A Live/Work Loft in Chicago filled with Vintage Charm

This dining table has been with us from our first month in Chicago. We got it at a yard sale for $100 and have moved it into 3 apartments since, even though it weighs a TON. Most days we share breakfast, lunch and dinner at this table so it's become a big part of our lives.
Six years ago Nicole and Mike McQuade moved from the Philadelphia to Chicago for design jobs (both are graphic designers/illustrators). After working for agencies for a few years, they decided to go the freelance route and this past year, they have officially joined forces to create McQuade Inc. in order to take on larger design projects as a team. In addition, Nicole is also a food photographer, mostly for Some Kitchen Stories, a blog she started with a friend, where they combine recipes with short fictional stories.  With all that activity, the couple needed an apartment that was up to the challenge. A year and half ago, they found this space in Chicago’s West Loop – the size makes it perfect for their live/work situations. Since it is a live/work space, most of the apartment is a mix of both worlds. Many of the objects the couple collects (old typography, old catalogs, books, interesting cookware, etc) are used in their world as well as serve as decor. Thanks Mike & Nicole and an extra thanks to Nicole for the lovely photos! –Amy

Image above: This dining table has been with us from our first month in Chicago. We got it at a yard sale for $100 and have moved it into 3 apartments since, even though it weighs a TON. Most days we share breakfast, lunch and dinner at this table so it’s become a big part of our lives.
This is in our studio, the cabinet all the way on the right (the wooden one) is an old Hamilton wood type cabinet. My dad found it for sale on the side of the road in PA, refinished it and was keeping nuts & bolts in it until we convinced him we should have it to store our wood type in.
Image above: This is in our studio, the cabinet all the way on the right (the wooden one) is an old Hamilton wood type cabinet. My dad found it for sale on the side of the road in PA, refinished it and was keeping nuts & bolts in it until we convinced him we should have it to store our wood type in.

-1

See more of this Chicago loft after the jump!

This is our main "living" area, we found the vintage turkish rug on ebay and mixed it with the cowhide rug from Ikea. I'm a big fan of mixing textures and patterns and feel that the mix of fabrics helps the room feel cozy. Our couch is from Room & Board and most of the other furniture is from craigslist. We recently put up the bookshelves on the right to create a wall separating our living area and our work studio. The shelves are from World Market.
Image above: This is our main “living” area, we found the vintage Turkish rug on eBay and mixed it with the cowhide rug from Ikea. I’m a big fan of mixing textures and patterns and feel that the mix of fabrics helps the room feel cozy. Our couch is from Room & Board and most of the other furniture is from Craigslist. We recently put up the bookshelves on the right to create a wall separating our living area and our work studio. The shelves are from World Market. 

Design Sponge/Sneak Peek

5Nicole
Image above: This is looking into our apartment from our main door: Kitchen is on the left, studio on the right. It’s nice to have open space between our areas since we have no real walls to separate rooms. The open space is also where I set up when I’m photographing food for the blog. I can set up and have space to move around and then when I’m done take it down. 

6Nicole
Image above: Collection of cookbooks. I love cooking so between that and finding recipes for our blog I spend a lot of time looking at cookbooks and food websites/blogs. 

The "end table" is a drinking water drum we got at an auction in PA. We liked the typography on it and it was only $5 so we figured we'd use it somewhere. The chair is from Macy's. The photos behind the chair were taken at a dive bar in Chicago called Rainbo Club which has an old time black & white photo booth. We scanned them, printed them and hung them vertically in 4 frames to look like the original photo strip.
Image above: The “end table” is a drinking water drum we got at an auction in PA. We liked the typography on it and it was only $5 so we figured we’d use it somewhere. The chair is from Macy’s. The photos behind the chair were taken at a dive bar in Chicago called Rainbo Club which has an old time black & white photo booth. We scanned them, printed them and hung them vertically in 4 frames to look like the original photo strip.

The channel letters M + N on top of the cabinets were a wedding gift from our friends Melissa & Shaun. Shaun works in a sign shop so they were able to design the letters based on our wedding invitation and then have them printed in actual metal, one of the coolest gifts we've ever gotten.
Image above: The channel letters M + N on top of the cabinets were a wedding gift from our friends Melissa & Shaun. Shaun works in a sign shop so they were able to design the letters based on our wedding invitation and then have them printed in actual metal, one of the coolest gifts we’ve ever gotten. 

