Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Belle: The Official "Before" Home Tour

Slowly but surely, we are moving our stuff into Belle. The Birdcage was the first item of mine to make it's way over... love it atop the wood paneling of the faux fireplace mantel.

Today, I present to you the official "before" home tour of Belle. Before showing you agagillion angles of the different rooms, I threw together this amateur floorplan. It's not at all to scale, but gives the general idea of where things are located.

Gosh, why wasn't I an architect?

A few items of note:
- Yes. The apartment is huge. This is not an illusion. Actually, based on Danielle and our interns' reactions when I took them to see the place, apparently the place is even bigger in person than it appears in photos.
- I am paying the same amount in rent for this place as I am my current place. The new place is about twice as large. And actually, my landlord is raising the rent of this place $200 (plus $150 for parking), so this place will actually end up being cheaper than where I currently live.
- The size of this apartment is not normal. But it's what you can get the farther North you live in Chicago. It is a third floor walk-up (coin laundry is in the basement). No garage parking. No central AC. We will not be in the heart of Lincoln Park or Old Town or River North. I highly doubt you can find an apartment this large in those neighborhoods, and if you could, I can't even fathom what it would cost. So basically what I'm trying to say is, we were willing to sacrifice location for space. We're both homebodies, and kind of over being surrounded by congested neighborhoods streets on a daily basis.

Ok, enough babbling. And now, the tour.

The living room is located at the front of the apartment, and is kind of two rooms in one. It will house the sofa and tele...

...which will go to the left in the above photo. Television on that wall. Sofa in the middle of the room facing it.

Another shot of the sofa/tv area.

But then there's this part of the room. Built-in bookshelves and faux fireplace. I'm thinking small dining table? Making this a grand entertaining space?

And can we talk about Christmas tree potential?! It will be loverly.

Also off the living room is the sunroom.

Which has a super-sweet painted floor that I'm not allowed to paint over. It's been like that for thirty years (read: obviously the work of some friendly hippies in the 70s), and the landlord is attached to it.

So we'll make do. Either keep it as is or cover it with a rug... not sure yet. Thinking this might be a music room (been pinning inspiration for that). Mike has several guitars, and we're looking to get a piano. Stay tuned. No pun intended. Tehehe.

Here's the hallway. The entrance to the apartment is on the right-hand of this photo. That doorway on the left is the main bedroom. And you can see the dining room and kitchen in the distance.

Here's the angle from the dining room (which is toward the back of the apartment) looking back at the front living room. Is this making sense or am I just confusing all of you? That's a closet door on the left, and bathroom door on the right.

Here's the main bedroom. It's a good size! Nice and bright.

Located near the front (you can see the built-in shelves peeking in the corner). That's a closet door on the left.

Pretty much a nice blank square box of a slate. Could take this room in a million different directions.

Here's the real gem of the home. Every old apartment has one. The problem child if you will. The wood paneling is... there. The tile is a dirty shade of beige. The shower head sticks out perpendicular to the tub. And there's a big wooden column in the middle of the room. But it's nice and big! And has a window! Always a plus in my book.

At least the toilet is white. Kind of surprised it wasn't brown or orange or something.

But there's nothing a little white paint can't fix. You can see a portion of the ceiling was already done, and we'll recreate that throughout the rest of this Brady Bunch latrine.

At the end of the long hallway is the dining room complete with beautiful built-in hutch. Perfect for all of my glassware. And there's little to no storage in the kitchen, so this will come in handy. The entry to the kitchen is on the left of this photo. The hallway is on the right, and you're getting a peek into a large hallway closet on the right side of the photo.

Dining room looking into hallway toward front of house.

The other side of the dining room has a beautiful bay window. I'm thinking my desk is going to go over there. We really want to make sure this space gets used, and since we're turning the second bedroom into a guest room, I need an office. This might all change once we're moved in, but that's where my head is at thus far. Oh, and how cool is the coffered ceiling? So many painting options. Or keeping it natural... again, we'll see!

The kitchen is super small, offers no storage, and is located in the back of the house off the dining room.

Will likely paint that door and the cabinets white. Thinking navy walls. Crazy, I know. But this is far down on the list of priorities... right now we are just thanking our lucky stars the landlord was willing to add a dishwasher.

Here is where guests (aka my new baby niece!) will stay. Don't know what's with the used-to-be-a-door converted to a huge window...? Love old apartments.

