Sneak peek: Liz Cook

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Native Chicagoan Liz Cook lives in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. She loves the process of apartment hunting, but this was the first place she visited three years ago, and she was immediately sold on its vintage details, open layout and view of the nursery that neighbors the building. Liz grew up going to garage sales with her mom and grandmother, and collecting antiques was a hobby that ran in the family. Her own style really started to develop in her early 20s when she started to fall for mid-century modern. In her professional life, Liz quit her day job in the wedding industry about a year ago to push her graphic design career in the direction of branding, strategy and social design, operating as Press & Fold Design. These days she’s working on producing a radical alphabet poster with a collective of friends, L is for Liberation, and volunteering through awesome organizations like EPIC. Many thanks to Liz and to Erik Sanchez for help with the photos! — Anne

Image above: I love hunting for the perfect piece, and this armoire was a long sought-out Craigslist win. The warm, rich nature of it has been key in giving my bedroom the bold yet slightly romantic feeling that I was going for.


Image above: The abstract cityscape painting was a cheap garage sale find that caught my eye and ended up fitting perfectly over my bed. I love the way the wall color pulls out the subtle touches of turquoise.

See more of Liz’s retro-inspired home after the jump . . .


Image above: My girlfriend gave me this 1930s tie rack for my birthday a few years back. Aside from showcasing my ever-growing necktie collection, it has a knob you can turn to get advice on color pairing! Choosing a red tie? Consider a white, grey, or blue shirt against a grey or blue suit.


Image above: The living room is the central room in the house. I love having my morning coffee on the couch while I ease into the day, as well as having friends over for a rousing evening of parlour games. The couch is part of a three-piece sectional that I found on eBay. A couple friends and I drove up to Michigan in a borrowed van to pick it up and almost couldn’t fit it in! I spent the ride home sitting on the floor, cramped between the couch and the front seats. It was actually one of the more fun car rides of my life, and we still reminisce about the trip. The letterpress handbills were done by Rar Rar Press and pay homage to the Fireside Bowl, an infamous venue that used to host punk and indie shows and was a frequent destination of mine during high school. The ottoman is from Woolly Mammoth, a neat little oddities shop in my neighborhood, and the (collapsible!) orange Danish chair is an estate sale find.


Image above: Driving past a yard sale with a friend one afternoon, we spotted the gutted-out TV shell and immediately stopped to investigate. At only $5, it was a must have. It now houses a couple odds and ends, and I rigged a light inside to showcase the display. Above it, some framed pages pulled from an old tabloid newspaper complement a stack of 1950s books with frighteningly authentic titles like “The Sexual Responsibility of Women.” I used to remark that I should have been in the ’50s, since I love the style so much, but that book reminds me that I definitely shouldn’t have been.


Image above: The pair of stacked bookshelves are packed with my collections of old cameras, film and photography ephemera, and memorabilia from the Chicago World’s Fair. The projector I inherited from my grandma is still in tip-top shape.


Image above: I’m not much of a comic or superhero fan, but when I discovered this print of the ambiguously gendered Prince Valiant in my grandfather’s attic after he passed away, I knew I couldn’t pass it up.


Image above: The kitchen was painted a bright sunflower color in hopes of making it a little easier to wake up in the morning. It helps, but my hound dog, Henry, does most of the work when he insists it’s time for breakfast.


Image above: The dining room doubles as my work space, and this cabinet houses my art and print making supplies, including my beloved Line-O-Scribe. It also gives me a place to showcase some of my favorite book covers. I love old-school typography and often find myself buying old books just because I like the design of the titles.


Image above: The incredible mantel and built-in bookshelves were a big selling point when I first saw the apartment. The bookcase displays some of my favorite objects: a wire telephone sculpture I made in college, a bingo card printing block, and my 3″ x 5″ Kelsey Excelsior letterpress, which comes from another road trip — this one to Wisconsin, where I bought it off a woman who turned out to bare a striking resemblance to myself, plus 20 years. It was a pretty uncanny experience. The mantelpiece was another item I stumbled upon at Woolly Mammoth.


Image above: The Kissing Booth print by Roll & Tumble Press leads the way into my bedroom, and I’m pleased to say it has been a fairly successful self-fulfilling prophecy.


Image above: The most unique thing about the apartment is that the building neighbors both a cemetery and a nursery. The vibrantly colored foliage of the garden and stillness of the cemetery make the back porch a lovely place to relax and enjoy the view.