Design Sponge/Sneak Peek

Image above: This is the semi-wall separating our living area from our bedroom. I grew up in Pennsylvania and we got the pull down map at barn sale in PA for $10. Our apartment has a lot of pieces that remind us of places in our past like this map. One of the prints on the wall next to the map is my grandfather's report card when he was in grade school. The record player is from Craigslist, the rug is another ebay rug, the lamp is from CB2 and the big 3 is from a vintage shop in Detroit. The guitar was a gift in trade for some of Mike's posters: neither of us knows how to play it.
Image above: Image above: This is the semi-wall separating our living area from our bedroom. I grew up in Pennsylvania and we got the pull down map at barn sale in PA for $10. Our apartment has a lot of pieces that remind us of places in our past like this map. One of the prints on the wall next to the map is my grandfather’s report card when he was in grade school. The record player is from Craigslist, the rug is another ebay rug, the lamp is from CB2 and the big 3 is from a vintage shop in Detroit. The guitar was a gift in trade for some of Mike’s posters: neither of us knows how to play it.

11Nicole
Image above: This is in our bedroom. The lamp is from Amazon, the dresser from craigslist, the framed photos are from our wedding, the chair is from a discount furniture warehouse here in IL, and the banner was a gift from our friend Mary Kate McDevitt.

12Nicole
Image above: This is looking into our bedroom from our living area. Lighting in our loft has been a challenge, there were no overhead lights when we moved in so we’ve been adding lighting but overall our apartment is rather dimly lit. The string lights were left over from our wedding (there’s a photo of how we used them on our photographer’s site here) so we decided to hang them in our bedroom.

Bedroom: bed from CB2, lamps from IKEA, dresser from Craigslist. The Q is a print from House Industries and the red M in the corner is from eBay. Winters are cold in Chicago and lofts are drafty so we have quite the collection of blankets and throws, but this big chunky one is my favorite, from Pottery Barn.
Image above: Bedroom: bed from CB2, lamps from IKEA, dresser from Craigslist. The Q is a print from House Industries and the red M in the corner is from eBay. Winters are cold in Chicago and lofts are drafty so we have quite the collection of blankets and throws, but this big chunky one is my favorite, from Pottery Barn.

This is also in our bedroom. The suitcase, chair, crate and lamp all came from yard sales/vintage stores. The lockers came from a local art museum that my sister worked at. They were in the staff lounge and were about to be thrown out so my sister snagged them for us for free. We had to rent a uhaul to get them home and they weigh a ton, but were totally worth it. We have no closets in our loft, not even in the bedroom so we store our shoes and sweaters in the lockers.
Image above: This is also in our bedroom. The suitcase, chair, crate and lamp all came from yard sales/vintage stores. The lockers came from a local art museum that my sister worked at. They were in the staff lounge and were about to be thrown out so my sister snagged them for us for free. We had to rent a U-Haul to get them home and they weigh a ton, but were totally worth it. We have no closets in our loft, not even in the bedroom so we store our shoes and sweaters in the lockers.

Mike's Wolverines
Image above: Mike’s Wolverines

This is in our studio. It's a work in progress shot of a piece of art Mike is working on. Since we don't have a lot of storage, we hang our bikes from the beam and from the ceiling. The metal rolling cart to the left of the easel is from an old machine shop.
Image above: This is in our studio. It’s a work in progress shot of a piece of art Mike is working on. Since we don’t have a lot of storage, we hang our bikes from the beam and from the ceiling. The metal rolling cart to the left of the easel is from an old machine shop.

This is pretty much the full studio space. We work across from each other and Lola generally hangs out next to us.
Image above: This is pretty much the full studio space. We work across from each other and Lola generally hangs out next to us.

This is our bathroom with a tricky sliding door. It's not really ideal for guests since we have to explain to everyone that you have to get the door lined up just perfect since there is literally no overhang on either side. I love the diffused light we get in the bathroom though and how much space we have.
Image above: This is our bathroom with a tricky sliding door. It’s not really ideal for guests since we have to explain to everyone that you have to get the door lined up just perfect since there is literally no overhang on either side. I love the diffused light we get in the bathroom though and how much space we have.

19Nicole

These are on our shelf in the bathroom. We used antique jars to hold flowers at our wedding so we brought a bunch back with us and we use them to hold various things like cotton balls, Q-tips and flowers. I also use a lot of the jars we collected in my photography as props.
Image above: These are on our shelf in the bathroom. We used antique jars to hold flowers at our wedding so we brought a bunch back with us and we use them to hold various things like cotton balls, Q-tips and flowers. I also use a lot of the jars we collected in my photography as props.

