i've been wanting to capture "a day in the life of" individuals that I know and admire for some time now. in my efforts to find more intimate stories, i started talking to my friend, kate, about the potential to come shoot in her home and bring to life through images the home she, her husband tim, and their pup rosie have created in the west loop of chicago. kate embraces all aspects of style: she loves airy girly pieces, funky tough pieces and even injects masculine touches throughout her home now that her and tim share a space as a newlywed couple. she and her husband have cultivated a collection of the rustic & eclectic and kate was kind enough to invite me into her home to give me a peek at some areas of her daily life. she shared with me her thoughts on her personal & interior approach, her life/work balance, the city of chicago her and her family call home, and the evolution behind what makes her style unique:
it’s hard to sum up my personal style and all of its origins in a few words or by a single, classical influence, but i’ve been told – and i tend to agree – that i am rustic/eclectic. then again, eclectic in itself would infer an appreciation for a variety of styles. i grew up in a self-made, middle class family in the suburbs of chicago where my parents worked hard to send us kids to a private school. they had grown up in blue-collar detroit (one grandfather a plumber and the other a concessions salesman) and wanted to be able to provide us a life that they didn’t have growing up. it’s interesting to look at how my family history plays a role in my own personal taste today.
mom and i would spend saturdays at garage sales and antique stores finding treasures that could be repurposed, given new life or simply items with a good story behind them. she collected depression era pink petalware and i’ll never forget when i started my own collection of mid-century fiestaware. dad taught me how to work with wood, appreciating the sustainability and beauty of a weathered, old piece and turning it into something beautiful again. it took a lot of elbow grease and patience, learning to strip, sand and stain wood but i admired both my parents’ hutzpah – especially among many of the other families that i grew up with, who shopped in designer showrooms. i learned that beauty could be accomplished with a lot or a little.
at a young age, i was exposed to many of the “finer” things in life but knew that i didn’t necessarily have to possess all of them. the small, english tudor that we grew up in is still admired for its historical charm, warmth and welcoming comfort that my parents have sustained in it for the last 25 years. a beautiful living space doesn’t require all designer labels or a certain price tag; it requires harmony among color, texture, comfort, functionality and personal touch. it’s up to the dweller to decide which things are worth the extra expenditure.
when i got married last year, my personal style evolved from shabby chic staples to husband (and puppy)-friendly compromises (complete with flat screen tvs, steak knives and a couch made for super bowl parties or sunday naps, as opposed to my previous “display-only” button tuft). lately, our preference is to find congruence in the new and the old – family members or friends play a part in almost every accent. our current apartment is a city condo filled with both antique accents including a record player, rocking chair and a small desk (the first project my dad and i completed together) and new members like a custom bookshelf built by timmy’s grandfather, hank, a bedside table that i recently up-cycled and a favorite craigslist find: our stainless steel kitchen table.
the large white print is from an etsy artist i found named big nickel graphics. chicago has become a huge part of me and this city center train map is only recognizable to true chicagoans; it's a right of passage.
when it comes to personal style, i take a similar approach as with my home decor. i like to wear things that are versatile, contextual and complimentary yet never boring. i have some vintage jewelry pieces from both of my grandmothers that always rise to the top of my piles.
i picked this poor little end table up at a local thrift store on a whim for $15. i was up for a new project and rosie had just made a meal out of the table previously in its place. i stripped and sanded it some, then painted the body and the hardware a crisp, clean white. the lamp is actually from a set my mom picked up for me at a garage sale when i was in college (isn't she good?).
how does living in chicago inspire your design and your lifestyle? chicago offers abundant inspiration every day. i can't begin to describe the variety of lifestyles that thrive in this town. chicago somehow boasts all the perks of big city thrills with a warm, small town mentality. it's not just the job market that keep people here, but "the midwest friendly" effect that truly deepens the roots. what's more inspirational than doing life with people you love?
where are some of your favorite spots to shop, eat, hang out at, in chicago? i've never lived in a neighborhood that didn't contain fantastic music, shopping or food options within half a mile of home. i find myself to be a "local explorer" and spend my weekends getting to know my 'hood. right now, my husband and i live in the rapidly growing fulton market warehouse district which is within walking distance of the loop. it's so fun to welcome top developers or chefs as they commit to new shops, parks and restaurants in our area. shop: i'm a michigan avenue girl, i confess, but the armitage strip in lincoln park is also a favorite. eat: lately, i've been all about the french market at the ogilvie metra station where a variety of local vendors have "pop up shops" running the gamut of yumminess (authentic tacos, french crepes, gourmet cheeses, fresh produce, raw food preparations, italian coffee and beyond. hang out: on our building's "forbidden" rooftop (safety precautions) with city looks that could kill.
how do you create work/life balance? it used to be a real problem for me in prior jobs and i know it's still a challenge for many of my peers today. getting married this past year really taught me that my career is only one facet of my life. i've found that if you seek the right kinds of managers within your field, you'll discover plenty of accomplished people who love what they do and yet go home to spend time with their families at 5pm every night. i'm now blessed to have a vibrant professional life that doesn't inhibit my personal life and i have my boss' example to thank for that. g&ts also seem to do the trick now and again.