Jillian’s Snug and Serene Studio

updated Feb 20, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
House tour cover

Can't-Miss House Tours Straight to Your Inbox

Keep up with our latest house tours each weekday with our House Tour of the Day newsletter

Post Image
(Image credit: Alexis Buryk)

Name: Jillian Schiavi, artist and founder of jilly ink, lettering and paper design
Location: Lincoln Park; Chicago, Illinois
Size: 400 square feet
Years lived in: 1.5 years; Rented

Moving into your first solo apartment is a challenge best met with enthusiasm, flexibility, and vision. Jillian has those qualities in spades, and has worked within her budgetary constraints and the quirky anatomy of her sunlit studio to create a space for herself that is comforting and homey, while also functioning as a workspace for her growing design business, jilly ink.

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

A Boston native who moved to Chicago by way of New York City, with brief but meaningful stops in London and Paris, Jillian has a deep love of place, home, and the objects that tie us to the people and memories we cherish. I love that every plate, mug, and pen has a story attached to it, or reminds her of a person she holds dear.

Your first solo apartment has a luxury like perhaps no other place you ever live: because it’s yours, and yours only, it reads like a diary of who you’ve been and who you are, and serves as a reminder of who you’d like to be. Without the interweaving of a roommate or significant other, Jillian’s studio showcases her love of books and narrative, her collection of maps of the places that inspire her, and the colors that enliven and inform her design work. In many ways, budget and spatial constraints here liberate Jillian’s style and allow her to approach her home as she approaches her life — as a lovely and lively work in progress.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Clean, considered, bright, with illustrative elements punctuating the space.

Inspiration: Parisian apartments, Anthropologie, my mother’s style.

Favorite Element: The sunlight — having east and west-facing windows means the space is flooded with light all day. And in a small space, the more light to uncover corners and create openness through carefully curated shadows, the better. Also, I love the murphy bed inlet that allows the ‘bedroom’ part of the studio to recess away from the more public part of the space.

Biggest Challenge: Getting all the furniture up such a windy, 1920s courtyard style staircase. The couch was far and away the biggest challenge, and then the biggest relief when it fit perfectly against the front door wall.

What Friends Say: “It’s so cozy”; “It’s so comfortable”; “Your home is so you”; “I just want to stay here”.

Biggest Embarrassment: The bathroom — they had to cut a divot in the door to fit around the toilet, and the threshold has so many layers of finish on it that the door doesn’t close all the way. Thank goodness the closet door allows a bit of extra privacy away from the main room.

Proudest DIY: Most of the artwork on the walls is mine. I love decorating my home with pieces I’ve put time, consideration, thought into. To see it on my walls continually inspires me to build my lettering/illustration business, so that others may see it on theirs as well.

Biggest Indulgence: This might sound silly, but the whole apartment is my biggest indulgence. Instead of finding new roommates when my dear friend moved in with her fiance, I decided it was more important to live on my own. To have this experience of maintaining a home, making it my own, feeling comfortable and safe — not to mention working out of the space as well — it’s been incredibly rewarding.

Best Advice: When you have a small space, less is more. Let the apartment speak for itself, and allow color and texture in measured amounts to permeate the space, instead of overloading it with distraction.

Dream Sources: West Elm, Anthropologie, flea markets, Renegade Craft fairs

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Resources of Note:


  • Bookcase, side table, dresser, chairs and gray rug: IKEA
  • Desk, ottoman, couch, small three-door dresser: Hand-me-downs


  • Trunk (used as a table and storage): High school graduation present
  • Cart: Target
  • All “Brooklyn” pieces (glasses, tray, cheese plate, coasters, crock, salt and pepper shakers): Fishs Eddy
  • Appliances and mortar and pestle: Sur La Table and Target
  • Plates: Crate and Barrel, Fishs Eddy
  • Glass jar: West Elm
  • Teacups with letters on them: Anthropologie
  • Giraffe measuring spoons: Anthropologie
  • Various plates and glasses pinched from favorite restaurants in Brooklyn, Denver, Prague, London and Barcelona


  • Above bed: original painting by Jillian Schiavi, modeled after a Marc Baptiste photograph
  • In bathroom: original painting by Jillian Schiavi
  • Over desk: bikes purchased at The Atlantic Antic Festival; New Yorker cover purchased at Union Square Christmas Market in NYC
  • On living room wall: maps of Boston, New York, Paris, San Francisco, London and Chicago purchased from various paper and stationery stores around the US, including Arthur’s Invitations, Paper Source, and Ravensgoods
  • Above sofa: frames from Brooklyn Flea market with original calligraphy work by Jillian Schiavi
  • On wall near bed: three framed photographs cut from one long poster found at a shop at the South Street Seaport, NYC


  • Tons from Random House/Crown
  • Handmade books by Jillian Schiavi
  • Brown Elephant in Chicago
  • Powell’s Books
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks, Jillian!

(Images: Alexis Buryk)

• HOUSE TOUR ARCHIVE: Check out past house tours here.
• Interested in sharing your home with Apartment Therapy? Contact the editors through our House Tour Submission Form.
• Are you a designer/architect/decorator interested in sharing a residential project with Apartment Therapy readers? Contact the editors through our Professional Submission Form.