before and after

before & after: school street renovation

by Grace Bonney

projects and homes like this are the reason i’ve always wanted to move to chicago. the cold weather ultimately keeps me away, but i feel like every month or so i see an amazing project like this from a young couple that found an affordable fixer-upper with lots of character and turned it into a beautiful first home. this before & after comes from angela tullier and her husband adam. this past august, angela and adam bought a three flat in chicago that had been vacant for four years. prior to the vacancy, the building had been owned by the same family since 1958- and they had not changed a single thing during that time. angela and adam were determined to tackle this gut rehab and are proud to finally be finished with their new home. i love the way they kept the vintage feel of things and went that extra mile to work with vintage appliances that really enhance the feel of the space. i am completely blown away by their handiwork and decided to give this incredible project it’s own full post. i’ve included 25 of my favorite images here, but angela has over 60 to check out in her flickr set right here. so please join me in sending a big “congrats!” to angela and adam- well done, you two! (be sure to check out the amazing wooden entertainment center they built!)

[images above: bathroom before & after]

[images above: living room before & after]

CLICK HERE for 20 more images of angela and adam’s makeover after the jump!

[images above: the living room, after. looking from the new living room into the renovated dining room]

[images above: dining room before & after]

[images above: a small bedroom is turned into an amazing wood-paneled entertainment room, with a hidden compartment for the television!]

[image above: the kitchen before, and with the cabinets pulled down]

[images above: the kitchen “after”]

[images above: kitchen eating nook, before & after- with a table adam made from salvaged wood]

[images above: entryway, before & after]

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  • Wow, that’s a lot of work! It looks fantastic. I’d love to live here. And that pantry.. to die for! I was wondering, do you know the paint colour in the bathroom?

  • Holy Smokes! I’d almost trade the sweltering Texas summers for Chicago snow for a gorgeous old place like this.

    Love the flawless mix of old and new. It really make a house feel timeless instead of “renovated in 20xx.” GREAT job!

    Pantry w/jars reminds me of the Emersonmade peek were I swooned over them there too.

  • wow…great job! i love that turquoise fridge! did you paint it or buy it like that? the whole job is just fantastic.

  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE this makeover!! It makes me tired just looking at these photos! I love the red door and the kitchen table the best! They have some really awesome metal chairs – LOVE those:)

  • I was wondering about the archways, too. Love the redo. Love the pantry. Love the dog. Made me think that a cute before/after would include a puppy and grown dog. :)

  • Thanks for all the great compliments! The color in the bathroom and pantry is Valspar’s Sage Bud…I actually saw it on the walls in Renegade Handmade here in Chicago and had to steal it for my own place.

    As for the archways- they are all still there! We raised them and rounded them out so the rooms feel larger- we could hardly walk under them before.

    Cajeta- the fridge is actually a new Big Chill. We got it discounted from the warehouse because it had a dent (which I still can’t find), but it was still our biggest splurge.

  • Would love to know what color blue the blue is in the dining room…. complements the red chairs nicely. Congratulations on your beautiful home!

  • I LOOOOVED Angela’s closet!
    SIGH someday!
    Also the kitchen was fabulous- the pantry was great, don’t know if I could keep it that simple though.
    What great inspiration!

  • We’re about to close on our 1900 fixer-upper here in Milwaukee… this makes me EVEN MORE excited to break out the tool belt! Ladies + power tools = s.e.x.y.

    Nice job guys! (wanna drive up the road a piece and offer a few pointers?)

  • I could tell that was a Chicago apartment before I even read the description. So many of our buildings here have the exact same layout. Congrats to the homeowners on a beautiful renovation and making what is really a common space in the city totally their own! Can you come decorate my place for me, please?!

  • It’s always great to see Chicago spaces, because they’re always brimming with ideas! Because two- and three-flats are so common in the city (my husband and I live in one), it’s great to see how people work with a very common floorplan. Very cool!

  • Love everything. Great style. Can we come photography your house for our next catalog? : ) Seriously, let me know… Michelle at Schoolhouse Electric Co.

  • Great job, indeed.
    Although I think there are too much dark colors in the house, I find the kitchen, the salvaged wood table and the wood paneled- room really amazing.

  • Swoon Swoon SWOON! Amazing place.

    Can i just say I am in love with that blue fridge? Who knew it’d be an appliance that would stand out the most in an awesome make over like this … but I love it!!

    Congrats! I am so impressed.

  • Beautiful reno. It makes me exhausted just to look at pictures, though, thinking about the work that must’ve gone into it :)

    Question – where is the rocker in the living room? Or does anyone have a suggestion of where to get one similar?

  • I love “Thursday Before and Afters” and I have to say, I think this is my favorite by far. Stunning taste. Well done. I’m taking notes.

  • Oh my! Gorgeous! Living in a similiar flat in Chicago — this is a great source of inspiration, and I love that the owners kept the vintage details and didn’t paint over the wood trim.

    Can I ask the paint colors used in the living, dining, and sunroom areas?

  • Yup, that’s the one – small pic, and I was hoping it would be a knockoff ;) I’m too frugal for a real Eames!

  • P.S. I hate to promote knockoffs…I am just trying to put together a nursery on a VERY small budget!

  • Am I the only one who continues to be bowled over by the irony of people “rehabbing” supposedly awful, outdated, horrendously vintage-but-not-in-a-good-way houses, then…filling them with MCM furnishings? “Blech, the fifties and sixties!!!” “Oooh, the fifties and sixties!!!”

  • Where did you get the lighting fixture in the bathroom…and the others throughout the house as well? Amazing!

  • HELP everyone! I’m looking for black and white tiles too for our 1924 reno in OH. Do you know your supplier on those? Only ones I’ve found so far are 16 in. sq Armstrong vinyl. Which is fine, they are just a little pricey.

