Interiorssneak peeks

D*S Team Tours: Garrett’s Chicago Greystone

by Garrett Fleming

I left Texas for Chicago, IL with only three suitcases and a job. Immediately, I set out on a trek to find a “For Rent” sign. Like a mirage, one popped up on a quiet street overlooking a quaint elementary school. Bunnies even frolic in the garden. Sounds like a fairy tale, right? Believe me, I felt like I was in one! The landlords were simply too kind, the inside too perfect and the surroundings too picturesque for me to pass up. Stumbling upon it was so serendipitous, I felt destined to start my new life right there. Five years later, I’m still grateful to call the greystone on Fremont Street “home.”

For the first two months, I lived with my clothes, a rocking chair and a blanket. The space came together very slowly, and I reveled in the ability to make a home from scratch. Initially, my taste was much more rustic than the mix you’ll see as you click through — that was probably the lingering influence of Texas. I’m still a huge fan of distressed accessories, but over the years my style has become more eclectic, lustrous and a bit silly. Decorating is so much fun, and I enjoy not taking it too seriously. Crafting and DIY have also played a major role in my home’s look. Bits and bobs of my own making dot my bachelor pad. Since I live alone, and there’s no one else to influence the style, the home is 100% me. As I was designing my space, it was important that the end result be cozy and fun. I’m an extroverted introvert, so I cherish my alone time. I’m comfortable resetting here with my quirky finds and wouldn’t trade that for anything.

That laid-back atmosphere has proven to be an invaluable aspect of my home. In retrospect, it’s crystal clear why I moved to Chicago. I needed to meet “me” without any pressures or expectations. I found moving to a new place liberating. Being a little fish in a big pond let me truly open up and be vulnerable for the first time ever. With that vulnerability came all sorts of emotions, but I always knew I could step inside my second-story apartment and feel at home.

Fremont Street has been the backdrop to some of my most thrilling memories — one of which happened a year ago this September. As I sat on the floor eating animal crackers, I found out I was the newest member of the Design*Sponge team. It continues to be a dream come true. I hope you enjoy peeking inside my home as much as I have enjoyed working with Grace and the team this past year. Cheers to many more peeks to come! —Garrett

