An 1890s Two-flat Building in Chicago with a Mid-Century Spin

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When Brandon Blunden and Katie Mckiernan met, they had no idea that their new friendship would eventually turn into a seven-year romantic partnership, the start of a business, homes together, and a future wedding. Brandon and Katie’s shared love for mid-century pieces is seen in every room of their Humboldt Park, Chicago two-flat apartment — and it fuels their custom and vintage furniture company, Department Chicago.

Brandon and Katie started looking for a new apartment three years ago. The first apartment they lived in together was in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of the city. The couple knew they wanted to stay in that neighborhood, but they needed to ensure that a new place would have more light than the first-floor apartment they were leaving. “We found our apartment now on Craigslist listed with no pictures,” Katie says. “We took a chance and it payed off. It is the brightest apartment we have ever lived in. It was perfect. South-facing windows unblocked by the house next door let in light all day long. It also has a huge deck, fenced-in yard and parking space. Can’t beat that in the city.” The result of this abundant natural light makes the couple’s flat the ideal setting for their retro styling and mid-century furniture.

Their business, Department Chicago, started with pieces Brandon and Katie found at estate sales, and has since turned into a handmade and curated collection for them to sell and enjoy in their own home. “Our apartment is an eclectic, ever-rotating showcase of art and furniture we’ve acquired over the past six years living together,” Katie shares. “Almost everything in our apartment is either vintage, up-cylced, or handmade. We tried to create a homey, warm, and functional space. We are big mid-century fans, but definitely wanted to keep a somewhat bohemian and retro vibe as well.” The large rooms, white walls, and historic charm of the 1890s apartment bring each piece of theirs to its full potential. Brandon and Katie’s unexpected life together has turned into a partnership, a beautiful business, and a thoughtfully styled home. –Lauren

Photography by Brandon Blunden


  1. JB says:

    Lovely tour! Can I ask where you got the brightly colored planters in the 6th picture? They really make the plants work together! Also, would love to know more about the red, white, and, black quilt folded over the couch. Thanks!

    1. Katie says:

      Thanks so much! The colored boxes stack inside of each other and were made in Italy! Probably from the 60s or 70s – found at a Salvation Army. We repurposed them :) The quilt was an estate sale find – it’s amazing!! Looks to be earlier than Mid Century (very deco pattern) Maybe 30s or 40s.

  2. Drooling over that 1902 map. Beautiful apartment! I love all the art and that little bicycle in the window

  3. Georgy says:

    Very beautiful home with a happy atmosphere!
    The woman on the Photo looks like France Gall. It is definitely not Brigitte Bardot. Nevertheless a beauty!

    1. Carly says:

      Going to second the vote for France Gall. Love all the light in your home!

  4. Sally says:

    Hi. I like the way the walls are dressed in this home; such a good range of artworks. And the dark green wall is great. As you suspected, the photo isn’t of Brigitte Bardot but it does seem to be Pattie Boyd, also an iconic face of the 60s.

  5. Emily says:

    So incredibly cozy looking and eclectic. Love this!

  6. Kristen says:

    Beautiful! Love all the furniture and art pieces! Come decorate my apartment?

  7. Red says:

    Gorgeous apartment! I agree with Sally regarding the b/w portrait – that’s Pattie Boyd!

  8. Yelle says:

    Living in Chicago, I love seeing others apartments and how they decorate them! Love all the light here too :)

  9. Joleen Langley says:

    Awesome place!!

  10. Caroline says:

    That green paint is dreamy. What is the color and who makes it?

    1. Katie says:

      Thanks Caroline!! Gladden “Dark Hunter Green” color with Behr Marquee paint :)

  11. Jeska says:

    Others are seeing Pattie Boyd – I’m seeing France Gall! From a fellow Chicagoan, what a lovely home.

  12. Maggie says:

    Beautiful apartment! I was wondering if you could tell me the name of the green paint in the kitchen?

    Thanks so much,

    1. Katie says:

      Thanks Maggie! We tried a bunch of samples but Gliddens “Dark Hunter Green” was exactly what we were looking for. We used Behr Marquee for the actual paint – a new product from them. The coverage is great. If you use a Behr Marquee color you can pretty much get it done in one coat! Since we used a Glidden color it took only two coats. Highly recommended.

  13. Kiki says:

    What a lovely appartment that is. Second the importance of much light! And nope it’s definitely NOT BB, but I couldn’t say Who it Is!
    What is that inset grill in your dining room (floor)? And did I understand rightly that your dining room is also the entry? (I see a set of wardrobe stuff ….) It seems a bit unusual but then, Why Not.
    Love that your love for the ‘pre-loved’ furniture marries so well with your very colourful art. Just great – and you are a pretty and seemingly very happy couple!

  14. Barbara says:

    LOVE your art work on the walls.

  15. marsh says:

    Definitely France Gall and definitely not Brigitte Bardot or Patty Boyd, though there are certainly similarities. Great job on your apartment!

  16. Becca says:

    @Kiki Entering into the dining room is a design quirk of the standard Chicago two-flat! The grate in the floor is a register for heating or a cold air return, which may not still be in use.

  17. Katie says:

    @Kiki -I couldn’t have answered better than Becca! She hit the nail on the head :) Our entrance is in the dining room and the registers are currently inactive – we are lucky to have central air and heat!!

  18. Katie says:

    Thanks so much everyone! The girl definitely looks like France Gall so we’re going to tell guests that from now on lol!!

  19. Pat says:

    Katie: I believe I have the same “duck” sweater that you’re wearing (2nd slide pic). I gasped when I saw it as I thought mine was so unique! My sweater was my mother’s (born in 1915) and I received it from her around 11 years ago! Love your apartment.

    1. Katie says:

      Awesome!!That’s so cool. Definitely one of a kind. It’s one of my absolute favorites, had to wear it in the picture lol!

  20. Alexandra says:

    Inspired by this place. Still thinking about a best approach of design and stile for my place.

    1. Katie says:

      Thank you Alexandra! You’ll get there !! :):)

  21. Samrat Dey says:

    The presence of bright sunlight in the apartment makes you very lucky. The white walls are looking awesome and the collection of things to decorate the interior of home is unique and beautiful.

  22. I am shocked to see such a beautiful mid-century decoration curated in in way. It reminds me to my grandmother’s house and makes me feel homey, loved and at home :) I loved Hifi-Console! Your house is a piece of art. Besides, it’s so clean, uncluttered and gorgeous!


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