck a deft and loving balance between contemporary comfort and the enduring charm of the past.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Because we’re renting and don’t plan on living together forever (we hope), we have to be thrifty and creative when it comes to buying furniture. Almost everything we own is from an estate sale, Craigslist, or passed down from family and friends.

We select things for our apt that we’re drawn to. We’ve never really sought out any specific items that we need. It’s mostly eclectic, because they tend to have some sort of story behind them and are all merged together.

Favorite Element: We love the first few steps taken into the apartment — the dramatic entryway experience starting with the stained glass window, the glossy black staircase leading up to the white french doors, and then seeing the expansive living room/dining room. The potbelly stove in Sara’s room is pretty whimsical.

Biggest Challenge: There aren’t many, but probably the lack of closet/storage space. Luckily there is a built in hutch with drawers where we have been able to put our towels and beauty supplies, conveniently located right outside of the bathroom. It’s hidden well.

What Friends Say: “Bert and Ernie for life”…but mostly that it’s elegant, clean and welcoming.

Biggest Embarrassment: The unfinished craft/DIY projects that are tactfully disguised as “finished,” the back porch that needs a little love, and the lack of a door into the back bedroom.

Proudest DIY: Sara: I restored the wooden bench in our living/dining room, which was a project my mom started about 30 years ago; the blue velvet curtains in my room; and the TV stand in the living room.

Becky: Dining room table and chairs (with a lot of help from our old downstairs neighbor, Charlie).

Biggest Indulgence: Fresh flowers and a cleaning lady. Also, getting anything we love enough framed. It’s expensive!

Best Advice: Collect and curate over time. Don’t be a hoarder.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Resources of Note:


· Coat Rack: Ebay and a coat of spray paint

· Cast Iron Dog: Estate Sale

· Vase: Estate Sale


· Couch: Craigslist, originally from Pottery Barn

· Coffee table: Craigslist, originally used as an adjustable bench. It’s been sanded and re-stained.

· Chair: Purchased brand new off Craigslist, originally from Crate & Barrel

· Console: Target

· Mid-century record player/radio console: Yard sale

· Ballet Print: New York City Ballet by Henry Luetwyler, a gift from Sara’s brother

· Apothecary Jars: Estate Sale

· Rug: West Elm

· Pillows: Sara made them with fabric found at Caza’s going out of business sale

· Chaise: Thrifted

· Spiral Frederick Cooper Lamp: Garage sale

· Cast Iron Cafe table: Estate Sale

· Folding chairs: Estate Sale

· TV console: Estate sale. It’s been repainted with new knobs.

· Window Frame on Wall: Church yard sale

· Silver side table: Kane County Flea Market

· Wooden box: Gift from Becky’s parents house


· Dining table: Craigslist

· Dining chairs: Craigslist

· Locker: Craigslist

· Wooden bench: Restored by Sara, who found it in her parents’ basement.


· Console: Estate Sale

· Bar Cart: Estate Sale


· Trunk: Kane County Flea Market – The trunk was shut and locked when it was purchased but we opened it at home and it contained old fabrics and rugs.

· Bertoia Wire Chair: Edgewater Antique Mall

· Brass Center Table: Inherited from my grandparents. They got it on a trip they took to Egypt in the 40s.

· Bed: Ikea

· Pillows: Made with the fabric found within the trunk mentioned above

· Tapestry Bedspread: It was my mom’s bedspread when she was in college.

· Mirrored side table: West Elm

· Painting on top of crates: It’s a painting of my great aunt that was done by an admirer of hers.

· Blue Velvet Curtains: I made them with fabric from Fishman’s Fabrics

· Dresser: Craigslist (Basset)

· Mirror: Found in a West Loop alley

· Wicker Chair: Antique store in San Diego

· Yellow Mod Lamp: Randolph Street Antique Market

· Rug: Calypso


· Bathmat: West Elm

· Shower Curtain: Restoration Hardware

· Picture: Estate Sale

· Cabinet: Craigslist


· Mid-century dresser: Craigslist (Kent Coffey)

· Curtains: West Elm

· Mirrored table: West Elm

· Trunk: Inherited from my parent’s house (grew up with this piece)

· Sheepskin Rug: Ikea

· Rug (by bed): Anthropologie

· Mid-century cowhide director’s chair: Craigslist

· Antlers: Ohio flea market

· Sunburst Mirror: Crate and Barrel

· Bedside table: Had this as a little kid (needs a little TLC)


· Wood Table and Chairs: Cost Plus/World Market

· Glass table and chairs: Lenny & Me, a now shuttered thrift store in Wicker Park. The fabric that I recovered the chairs with is from The Needle Shop.

(Image credit: Alexis Buryk)

Thanks, Sara and Becky!

(Images: Alexis Buryk)

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