Chris & Colleen's Small, Hip Family Home

Chris & Colleen's Small, Hip Family Home

Julia Brenner
Mar 11, 2013

Name: Chris and Colleen, son Clark (10 months), and dogs Rosie, Lucius, and overnight guest Maltese, Henry
Location: Blue Island, Illinois
Size: 954 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years, owned

Just past Chicago's southern border is the quaint town of Blue Island, Illinois. On a quiet, tree-lined street in Blue Island is Chris and Colleen's gem of a home. Using smart planning, a great sense of detail, and a lot of work, they turned a small, dilapidated 1950's ranch house into a bright, hip family home.

I visited Chris, a software engineer and Colleen, a domestic specialist, artist, and owner of Walsh Walsh and Son on a gray, snowy Chicago afternoon, which was in stark contrast to the warmth and light that greeted me when Colleen opened the front door. I was surprised to learn that their home is only approximately 950 sq. feet, because they've done such a great job of making it feel bright and spacious using vaulted ceilings, bold colors, and smart space planning; Colleen's even set up a work studio off of the kitchen! It was a joy spending time in their beautifully renovated home, and they've certainly proven that you don't need a lot of square footage to create a functional family home that's infused with personal style.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Kitschy, Eclectic, Cluttered, Collection

Inspiration: Mostly other people's houses and belongings. When you find a great piece, it demands to be planned around. I am constantly observant of how other people do things or decorate.

Favorite Element: Vaulted ceilings, natural light, and the cozy feel of our house.

Biggest Challenge: Organizing our things with minimal storage space and a love of collecting junk.

What Friends Say: Where do you find this stuff?

Biggest Embarrassment: Our giant, dirty couch. This is one area of the home where practicality trumps style. We like to have a comfortable and casual home for guests and ourselves. The night before the tour a friend spilled red wine all over -- I love being able to say, "don't worry about it" and mean it. We also have two stinky dogs, and a drooly baby, therefore we ignore the cleanliness (or lack thereof) of the couch. Except once a year, when I power wash it (that time is right around the corner).

Proudest DIY: Renovating this 50's ranch house into a modern, large-feeling, stylish space. We knocked down walls, demolished it down to the studs and utilized every possible inch. We did not do the work ourselves, but we did design everything (with lots of consultation, shopping, opinions, etc).

Biggest Indulgence: Counter tops and kitchen appliances

Best Advice: Only get stuff that A) is practical, B) you absolutely love, or best of all C) a combination of those two elements. And get rid of anything that does not fit into these categories; all the time -- get rid of stuff, which is much easier said than done.

Dream Sources: Not-well-advertised estate sales of interesting older folks (who have decided to live out their golden years somewhere else). It is almost like being an archaeologist, seeing everything organized and grouped as the owner intended (for the most part). There is such high quality stuff out there and I like that I can take the things they loved and continue the story in my home. Truly great estate sales don't come around as often as I'd like, and often they are overrun with antique dealers and fanatics.

Resources of Note:

• Entry: Color: Tree Frog, Dutch Boy (Arm & Hammer Refresh Paint)
• Kitchen: Color: Toasty Warm, Pratt & Lambert
• Bedroom: Color: Walls & trim, Raisin Torte, Pratt & Lambert; Ceiling, Brushed Sage, Pratt & Lambert

• Piano: Keys for Kids (a non profit using the proceeds of selling used pianos to bring music to kids)
• Painted Silk Swatches & Boyscouts Terrarium: Etsy Violet Mae Vintage
• Mantel (used for landing strip): Handmade and retrieved from Bob St. Aubin's estate, a cabinet maker and watch repairman.
• knit by Chris' mother

• TV stand: Arhaus
• Rug: Overstock (don't get it!!!! It sheds SO much)
• Pillows: Made from Anthropologie towels, Crate & Barrel, Marshall's, and second hand
• Textiles: estate sales
• Side table: Antique Turkey Table
• Marlin hanging on wall: A cousin gave it to us!
• Side lamps: Garage sale

• Countertops: Shamrock (apparently not available in the Midwest any longer)
• Appliances: G.E. Cafe series
• Painting (covering breaker box): Liz Wolf
• Ombre Kitchen Utensils (spoons & garlic press): Etsy shop, oMEandoMY
• Dishes: Pier One Imports
• Canisters: Target
• Tea Towels: Anthropologie & Macy's

• Bed: The ever popular, but now defunct Ikea Hemnes
• Side table: Umbra Floating Bookshelf
• Modified Ikea kitchen island
• Desk stool, lamp, book case, couch, dresser are all vintage pieces that I refinished

• see Clark's Eclectic Room nursery tour

• "I Like Adventures" print: My very own Etsy shop, Walsh Walsh and Son

Thanks, Chris, Colleen, and Clark!

(Images: Julia Brenner)

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