Sarah & Jon’s Exposed Brick Beauty

updated Dec 19, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: Sarah, Jon and Mega the Cat
Location: Noble Square — Chicago, Illinois
Size: 950 square feet
Years lived in: 5 — rented

Sarah & Jon hit the jackpot when they rented this gem 5 years ago. They’ve been lucky enough to have a great landlord that has allowed them to build a bedroom in their basement as well as make a few slight modifications to their space. This couple thoroughly believes in investing time and love into a space, and it shows!

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

As we laughed over house centipede stories and exchanged opinions on exposed brick walls, I knew Sarah’s lighthearted attitude had a major influence on her space. As a jewelry designer and artist, Sarah’s crafty mentality shines through in the unique handmade details of her apartment. Both Sarah & Jon have spent a lot of time personalizing this space with their own DIY projects. Throughout the tour you can see just how many handmade pieces they really have.

Sarah chuckled when I asked her to “source” each of her items, “I’m sure it will just say ‘Alley Find, Alley Find, Alley Find'” she said. I was amazed at her remarkable ability to transform what was most likely a drab cart in an alley into a beautiful green plant stand on her patio. As we moved from room to room I was astonished at the number of pieces that she had revived.

“When we were looking for apartments 5 years ago we knew we needed something that could be adaptable. At that time we had both started our own businesses but they were in their infancy and we needed a place that could do everything. We’d been living in the typical 2 bedroom layout trying to make it work with our separate art/work practices. It was so difficult to cram 2 works areas into 1 bedroom and have the rest as living space. An open floor plan was key for us and we found it in this space. We both fell in love with the wood beams, exposed brick, porch and location. We’ve designed this space to be about 60% living space, 40% work space.”

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: A mix of natural elements with bright pops of color and pattern. The art on the walls is ever changing & rotating in and out. We prefer to keep it lighthearted and whimsical. The space is in a constant state of flux otherwise we’re just bored.

Inspiration: I’m inspired by designers that are clever with their use of materials. The Tord Boontje die cut Tyvek pieces kind of changed my life. When I think about transforming the design of our space I usually think about changing the lighting first. It’s so important (especially in the winter when the light is gone).

Favorite Element: The porch! We host many dinner parties and barbecues. The porch doubles our living space in the warmer months. I can’t imagine living without one now. Once you go porch you never go back.

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge ironically has been the open floor plan. We’ve literally had 8-10 different furniture configurations in the upstairs + downstairs. For a couple years I had my design studio upstairs and I’ve since moved out to a larger space. Before we built the bedroom I think our bed was literally in every corner of this space. We purposefully built the bedroom downstairs to only fit our bed. We need space to work and make things, not to sleep. Figuring out the right configuration for everything has been the greatest challenge. But we also love it. Change is such a natural part of life and our home grows with us.

What Friends Say: “Did you just move something?”

Biggest Embarrassment: The horrible carpet upstairs. Ugh. If only we could convince our landlord how bad it is.

Proudest DIY: The hand painted “wallpapers”, the closet we converted to an office/entertainment area, and the bedroom we built. (had to mention all 3 labors of love)

Biggest Indulgence: I splashed out a bit for the Danish mid century dining room chairs, but this space is really designed on a very tight budget. We’ve chosen to invest in our businesses and to spend money on things like travel. We can’t afford to do all 3 right now.

Best Advice: If you’re a renter and you know you’re going to be in your space for awhile I say jump in and make it your own. If you’re going to do these things yourself than learn to do these things the right way. Watch how to videos online etc. Once you understand how to build something, install something, paint something, wire something etc. there’s no stopping you. Don’t be overwhelmed. Look at your budget, plan it out and get started.

