I've been sitting on this update for months. At least if feels like that. But every time I thought about writing, it felt both overwhelming and as if not enough had been done to update you. I.JUST.COULDN'T. But, I've turned the corner and while lots of things are still works-in-progress I'm ready to show you where we are at right now. Click here to see the video from when we moved in.
First, I want to address our home furnishing philosophy and direction. We knew we wanted to start from scratch with this house (it is our first house together, though we both owned our own homes prior to dating). When we moved in together back in the day we basically sold my stuff and I just shifted into his house. I was fine with that but this house gave us an opportunity to really create OUR space for the first time. This house is older and a different style than the house we left and that impacted the direction we saw our furnishings going. The house was built in 1923 and is of the Prairie School Style of architecture (think Frank Lloyd Wright as the most prominent example). It is a rare style to find in our neighborhood and was a huge draw for us.
Even though this house is older and more architecturally styled, the interior has character but isn't limiting in terms of what style of interior design you can go with. We knew we wanted an eclectic vibe as a result. We also decided that whenever possible we would buy vintage/antique rather than new production. I suspect we had slightly different, but overlapping, motivations for this. We both like the idea of our pieces having a story behind them and a uniqueness factor (you won't find the stuff in our house in current catalogs/stores). I was also really pushed by the desire to furnish the house via more eco-friendly, sustainable methods. We dispose of furniture and other home decor so easily these days. So much usable product ends up in landfills, that quite honestly, it's disgusting. I've talked about my efforts to be more ethical and sustainable in my clothing purchases and I wanted to expand upon that to the house.
In terms of design and process.....we didn't have one. That is the truth. We didn't have vision boards or any specific idea about what each room would look like. The dining room is an exception. I came across an instagram photo of a dining room that acted as my inspiration on the table & side chairs combo. Mostly though, we just found pieces we loved that we thought could meld with various styles and the pieces we had already found. We added (and are adding) things piecemeal. We found a sofa. That informed the chairs. Which informed the rug choice. Now that we have the foundational pieces we are working on tables. Once we have tables figured out we'll move on to lamps and any accents (which will be minimal because that is more our vibe). We browsed a lot of images on Pinterest and Instagram and the shops we love. But we truly didn't have a cohesive game plan when we started. We also didn't use a designer at all. It's just us.
We've been hitting antique and vintage stores whenever we can find the time. We have a couple of great stores in our area but we've also made a few purposeful trips into Chicago to take advantage of their amazing supply of antique/vintage stores. If you are in Chicago and looking for stores (I've linked out to either a webpage, FB, or Instagram account for most on the list below):
Mad Modern (Cedar Rapids)
Czech Village Antiques (Cedar Rapids)
Kalona Antique Company (Kalona)
It feels easiest to do this room by room. Lets start with the dining room as it is closest to completion. We brought nothing with us for this room when we moved so everything is newly acquired. Most things in this room were preowned. The exception is the table and the four side chairs. We had the table custom made. We saw some new production pieces that we loved but that had limitations. One was just way too expensive. Another wasn't available in the size we wanted without the top being two pieces of stone rather than one continuous piece. So we reached out to a craftsman (Dale at Liberty Iron Works) that had done a sofa table (see the living room photos below) for us before and he spearheaded the project to get us just what we were looking for. He is a metal worker and made the base and then coordinated with a stone provider on a slab we had picked out. It turned out great and we love it.
We could have hunted down the original production of these side chairs but that would have been cost prohibitive for us so we settled with reproductions here. The captain chairs are Italian Medea dining chairs by Vittorio Nobili for Fratelli Tagliabue (purchased at Pavilion). They were designed in 1955 and are moulded teak with black enameled metal legs. The bar cube was actually our first purchase for the house. We bought it from Modern Mobler while in Washington D.C. (we spotted it online prior to the trip and arranged our plans so we could go check it out and make it ours!) and squeezed it into the back seat of a rental car to bring it home last spring. The midcentury mixed-wood sideboard was scored at Velvet Goldmine. I spotted it via their Instagram and we were lucky enough they still had it a couple of weeks later when we were able to make it into the city. The table linens are new and from Rough Linen while the table decor has been sourced from various antique stores. At some point we plan to change out the light fixture but that is a ways down the road. I'm on the hunt for beautiful colored bar glassware for the built-in cabinet.
The living room is finally starting to come together. We need some side tables, lamps, a different chair by the fireplace, and we are waiting on the delivery of a coffee table (purchased off of 1stdibs). But we've made such progress in this room despite its still incomplete state. The leather couch is a new production from Restoration Hardware. The two chairs flanking it are midcentury teak lounge chairs by Grete Jalk for France & Son. Let me tell you a story about these dudes. I spotted them late on a Friday afternoon, like right before close of business, on Mad Modern's social media. I fell in love and made my husband get up on Saturday and haul our butts to the store in time for opening. The whole time I was terrified someone would get to them before us. Man was I stressed out. These are in almost pristine condition. We feel so blessed to have scored them. Huge shout out to Dave at Mad Modern for his awesome taste and hunting skills. The rug is an antique Persian Heriz rug that is about 100 years old purchased from The Southern Loom. The coffee table we are waiting on is a brass and glass midcentury Labarge Hoof Cocktail Regency table. We wanted something that didn't obscure the rug and would marry the couch and chairs together. We think this table should do it. The lamp was another find from Mad Modern.
The area by the fireplace in the living room is still in progress. The couch is a 1950s Italian settee by Gigi Radice for Minotti that was reupholstered in a linen wool blend (from Pavilion). The small coffee table is a 1940s Nero Portoro Italian Regency marble table with a curved brass base from The Savoy Flea. The rug just arrived this week. It is an Iranian Qashqai design that is about a century old (The Southern Loom). We don't know much about the cedar chest other than we love the carving and it is perfect for our blanket storage! It was found at Mississippi Cottage Antiques in Le Claire, Iowa. We had a sleek modern gas unit installed in the fireplace to keep things simple and open the hearth back up. The fireplace chimney isn't to code for wood burning and I didn't want the fake log look.
I'm going to hold off on sharing the other spaces in the house because 1) this is already long and if you are still reading THANKS! 2) the master bedroom and the sunroom are in the early stages still and need A LOT more work. But I'll peak your interest with this beauty! Marianne at The Savoy Flea was an angel in helping make this project happen. Our first visit to the shop we spotted this gorgeous but ragged dream. We bought it and she went above and beyond to help me figure out fabric and get the upholstery redone. She was insanely patient with me and all of my questions and the delays that occurred along the way (fabric delivery nightmares). We recently picked up the finished piece and IT. IS. STUNNING. It is going in the sunroom and is basically the only piece in there right now. It doesn't show to its fullest abilities without a bit more styling so I'm borrowing some images from Marianne (follow her Instagram- TRUST ME), that she took in her shop, so you can see this lovely lady.
Stay tuned as we continue putting things together!