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Interiorssneak peeks

A Kid-Friendly and Fashionable Home in Chicago

by Garrett Fleming

When you have young children, not many items in your home can be too precious. The second you get a tablescape designed or a bed made, the kids come barreling in with messier things in mind. That being said, designing a stylish and functional space sometimes leaves parents feeling a bit perplexed. Crystal Blackshaw and her husband Leon are no strangers to this challenge — they’ve got two creative girls running around their Chicago, IL home. When it came time to outfit the apartment they all share, the couple will admit that they, too, were a bit stumped as to how to balance fashionable designs with functional ones.

The Parisian-style home’s “parquet floors, plaster walls, arches and large picture windows overlooking the lake” caught the family’s eye immediately. All of these pretty elements beg to be shown off and couldn’t be paired with just any-old decorations. “With this apartment, I wanted to contrast the vintage bones with modern touches,” Crystal says. It simply wasn’t practical for Crystal and Leon to accomplish this with expensive heirloom pieces, though. Instead, they’ve combed through Craigslist, IKEA and eBay, seeking out affordable alternatives that if broken or worn out wouldn’t break the bank to replace. One such find was the modern IKEA shelving in the living room. The girls’ books are stored here by color: a great tip for maintaining organization amongst chaos. The same can be said for the design of the girls’ bedroom. Similar – yet slightly different – bedding and headboards give them each a unique spot to call their own. The subtle symmetry of the space also helps trick the eye into thinking their room is tidy, even when it’s not.

The backdrop to all of this fabulous design is an unassuming, matte-white paint job. Now, all it takes is a quick wipe to remove all the ooey-gooey fingerprints the Blackshaw kids leave behind. Being able to provide their daughters this carefree ability to have fun is what Crystal and Leon savor most about their space. Click through to gaze at the rest of the colorful, kid-friendly and fashionable home. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Neighborhooding & M Lindsay Photography

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Crystal and Leon's daughters' room was inspired by these two stunning rugs from Etsy. Each girl's side has been kept identical and symmetrical to keep it from appearing messy, even during playtime. Brianna and Alina both have equal amounts of space, so there's no way the pair can bicker over who is the favorite.
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Interior designer Crystal Blackshaw and her analyst husband Leon pose with their little girls, Brianna and Alina. The family moved into their Chicago, IL home a little over a year ago after Crystal fell in love with the space's Parisian feel.
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In a fun and colorful twist, Crystal has forgone headboards in favor of attractive rugs from Morocco. She didn't want any other furniture or decorations to steal attention away from the piece, so the nearby dresser, for example, was kept simple. The mid-century piece's new paint job and glass top give it a new and neutral look.
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Brianna and Alina's bedroom wall is dotted with artwork they created at school. To help it appear more polished, Crystal and Leon have had some of the pieces professionally framed. That way, they can keep the gallery wall under control. It's illuminated by a pendant light from West Elm.
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When they moved in, Crystal and Leon gave the space a simple – yet strategic – overhaul. "I had the building take out a bar [that used to sit] under the cabinets. It was not very useful. I added a rustic farm table for extra prep space and [to] display fruits and veggies. I also had two brass chandeliers put in, 'cause why not?!" Crystal says. The rug is from eBay.
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The living room's dark rug is perfect for a family with little ones. It can cover up any little spill or mess Crystal and Leon's two girls can throw at it.
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The home office, set up right behind the living room's seating area, is "command central" for Crystal's interior design business. She reupholstered the chair to give it a one-of-a-kind look, and it's paired with a desk from eBay.
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Behind the powder blue recliner is this dining nook. It plays host to the girls' breakfast and offers additional seating when the holidays arrive. Above it hangs Crystal's collection of vintage paintings. She's had them since her days as an antique dealer, and their hues perfectly match the mid-century table and green chairs she found on Craigslist.
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The theme of symmetry isn't only for kids' rooms. Crystal and Leon's retreat is also laid out in a style that creates a balanced feel. Alina scrolls through nursery rhymes at the foot of her parents' bed.
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Flea market, eBay and Etsy finds top Crystal's dresser.
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Two antique display cases hold all manner of vintage trinkets and collectibles.
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Crystal is eternally grateful that their daughters get to grow up in a home drenched in sunlight, like we see here in the master bathroom. It looks great right now, but it's still a work in progress. The mirror, for example, is the first of many to be hung here. Crystal's begun collecting vintage pieces that she'll eventually display right here.
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The shelving was a Blackshaw family addition, and it acts as a spot to store essentials as well as pretty vintage finds.
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"I asked my daughter to write what she liked about her home, and that's exactly what she did. Seven-year-olds always end everything with 'the end,'" Crystal says.
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The building was completed in 1920, and the unit's 1,200 square feet holds two bedrooms and two baths. It's located in the Lakeview East neighborhood of Chicago.

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