A ’90s Glam Downtown Chicago Loft for Art Collectors — House Tour
Name: Rashelle Roos and Joe Agati
Location: Near East Side — Chicago, Illinois
Size: 1,000 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, owned
The dream of the ’90s is alive in Chicago, but it’s more stylish and retro than you might remember. You can find it here, in this one-bedroom pied-a-terre that overlooks Navy Pier and other downtown high-rises. When Rashelle Roos and Joe Agati saw the black granite floors and countertops, the walls full of beveled mirrors, and the brass and steel metals all mixed together, they knew they had found the perfect backdrop for their eclectic and personal art collection…and the perfect urban retreat.
You may remember Rashelle and Joe’s Living Art Gallery Getaway in Miller Beach, Indiana. That was the getaway, but during the week they were living in a loft filled with artwork and natural light on the outskirts of Chicago’s West Loop. But that home was too far from the hustle and bustle of the city and the highway that took them back to their art gallery getaway. So they decided to move to the New East Side, where the skyscrapers let you be in the middle of things, but the high floors make you feel like you’re miles away.
And boy did they find a gem of a unit! Most people would have shied away from this place, assuming they would have to tear everything out. Their friends were always asking them “how are you going to renovate,” but they knew the answer was not to touch it at all! They just wanted to add the right mix of furniture, rugs and artwork to create a fabulous downtown art collector style.
The drama starts off right at the entryway, where the highly polished dark tile floors and mirrored closet doors reflect a wall of artwork with the theme of the female form. There are drawings and limited edition prints by Man Ray, Picasso and Robert Louis Eisbrenner, and pieces by Rashelle and Joe themselves, including a sculpted “leg” shelf, and a bouquet of paint brushes. A modern Roland bench in leather and steel provides a place to sit or put a bag down, and when guests come over for dinner, the bench is pulled up to the dining table (typically used as a work desk) for added seats.
Next to this wall of art is a small powder room that itself is a work of art. I think this is the coolest example of a modern mirrored space I have ever seen – the mirrors are on every surface! The only thing that could coordinate with the black, white and gold finishes would be some brightly patterned Missoni towels.
The main living space is open, with the office/dining area on one side, and the living room on the other. The palette is mostly grey and blacks, but the accent is hot pink, and nowhere is it more dramatic than in the living room’s hot pink wool rug from Oscar Isberian (the home office carpet is a textured silk in grey). That colorway is then picked up in pillows, vases, books and artwork, and ismultiplied by the wall mirrors on both ends of the room. In the office, the mirror is mostly covered by a 3D silver painting by Rashelle, but in the living room the mirror is uncovered, and has the effect of doubling the room’s apparent size.
The kitchen is open to the living space, and it’s such a textbook example of ’90s glam construction, you could teach a class by it. There are mirrors, yes, but there’s also a curved drywall soffit over a black-top island counter, giant recessed can light fixtures, and original hardware in all its black and brass glory. Why mess with perfection!?
The master bath and bedroom are equally to die for. You enter the bedroom through the master bath, which is interesting, but it is so luxurious that I would never mind. As you can imagine, the bath is full on ’90s glam as well, with mirrors on two walls (bringing in a lot of natural daylight) a beautiful warm stone with brass details everywhere, and an amazing combination of Jacuzzi and walk-in shower. With all the excitement and show going on in the rest of the house, the master bedroom is actually a bit of a surprise in how restrained and peaceful it is. The black tile floor gives way to a white plush carpet, and the black and brass details give way to white and warm woods.
As much as Rashelle and Joe love their 90’s style apartment, they’re still very practical about it. For the longest time, Rashelle’s biggest dream source/item for the home was new blinds. The existing blinds where those long vertical plastic blinds; not only that but they had two vertical stripes of shiny brass imprinted on the inside that would reflect the apartment lights at night. They were pretty cool blinds, but also slightly impractical. So when I came over to do the shoot, Rashelle had some exciting news: “we’re getting the automated blinds,” she happily reported. I guess some things from the ’90s you just need to let go of.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Downtown Art Collectors
Inspiration: 1990s high-rise. We fell in love with this fabulously dated condo that was renovated in the early ’90s. We wanted to treat the unit as an art piece, so we kept the style, but revved it up with bold and playful pieces of art and furniture.
Favorite Element: Our art collection, which includes pieces from well-known artists, great friends, and of course, our work.
Biggest Challenge: Downsizing from 2,400 square feet to 1,000 square feet. Thankfully, we found ways to use spaces for multiple purposes. For example, we turned my home office space into a dining space for up to eight comfortably. In the end, we prefer the smaller space because it is cozy and warm. Now, even when we are doing things independently, we are still in the same room together.
What Friends Say: How are you going to renovate?
Biggest Embarrassment: That my friends think I’m going to renovate.
Proudest DIY: My arrangements of paint brush “flowers” (entry), and stiletto sculpture “bookends” (home office).
Biggest Indulgence: Roche Bobois sofa. It’s been with us in three different homes/styles. It still looks new after 15 years, and it still fits with changing styles.
Best Advice: Get it if you truly love it. After awhile, your own personal style develops on its own.
Dream Sources: I’d love to have automated blinds.
PAINT & COLORS
All white walls
Wood “Leg” shelf carved by Joe
Female Figure drawings and limited edition prints by Man Ray, Picasso, and Robert Louis Eisbrenner
Heart Drawing by Dean Langworthy, Paper piece by Louise Nevelson, Glitter portraits from Project Onward, Fishtail Stiletto by Rashelle
Black leather sofa — Roche Bobois
Black glass coffee table — bought second hand from friend
Charles and Ray Eames Chair and Ottoman by Herman Miller – Found dumpster diving, then reupholstered
Circular Pod Pendant Lamp from South Africa – WillowLamp
Hot Pink wool rug from Pakistan – Oscar Isberian
4 “Little Black Dresses” sculpture — Suzanne Cohan Lange
“Do it Yourself” Painting — Richard Lange
Figure sculpture (black and white stained wood) — Joe Agati
Missoni Rivas pillow — Y Living
Pig painting — Cesar Conde
Glass vases filled with steel ball chain
DINING ROOM (doubles as HOME OFFICE)
Silver 3D painting — Rashelle Roos
Grey silk rug from India – Oscar Isberian
Fan chair and Roland bench – Agati Furniture
2 Pilsen Graphite Bookcases – Crate&Barrel
Stiletto art – Soul Sole Shop
3 Alex drawer units – IKEA
Pink and Orange Stiletto bookend sculptures – Soul Sole Shop
Chilewich table linens (placemats and napkins)
Crate and Barrel white dishes and silverware
Alessi stainless steel toaster and carafe
Kosta Boda hot pink glass bowl
Pink Heart art – collaborative drawing by Rashelle and Joe made on our honeymoon
Stiletto mixed media pieces — Soul Sole Shop
Ocean Brain Coral Bowl — Michael Aram
Pink RHYTHMS painting – Rashelle Roos Fine Art
Walnut bed and dresser made — Joe
Pleat Bedding – Restoration Hardware
Pink throw pillow – Bloomingdales Home Store
Overarching lamp – West Elm
Nightstands — IKEA
Missoni hand towels
Jonathan Adler black lacquer bath accessories
Art by Rashelle