Touring through a designer's own home is endlessly fascinating since it's a chance for them to express their aesthetic, unhindered by client needs. Homepolish designer Devon Fromm created a gorgeous home lofted above Chicago's South Loop.
Photos by Dustin Halleck.
Congratulations on the apartment redesign! We heard this is the first “adult” apartment for you and your boyfriend Mike.
“Yes! This was our first condo and our first time buying furnishings for ourselves that weren’t from IKEA or Craigslist (I know, I know), so it was really nerve-wracking to commit to things! We were incredibly scattered throughout the process from becoming first time home-buyers to moving and still keeping up with our jobs. It amazes me when I step back and realize that all the decisions we made, somewhat haphazardly at times, really worked and came together in only 6 weeks. I understand why people like to hire a designer to come in and deal with all of that for them… it can really get stressful!”
Ha! That’s funny to hear from a designer. So what did the two of you initially want to accomplish?
“We wanted to update and lighten the floors (they were originally a dark walnut which was beautiful, but not our style). We used Octavian from Chicago Wood Flooring Innovations to install our hardwood floors. He was a saint, and I’ve referred multiple friends and clients to him already.”
“Problem was, once we put in the light, bleached floors, we realized we really needed to change the oak cabinets, so I knew we had to paint them white and install new hardware to give a fresh look.”
I understand why people like to hire a designer to come in and deal with home design for them… it can really get stressful!
Oh, wow, did you do that yourself or did you hire someone out for that as well?
“I painted the kitchen cabinets myself. I’m thrilled with how they turned out, but that was just the most miserable experience of my life. First of all, we had to do it indoors, so our apartment was a veritable cabinet minefield game. Anywhere you stepped, you risked knocking one over and/or stepping in wet paint. (Of course this was right after the new floors were installed, so let’s pour a glass out for the years I cut off my life with that level of stress.) The cabinet paint kit I used has a scrubbing solution that you use instead of sanding (thank god), so I first had to take off all the doors and hardware, scrub both sides with this solution, then dry them. THEN you paint. Two coats (so the box says). Wrong! After two coats, I realized I really needed a third. One coat later (front and back), I realized they were still streaky and would need an inevitable fourth coat. At that point, I dropped the paint brush and ran to Trader Joe’s to buy ALL the wine. Eventually, I got it done, and the pain has slowly diminished. It was worth it in the end, but let’s just say I fully understand why those estimates came in so high from the contractors.”
Well, at least now they look beautiful. Seriously, pro status for those cabinets. Were there any other challenges with the space?
“The previous owners had never incorporated a dining room. They just had a large living room. Mike and I love to entertain, so we had to get pretty creative in order to squeeze in a comfortable living room and dining table. We had a chandelier installed to locate the dining room, which was tricky when we learned we had concrete ceilings. We also incorporated a bench on one side of the dining table so that we could keep it close to the wall and give back some space to the living room.
This was my first time painting kitchen cabinets, and it will definitely be the last. They turned out great, but it took two weeks of playing minefield in the condo and four coats of paint, front and back… There isn’t enough wine in the world for that task!
The dark charcoal accent wall also helps set that area apart. Smart thinking. What ended up being your favorite pieces of the apartment?
“Going back to that dining area, the dining set is just a dream come true for me. We got the table and bench from Urban Wood Goods here in Chicago. The reclaimed wood gives the space an incredible texture, but the metal legs keep it fresh and modern. The Eames Eiffel chairs tie in perfectly with the room, and I love the juxtaposition they have with the rugged table. The light fixture over the dining table is the Firefly from CB2. I’ve always had an obsession with light fixtures, I will choose them over standard artwork any day. These lights are perfect against the simple gray accent wall, and I still do a happy dance when I’m down on the street running errands and glance up and see them twinkling up there. You can probably tell that I’m obsessed with the dining area.”
And lighting, for what you said. Any other standout light pieces?
“The light in the living room is super fun, I think. This is the Signal floor lamp from CB2, and the first time I saw it, I laughed. But then it just kept coming back to me, and a few days later, I had to have it. We’re still trying to figure out the right lightbulbs for it, so we don’t continue to blind our guests.”
Haha, well, let us know when you do, so we can come by for an in-person visit.