Photography by Carolina Mariana

D*S Team Tours: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge
I'm not sure how I would describe my personal style. Maybe modern bohemian? Growing up in the south instilled in me a love for natural and rustic textures, but as of late I have been incorporating a more luxe, modern look into my space.
D*S Team Tours: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge
Emily Henderson was the inspiration for my living room. I got this Jonathan Adler sofa and cowhide pillow from JCPenney, and the other pillows are from Target. This flag's from WWII. Its rustic feel mixed with the my glitzy furniture is a contrast I'm currently digging.
D*S Team Tours: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge
D*S Team Tours: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge
The Milo Baughman coffee table is a personal favorite. I saw one in a Bucktown boutique and couldn't get it out of my head. Luckily I found one on eBay for a reasonable price. The rug is from Marshalls.
D*S Team Tours: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge
My living/dining room isn't huge so these ghost chairs offer seating without visually cluttering the space. The bonus? They're a little foggy in some spots so I got them for 75% off! My dining table is from West Elm, and the white chairs and Nate Berkus pillows are from Target. I found this giant stick walking home one day and decided to mold it into a lighting feature. With a little scraping, some fishing line, and a strand of Edison bulbs, I was able to make the fixture for a whopping $25.
D*S Team Tours: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge
A green thumb is something I will never claim to have. This is Frances the cactus. Somehow, I managed to nearly kill him, but he is coming back! His kooky shape always makes me smile, and guests frequently comment on how goofy he is – just like me. I splatter-painted his pot myself. My sheepskin rug from Target became a table runner after I spilled a candle and had to trim it down. The copper candle holders and lazy susan are from World Market.
D*S Team Tours: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge
This Ryan Berkley print was my first real art purchase. I ran to the store in a tornado to get the last one. Art and accessories with a wink always catch my eye so his work is a personal fave. The anchor print is by Robert Lee for Methane Studios. The rest of my gallery wall is made up of pages from an art annual.
D*S Team Tours: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge
Displaying large art prints around my TV was my way of disguising it. I rotate my collection so much that I very rarely frame prints. That being said, binder clips are my best friend.
D*S Team Tours: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge
This 70s-era ceramic bowl is from Randolph Street Market. The Chicago fair is a fantastic spot to pick up accessories. Plus they have drag queens and snacks; all of which I enjoy. The lock box is from Brownstone Antiques, and the constellation print is by I Screen You Screen.
D*S Team Tours: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge
Growing up in Texas, it was nearly impossible to escape the influence of Mexican culture. Five years after moving away, my affection for the colors and meaning of Día de Los Muertos has only grown. Everywhere I travel, I pick up a skull as a souvenir. I dream of one day having a collection that covers an entire wall. The larger candles here are from World Market, and the rose-eyed, little guy is from Paper Source. I got the teal rug from a local shop in Ruidoso, NM.
D*S Team Tours: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge
Being totally honest, I never use this desk area. It sits right next to my sofa. When given the choice, working on velvet always wins out. To save some money, my aunt and uncle generously sent me these shed antlers all the way from their Texas property. It's funny how much "city folk" will pay for something that "country folk" find on a weekly basis.
D*S Team Tours: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge
I may have a problem picking up sticks. I do it quite a bit. I stripped and painted these puppies myself, but I didn't know exactly how to display them. One day the idea of leather straps popped into my head, and it was settled. Is there anything more American than denim? That's why I love this piece from 4040 Locust. I can't remember who sketched this portrait, but I find it so evocative and fascinatingly engaging. I bet he lived a fabulous life. The rest of the artwork is from an art annual.
D*S Team Tours: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge
My producer's mother passed away recently. She and I shared the same initials so I was generously gifted her old stationery. I wrote the single most important note of my life on that stationery. It's bittersweet that it's now all gone. My "What I Love Most..." note is its last hurrah.
D*S Team Tours: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge
Initially, my bedroom's petite size bothered me, but over time I have grown to cherish its cozy feel. My dresser was originally painted cream and had floral handles, but all that had to go. Since it was only $25 at a resale shop, I was able to invest in new hardware and this grey paint. It's my favorite DIY piece in my walk-up. The faux rug is from Urban Outfitters.
D*S Team Tours: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge
The collage is made up of my family's old pictures and landscape scenes I found online. My favorites are of Grandpa rollerskating and Dad posing for his elementary school yearbook photo. The 50s-style statues of the two men came with female counterparts, but I ditched those. Now they are talking on the phone to one another. I imagine they just got back from a sock hop and are calling one another to gush about how much fun they had together.
D*S Team Tours: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge
I am mad for plaid. My window valance is actually a plaid blanket my Mimi bought for me at a garage sale. The vibrant hues remind me of the 60s – the era I most wish I could have lived in. I felt very grown-up when I bought this vintage L.L. Bean briefcase for myself. The trunk is from Brownstone Antiques.
D*S Team Tours: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge
I knew that I would be adding in pops of color throughout my bedroom, so I like the visual break that white bedding provides. A blanket in black watch plaid – my favorite plaid – is never far from my bed. I found the brass tiger at Marshalls, and the landscape print is by Kevin Russ. His photography has such depth, you can lose yourself in the imagery. Photographer and friend Liz Von Hoene gave me the pair of prints after we wrapped up a shoot together. The navy pillows are from Target.
D*S Team Tours: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge
The one thing I would change about my apartment are the shutter doors. As a renter, I can't remove or paint them, and they drive me nuts! I don't care for their unfinished look. Often times I cover them up with my latest fashion find or a purchase I am still contemplating. Menswear is something I find extremely inspiring, so framing this denim shirt nods to that. I call it "T.G.I.Friday's Restaurant chíc."
D*S Team Tours: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge
When you come through my front door, you are greeted by a brass "Top Banana" and a Barbie Muertos print.
D*S Team Tours: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge
I bought the vintage workbench from a retired firefighter. I had just moved to Chicago and didn't understand public transportation yet, so the family went out of their way to drive me home and even helped me move it in. The mid-century ottoman was a lucky eBay find, and I painted the bar stools myself. Some interesting stares came my way when I took the pair of them home on the bus with me. The rugs are from IKEA and Randolph Street Market.
D*S Team Tours: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge
The tiny table is from IKEA. I like how it contrasts with the oversized Debbie Carlos print. Growing up, my mom and dad would always take us to get a twist ice cream cone after a trip to the dentist's office. This print isn't for everyone, but I have such vivid memories of getting those treats, I had to have it in my home. The cameo prints I made myself, and I found the teensy lamp for $7 at an antique shop.
D*S Team Tours: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge
These prints from Larken Design were on my wishlist for years. This sneak peek gave me the final push to make them my own. Every Thanksgiving Grandma would serve her potato salad in yellow Pyrex. She passed away two years ago, and this bowl always reminds me of her and the spunk she held onto until the end. Man, she was a spitfire. Having nearly zero counter space has been a challenge. These bamboo oven toppers offer a bit more space for me to spread out.
D*S Team Tours: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge
My bathroom is small, so keeping the walls white makes the space appear larger. I chose to use yellow, black and white to visually tie it to the kitchen. I found this tacky, realistically-painted animal head on eBay and painted it white. The shower curtain is from Target.
D*S Team Tours: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge
I adopted this plant from a coworker, the marble cup is from H&M and the artwork is by Debbie Carlos. The falling horse prints are by Michael Zavros, and I painted their frames in my dresser's leftover grey.
D*S Team Tours: Garrett's Chicago Greystone, Design*Sponge
My home's floorplan.

