Sage's Stylish Artist's Loft

Sage's Stylish Artist's Loft

Smith Schwartz
Oct 4, 2011

Name: Sage Reed, Photo Stylist, Prop and Costume Designer, Builder
Location: South Loop; Chicago, Illinois
Size: 4500 square feet, live/work loft , converted car dealership originally designed by Holabird and Roche in 1910.
Years lived in: 8 years, rented, it was originally built out by dear friends and has been in my life for around 20 years.

One of the few remaining artist built lofts in the South Loop, this space has been in Sage Reed's family of friends for over twenty years, and she's lived here for the past eight. Sage works as a photo stylist, prop and costume designer and builder, and her home is just as colorful as one would expect. Every object has a story, every space has a memory, and those details combine to tell the narrative of a fantastically lived life.

As Sage walked me through her home, she told me about recreating Mary Tyler Moore's newsroom for The Oprah Show, artwork made by friends, finding a man's dresser on the side of the road and saving his belongings from being trashed, yard sales and junk store finds. Sage is the kind of person who knows that objects have a history, and she is just the caretaker to give them a new life.

Another reason why Sage's home is teeming with life is that she is generous with her space. She has quite a lot of room, (4500 square feet!) but does not let an inch go to waste. Her loft is often rented out for events thrown by others, or produced by Sage herself. She's hosted a performance by a 30-piece band, staged her own photo shoots and even thrown a dinner party for over 50 guests! She also has a large artist's workshop where many of her productions and DIY creations come to life. Sage's space is more than just your average live/work scenario, her home is a transformative stage, nest and studio.

*If you are about to leave a comment asking, "when can I move in!?" please keep reading! Sage is looking for a new roommate, (or possibly two), so please contact her via her website if you're curious. She's especially interested in those who would make good use of the large space, so artists, designers, photographers and roller skaters, please drop her a note!

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: As a prop stylist I have curated and composed at all levels of design, unearthed and utilized the most obscure sources, recreated history fantasy and location, and I have constructed crafted and altered every element of decor. My home, however is more about sentiment than strict composition. I truly enjoy creating an environment out of things that come my way or have some memory or story attached to them. I am also greatly influenced by growing up in the elegant design functionality of Scandinavia and the rebellious rusty beauty of New Mexico.

Inspiration: A century of my grandmothers fabric scraps, my mothers unendingly beautiful houses and gardens, the work and homes of so many exceptional artists I count as friends, Dutch builders, fiddlehead ferns and chioggia beets, Finnish glass, collaboration, restrictions boundaries and budgets, and discovering accidental installations.

Favorite Element: The view of sunsets, trains, water towers, and fireworks. Found wood walls beautifully hand-crafted by my friend, John, the amazing light, living in history and that I can indulge my consummate hostess and can easily seat 50 people for dinner.

Biggest Challenge: The utter vastness of the space, it takes such monstrous gestures to change anything, clean anything or decorate anything.

What Friends Say: I have always wanted to live like this.

Biggest Embarrassment: The couch is in desperate need of reupholstering and I have yet to find the perfect fabric. And the carpet, a functional and visual necessity and so expensive to replace.

Proudest DIY: I have done so much in the last 8 years from painting over the worn out faux painted floors to building new kitchen countertops, but proudest thing I have on display at the moment is the chandeliers I built out of bicycle parts and antique crystals.

Biggest Indulgence: The Goerge Mulhauser plycraft chair uncomfortable but beautiful.

Best Advice: It is always worth the work.

Dream Sources: The Berlin Flea Market, an abandoned mining town in New Mexico, and a thrift store in the Finnish Archipelago where my mom lives- full of beautiful cheap Scandinavian design and mid century modern- thankfully, she has amazing taste and shops for me!

Resources of Note:

Entry Hall

    • Dentist cabinet: Great Southside junk store now closed called Enutrof (reversal of fortune)
    • Amazon lily: a clipping from my great grandmothers plant
    • Highboy dresser: Found an old man's life left on the street, the dresser was full of his letters and pictures and odds and ends. I still have some of them, a few are framed and in my guest room.
    • Paintings: Two children I found in a thrift store in Stockholm, the lady is a self portrait of my aunt who was the head decorator for the U.S. State Department
    • Heart: by an old friend
    • Frames: Ikea
    • Cans: New Mexico desert
    • Chairs: given to me
    • Key holder: ripped off the wall of the Lyric Opera scene shop when they shut down
    • Victorian chair: Daniels Antiques for a job
    • Vase: Judy Kuitunen
    • Swedish braile psalm book from 1896: auction in Finland

Living Room

    • Couch: Steppenwolf prop shop
    • Antique bear skin: Lyric Opera
    • Mirror: yard sale
    • Pastels of Starlets: Penn Dutchman, George discovered hundreds of these outsider art portraits, I spent an hour sifting through them trying to pick just four.
    • Metal panels: an alley find
    • Old Wisconsin junk store
    • Plant stand: Target
    • Chandelier: built myself for an event
    • Modular bookcase: built myself
    • Adding machine: a gift from an old man at a southside auto scrap yard
    • Phones: made by a friend and they work!
    • Plycraft chair: eBay

Main Space

    • Mirror table: built for a production of Titus designed by an architect from SOM
    • Chairs: I was a decorator for the Oprah show, we recreated the Mary Tyler Moore newsroom, these are the newsroom chairs.
    • Modern metal bench: yard sale
    • Picture of Berlin: from a production directed by Joann Akalaitis
    • Tree sculptures: designed and built by an amazing friend
    • Dog statue: Homegoods
    • Terrarium: Village Discount Outlet
    • Antique chair frame: salvaged from an abandoned theatre in Logan Square
    • Pink Side Chair: Michael Taylor designs at the mart reupholstered, adopted from an O magazine job
    • Wallpaper: designed and given to me by a dear friend Casey Gunschel, her incredible wallpapers found at
    • Couch: Vintage Deluxe via a Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf
    • Coffee table: Chiasso via a show
    • Velvet bandito: thrift store
    • Roosters: a super birthday present

Dining Room and Kitchen

    • Table: Ikea countertop via a Panera bread shoot
    • Saarinen table and chairs: adopted and re-covered
    • Industrial cart: adopted from a neighbor
    • Barstools: Zap Props


    • Couch: an alley find I redid the webbing and pad but have yet to reupholster
    • Dresser: Craigslist
    • Mirror: from my old vanity
    • Desk: Ikea countertops stained ebony
    • Cowhide: Ikea
    • Chair: Herman Miller knockoff
    • Sheepskin: Mom thrifted for me, from one of the fanciest furriers in Finland
    • Chalkware rams head: Lost eras

Thanks, Sage!

Images: Smith Schwartz

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