House Tour: Steve's Uptown Contemporary

House Tour: Steve's Uptown Contemporary

Janel Laban
Mar 5, 2009

Name: Steve
Location: Uptown
Size:1650 sq/ft
Years lived in: 16


Steve's style shines through in every corner of his place - he describes it as a "quirky" mix of contemporary new and classic modern. It is a treat to see such a singular personal vision come through so strongly in interiors - the artwork, furnishings, collectibles and lighting all are integral pieces of the design puzzle that make up his thoroughly contemporary home.


It's a rarity (these days anyway) to see design from the end of the 20th century incorporated this smoothly into a real home; often these pieces seem to only show up in auction catalogs, museums and decor mags from that era. But when you see well designed pieces from the 80s and 90s as part of the style mix it once again proves that peppering a home with pieces that you love from any and all decades is the way to go.

There is a sense of glamorous adventure that resonates in Steve's decor choices - from the vintage travel and transport themed items to the Bowie-tinged outerspace slant, there is something just slightly larger than life about the place which feels fun, brave and totally personal. Bravo!


AT Survey:

My style:Mix of contemporary new and classic modern. Quirky.

Inspiration:Clean lines, unique forms, muted colors unexpected goofy elements.Someone I admire is French designer Andree Putman.

Favorite Element: Phillippe Starck silver cone-topped cabinet, Memphis 'First' chair, vintage posters, my paintings, lamp collection, autograph collection, 4 foot S.S. Normandie ocean liner model, and Sottsass vase.

Biggest Challenge: Making the most of a typical, very average gut-rehab

What Friends Say: "What is THAT?!", "That doesn't look very practical!" or "Can I have that?"

Biggest Embarrassment: The strollers and toys that tend to flood the condo building foyer in the summer. Ugh!

Proudest DIY: Installing ceiling lights, painting, building privacy panel on back deck

Biggest Indulgence: Some big ticket furniture and lamps

Best advice: Edit. Keep prominent only what you love. Group things that are new, with something great from 60 years ago. Take advantage of any 'obsession' you have, and fine tune it into something unique. With that in mind, your place will never look like a slick, generic catalog spread.
I try to take advantage of good lighting……it can create great atmosphere. Putting something cheap and funny, next to something austere and expensive works. Be picky, but don't be a snob……have some fun.
Also, buy great books when you can. Change/switch things out, now and again, and the results
will bring a smile to your face. And try to get things on sale!
Take your time. It can take years to create your 'ideal' space.

Dream source: The Milan Furniture Show, and a giant shopping cart. Contemporary or modern
museum stores tend to have the latest and greatest. Moss in NY.


Living Room:
Furniture from Room & Board, Crate & Barrel, and new, and 'vintage' Starck pieces.
Platinum dipped Rosenthal Rabbit from a store in Paris (it is really cute).
Ship model from Paris (thanks L.D.!).
I back-lighted the ship with blue LED light strips from IKEA. Gold leaf 1940's folding screen from local antique shop (I think it's a Greek poem).
Most (mid-century) lamps from Ebay.
Newer lamps from Thomas O'Brien, or CB2. Two never in mass production 3-legged Starck chairs (from NY Royalton Hotel) from a Florida antique store.
Airplane pillow on sofa, from Hybrid Home. Squirrel pillow from MCA Chicago store. Striped pillow by Maraharam, via Unica Home. Vinyl Kid Robot "Akumabomb" figure, from MCA Chicago Store.
"Threat" triptych, from local artist. Vintage posters via Ebay, or poster shows. Starck 'Pratfall' chair from Luminaire, and the Louis Ghost chair and Miss Balu table in sunroom from DWR.
Silver sculpture on coffee table from Milwaukee Art Museum store.
Rug from Room & Board. Painting over fireplace by me. Mantel shelves, from IKEA.
Streamlined ashtray on mantel, bought in Paris. Aqua 'princess phone' from Ebay.
Rare Starck white 'Walter Wayle' clock from Ebay Japan.

Rug from Crate & Barrel. Limited edition "T-3-C" lamp, (1950 MOMA design award winner) by James Harvey Crate at 18" white porcelain vase (Sottsass Studio) from Ebay Italy.
Glass and wood sideboard from Dania, mirror from Crate & Barrel.
Gold star sconce light from a store in NY.
Vintage 'Metlox' covered dish, from Broadway Antique Mart in Chicago.

Bedroom / 2nd Bedroom & Office:
Furniture from Crate & Barrel, CB2, and vintage reflector lamp
from Ebay.
White 50's swirl vase from local antique shop. Ocean liner brochures/ads in 2nd bedroom from Ebay.
'Gooseneck' LED reading light in 2nd bedroom from Lightology. Great, metal rail shelves, from a long gone store here in Chicago. Duvet from Thomas O'brien, and silk curtains from Crate & Barrel.

Kitchen / Dining:
Table from Dania Furniture, chairs from Craigslist.
Bunny Cookie Jar from MCA Chicago museum store, 1930's Italian Line ad from antique dealer.
Vintage poster/ship photographs from online dealers. Vintage reflector lamps from Ebay (Thomas Thurston for Lightolier, circa 1952).
"Laser Stars" projector light, blue tube floor lamp, from MCA Chicago store. (the projector is my fave Xmas gift from last year. The moving 'galaxy' looks great projected on a ceiling, or even under the frosted glass table).
Limited edition Warhol soup cans from the Warhol Museum. Little ghost sugar dispenser from a
store in Paris. Deco vase (pair) from Edgewater Antique Mall, Chicago.
'UFO'esqe ceiling fixture, from a little shop in London.
LED 'Light Cubes' on top of fridge, from UK Mathmos website. Notorious 1990 Starck Alessi kettle from Ebay (also grouped with a new Alessi miniature version).

Autographs of Andy Warhol, David Bowie, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, Annie Lennox, Morrissey, Brian Eno and Bryan Ferry gathered either in person, or from Ebay. (all chosen for the similar pose/theme).

2nd bathroom:
Mirror-within-a-mirror from DWR a few years ago.

Deck furniture/pillows:
From Crate & Barrel Outlet Store/Smith & Hawken. Recycled tin ceiling panel mirror from flea market.


(Thanks, Steve!)

Photos by Steve Walker

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