Dream Sources: Mostly, I’d love to get our couch recovered in an amazing durable fabric. I dream of a light grey brushed canvas in a fun but subtle print. We got the couch for a steal on eBay and it has beautiful lines and a wonderful shape. The current brown fabric is a very lightweight linen blend that has tears and rips so easily. I added the plaid covers and neon pink duct tape to cover up the rips as a fun temporary fix. We’d love to buy more art (specifically some large scale photography). There are some amazing local furniture designers here in Chicago I’d love to buy from one day. I was quite smitten with a solid wood dining room table I saw by Jason Lewis at the Design Harvest show. That’s the great thing about living here, there’s so much local talent. You don’t have to wander far to find exceptional pieces worth investing in.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)



    • table: hand me down
    • Danish chairs: Craigslist
    • paper lamp/cloud: I made it
    • orange shelf: Jon’s childhood bookcase
    • mirror: found in alley
    • white curtains: IKEA
    • table arrangement: (platter: Up in the Air Somewhere, pot: Plane Jane Project, wooden rocks: Kindling)
    • table at entrance: alley find
    • silver vase: Tord Boontje
    • cardboard bison + elk: Cardboard Safari
    • iron elk: RR#1
    • white mini dear plaque: Nice Etc.
    • large fake deer: B+J Discount Beauty Mart (Chicago + Ashland)



    • couch: eBay (recovered in plaid + hot pink duct tape by me)
    • coffee table: hand me down
    • navy/light blue pillow: Unison
    • yellow pillow: Meg Mateo Ilasco
    • white/pattern pillow: Marimekko
    • crystal candle holders: wedding gift
    • glass terrarium: Urban Outfitters
    • vintage lamp: hand me down
    • side table: was Jon’s mother’s typing table in college


    • wood desk: Jon built it
    • painted triangle “wallpaper”: I painted it
    • white top curtain: I made it
    • basket w/ light inside: DIY/found basket in our basement
    • white metal tree: Urban Outfitters
    • plushie sasquatch: Kate Taylor
    • small blue vase: from my grandmother
    • ceramic water tower: Up in the Air Somewhere
    • ceramic beer cans: Roost (from Willow years ago)
    • small calendar: Pearl and Marmalade
    • small print: Essimar
    • green storage bin: Jo-ann’s
    • white storage boxes: IKEA
    • white ceramic jars w/cork: Anthropologie
    • metallic file folders: Oh Joy!
    • chair: found in basement, painted white, reco


    • shelf: Jon built it
    • renegade print: Mat Daly
    • white glitch prints: Jon Satrom
    • iceberg/narwhal print: Tugboat Print Shop
    • neon yellow paper piece: I made it
    • yellow drawing w/ foliage: collaboration between my 7 year old nephew and I
    • white lace piece: I made it
    • animal prints: Berkleys
    • camouflage/happy face: Mike Perry
    • glass candle sticks: CB2
    • glacier votives: Cursive Design


    • branch mural: I painted it
    • light fixture: I made it


    • chair: Office Depot
    • red lamp: vintage/thrifted
    • articulated lamp: vintage/thrifted
    • red/orange cirle light: vintage thrifted
    • white storage boxes: IKEA
    • black/white print: Beflix
    • red/yellow/green glitch print: Jon Satrom


    • bed: IKEA
    • quilt: wedding gift
    • blue/white pillow cases: Unison for CB2
    • yellow pillow case: IKEA
    • blue white stripe pillow: travel gas station shop somewhere in the middle of the U.S.
    • white shelf: Jon built it
    • painted branch: I made it
    • small white paper bowl: Up in the Air Somewhere
    • chandelier parts: Architectural Artifacts


    • painted teardrop “wallpaper”: I painted it
    • blue/white argyle mug: Curiosity Shoppe
    • mirror: Joann’s
    • garlands: I made them
    • shower curtain: Target


    • furniture: thrifted and I painted it glossy white
    • cushions: Target
    • table: converted a bookcase I found in the alley
    • round white planters: CB2
    • white square planter: IKEA
    •white table: IKEA
    • yellow table: hand me down, I painted it glossy yellow
    • green bar cart: found in alley
    • green planter: IKEA
    • candles: candle supply place online
    • large metallic planter: found in alley
    • all other planters are from Home Depot
    • most plants are from Sprout, Grand Street Gardens or grown from seed
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks, Sarah & Jon!

Images: Meg Lewis

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