Julie & Iker’s Marina City Heaven

published May 10, 2010
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Name: Julie Michiels and Iker Gil
Location: Marina City, Chicago
Size: 725 square feet + 225 square foot balcony
Years lived in: 5

Designers and architects always have the best apartments, but rarely do they get to live in one of the iconic buildings that informed their careers. Julie and Iker are among the lucky ones and call the Chicago landmark of Bertrand Goldberg’s Marina City home.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Living in a fairly small apartment with signature curved walls surely provides some challenges, but the double balcony (one part off the living room, the other part off the bedroom) overlooking the Chicago River adds almost one-third more space, great for working, eating, relaxing and socializing. Allowing their place to evolve with their changing needs, Julie and Iker prove many things: that one’s space can be more significant than one’s objects, a pale pink kitchen can be very cool, and that living without a sofa is no big deal (they were without for several months). Having just what they need now, the beautiful stuff mirrors the beautiful building that many would love to call home, too.

(Image credit: Elizabeth Licata)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our style: We try to keep things simple, clean, and efficient. If it’s white and/or plastic, it might find its way into our house. (Like our dog, Toby!)

Inspiration: As designers, we are constantly researching architecture, industrial design, graphic design, etc. and are exposed to so many inspiring objects and ideas.

Favorite Element: The curve of the structure in the bedroom, eating outside on the balcony, the “neighborhood” i.e. the residents of Marina City, our very pink kitchen (the original color)…this place is full of character. The modular bookshelf and Iceland diptychs are our favorite additions.

Biggest Challenge: Renting, not owning. There are some features that we would love to update and can’t. There are also some that we have killed ourselves over, like uncovering the original black floor. Push-button cooking on our stove qualifies as challenging too.

What Friends Say: People seem to be surprised that you don’t get too much of a sense of the angled walls, I think they expect it to be really “funky” in here. We get a lot of compliments on our artwork as well. We are really proud that all of it is from various photographers that we are friends with whose work we love.

Biggest Embarrassment: Mostly the stick-down tile flooring in the kitchen. It used to be the stained beige carpet before we got permission to take it out.

Proudest DIY: Restoring the original black tile flooring. It was in bad shape and it took a LOT of time and gentle cleaning to get it to where it is now. We like it a lot. We’ve also recovered the functionality of the sliding bamboo kitchen door and we’ve cleaned a lot of other things with lots of Q-Tips and toothpicks over the years.

Biggest Indulgence: Art and design books. We have lots of books and we keep buying more. And our doormat by Michael Rösing from Radius Design.

Best advice: Create a space that is comfortable and true to what you do. Don’t become (too) obsessed with objects, be obsessed with the space and feel you create. Give yourself time to live and determine what it is that you need. Most people just want to get things done all at once, and what we like is that we’ve let our space evolve as we find need for change.

Dream source: Poliform, Bang & Olufsen, Brionvega

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Resources: CB2, Design Within Reach, IKEA, Alessi, Artemide, Luminaire, and a few “stolen” items from our parents

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks, Julie & Iker!

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