Stephen and Jessica’s Artfully Arranged Home and Studio

published Mar 11, 2011
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Name: Stephen Eichhorn and Jessica Paulson
Pets: 2 toy poodles, Francis and Lulu; 2 cats, Poncho and Kevin
Location: Ukrainian Village; Chicago, Illinois
Size: Roughly 2,000 sq ft (1,200 living space & 800 studio space); Single family home built in 1895
Years lived in: 6 months, rented

It’s no surprise that Stephen and Jessica listed the phrase “Always be Knolling” as a source of inspiration. With 4 pets and 2 artists under one roof, they manage to lead a tightly Knolled lifestyle where every object has its place. From a collection of shoes to needle-nose pliers to dental floss, their home is highly organized, yet maintains a sense of comfortable delight, ensuring maximum efficiency for both work and play.

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

The keen composition of Stephen and Jessica’s home comes from their patience and deliberateness in determining decor. Their astute restraint allows the central showpieces to shine. One especially inventive and useful aspect of their home is the pegboard system that has been implemented throughout. It has proven to be a great storage solution for several areas including the bathroom, the kitchen and also the art studios. This inexpensive and versatile method has demonstrated to increase efficiency by keeping things in sight, but with purposeful visual order. Stephen and Jessica’s home teaches us that we don’t have to hide it all away to avoid clutter and live a charmingly arranged art-filled life.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: The fine line between mid-century cabin and curated stacks/collections.

Inspiration: Case-Study homes, the personal homes of Walter Gropius and Russel Wright, homes from our childhoods, friends and family, the architecture of Fujimori Terunobu and Tom Sachs’ studio practice “Always be Knolling” Ten Bullets Video

Favorite Element: The house has a pretty typical Chicago layout with small bedrooms on one side, the kitchen in the back and the quirks that go along with it. In the 1960’s the upstairs was converted into additional living space but never fully completed. The result makes for great studios just a steep flight of stairs away. Previous to this apartment, we have had several different living/studio arrangements- a live/work loft space with no real separation between live and work, apartments with designated (but limited) studio space and studios outside of the home. This current layout is proving to be both ideal and productive.

Biggest Challenge: Not obsessing too much about the things we would love to change about the space but can’t. Our landlord, who grew up in the house, is very partial to not updating elements she finds integral to the house. We have resolved to make small adjustments to suit our needs but also keep in mind that it is a rental. Even so, sometimes the smallest of projects can snowball into several larger projects or if we clean up one element it just highlights the shortcoming of something else.

What Friends Say: Most people are surprised that we were able to find a rental in the neighborhood to fit our needs.

Biggest Embarrassment: The pink Formica kitchen counter top and marbled mauve plastic back splash tiles! This is one of those things that we are learning to live with. We have wasted many hours hatching harebrained ideas on how to cover it with out causing damage and have finally come to the conclusion to just leave it alone. The house has lots of funny details we have learned to love, including built-in plastic plants!

Proudest DIY: The bathroom had no shelving or storage so we used pegboard to create an exposed hyper-organized solution. Also, we have been on a kick of building homemade cat structures. First, we carved a hole into a giant roll of corrugated cardboard but the roll is so large it has to stay on the unheated back porch, so it is only for warm weather use- but the cats love it!! And to combat cat cabin fever, we built a carpet covered cat ladder in the kitchen. Both projects were much cheaper and more entertaining than purchasing ready-made cat items at the store.

Biggest Indulgence: Finally giving our selves enough space to functionally have both living and workspace together. On the more decedent and materialistic side, we turned one of the downstairs rooms into our closet….

Best Advice: Be patient and deliberate. Jessica grew up in a household where her mom couldn’t find a couch she liked to suit their needs so they just didn’t have one- they sat on the floor. We try to find items with integrity and focus equally on art, furniture and small objects. That said, we have made plenty of purchasing mistakes and late night ill-advised Ebay bids.

Dream Sources: Midwest thrift stores 15 years ago and all of Scandinavia on an unlimited budget.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Resources of Note: We don’t have any earth shattering secrets. That said, here are a few of our favorite places in no particular order:

Thanks, Stephen and Jessica!

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