21Nicole
Image above: This is our dog Lola. She’s almost 2 years old. She likes snuggling and playing with her toys and is afraid of odd things like tree branches out the windows and anything larger than her. She has many nicknames one of which is Kugupu (from a Portlandia skit)

-2

  1. Veronica says:

    This place is enormous and stunning!

  2. adrea says:

    Aidan loves Lola! Shes famous now :)

  3. Mon says:

    wow amazing :D

  4. Mon says:

    WOW, I love this places, is perfect :D

  5. Christina Warsheski says:

    In the picture of the semi-wall separating the living area from the bedroom – what color paint is that?? I have natural woodwork in my home that is similar in color and that gray is great! Thanks!

  6. Brittany says:

    This is seriously gorgeous. I am completely in love with the floors & brick walls!

  7. Smid says:

    Fun space. I love the layered rugs.

  8. Adrea says:

    Aidan loves and Lola, shes his favorite cousin!

  9. Katherine says:

    Love so much about this studio! I must ask; you say, “the chair is from a discount furniture warehouse here in IL” and I say what discount furniture warehouse in IL! I’m in Chicago and know of no such warehouse! would loooooove to be in on this little secret! :-)
    If you can share, please do! Thanks!

  10. Nicole says:

    Christina, I honestly don’t remember what the color was called, and I don’t see a name on the top of the paint can but I’d be happy to send you a photo of the paint can label and maybe they can decipher it at Home Depot or Lowes :) Feel free to email me at nicolepziegler@gmail.com and I’ll send it to you

  11. Silvie says:

    I love this space! A dream! And I always love a cute pet in the pictures :-)

  12. Bookshelves are always a great way to zone and divide a space (and it gives you extra storage too :-)

  13. Angelica R. says:

    Beautifully styled home! I love the idea of scanning and printing out the photostrip! How did you make the photos so large and still keep the detail from a tiny photostrip??

    Angelica

  14. Nicole says:

    Love the dog (and the space, too!)

  15. Nicole says:

    Angelica R, we scanned the photos at a very high resolution and then blew them up, they’re not perfect but it held a lot of the detail

  16. I love your mix of traditional items & untraditional ones. It makes a house your home. I love combining vintage with new for myself and my clients. It gives a scence of history and interest, just like your lovely loft. Thank you for sharing.

    Janeane

  17. annie klink says:

    i’d love to know about the desk. i’m looking for something that can transition from desk to dinner table. thank you!

  18. Berton1020 says:

    What a great space!! So charming and inviting!! I also LOVED looking at the photos of your amazing wedding!!!!

  19. Claire says:

    Love lofts, and this one is great. The brick, the beam ceilings, the open space….very jealous!

  20. Nicole says:

    Katherine, the warehouse is called Interior Express Outlet and it’s out by O’Hare.

    Annie, we got the desk on sale from Anthropologie, it was a dining table and they don’t sell it anymore but the original furniture maker is Philly based Robert Ogden

  21. Aly says:

    This loft is amazing! It’s so funny, we have almost all of the same chairs from IEO! We also use the white “Eames” chairs with our dining table, they work so perfectly with any style! Next on my list is the mini saarinen knock-off, i’s just too cute to pass up.
    Thanks for sharing your space Nicole!

  22. Ainee Beland says:

    Envious of loft living. The open space is nice and yet invasive if one is not of that mind set. It is wonderful to have your own space. So wonderful…and not to have to venture too far; as all is near.
    Thank you for sharing.

  23. Shannon says:

    Awesome place! As someone mentioned already, the many rugs all play so nicely together. There are some fantastic dive bars in Chicago, but y’all know Rainbo Club is more a hipster watering hole than a true dive at this point. Still plenty of fun to be had there, of course!

  24. Eva says:

    Love everything!

  25. Priya says:

    Nicole where are your gorgeous dining table chairs from? We are in dire need!
    Thanks
    P

  26. John says:

    Great space . . . Would love a loft setting like this to live and work in.

  27. miral says:

    Great space.

  28. Rita Marie says:

    Lola!!!! Love that pup!

    Also, love the make shift drinking water side table and the photo strip.

    Everything about this place is cozy and fun.

  29. Live work never looked better…the pooch…the finishing touch!

  30. jay Ziegler says:

    A real nice place, looks like a great place to live and work. The dog looks very content.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.