An Interior Designer’s Apartment Is Full of Affordable and Stylish (Yet Temporary!) Renter’s Solutions

published Sep 13, 2019

An Interior Designer’s Apartment Is Full of Affordable and Stylish (Yet Temporary!) Renter’s Solutions

published Sep 13, 2019
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Caroline Turner and a mini goldendoodle named Piper
Location: Bucktown — Chicago, Illinois
Size: 800 square feet
Years Lived In: 1 year, renting

Chicago-based interior designer Caroline Turner specializes in combining high and low finds with contemporary and vintage styles, skills she shows off beautifully in the small Chicago apartment she rents. “When I first moved to Chicago, I lived in a white box in a huge high rise downtown. I knew in searching for a new place, I wanted unique architectural details—existing hardware, crown molding, and a fireplace,” Caroline writes. “This apartment has all of that plus a beautiful street full of single-family homes, which reminds me of growing up in the South. The copious amount of natural light sealed the deal.”

Along with sharing her beautiful home with Apartment Therapy, she’s also revealed clever (and often affordable) expert tips on how to make a rental feel like a home (and not look like a plain, boring rental).

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Classic and Collected

Inspiration: Atelier Vime (@ateliervime), Roman and Williams, Matilda Goad (@matildagoad), Kelly Wearstler (@kellywearstler), back issues of Architectural Digest, and my clients.

Favorite Element: It’s hard to pick just one but definitely one of my favorites is the drapery in my bedroom. I love pattern and often employ it in a wallpaper in my clients’ spaces. Because this is a rental, I had to find a more creative way to bring in a large scale. I saw this drapery at Target and just knew. They are perfect for the space because of the weight and scale of the pattern in an otherwise simple room. I love waking up to them every morning.

Biggest Challenge: The biggest problem with this apartment, and I think a lot of small apartments in the city, is storage. I hate clutter but I love collecting, so I knew I had to invest time and money to ensure everything has a place, so it does not spill over into the more edited areas.

Proudest DIY: When I moved in the fireplace surround was an ugly peach tile, but I didn’t want to pour a lot of money into a full reno. I ordered some high-quality contact paper and went to work. There are a few imperfections, but it looks MUCH better than before for approximately $20. See what her fireplace looked like before.

Biggest Indulgence: The chaise in my living room is one of the most expensive pieces I have ever purchased for myself. Even though it’s white, I invested in a krypton protected fabric so it would hold up against muddy puppy prints and red wine on girls night.

Best Advice: My mom always says, “Don’t try to stuff an elephant into a pair of pants!” I was trained in school and learned on various jobs to really pay attention to proportions (furniture size, color choices, mix of pattern etc). I think this is a fatal flaw of most spaces when not done correctly.

What’s your best home secret? Don’t be afraid to hire a handy man or Task Rabbit. As long as you are organized, a professional can get a lot done in an hour or two. I used someone to replace the plastic factory blinds and lighting throughout in my home and it made the biggest difference.



  • Sherwin Williams — Repose Grey


  • Sofa — Vintage (Fringe via Ebay)
  • Pillows — Custom
  • Blanket Basket – CB2
  • Wheelan Coffee Table — One Kings Lane
  • Abigaile Chaise – One Kings Lane
  • Leopard Pillow — Chairish
  • Stool – Vintage (Reupholstered in Burnt Orange Mohair)
  • Buchanan Etegere – Wayfair
  • Accessories – Vintage (Etsy, Ebay, Local Vintage Stores etc.)
  • Vintage Marble Lamp – Etsy
  • Black and White Pleated Lampshade – Etsy
  • Rug – Anthropologie (No longer Available)
  • Burlwood Chest – Vintage
  • Pair of Striped Lamps – Vintage
  • Antique White Pleated Lamp Shades – Amazon
  • Art – Julie Houts Prints
  • Gold Frames – Vintage
  • Weekender White Chambray Drapery – CB2
  • Ceiling Fixture – Wayfair
  • Art on Gallery Wall – Vintage/One of a Kind
  • From Left to Right:
  1. Candle Holder – Ebay
  2. “As If” Print – Designed via Photoshop
  3. Letter – Personal from Former Boss
  4. Silhouettes – My brother and I sat for them as kids and I stole them off my Mom’s wall last time I was home
  5. Floral Ink Drawing – Charleston Art Festival
  6. Floral Crochet – Chairish
  7. To Do List – Street Art found in New Orleans


  • Cottage Road Counter Height Stools – Target (No Longer Available)
  • Shell Shaded Lamp- Vintage


  • Tufted Headboard – World Market (No Longer Available – Similar)
  • Thomasville Furniture Nightstand – Vintage (Refinished in Black Lacquer)
  • Lamp – Vintage (via Chairish)
  • Art – Family Heirloom
  • Fleurette Oval Side Table – One Kings Lane (No Longer Available)
  • Candle Sticks and Sconce – Vintage via Ebay and Etsy
  • Ivory Flokati Gunner Chair – World Market
  • Hair on Hide Pillow – One Kings Lane (No Longer Available)  
  • Vintage Stripe Rug – Etsy
  • Art – One of a Kind (From Left to Right)
  1. Lips – Painted in High School
  2. Landscapes of Chianti – Ripped out of a Dictionary (with permission) at a Winery in Italy
  3. Framed Record – Street Fair in Italy

Thanks Caroline!

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