When this couple returned to Chicago from Washington D.C., where they had both worked for the Obama administration, they turned to designer Jen Talbot to morph their newly purchased loft into a modern farmhouse experience that married new pieces with favorite items they had found at antique fairs and on the side of the road.
Living Room at a Glance
Location: West Loop neighborhood of Chicago
Size: The entire open-plan loft is 1,740 square feet (161.6 square meters).
BEFORE: The previous owners’ furnishings (shown here) were dark and heavy and kept the living area contained to a small space. The new owners wanted the space to be lighter and brighter, in both furnishings and layout. Working with Talbot, they broke through the wall to the left to let in more light from an adjacent room being used as an office and to give the loft a more open feel.
AFTER: The living area underwent a major transformation in style, light and space. Using more streamlined furnishings and an oversized area rug, Talbot stretched the boundaries of the living area.
Knocking through the wall expanded the living space to a secondary sitting area perfect for watching TV and putting up overnight guests. A barn door offers visual appeal and privacy.
The lack of a wall “lets a lot of extra light into the loft during the day and makes the space seem so much more open,” Talbot says.
Layering was key, but the owners didn’t want the space overloaded with objects. They still wanted cool pieces wherever they turned, though. “I’m a big believer in it’s not about where you shop, it’s about how you put things together,” Talbot says.
A geometric patterned rug from Ikea tops a woven jute rug in a similar pattern. Gray painted wood chairs act as the gateway to the dining area. A trio of metallic drums can be moved around accommodate various-size crowds.
New and vintage artwork forms a gallery wall near the dining area. Handmade reclaimed boxes and vintage antelope antlers add to the eclectic style. Rounding out the assortment is a very personal touch: a wooden board shaped like the state of Illinois, a wedding present to the homeowners.
A large pig sculpture stands guard near the barn door. “They really wanted to have fun with the space,” Talbot says of the owners. “There’s a lot of personality here, and it’s very suited to the way they live.”
Through the barn door, the new sitting room serves as a cozy spot for watching TV and as a guest room when friends and family are in town. It also provides extra decorative display space for books and collectibles, like treasured vinyl albums, thanks to the addition of reclaimed-wood shelving.
“The rooms are cohesive but individual,” Talbot says. “I love those kinds of challenges. You need the element that ties the areas together and creates a nice marriage of space.”