The Inside Man: Jarrett's Bungalow Bar

The Inside Man: Jarrett's Bungalow Bar

Maxwell Ryan
Jun 22, 2010
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Name: Jarrett Knox
Location: Galewood, Chicago, Illinois
Style: Mid-Century Bungalow Bar

As this post goes up, I'm on my way to Chicago to meet Jarrett, the second guy I'm working with over the summer. With the help of Valspar Paint, I'm visiting five cities and redoing five guys' rooms.

Jarrett works in law, and he lives with his wife in a classic Chicago bungalow that they've been slowly but surely updating. Jarrett and Catherine have been documenting their hard work on their blog,, and Jarrett's asked for my help with their basement bar. This room has the potential to be really amazing, but right now it's kind of a wreck.
Jarrett says, "My basement bar is a total throwback to the 70s. My wife won't use the room, so it's been relegated to guys-only get togethers. Dark wood paneling and an outdated, kitschy bar keep the room dark and unappealing. There's several windows, so I'm sure lightening up the walls a bit would do wonders for removing that dungeony look it's got going on right now. Maybe a few different colors for the few different functions of the room."

I totally agree with Jarrett that color could help to lighten the room and differentiate its zones. This room is big, so it can handle some strong color. I like the crazy 60s or 70s (???) tile on the basement columns (which we'll make sure to clean up) and I think we could pull some accent colors out of the tile patterns. I also want to use a neutral to ground everything — maybe a tan or taupe will go well with the reds and oranges in this room. We'll see what Jarrett thinks.

At Work Design in Forest Park, Chicago

To bring me up to speed on his tastes and his favorite hangouts, Jarrett's compiled a list of Chicago resources. Chicago's always had a strong DIY scene, and having spent so much time already rehabbing their bungalow, Jarrett and Catherine are great guides to the city's thrift stores, flea markets, and independent shops. Here are Jarrett's favorites, in his words:

  • At Work Design carries some simple but stylish home and office goods.
  • Two Fish Art Glass in Forest Park. Tonya always makes me feel welcome in her great shop and art glass gallery. They have the best light fixtures and stained glass pieces.
  • Blue Max Coffee is a local roaster and coffee shop in nearby Forest Park built inside an old house. It's a great space to start off the weekend.
  • Amato's Pizza. Galewood definitely has some great Italian food and bakeries. This is one of the best pizzas in the whole city.
  • Fly Bird in Oak Park can always be counted on for crazy stuff for any home.
  • Rebuilding Exchange on the South Side of Chicago is a favorite go-to spot for any new home project I take on. I love that they rescue and resource building supplies and home goods. I've put them to use on many a home and garden job.
  • Kane County Flea Market in St. Charles is one of the biggest and best flea markets around. Junk sales and flea markets are really my style.
  • Jubilee Furniture. I'm not the first to sing its praises. We never walk away empty-handed from trips to Jubilee.

For more good stores in Chicago, check out Apartment Therapy's local listings.

Jarrett's basement bar before the room re-do

I haven't yet seen the room in person, but I can tell this project is going to be a challenge. It's a huge room that needs some serious cleaning, painting, and decorating. On the upside, it's got a ton of potential to be a cool, colorful space that Jarrett can really call his own.

When I first saw this room, I was immediately drawn to the idea of redesigning a bar. It will be a lot of fun to decorate with Mad Men-era barware, retro finds, and colors inspired by the room's intrinsic Mid-Century style.

The challenge will be to find the right colors that brighten, rather than darken the space. There's not much natural light here, so we'll need to choose a few shades that respond well to lamps and atmospheric lighting.

Keep a lookout for Phase 2, on Thursday, when I'll be posting my face-to-face meeting with Jarrett. You'll find out what he thought of my ideas, how he feels about paint colors, and the next steps in our plan!

We've teamed up with Valspar Paint to create The Inside Man, a special feature dedicated to daily (Monday – Friday) posts from Apartment Therapy and GQ about men's color conundrums and style questions. From sofas with cup holders to brilliant bachelor pads, we're focusing on the decor dilemmas men often bring to us.

The Inside Man: David in Brooklyn
• Read more about guy style at
• Check out GQ's guide to guy style at

Photos: Jarrett Knox, Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, Apartment Therapy
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