Veronica & Keith's Handmade Chic

Veronica & Keith's Handmade Chic

Carolyn Purnell
May 30, 2012

Name: Veronica Sheaffer and Keith Dumbleton
Location: Ukrainian Village, Chicago, IL
Size: 1,400 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years; rented

My Hands Made It, the name of Veronica's blog, is not a misnomer. A simple glance at the source list for their apartment's furnishings will tell you that Veronica and Keith are creative and capable DIYers who have invested a great deal of time, imagination, and care into their home.

One of the first things one sees upon entering is a vivid orange poster for the Tati film Mon Oncle. This poster and the film it represents perfectly sum up Veronica and Keith's style: artistic, classic, and playful.

The apartment is filled with color and pattern, but these elements don't compete with one another, thanks to a careful eye for styling. Instead they serve to brighten and refresh the space. Veronica, who runs her own business designing and creating bridal gowns, is no stranger to sophistication, and while the palette of her home may not match that of her gowns, the refinement of her work and attention to detail come through clearly in the apartment's decor. Touches of gold, quartz bookends, a luxuriously upholstered sofa — elements such as these give the home a cool, elegant edge.

Keith, a teacher for Chicago Public Schools, also enjoys working with his hands, and it's clear that the apartment has significantly benefitted from these two creative minds and four capable hands working together. Much of their furniture has been refinished, recovered, painted, and tweaked, many of the home's accessories have been similarly altered, and some things (like the Sputnik-esque light fixture) have been crafted from scratch. By adding a fresh twist to old pieces (as with the bright red television console and the repurposed luggage rack-cum-pot rack), Veronica and Keith have created a bold, vintage-inspired space that simultaneously feels contemporary and fresh.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: I like to call it "rich old lady goes color blind." I've got sort of a Palm Beach/English countryside thing going — there cannot be enough color and gold in this place. Keith, on the other hand, is really drawn to rustic, found objects and has been forced chosen to leave all of that stuff in his work room. He really likes the rest of the place too, trust me.

Inspiration: I spend practically every free moment reading design blogs, and I'm inspired by so many different styles. Ultimately, the most important thing to us is to buy vintage as much as possible and then find ways to keep it all from looking too kitschy or dated. I love the way Jenny Komeda of Little Green Notebook makes older pieces look new and expensive. Our kitchen is definitely inspired by hers.

Favorite Element: The mid-century sectional we just had reupholstered. I bought it for $200 from the original owner on Craigslist and it was pristine. No one had been allowed to sit on it for 50+ years, and so it really started to deteriorate with daily use. The fabric was also pistachio and gold and difficult to decorate around. I love it in the camel chenille with black piping - it's still true to the style of the piece, but modern and chic.

Biggest Challenge: I work out of our dining room, which can get really out of control at times. It's hard to keep it organized and functional while also feeling like home. Oh and the light fixtures and appliances are also very "challenging;" we rent and they are all awful.

What Friends Say: "Wow! Original Woodwork!" And yes, the woodwork is great and everything, but it's really difficult to decorate around, to be honest. It's lovely, no doubt, but it's very dark. I have to work really hard to keep it fresh and bright in here.

Biggest Embarrassment: I initially painted the living room teal and the dining room bubble gum pink. Don't ask. It was awful. We still have a lot of color on the walls now, but they are calmer shades. I almost think of them as neutrals.

Proudest DIY: There's A LOT of DIY going on in this place, so it's hard to choose. My proudest projects would probably be the sea urchin sculpture in the living room, the painted rugs in the kitchen, the dining room chairs (my parents painted them and I stitched up the seat covers) and the giant shutters in the kitchen that we made from a vintage room divider.

Biggest Indulgence: Having the sofa redone — it was a major splurge and still makes me feel like a millionaire every time I look at it. I carefully chose fabrics that would complement all sorts of interiors — it took forever to find the perfect combo, but I'm confident we'll be happy with this sofa for a very long time. Which is good, because we are definitely not millionaires.

Best Advice: If you're planning a space with strong colors (which I encourage, obviously), it's okay to play with a vast palette; if you've got some neutrals and black in there, it will all balance out. I do think it's a good idea to stick to the same accent colors, though, and use them throughout the entire space. I could take almost any accessory from one room and move it to another where it would work equally as well.

Dream Sources: My parents own an antique store (The Trading Company) which is always full of awesome stuff, and I also frequent Craigslist and thrift stores.

Resources of Note:


    • Paint Color: Peachtree by Behr
    • Curtains: Premier Prints ZigZag fabric in Village Blue/Natural
    • Sofa: Craigslist, reupholstered by Covers Unlimited
    • Coffee tables: Ikea Lack DIY
    • T.V. cabinet: thrift store, painted in Red Tomato by Behr; pulls from Anthropologie
    • Black 1950s chair: antique store
    • Rug: eBay
    • Abstract painting: DIY
    • Black side table: antique store
    • Brass lamps: thrift store with grosgrain ribbon embellishment
    • Sea urchin chandelier: DIY
    • Trays, boxes, vases: antique and thrift stores
    • Horse head bookends (black): eBay
    • Paintings: thrift stores and eBay
    • Owl statue: The Trading Company


    • Paint: Rocky Mountain Sky by Behr
    • Curtains: Premier Prints ZigZag fabric in Village Blue/Natural
    • Chrome console: CB2 (found on Craigslist)
    • Peach ceramic lamps: thrift store
    • Lamp shades: Target with ribbon embellishment
    • Wall stencil: Lavender Scallop from
    • Mirror: alley find, painted
    • Credenza: left by previous tenant
    • Rug: eBay
    • Dining table and chairs: Craigslist; refinished by Veronica and her parents
    • China cabinet fabric: Colette by Swirly Girls Design
    • Peacock embroidery: eBay
    • Horse head bookends (quartz): antique store


    • Paint: Nightshade by Behr
    • Hutch: antique store
    • Rugs: painted by Veronica
    • Pillows and valance: Premier Prints ZigZag outdoor fabric in Ebony
    • Bench: eBay
    • Bentwood chairs: Craigslist
    • Shutters: repurposed room divider
    • Poster print: photograph by Veronica
    • Jadeite and milk glass: family hand-me-downs and countless antique and thrift stores
    • Shelves: wooden planks
    • Marble "counter": repurposed coffee table, Craigslist
    • Table cloth: made by Veronica
    • Pot rack: repurposed luggage rack
    • Table: folding table wrapped in rope


    • Paint: Cloud Burst by Behr
    • Painted branches: Ron Sheaffer (Veronica's dad)
    • Bed: antique (family hand-me-down)
    • Dressers: antique (family hand-me-downs)
    • Chenille bedspreads: Bed, Bath & Beyond; JCPenney
    • Side table: vintage
    • Embroidered pillow cases: eBay
    • Wardrobe: Rubbermaid kit with JCPenney curtains (DIY yellow border)
    • Rug: West Elm
    • Benches: Craigslist
    • Painting: antique store
    • Birdcage: Pier One
    • Lamps: vintage
    • Marble clock: eBay


    • Shower curtains: Target
    • Dresser: vintage, painted
    • Mirror: alley find
    • Painting: vintage
    • Mirrored tray and accessories: thrift store

Thanks, Veronica and Keith!

(Images: Carolyn Purnell )

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