“When you’re looking for a fixer-upper, there’s less of that struck-by-Cupid’s-arrow feeling,” admits Lauren Ross, who recently updated every last surface of her 1895 frame house in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. With the help of handy boyfriend Kevin and his expert contractor father, the past 9 months were spent DIY-ing major renovations like expanding and gutting the kitchen, moving and replacing a deathtrap of a stairwell, laying all new hardwood flooring, installing a gas fireplace, and adding additional closets.
Throughout the process, Ross geeked out on the building’s long history. “I felt good about inheriting a house that had been home to the previous family for 40 years,” she shares. Every aesthetic decision she made, from selecting doorknobs to moldings, was influenced by what would have been there in times past. The ceiling medallions fixed above nearly every hanging light also work within this historic framework, but Ross reveals she acquired them to cover unpatched electrical holes when she needed to focus on more pressing matters.
Ross took a more minimalist approach in decorating the refreshed space. “I am fanatical about not accumulating meaningless or useless stuff. This meant having super-human self control in the décor aisles of Target,” she jokes. Luckily, she was able to repurpose almost all of her furniture from previous residences. The homeowner is inherently more comfortable with grey, black, white, and wood tones, but wanted to prevent the space from becoming a sea of neutrals. Claire Staszak of Centered By Design helped her color-averse client choose furniture, art, paint colors, and vibrant, eclectic furniture pieces to enhance the existing collection. Despite being a lean and mean construction crew of three, the team completed the renovation at once instead of maintaining an indefinite work zone. Though it was a whirlwind, the excitement they felt at seeing it come together, knowing that it was a result of their own hard work, just can’t be beat. —Annie