House Tour: Tanis & Terry's Workman's Cottage

House Tour: Tanis & Terry's Workman's Cottage

Janel Laban
Jan 8, 2009

Name: Tanis and Terry
Location: Bucktown
Size: 1800 sq.ft.
Years lived in: 3


Tanis and Terry thought that they bought a classic Chicago bungalow...So here we are, thinking, "We've got ourselves a bungalow". Excitedly, we scheduled an appointment with our Alderman to discuss the property and find out more about our house in detail. He tells us, "no no no, I'm sorry to say, you have a Workman's Cottage, that's one step below a bungalow." POP.


The official designation of house style may not have been what the couple was expecting but they ran with it. They took their 1910 workman's cottage and turned it into a luxe urban home while respecting the original structure and its history. Tanis says, "The workman who lived and built this home was a woodworker by trade – and you can see his handiwork in our original and intricate wood flooring. I LOVE its rich character– all the dings and scratches and dents."

The warmth and coziness of an older home is apparent and accentuated by Tanis and Terry's decor choices - the mix of contemporary design, family antiques and bold artwork makes for just enough of a twist on tradition to keep things interesting and very personal.

AT Survey:

My Style: The perfect eclectic mix of antique and modern

Inspiration: Flea Markets, Garage Sales, Antique Markets, Salvage One, and Thrift Stores. Most of my "inspiration", if you will, revolves around the memories of the home I grew up in. My mother has impeccable taste, and I learned to appreciate her style in my 30's.

Favorite Element: Texture

Biggest Challenge: A narrow entertaining space and tiny rooms (with the exception of our bedroom and bathroom)

What Friends Say: The comments vary from "ooh you should do this full time" to, "good idea", "your house is cozy" to, who knows what they're really thinking in their heads - maybe, "oh, GAWD, what a no-no!".

Biggest Embarrassment: Immediately coming to mind are the plebian quite hideous French poster prints flanking our hallway, and the ever-lovely iron imprint on my office carpet (always part of the 5 cent tour!).

Proudest DIY: the DIY would be at our cabin in Michigan. We've done so much there. We have a long laundry list of more design want-to-do's on this house.

Biggest Indulgence: Our Knoll Couch (it's extremely firm and everyone raises their eyebrows when they sit on it….Well, I love it!) And the LC1 chairs (I'd like to preface I had these chairs before the mid-century craze hit.) Pretty much everything else in my house has had a previous home.

Best advice: 1) why buy new? And, 2) it takes a lifetime to acquire the perfect pieces. Be patient (which is why we still have the Kmart patio-turned-kitchen table – I've found nothing better– so I can't justify money for something else unless I am gaga over it).

Dream source: Domino Magazine, Jayson Home and Garden, Apartment Therapy



Living Room
Couch: Piero Lissoni, Divina Lounge Sofa, for Knoll (Sunset Settings, Houston TX)
Chairs: Cassina LC1, Hairy Hide Sling Chairs (Manifesto, Chicago IL),
French Tea Chair (Craigslist) with sewn Knoll fabric remnant pillow
Painting: Jaret L. Johnston (great abstract art, does commissions)
Red Lamp: Jayson's Home and Garden (Craigslist)
Coffee Table: Chrome and Glass (downtown Chicago Salvation Army)
Buffet: Milo Baughman for Thayer Coggin White Lacquer and Chrome (Craigslist)
Framed Art: Free Lyric Opera poster from 2004 Grand Opening Performance
Rug: Turkmen Tribal Oriental Carpet (antique store)

Dining Room

Table: The Georgetown Galleries by Ritter (courtesy of Grandparents)
Buffet: The Georgetown Galleries by Ritter (courtesy of Grandparents), hardware replacement handles from Home Depot.
Dining Chairs: Italian brown leather (Stitch on Damen)
Petite Wingbacks (courtesy of Grandparents) re-upholstered by David at Comfort Upholstery (he's the best in Chicago)
Candlesticks: Spode Lampshade Bases – converted to candlesticks with a modern top (Mom's estate sale find & my snatch from her house)
Painting: Folk Art, Johnnie Swearingen, 1978 (Brenham, TX)

Sofa: Troy Twin Sleeper (Crate and Barrel)
Painting: signed W Dunn landscape oil (courtesy of Great Aunt)
Drawers: Mirror and Chrome (commissioned)
Desk: Peter Protzman for Herman Miller (Craigslist –from Wright One auction house but they couldn't sell b/c of poor condition), cut in half to fit room & touch up badly damaged areas (Comfort Upholstery)
Bookshelf: Peter Protzman for Herman Miller (Modern Times Chicago)
Art: Lyric Opera Poster decoupage on wood (Goodwill), "I want to be me" – from my youth (mom's attic).

Downstairs Bathroom
Photograph: Bathtubs (Salvage One)
Pedestal: Granite (a good Lincoln Park garage sale) - now resides in upstairs bathroom

Chairs: Italian, brown leather (Stitch on Damen)
Table: Husband's old condo patio table (Kmart)
Art: Renaissance woman decoupage on wood (garage sale)
Mirror: Silver paint mirror (Brown Elephant)
Bowl: Concrete (garage sale)

Guest Bedroom
Headboard: Pottery Barn Riley (c/o Craigslist). Slipcover (c/o me and my Singer – remant Mitchell Gold velvet fabric from basement of 2222 Chicago Ave. fabric store)
Pillows: two grey Marimekko (Crate and Barrel Outlet bin), two zebra (The Ark on Milwaukee – no pun intended, lol), fluffy one (Crate and Barrel Outlet)
Bookcase: Courtesy of my Great Grandfather, a lawyer– so he probably kept his law books in there.
Tables: Room and Board (an apartment sale) painted them black and then took the shelves to Glassworks on Clyborn to request mirrors added onto the fronts.
Chair: was my grandmother's and she needle-pointed the seat
Artwork: Stretched remant bin fabric from Crate and Barrel Outlet from painted canvases I found in an alley. This is until I can afford true artwork or I find "wonderfuls" at a flea market

Master Bedroom
Bed: Cassina Piero Lissoni "Site" Bed (Manifesto, Chicago, IL)
Sheets: Vera Wang (Kohl's) - I do not recommend – cardboard sheets!
King Pillows: Thomas O'brien (Target)
Chair: Calla (Cost Plus World Market)
Lamps: White Reading Lights (Ikea)


Thanks to Tanis and Terry!

Photos: Evan Thomas

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