    Love the house, definitely an inspiration as I look at my torn up kitchen floors and de-wallpapered, but not yet painted plaster walls :)

  • Rachel from Schoolhouse Electric- absolutely! Your website was my favorite find of the entire project, and you guys were great to work with when I changed my mind on the color of a shade I had ordered.

    as for colors- I don’t remember the living room color, but the dining room is BM azores, the movie room and entry are BM iron mountain, and the porch is also the Valspar sage bud I used in the pantry and bathroom.

    Liz- If you live in the area, my grey couch is a beautifully reupholstered 1950’s sofa by Post 27. http://www.post27store.com/ I love their furniture, and also found the chrome tube chair there.

  • Wow! Love it guys!

    Did you get the sofa at Post 27? I almost bought that one there!

    Also, I totally support your archway update — just sayin’

    Lastly, to everyone, what paint colors do you think work best with wood trim? I’m designing a space right now that has this same trim everywhere (it’s in Chicago!), and frankly I’m dying to paint it all white. Any thoughts?


  • Yay! I love my city. Chicago is great for big kitchens and pantries. They did a great job. I LOVE the kitchen.

  • that bathroom is almost identicle to mine, the same placement of everything, the same wall color, the same tub and shower….
    the only thing thats different is that my floor is white marble, and my window is a bit smaller, and i have a white cabinet sink instead of a pedistal (i took out that exact kohler pedistal because there was no storage).

  • Some things I would’ve done differently, but all in all – WOW! They really did a great job, though I probably wouldn’t leave THAT much of the original vinage. I really like the built-in lights in the entertainment room, in combination with the wood panels they give a warm, evening-at-the-fireplace feel. And I’m in complete awe of the vintage’y kitchen appliances!

  • what a nice job! My favorite part is that breakfast nook…nice light and the mod yellow chairs look so good with the salvaged wood table. I love Chicago dwellings.

  • Kate, the kitchen floors are not tile, they are actually hand painted wood. I sanded the floors down and painted them white. Angela taped off the squares(it took 10 hours) and painted in the black boxes. It was a lot of work but way cheaper then tile.

  • You did this all in 7 months – how? Did either of you have previous remodeling experience? Did you get any help from others?

  • The mix of furnishings is fantastic. What I appreciate about this renovation is the respect for vintage in everything they attached to the structure– the light fixtures, bath fixtures, faucets, etc.

    After you do this part right, you can decorate however you want. MCM is a nice juxtaposition to the vintage proportions of the rooms. The best spaces, in my opinion, don’t look like they belong in one specific era.

    I think they did a fantastic job. The one tiny criticism I have is not that they reshaped the arches, but that the craftsmanship in the plaster work leaves something to be desired. This is a tough job and its best handled by a seasoned professional.

  • Cricket- we worked day and night, but happen to have some pretty amazing friends and family who were willing to help us every step of the way!

    We did call in the professionals for our electrical work- when we started cutting the walls out, it was a cloth wire nightmare.

  • Hello :)

    I’m wondering where you found that throw pillow, the one with the pistol and keys? I love love love it and I want nothing more than to run out and buy it.

    The apartment looks amazing, you all do such an amazing job with all your before and afters!

    I look forward to the next ones all the time!

    Thanks :) -L

  • Yes!!! Thanks for the Chicago post. I knew it was one as soon as I saw the house. Congratulations to you both on your new home, and on all your hard work! I am utterly in love with your awesome kitchen and pantry! I’m a north west side bungalow owner and my pantry was removed from our home by the previous owners :( It probably looked just like yours. What a lovely place thank you for sharing.
    Oh, and your front stairs are the best.
    Also, well done on your bathroom makeover!

  • Amazing – clean yet cozy, retro and modern, great use of color but never looks cluttered or overwhelming. Such an inspiration!

  • ““Blech, the fifties and sixties!!!” “Oooh, the fifties and sixties!!!””

    It’s okay to like and dislike things from a decade. Do you like every single thing new out right now?Or do you pick and choose for your own tastes?

  • love it all. the black and white floor… what kind of tile ? so shiny… its all so beautiful. love the fridge. love the dog’s entertainment room .

  • I love your blog designsponge, and especially the before/after !
    Inthis one, I love everything : style, material, colours…
    My blog is in french, but you are welcome !

  • is this by belmont blue line? do you rent the other units? i’m looking to get into something similar in logan square and nervous about being a landlord!
    and how did you guys do this so quickly??

  • Love this entire series! I am currently renovating my 1920s craftsman. Hard work, but what a beautiful ending to look forward too!

  • i love this remodel – the bathroom hasn’t received enough credit in the comments! it is simple, has clean lines and an old-fashioned feel. can you share where you found the shower curtain rod??

  • Lovely house! I’m especially in love with the light fixtures, the purple living room walls, the bathroom & the kitchen! And OH! That pantry! Very nice.

  • The paint colors are all so beautiful. And the fridge! Oh my! The stove is also super cute, but I don’t think I could use something that tiny.

  • I love love love the remodel… i am trying to fix up my place in chicago as well. i found a great 3×2 pane window that i want to hang up (similar to how you did in the dining rm?!?)…however its pretty heavy –and our place is old. do you have any suggestions on how to hang it up? thx! :)

  • Oh my goodness, our last house had that exact same tile job in the bathroom. The exact same blue tiles and everything, except they stopped after the second black line on the top. The plaster wall was not pretty in the shower above the tile. (Huge black mildew.)

  • I know I’m a couple years too late on this, but hopefully you’ll check it. I LOVE your house!!! I was wondering where you found that adorable light fixture in your pantry. It would look great in my kitchen. Thanks!

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