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  • love all your artwork!! beautiful home; i’d love to see a round up of your favorite art sources and maybe a few of your “dream” picks?? or maybe you’ve already done that and i missed it. lol.

    • Hi Kiki,

      Some of my favorites are Minted, Mammoth & Co., and of course Society 6. I have a vision of creating a patchwork wall display by tacking up and overlapping the pages from “Wrap” magazine. Their bold patterns intermixing would be FAB, right?!


  • I loved reading the stories about your special pieces. I, too, have bowls and kitchen tools from my grandma and I love using them and thinking about her. Your DIYs are stylish and creative. Really wonderful home tour!

  • Thank you so much for the tour of your home. As an older person, I was very struck and impressed by how much of your life and family you have included in your decorating choices – somehow that feels very evolved to me! I especially loved the creativity and whimsy of your dining room light fixture and your story about the little guys on your dresser made me laugh out loud.

    • Hi Mary Beth!

      It was so much fun to make.

      Family has always been of the upmost importance to me. Since I live so far away, having reminders of them around always makes me smile.


  • My favorite piece is the dining room light fixture. My second favorite is the designer. What a cutie! You have a beautiful home and an even more beautiful spirit! Thank you for giving us a look inside!

  • Looks so good, Garrett. (And dig those Nate Berkus pillows in the living area!)

    • Hi Tara,

      It’s so great to hear from ya. Those pillows get a LOT of love from guests.


  • The “Eames style” white chair from Target–I see a rocker version online, when was this other version available?

    • Hi Nicole,

      I think I got these about 2 years ago. They’ve been great!


    • Hi Kate,

      It was a lucky clearance find. Maybe it’ll pop up on eBay soon? Fingers crossed!


  • Garrett, I have the same middle print of the male felon (pic 22) and it’s the art we get asked most about! Love that you have discovered the playfulness of living on your own. We look forward to what comes next…

  • Oh my gosh, you are so cute and your home reflects your personality beautifully! As a farm kid, I totally get what you said about city folks paying for stuff country folks find all the time. I have things like old steering wheels and tractor parts that others would call junk, but I like to think it’s art. It’s all in how you display it – like your sticks and branches!

