Martha and Ben’s Southern Mix
Name: Martha Mulholland and Ben Chappell
Location: Wicker Park, Chicago
Type: 1890s Victorian Brownstone
Size: 1700 sq ft
Years lived in: less than one
When designer and stylist Martha Mulholland left her native Kentucky to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she brought her southern roots with her. Her current home, shared with boyfriend and videographer Ben Chappell, is a mix of family heirlooms, estate sale finds, and the occasional stuffed bird or deer head from a Kentucky antique shop.
After graduating with a degree in Art History, Historic Preservation and Interior Architecture, Martha honed her skills working at Jayson Home & Garden before setting out as a freelancer. She now works as a visual merchandiser for Gucci and other clients.
Martha’s eye for detail is traceable throughout her home—a lovingly restored chandelier, an eclectic collection of mirrors, and lots of carefully curated vignettes are all testaments to the amount of work she and Ben have put into their place. For more on their home, check out the current issue of CS Interiors, which features an article titled The Mix Mistress by Tate Gunnerson.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our style: Eclectic – traditional southern style mixed with ethnic textural elements, mid century modern, gratuitous oddities and the occasional stuffed animal
Inspiration: The homes of people I have known growing up in central Kentucky, recontextualized by an obsession with Nest magazine and kooky Constructivist modernism. Also, Roger Brown, J Morgan Puett, Michael and Tina Chow, Cy Twombly.
Favorite Element: “The red chair”, my peacock, the fireplace and all elements involved therein
Biggest Challenge: Taking on an unfortunate basement bereft of natural light, replete with can lights, day glow red paint and industrial grade brown carpeting…yikes!
What Friends Say: “Wow! This is beautiful, help me decorate!” or “Jesus, Martha, you have a lot of shit.”
Biggest Embarrassment: Visible electrical wires
Proudest DIY: Resurrecting a decrepit chandelier from the abyss of bad lighting, restringing its crystals, rewiring it and getting it glorious once again.
Biggest Indulgence: Premium liquor for the bar, “Lost (as Bas Jan Ader)” by Jason Lazarus, an Empire mahogany cabinet that I had to have but lives in storage because there is no room for it, and my Mitchell Gold sofa
Best advice: Invest in rugs and real artwork. Wallpaper when possible. Be patient when decorating a new home. Don’t rush out and get a side table you don’t love just because you really need one, rather wait for the right one to come along and attempt to live more minimally in the interim. I have made this mistake many times, and as sure as I run to Ikea as a last resort the right thing pops up at a flea market for the same price and I regret my impatience.
Dream source: Yves St Laurent and Pierre Berge’s estate sale, Tony Duquette’s garden, Wright, the entire Manuel Canovas collection at Cowtan and Tout, ABC Carpet and Home, Moss, Architectural Artifacts, my great grandmother’s living room.
I pick up a good deal of my stuff on road trips throughout the south and Midwest…there is nothing like the deals to be had at the main street antique malls of small town America. Also, Craigslist can be a boon for the patient and diligent, and I am a proponent of dignified haggling at local antique shops…you would be amazed what can happen if you ask! Read Auction News, as there is always an estate sale somewhere. In Chicago, I love Post 27, Smythson Yeats, Jayson Home and Garden, Chicago Antique Center, Scout and Pavilion.
(Thanks, Martha and Ben!)
Images: Sarah Coffey