An Incredibly Colorful “Modern Nerd Chic” Chicago Home — House Tour
Name: James Conley and Kurt Heinrich
Location: Rogers Park — Chicago, Illinois
Size: 2,000 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, owned
A lot can happen in a year. Last summer, just a few weeks after closing on this home and a few days before their wedding, James and Kurt’s kitchen and bathrooms were demolished for renovation (and therefore not in working order.) But that didn’t stop them from celebrating their love. The couple quickly painted the living room, gathered friends and family, and were married in their living room right in front of this fireplace.
A lot of James and Kurt’s inspiration comes from pop art, comic books, cinema history, and literature. Their combined styles successfully straddle mid-century modern and contemporary designs. But though they embrace modernity, they worked to maintain the classic architecture of their 1920s home and honor the original charm, too. With the help of designer Carly Moeller of Unpatterned, they have made an eclectic, cozy and colorful home.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: I’d guess our style is sort of mid-century modern nerd-chic. Lots of pop culture artwork mixed with mid-century furniture and eclectic art and touches. We love bright pops of color in our spaces to add vibrancy as an accent to each room.
Inspiration: I’d say a lot of our influences come from pop art, comic books, cinema history, and literature. As a couple, we’re a librarian and a writer so all of these sorts of elements are part of our personalities and I think we try to reflect that in our surroundings. We love things clean and fresh but also full of history and graphic color.
Favorite Element: Kurt: As much as I want to say the kitchen, I think the incredible color, art, and style of the dining room is my favorite.
James: This is a tough question! We’ve invested so much time changing almost every element of the house they all feel like parts of us. I guess it’s a toss up between the tub and tile wall in our master bathroom and the combination of sea green kitchen backsplash between the stained wooden kitchen shelves and the slate-colored counters.
Biggest Challenge: Re-configuring the kitchen walls. Though the wall we reduced wasn’t load-bearing it did contain the plumbing stack for the building, so we had to work with our designer Carly and our contractor Howard extensively to come up with some creative solutions. Though it couldn’t work out the way we’d initially envisioned, I’d say their design and construction creativity made a space we really love.
What Friends Say: “I want to cook in your kitchen!” or “I want to marry your backsplash tile.”
Biggest Embarrassment: Near the end of our kitchen/small bath renovation one of our large kitchen glass fixtures got bumped and it shattered into a million pieces. And of course they were back ordered for two months so we had a bulb in a socket hanging from the ceiling in our fancy kitchen for the unveiling to our friends haha.
Proudest DIY: Painting our living room. This might not seem like much of an accomplishment but we had to pick colors and get everything painted as soon as we closed on the house because we were getting married in the living room a few weeks after closing. We got it all done and our wedding photos came out beautifully in front of the fireplace!
Biggest Indulgence: Kurt: Probably the bidet seat in the master bathroom. I got used to having a bidet when I was studying abroad in Italy and had to have one in our first home!
James: Definitely the bathtub in the master bath. I’ve always wanted a deep soaking tub to luxuriate in and luckily (for me anyway) our old tub was damaged and needed replacing, so I decided to treat myself!
Best Advice: Find a designer and contractor who are as creative as you are. We were so lucky to have worked with Carly and Howard because of their incredible creative vision. Nothing was a roadblock to them, just an opportunity to explore alternative options — and that’s how we are as a couple and as professionals. Also take time for yourself — renovations are longer than you expect and take a lot of emotional energy, so get out of the routine and get away from things when you can.
Dream Sources: District Chicago. DISTRICT CHICAGO. Seriously, half the furniture in our house came from District and everyone comments on how gorgeous those pieces are. Abt Electronics: If you need appliances their showroom is like magic, their prices are excellent, and they have free fresh baked cookies! CB2: If you’re on a budget but trying to make a big impact you can find a lot of great items from glasses to flatware to light fixtures to chairs. Alapash New Home: Marco’s showroom is carefully curated with oodles of art and hand-made items, it is impossible for us to go into that store without buying something for ourselves or our loved ones.
PAINT & COLORS
Master bedroom — Sherwin-Williams “Amalfi”
Office — Behr “Juniper”
Archways — Behr “English Daisy”
Dining Room — Behr “Beacon Blue”
Guest Bedroom – Behr “Hamilton Blue”
Hallways and entry — Glidden “Soft Feather”
Kitchen — Glidden “Distant”
Fireplace and master bathroom — Benjamin Moore “Grape Juice”
Living room — Benjamin Moore “Silver Mist”
Hopson Sectional — Joybird (purchased through District Chicago)
Aubrey Sofa in Key Largo Zenith Teal — Joybird
Soto Concave Arm Chair in Key Largo Grape — Joybird
Custom tree trunk coffee table — District Chicago
Kallax Bookcases — IKEA
Mill Console Table — CB2
Cement-base table lamp — Alapash New Home
Bright geometric paintings on wood in the entry and living room – Brian Hofmeister
Reclaimed wooden dining table — District Chicago
Reclaimed leather/corduroy dining chairs — District Chicago
Refinished credenza — District Chicago
“The Deep End” — Painting by Suzanne Gold
Stockholm Glass China Cabinet — IKEA
Dolce Vita Bar Cart — CB2
Kohler “Vault” apron-front double sink — Kohler
Moen Align Faucet — Moen
Peacock “Slate” Wallpaper — Relativity Textiles
Watercolor 2×4 W40 Backsplash – Pratt & Larson via Virginia Tile
Loft Pendant Lights – CB2
Folk Counter Stool in Walnut – Rejuvenation
Copper Alberta Pull — Schoolhouse Electric
Hex Shiny Copper Pull — CB2
Wide Vapor 12×24 Floor Tile — Caesar via Virginia Tile
Color by Numbers 4×12 Satin Tile — Crossville Tile via Virginia Tile
Godmorgon Sink Cabinet — IKEA
Siderna Single Lavatory Faucets in Chrome — Brizo
Wide Vapor 12×24 Floor Tile — Caesar via Virginia Tile
Black Flush Mount Sconces — CB2
Kitchen, Master Bath, Small Bath, Hallway, Entry, Dining room:
Carly Moeller of Unpatterned (interior design and paint color advice)
Howard Rothstein of Redstone Building Inc (all renovation work)