Laura

WOW that mantel! and that blue in the first photo is so perfect!

Evan

Liz, I see you’re watching the same thing on T.V. for the past 5 years. Ha ! Congratulations on this. You and Erik did a bang-up job. The chair outside looks exceptional against the tree nursery in the background. I can hear the sprinklers……….

Cyn | decyng

Interesting colors for walls (i´m kind of white wall person). I like most of the pictures hanging on the walls of each room.

Elizabeth

great sneak peek!

(i think the link to her site pressandfold.com has an extra “d” in it. so it’s not working correctly.)

Ilana

Love it!!!!! Can you tell us more about the metal green metal cabinet?

amy

the colors in your home are so amazing, every picture looks like a painting. beautiful!

April Valencik

Loooove!!! I am dying to know the mint blue-green wall color! I’ve been trying to match that color for such a long time! That vintage toothpaste/Chevy pick-up mint green is such a splash of fun and invigorates the space. I love all the charm and whimsy. This place truly has loads of character!

Amberly Charter

That tie rack is so cool, I’ve never seen anything like it! Love how your style shows so strongly in every single space of your home.

coleen claire

hello i love your chicago home! it is soo vibrant. I was wondering about your kitchen table. i found the same one in my parents basement…it belonged to my grandparents… the top of the table is in excellent condition but the legs are rusted out and are no longer useable. do you know where i could find replacement legs? in all my thrifting i have never seen one like it! where did you find yours?

Stefani

I have to know where you purchased the painting and fan in the first picture…

isabelle

Interesting use of vintage items many would call junk. And yet you pull it together with grace and dignity.

Louise

A real house with a real personality ! Great colours for walls, soooo sick of white and more white. Lovely

the desert echo

I love how the bold colours of the walls are referenced in her prints and treasures. I used a postcard like the one in the first photo to choose the same blue colour for my bedroom when I was in high school! I wonder which one came first for her.

heather em

your colors… make me so very happy. adore. beautiful home.

laura

Love this, great finds, and Woolly Mammoth is such a great treasure trove, i hope i can one day go back there!

Alethea

This is such a happy space. I love the bright colors and quirky personality of the decor.

Rachel Roberts

So I’ve been following Design Sponge for almost two years now, and this is BY FAR my favorite home I’ve ever seen on here! Congratulations Liz for having such an amazing home! And I will find you one day to decorate my dream home!

Sara Taff

Liz, Your place is awesome!!! The couch in your living room isn’t quite as nice as the love seat in the tree house in your backyard ;) and you have come a long way from the hot air balloon wallpaper in your childhood bedroom! haha Looks like you are doing really well, very happy for you! Hope to see you on Bell ave soon! :)
-Sara

hannita

I always drive past Wooly Mammoth and think about stopping but I’m usually on my way somewhere. You have inspired me to stop by there soon. Hooray for happy Chicago places!

sewdotcoe

I love the bedroom wall colour. I am obsessed with turquoise… what colour/brand is this paint??

Kal

Again thrilled to see colour on the walls that is not white! When I see these photos I am thinking you should be very proud of the results. Its very You-nique in a refreshing way!

Edna

Where can I get that “seize him!” poster?! Love it.

Timothy

So glad to finally see a sneak peek with some colors on the walls!

Liz

Hey all, thanks for all the wonderful comments! A few of your asked questions, so I’ll try my best to answer them.

@Ilana. The green cabinet came from an estate sale. My guess is it dates back to a kitchen in the 60s. The bottom shelf has hooks for hanging mugs, and one of the drawers has a cover so it can be used as a bread box! The hutch also came with glass sliding doors.

@ Colleen Claire. I found my table on craigslist and unfortunately don’t know where to get replacement legs. I see similar enamel top tables at antique stores fairly often, though.

@Stephani. Both might have been at the Edgewater Antique Mall, a favorite of mine, but I’m not positive.

@Sewdotcoe. All I remember is it was purchased from Thybony, a local paint store.

@Edna. I wish I knew! I’ve tried to find out more about it’s history, but haven’t had any luck. I also wish I knew why my grandpa had it, cause I can’t imagine anything further from his aesthetic.

Emily

What year is your kitchen table from with the steel legs and red trim? I just bought one for my apartment, but the sales woman could not make an exact estimate on the year. Our table needs some help. Yours is lovely!

PeaSoup

This is a phenomenal apartment – love every bit of it. And it looks like a real home that you can properly relax in. Nice job guys!

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