An Avid DIYer Brings the Outdoors In With Plants and Rustic Decor

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Name: Kevin Foley
Location: Gold Coast — Chicago, Illinois
Size: 1,000 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years, renting

A few years ago I decided to take the leap from living with roommates to living alone. I toured a handful of apartments around Chicago, but from the second I stepped into this apartment in a converted 19th-century mansion, I knew I had to live there. The high ceilings, beautiful wood floors, and original crown molding give it so much character that isn’t found in most new construction apartments. Over the past three years I have managed to make this apartment a home. An energy and sustainability consultant by day and avid DIYer and photographer on the weekends, I have put my own touch in all parts of the apartment. Most of the furniture and decor I have made or restored myself in my apartment building’s basement. I have brought my love of the outdoors indoors by adding numerous plants and rustic wood furniture. Although the design and decor in the apartment looks finished, I am always on the lookout for new DIY projects or antique pieces that catch my eye.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Eclectic antique meets rustic DIY

What is your favorite room and why? My favorite room in my apartment is my living room, and specifically the back wall of my living room. As soon as I moved into my apartment I installed adjustable shelving to give it more character than just a plain white wall, which is how the previous tenants had it. Over time I slowly added items to the shelves that have special meaning to me: my grandmother’s camera, a rusty sign I pulled out of a river while fly-fishing with my dad, a handful of plants, and of course my favorite books. Underneath the shelves is an antique buffet that I found for free online and restored (featured on Apartment Therapy). There’s nothing better than putting on an old record, grabbing a book, and plopping down on the antique chair to get lost on a rainy weekend afternoon.

If you could magically change something about your home, what would it be? If I could magically change something about my home, I would update the kitchen. Unfortunately the appliances are quite dated, and the countertop and cabinets are bland white. If I owned my home I would renovate the kitchen, however, since my apartment is rented, my options to changing the kitchen are limited.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? I found an antique sofa table online for free. The table was made out of an old door from India. I plan to restore the table and keep it for when I have a larger home in the future.

Any advice for creating a home you love? When first moving into a new home, take your time furnishing and decorating it. It has taken me time to get my apartment exactly how I like (I had been through three dining tables until I decided to make my own that fit my space!). Don’t feel like you have to rush to get your home setup exactly how you want it. This often leads to purchases that work for the time being, and not something that you love. If you take your time in decorating your home, I promise it will feel more like a home and not just a place to live.