Laura and Andrew’s HOME Gallery

updated Feb 20, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: Laura Shaeffer, Andrew Nord, Jasper and Sebastian
Location: Hyde Park, Chicago, Illinois
Size: 1,400 square feet
Years lived in: 9 years; Owned

Laura and Andrew’s modernist townhome is a part of a community near the University of Chicago campus. It has 2 floors, a basement, and a huge backyard accessible by the other houses in the community. Their house is HOME Gallery, an intersection between a living space, an art gallery, a community engagement center, a playground, and a school. The social life happening in and around HOME Gallery is based on tangible and lived experience, an alternative to communication mediated through the internet. It is managed by Laura Schaeffer, and is part of the Southside Hub of Production (SHOP).  

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

HOME Gallery hosts art and performance shows, which highlight Hyde Park artists and bring an audience from the broader Chicago area. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between different pieces and the living space itself, but this all part of the philosophy of HOME. Artworks and performances become part of life, and they serve to foster a community. Many of the artworks are also time based — for instance, the mason jars in the kitchen containing compost by David Durstewitz.  Displaying the process of how food waste turns into soil is more than a curiosity — it is educational but also a reference to vanitas Dutch paintings. Many of the pieces are setups for creating, like the station for making felt boots by Marissa Lee Benedict. Indeed, everyday life for Laura, Andrew and their two sons is a creative act because making art, bringing a vibrant community together, playing, and learning are not defined by rigid boundaries. 

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Modern with the goal of minimal and the handicap of messy. 

Inspiration: Richard Neutra, Kuehn/Malvezzi, Wes Anderson, Hirvitalo in Finland, many tree houses, adventure playgrounds, and Living Structures by Ken Isaacs.

Favorite Element: The enclosed back courtyard, the intentional community, the floor to ceiling windows, and the tight ship design. The light and design of these town homes are great, thanks to I.M. Pei and Harry Weese, but I cannot stress more the quality of care-taking by the former owners. They renovated sensitively, painted all walls by hand with oil paint and a brush, and took meticulous care of this home. This is what struck us at first and why we can’t leave.

Biggest Challenge: One bathroom; tight space; no window sills for all of our little things.

What Friends Say: You can’t ever move from this house.

Biggest Embarrassment: Not presenting our amazing art collection, from very well-known artists to the brilliant work of our children. They go unframed, are lost on shelves, or stuck in storage. Also, our tendency to collect too much.

Proudest DIY: Saving our neighbor’s discarded kitchen cabinets so our friend John Preus could build a new cabinet/shelving system in the kitchen

Biggest Indulgence: The Vitsœ shelving in the entry and living room. It is by far the most elegant and solid shelving we have ever used.

Best Advice:  Buy less and buy the best you can afford. Spending more for quality usually pays off in the long run. Surround yourself with what inspires you. Don’t think too much about design, things, colors, or décor. Rather, think about space and how to have more of it.

Dream Sources:  Vitsœ, Finnish pottery, tree houses, Ken Isaacs, Andrea Zittel, vintage camping gear, boy scouts, Dilettante Studios, Finland, Dansk, Iittala, Kuehn/Malvezzi, and Reggio Emilia.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Resources of Note:


  • Pratt and Lambert oil paints (the previous owner painted every surface with oil paint using a brush)


  • Vitsœ shelving unit designed by Dieter Rams


  • Vintage Knoll Womb chair : found on Craigslist for cheap in bad condition, reupholstered in Knoll fabric
  • Yngve Ekstrom Lamino chair : Craigslist
  • Vintage Nelson slat bench : estate sale
  • Vitsœ shelving units
  • Light cube : inherited
  • Nelson bubble lamp : Modernica
  • Artwork : Alberto Aguilar (furniture installation, window murals, and bookshelf arrangements), Rachel Herman, Samantha Hill, Hoyun Son, Hui-Mim Tsen, John Preus (Top 13 bookshelf)


  • Nelson gate-leg table : Craigslist
  • Eames DCM chairs
  • Vintage Eames shell and wire chairs: estate sale
  • Nakashima Studio chair • Five Star range : Craigslist
  • Artwork : Kevin Reiswig, Chris Lin, David Durstewitz, Majay Gula, Chris Johanson, Doug Shaeffer, John Preus, Jasper and Sebastian Nord


  • Vintage Bertoia Bird chair 
  • Vintage Eames shell chair : estate sale
  • Artwork : Hui-Min Tsen, Majay Gula • Case Study bed : Modernica


  • Case Study Day Bed : Modernica
  • Artwork : George Kagan (radios), Marissa Lee Benedict, Chris Lin
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks, Laura, Andrew, Jasper and Sebastian!

(Images: Georgi Ivanov)

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