Sam and Nick's Dot House

Sam and Nick's Dot House

Georgi Ivanov
Jul 16, 2013

Name: Sam Marts and Nick Sistler
Location: Bucktown, Chicago, Illinois
Size: 1,300 square feet
Years lived in: 27 years; owned

This is the house of Sam Marts, an architect, and Nick Sistler, a visul artist who works primarily in painting, and is represented by Printworks Gallery in Chicago. Besides being a living space, it is also an artist studio for Nick and a space for socializing. Every summer and winter for the past 26 years, they have hosted an Ice Cream Social (for their anniversary) and a Chili Party (for the Dot House anniversary), which draw numerous friends, and friends of friends, from all around Chicago.

The Dot House, as Sam and Nick have named it, is dedicated to Sam’s aunt Dot, who left an inheritance which helped pay for the house. In her honor, dots of various kinds fill all of the rooms. 

The artistic couple renovated the house into a multi-purpose space that reflects their personalities.The interior is an assemblage of artworks, crafted pieces and found objects, some exotic and some that were once common but are now objects of curiosity. This rich environment evolved over time, reflecting Sam and Nick’s contagiously playful attitude. Every part of the Dot House is full of whimsical still-lifes and fanciful collections.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Eclectic/personal,

Inspiration: Good design, and anything that catches our eyes

Favorite Element: The floor plan (the renovation makes the best use of space). 

Biggest Challenge: Minimal $. 

What Friends Say: They call it a "Fun house."

Biggest Embarrassment: Not adding enough insulation during the renovation. 

Proudest DIY: Using roller skate cases as storage. 

Biggest Indulgence: The flower garden.

Best Advice: Trust your intuition.  


  • Studio: IKEA, DIY shelves, Homasote tack board Living room: Swing, Quilt chest, Pedestals, Whatnot shelf (designed by Sam Marts), Antique sheet music cabinet, Corbu loveseat, Turkish Kilim rug (antique shop), Chest of drawers, CD holder (CB2),
  • Kitchen: Philippe Starck chairs (Luminaire), Table (recycled mid-section of pool table - legs IKEA), Cabinets (Republic Steel), Countertops (black plastic laminate)
  • Bedroom: Daybed, Shelves, Computer desk(IKEA)


  • Studio: Nick's
  • Living room: Nick's, Alkyd painting (gift), Prints (various galleries)
  • Kitchen: Nick's, gifts
  • Bedroom: Nick's, gifts, Prints (various galleries)


  • Studio: IKEA
  • Living room: IKEA
  • Kitchen: Fluorescents (Handy Andy), Shade (over table), (thrift store)
  • Bedroom: IKEA, Collection of vintage bedside lamps (multiple sources)


  • Studio: Venetian blinds (Mail order)
  • Living room: Shutters (designed to fold into the trim - original to house)
  • Bedroom: Venetian Blinds (Mail order), Skylight curtains (thrift store fabric - friend constructed)


  • Pratt & Lambert


  • Studio: Maple (original) Living room: Maple (new)
  • Kitchen: Vinyl tiles (tile outlet on Fullerton Ave. - premium vinyl at "seconds" price)
  • Bedroom: Wall-to-wall carpet (Rex Rugs)


  • Homemade; Headboard - store display case (thrift shop)

Thanks, Sam and Nick!

(Images: Georgi Ivanov)

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