Lauren's Collection of Stories

Lauren's Collection of Stories

Name: Lauren Young
Location: Lakeview — Chicago, Illinois
Size: 1,500 square feet
Years lived in: 10 — Owned

When guests enter Lauren's home, they always pause briefly in her gorgeous, richly-hued foyer. Not only to take off coats and say hello, but because the room — the only one in the apartment that's not neutral — demands it of you. Lauren said she noted this inadvertent, calming pause among her visitors soon after she chose the wall color — and that she loves that people enter her home in this way. This thoughtfulness and attention to detail carries through her entire home, which she describes as a "collection of stories."

The stories range from funny anecdotes to meaningful family history — for example, a vintage clock marked "New Haven" belonged to her father, who gave it to her before her son began graduate school at Yale. She believes these stories reveal more than photographs ever could, a belief that shows throughout the apartment. Lauren has a prop stylist's knack for arrangement and her mementos and art collection, including a stone sculpture collection, are thoughtfully set out without looking precious or staged. They're clearly objects to be lived with and talked about, not neglected up on a shelf. Paintings by a late uncle hang near figurines she's collected over the years, while a vase filed with greenery sits next to a rock from Robben Island. A bed made from sugar molds was a bit too wide to get through the doorway so she had a few of the molds removed and now uses them as candleholders and wall art in her dining room. Her affinity for natural materials, especially wood and stone, carries throughout her home and accents the light-filled windows and the view of the harbor below. Rather than decorating quickly, Lauren has spent years filling her home with meaningful objects and the result is a beautiful, serene home that lives up to the pause it gives guests upon entering.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Organic cosmopolitan. That's the best I can do to describe briefly my eclectic collection reflecting a love of wood, stone, water, shells, and artists' creations from around the world. I not only am attracted to the natural beauty of these pieces, but also to the stories that they (and their acquisition) represent for me: talking and laughing with artists; the experience of selecting a rock on Robben Island; recalling memories of family and friends. Each is unique and special, yet each piece shares a relationship to the others. My home is a collection of stories.

Favorite Element: Quintessential placements - finding just the right spot so that individual art pieces (whether rocks or paintings) become part of a whole. It takes me a while to find that right place. I live a while with certain placements and then move things around until I think I get them right. Or, my sister comes to visit and nails it with one rearrangement.

Biggest Challenge: Keeping a feeling of openness with all the chunky, heavy, solid pieces of wood and stone that I am so attracted to.

What Friends Say: Friends describe my place as cool and edgy, but also calm and warm. I am told that because of the colors, textures, and stories behind each object, my home has a welcoming feeling. I love that friends feel at home in my home.

Biggest Embarrassment: The beautiful, too-big armoire that I couldn't get inside my unit, despite earnest attempts: multiple measurements and conversations with an elevator company (to ride the piece on top of the elevator) and wood worker (to take it apart). I finally had to give it up.

Proudest DIY: Finding the right colors (wall paint, wood floors, rugs and carpet) as complementary backdrops to my collections.

Biggest Indulgence: Shipping fees! I love pieces that are heavy and unwieldy. I'm not put off wondering how I'll get something home; I'll do what it takes. I travel internationally with a large canvas bag and bubble wrap. I've hand-carried Zulu beer pots from South Africa to Chicago, and plates from Copenhagen to my home. I didn't make it in only one instance (the armoire). I will add that I love Arts & Crafts homes. With sufficient resources, that would be my biggest indulgence!

Best Advice: When you encounter that piece of art/furniture that takes your breath away and would destroy your budget, walk away for a while and try to think about how you would feel about the piece in six months. Would you still love it?

Dream Sources: Oceans and desert, Lake Michigan, driftwood, Zazen in Coronado, Architectural Digest. I also am subject to fabulous family influences, with a number of talented artists in my family who have helped me to notice what I might have overlooked: Forest Young, Quinton McCurine, Dana McCurine, Charles D. Rucker, Amber Thomas....

Resources of Note:


    • Benjamin Moore: color: Colori Twilight Zone (entryway)

Resources (by room):


    • R.C. Gorman paintings, Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico
    • Carved stone Chinese figure, Golden Triangle, Chicago
    • Mirror, stool, bamboo mat, I.D. Chicago
    • Antique Japanese dansu


    • Abbott sofa, Jayson Home & Garden, Chicago
    • Armoire, Ralph Lauren, Chicago
    • Mesquite barn door coffee table and mesquite side table, Foreign Traders, Santa Fe
    • Gary Magakis bronze Taylor side table, Material Possessions, Winnetka
    • Yellow Rose Bamboo floor lamp, Zazen, Coronado, CA
    • Lor Roybal painting, Santa Fe, New Mexico
    • Lakota drum, Prairie Star Gallery, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
    • Bradford Brenner landscape painting, Sonoma, California
    • Susan Dysinger, "Eagle Flies on Friday," Laguna Beach, CA
    • Rybo Siesta classic chairs, Chicago
    • Large willow basket, Faircloth/Adams, Santa Fe
    • Chi Wara sculpture, Selo/Shevel Gallery, Ann Arbor
    • Frank Howell paintings, Frank Howell Gallery, Santa Fe
    • Charles D. Rucker paintings, San Diego, CA
    • Colleen Madamombe sculpture, "I Wish I Could Fly," Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens Shop, Cape Town
    • Anderson Mukomberanwa, "The Virgin," Kirstenbosch Gardens Shop, Cape Town
    • Agnes Nyanhongo stone sculpture, "Feeling Proud," Bonner David Galleries, Scottsdale
    • Christine Henspetter water color, Abiqui Inn, New Mexico
    • John Holston, "Nude on a Sofa," Chicago
    • Pillows, Room & Board, Chicago


    • Mirrors, Foreign Traders, Santa Fe, New Mexico
    • Brown glass/sand vase, Sequoia, Santa Fe
    • Track lighting, Lightology, Chicago


    • Rosewood dining table and chocolate leather chairs, I.D. Chicago
    • Joan Nies painting, Zazen, Coronado, CA
    • Provence French oak sideboard, Crate & Barrel
    • Zulu beer pots, Cape Town, South Africa
    • Guatamalan horse, Bazaar del Mundo, San Diego
    • Infinity stool, I.D. Chicago
    • Mirror, Material Possessions, Winnetka


    • Piloncillo mold headboard and dressers, Foreign Traders, Santa Fe
    • Gary Magakis Napoli bronze/steel/copper floor lamp, Material Possessions, Winnetka
    • Suzanne Derrer paper/twig table lamp, Jett Gallery, Santa Fe
    • Ralph Lauren chair, Merchandise Mart sample sale
    • Bedding, Bedside Manor, Chicago
    • Vicente Pimentel painting, G.R. N'Namdi Gallery, Chicago
    • Eng Tay painting, New York City
    • Charles Rucker painting, San Diego


    • Paul Ford paintings, San Diego
    • Charles Rucker painting, San Diego
    • Anna Rucker painting, San Diego
    • Daphne Corregan ceramic seated figure, Rosenthal, Copenhagen
    • Mirror, Material Possessions, Winnetka
    • Guatemalan pillow, Bazaar del Mundo, San Diego, CA


    • Antique African drum, Africa & Beyond, La Jolla, CA
    • Computer desk, Room & Board

Thanks, Lauren!

Images: Kathleen Luttschyn

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