This Artist’s Small Chicago Apartment Is Filled With Incredible One-of-a-Kind Murals

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Name: Katelan Foisy
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 750 square feet
Time lived in: 6 months, renting

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: My apartment is an old hotel from the ’20s by the lake once owned by the Wrigleys. I felt like I needed to pay homage to that aspect of it but also because I spend so much time in my home, I felt it needed to feel like a sanctuary. I needed to feel like I wanted to be home. So I took everything that I loved and formed it into the space I created.

The more I decorate my apartment the more I realize I’m one part Auntie Mame, one part old man decorating his study, part traveling fortune teller, a bit of Chelsea Hotel, and part early 20th century children’s theater and circus prop artist. Think Paris, New York, Mexico City, Hollywood, and New Orleans of the ’20s through ’60s. I painted all the backdrops in the house, the one in the bedroom, the fruits in the kitchen, the one behind the couch, and the paper moon in the art studio. I always wanted to live in a theater, and this is the way I bring that dream to life.

The bathroom and bedroom have a different feel from the rest of the apartment. I wanted that part of the apartment to feel like a hotel and spa. The rest of the apartment could be a whirlwind of canvas and telescopes, odd lighting, and lanterns, but the bedroom needed to feel like an escape or a sanctuary. When I moved in, the St. Jane Hotel, which was located in the Carbide Building, had closed down due to Covid. I was mourning the loss of it and I think that’s where the deco look and color scheme came in. The St. Jane was gray, pinks, whites, and blacks and that became the palette. I have a soft spot in my heart for hotels and often collect remnants of ones that no longer exist. I’ve had two wardrobe trunks that have been with me for at least a decade. I put one in the bedroom and draped scarves on the walls as well as a portrait Molly Crabapple painted of me. This became my “Streetcar Named Desire” corner as it reminds me of the play and a little bit of time travel.   

I am a multidisciplinary artist and writer. My work has been featured as backdrops for Smashing Pumpkins’ “Shiny & Oh So Bright” tour, William Patrick Corgan’s “Ogilala” solo tour, and the “Silvery Sometimes Ghosts” video. I also created the Deco starburst, stage, and logo as well as consulted on design for Madame ZuZu’s Teahouse. I have worked on tarot and oracle decks such as Sibyls Oraculum and Hoodoo Tarot with Tayannah McQuillar, Inner Traditions/Simon & Schuster.

I create magic out of the mundane working with history, time, current technology, and antique practices opening doors you never knew existed. I’m a collector of interesting things, an oracle in nature, and a traveler of the world. I share what I like and write about experiences that may help or be of interest to others. I inspire people to live well and be true to themselves without the projections of others or limiting beliefs. I weave worlds that heal.

My apartments very much reflect me. Everything I own has a special place in my history whether it’s an old horseshoe from my grandfather’s racing days or a backdrop I painted because I wanted to live in a lush art space. I try to surround myself with constant beauty so that my home reflects the world I create around me. Very recently I have become obsessed with emerald green and so my apartment will undertake another transformation to bring in more of these jewel tones.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Deco meets Victorian art lair.

What is your favorite room and why? Each room has its own feel. It’s hard to pick a favorite but I love my bedroom because it instantly makes me feel relaxed and has an incredible sensual feel to it. My living room is where I spend the most time besides the studio. They are connected so I feel they speak their own language. One of my favorite things to do is sit at my drawing table sipping coffee and watercoloring or writing letters. My living room is great for large pieces so I spend most of my day in between these two spaces. In between I cook in my vintage kitchen. It took me a while to get used to the kitchen as it’s very small but I painted the backdrop so my handmade copper pans by Romani coppersmith Traian would have a nice place to be witnessed.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? Handmade Copper Pans from Caldarar Traian: Brateiu Traditional Handmade Copper Art Italian. Leopard candle from Madame Zuzus. Carl Beam original. Robert Wapahi original. Fringe mirror from Target.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Pick either a theme or a color scheme. My apartments really started to come together when I chose colors. My work uses a lot of jewel tones so I felt like that would work as an overall theme to tie in certain furniture. Work with different fabric to create layers. Also remember nothing has to be perfect. Oftentimes, it takes a few rounds of decorating for everything to fit into place. Also if you are friends with artists purchase prints or originals from them. If you have an old tattered dress use it as display. Buy old books and use them as displays. Anything can look like it’s supposed to be there if there’s some piece or color scheme, style that unifies it.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.