  • You and your apartment are pretty much how I imagined you and it might be. I love your sneak peeks and your enthusiasm and I love your clever, quirky apartment. You have transformed a rather bland space (although the windows are lovely) into something really interesting. But what is a “extroverted introvert”?

    • Hi Margot,

      Thank you. I am so very thrilled you are enjoying the sneak peeks we put together! I adore working on them.

      An “extroverted introvert” simply means that I am extroverted to a certain extent, but put a high value on quiet time. That time doesn’t necessarily mean I am alone, but I am not “on” if that makes sense. It’s during this reset that I fill my tank back up to be extroverted again. I can totally see your confusion. “Extroverted introvert” sounds contradictory. I hope this helps?


  • Great space! I like especially the artwork and the way it is displayed. The taped and pinned photos and magazine pages look so good–who woulda thunk?!

  • I love seeing the Texas influence and your evloving style. Your home is beautiful. Does the bedroom blanket shade move up and down?

    • Hi There,

      It does not. We only have a limited number of sunny, Summer days here in Chicago so I let the light in as much as I can! Haha. That’d be fantastic though!


  • Garrett- your home tour is a breath of fresh air- I loved every corner of it. It reminded me of the days when I used to spend hours moving little things around and painting random frames and pottery, for no reason other than the fact that I was so excited to be in my own space that I could do whatever the heck I wanted to with…at some point over the last couple of years, I kind of lost that sense of curiosity and playfulness, and I think it’s because I started to feel like I was supposed to live in a “grown-up” house….you know- with art hung in frames and with my favorite branches and sticks left outside. I’m not really sure how or why that happened…..I guess I blame Pottery Barn, haha…..but either way- thanks for reminding me that I can be doing whatever the heck I want with my home. I really love your dresser area, with the cascade of photos above. So good. Off I go to find my binder clips…..they used to be in heavy rotation here as well.

    • Wow, Erin. What a lovely note. I appreciate it oh so much! For a long time I too felt the need to conform to a certain “grown-up” style.

      I say be bold and bring those sticks back, bust out the pottery wheel and don’t think too much about the overall look. If you like something, you can make it work in your home. No doubt. After all, it’s you who lives there so let it be yours.


  • Best part is that your parents would take you for ice cream after the dentist. My mum would always take my brother and I for McDonald’s milkshakes after we got our teeth cleaned. Still trying to figure that one out.

    • I will ALWAYS remember those times. A little counterintuitive with the sugar and dentist etc for sure, but well worth the memories!


  • I love your place, Garrett! It is such a unique mix and a wonderful expression of who are you. And hearing the stories that influenced your design makes it all the more meaningful. Now I just need you to hop on over to Old Town and help me update my place to be just as great!

  • Love love love. Your home, your story, I lived in Omaha for a while not because I wanted to, but because of a job. But I loved my apartment, I had a hard time placing what I loved about it, but I think you summed it up: it helped me grow up and mature and was a place away from the rest of my life. People always ask me if I’m lonely living alone, but like you, my style gets to be 100% me. And Im glad you feel the same way. As a long time reader I’ve enjoyed having you here for the past year. Thanks for sharing this intimate look at your space. Congrats! Thank you!

  • Hi Garrett. Thanks for such a great home tour. Your place is gorgeous and I loved reading your story. It had a really warm and lively touch. I.m feeling pretty jealous of that yellow table in your kitchen!!

    Wishing you well
    New Zealand

  • omg. Just read the comments. Yeah. Your definition of extroverted introvert is bang on. I know where you’re coming from. And for got to say I also love your sticks.

  • Hello, nice place! I like how you took time to decorate and didn’t just go out and buy things all at once.
    (also, you kind of look like that old meme, the ridiculously photogenic guy)