Libby & Ryan’s Light & Airy Granny Chic

published Jan 22, 2010
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Name: Libby Alexander and Ryan McCarthy
Location: Andersonville, Chicago
Size: 1,200 sq. ft. 3 bedroom apartment in a 100 years old 2-flat
Years lived in: 3

Libby and Ryan live in a 100 year old 2-flat in northern Chicago, just a short throw from Wrigley Field. Their home is a treasure chest filled with surprises of all sorts. There’s an iguana on the mantle, thrifted and salvaged pieces we could only dream of coming across, all in combination with some designer pieces and a plethora of plants. This is one house tour, loaded with pictures — you don’t want to miss.

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

Libby and Ryan have created a space that not only reflects their personalities, but also their family history by the displaying of heirlooms, along with a twist of vintage wildlife. You can find Libby over at Alexander Salvage and all sorts of creative finds at her Etsy store, Blogblog Log. She’s also be in charge of the Vintage Bazaar Pop Up Shop happening next month.

Their home has things hidden at every corner, all the while retaining a feeling of light and bright open space — something hard to do with antiques and heavy feeling vintage items. Take the tour and read more about their finds and style of decor below!

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our style: Eclectic naturalist with a bit of MCM and LOLs

Inspiration: Ryan and I were writing a business plan for a bar business (daydreams) a couple of years ago. As I was searching the Internet for name inspiration, I came upon an image from Ole Worm’s cabinet of curiosities, from Museum Wormianum, 1655. It included harlequin floors, tortoise shells, taxidermy, and warrior statues — just a bunch of antiquarian oddments.

I got hooked on the look and decided to start collecting such things and selling off the ’70s kitsch. From that point, I discovered people/blogs like Alice of Forestbound, Hollister & Porter Hovey, and Morbid Anatomy. Those folks inspired me to go ahead and indulge in all the science-type-curiosities leftover from my childhood. (I was big into fishing shows, bugs, dissecting owl pellets, etc.)

Favorite Element: The painted white brick fireplace and the great natural light.

Biggest Challenge: Most of our closets don’t have doors and I like to hide my messes in closets – so, I had to figure out a good way to enclose those spaces. I ended up using curtains and, in the case of the porch closet, a wrinkled old tablecloth that my Grandma Tex hand-embroidered.

What Friends Say: Everything from my Mom telling me our place reminds her of the oddities sideshow at the Iowa State Fair to it just feeling good/being a comfortable place to put up your feet and hang out.

Biggest Embarrassment: Ugh, the bathtub. It was re-tiled in a majorly sloppy way and it just looks cruddy.

Proudest DIY: Rewiring some of the swag lamps.

Biggest Indulgence: Lately, our indulgence is kitchen gadgets. My favorite gadget purchase is a Sodastream machine. You can make fizzy water for days. It’s somewhat expensive at the outset, but ultimately you save. Bonus is that the machine is kind of attractive, so leaving it out on the counter doesn’t mess with the kitchen decor too much.

Best advice: Buy what you like/go with your gut. Also, work with/accept family heirlooms because, ultimately, their history never goes out of style.

Dream source: I work in the salvage business, so I can gain access to some of the lesser-known places to pick up unique pieces. But, since we’re talking dreams here – let’s say time travel is possible. Then I’d like to go back in time to source fabric and quirky furniture with my Papa.

He had great style; plus, he was known to filch ashtrays, etc. from the Stork Club and the like, so it be a fun adventure, too. Also, I’d be into rummaging through estate sales at the homes of Kelly Wearstler, Coco Chanel, et al. Finally, I’d dig a piece from Melissa Dixson’s body of work.

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Family Hand-Me-Downs: Old Stereo Cabinet, Speakers, Vintage Standing Radio (in dining room), Dresser (in guest room)
Craigslist: Sofa, Leather Upholstered Chair
Brownstone Antiques: Taxidermy, Doilies, Candlesticks, Other Textiles
Agent Gallery Chicago: Antique Wire Waste Basket, Lighting
Sprout: Plants
Brown Elephant: Glassware, Rugs, Lighting, Dining Table Hides, Taxidermy, Electric Chord Organ
Chicago Antique Market: Mannequin Legs
Lincoln Antique Mall: Taxidermy
Stop! Look!: End Tables, Pottery, Horns, Lighting, Rugs
Various Estate & Yard Sales: Marble Remnants, Busts, Burke and Herman Miller dining chairs, Ingmar Relling Chair, Dog Statue, Old Glass Bottles, Tins, etc.
Various Chicago Neighborhood Alleys: Thonet Chair, Weird Upholstered Chair/Dog Bed, Salvaged Wood for DIY Projects
Thybony Paint: Benjamin Moore Charcoal Slate (guest room), Benjamin Moore (I forget the name of the gray blue in the living room). The rest was of the paint was already there when we moved in. Our landlord is a former artist and he painted the kitchen, porch, and bedrooms fifty different shades of blue.

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(Thanks, Libby & Ryan!!)

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