Otherwise, it's pretty standard. This room is also low on the list of priorities, so no big plans to share. It opens up to the dining room/office.

And finally, here's the back deck. Which was the icing on the cake. You have no idea how difficult it was to find a place that had everything we wanted, most notably outdoor space. We have been grilling a lot lately, and with dogs, it's just nice having a place to kick back outside. Especially since nice weather lasts only a portion of the year here in Chicago.

But Belle has it all. Including this oversized deck off the back. Victory!

Thoughts? Suggestions? We are a little overwhelmed and all ears!


  1. This apartment is seriously amazing, Alaina! Congrats!

  2. Wow this looks great! It really is amazing what you can get the further you are from downtown.

  3. This place is AMAZING!! I live in Chicago and my jaw is literally on the floor. I can't wait to see what all you do with it!

  4. Looks amazing! Huge for Chicago - congrats! Can't wait to see what you do :)

  5. gorgeous! can't wait to see what you do with the bathroom and kitchen. it's easy to make a huge living room with to-die-for fireplace and sunroom look fabulous, but i think your decorating skills will shine in the bathroom and kitchen!

  6. First of all I want to say thanx for sharing because I really wanted to see more of your new place but I was trying not to be too nosy. Lol.

    I'm so in love with your place. The space is amazing and I see so much potential. I actually love paneling so I think the bathroom with be amazing with some white paint, new light fixture, and cute shower curtain to start.

    A navy kitchen will be so unique. I want to do a navy dining room so if your looking for colors Hale Navy by Benjamin Moore is the BEST navy ever.

    Sorry so long, I love decorating.

  7. Wow! This apartment is huge and awesome. Thanks for sharing - and the description and the photos made perfect sense (the floor plan helped a ton!)

  8. EEEEEK! Gorgeous and gigantic! Congratulations!

  9. LOVE your new apartment! I can't wait to see how you decide to decorate. I love your decor style!

  10. This is gorgeous. And gigantic. And it has SO much character! The bathroom is definitely a bit unfortunate but that just means I'm all the more excited to see how you stye it. I can't wait to see what it looks like after you decorate!

  11. Wow. I am in love with your new place! It has such amazing potential and I can't wait to see when it's furnished. The bathroom was a little dated but I can't wait to see that one finished. congrats on your new place..loverly! :)

  12. Great find! Can't wait to see what you do with it!

  13. Belle is amazing! So much room! My apartment isn't even that amazing and I live in Iowa. :) I can not wait to see what you do with this amazing blank slate!

  14. Wow, amazing! Can't wait to see what you do with the place!

  15. YAYAYAY!! Love this new place - and I have to agree go north and the space will amaze you!!!!!!!!! Where are you, wondering if we are in the same hood now!!!

    We need a girls night to catch up!


  16. Congratulations- your new place looks great! Can't wait to see how you decorate it!

  17. It's MASSIVE and so so pretty- I can't wait to see how you what you do in that gorgeous space!!

  18. What a beautiful space. I can't wait to see how you style it.

    My husband and I live right on the border of Old Town approaching the Gold Coast and while the location is great, we've certainly outgrown our space with the addition of our baby boy. We're house hunting further north now because I'm going stir crazy in our 1200 sq foot condo.

  19. Hahaha! Awesome house, seriously am jealous since I live in a super small video with my boyfriend. But were young and have to get our priorities together so who knows what we will have in the future.

    I think the funniest part of this apartment is the bathroom, not even the paneling but the fact that the shower head faces out in such a weird weird angle. I wonder how the first shower will be!

    Really can't wait to see how you decorate this large space.

  20. I am so happy for you! I can't even imagine how excited you are to start moving things into place :) I can't wait to see all the decorating you do! xx

  21. This place is really amazing, sooo much space!

  22. Wow Alaina! It looks amazing! Sure the kitch and bathoom arent super great, but we all know your amazing interior skills and I reckon theyll both scrub up fab! Such an exciting time for you! Cant wait to see it with all your furniture moved in!! :) x

  23. This looks like an awesome space- - can't wait to see what you do with it!

  24. Wow, it's huge and so full of potential! Can't wait to see it all furnished and decorated! Makes me miss my old place - 2 girlfriends and I shared a gigantic 3 bed/3 bath in Lakeview. The only reason we let it go was to get married and move in with our husbands haha!

  25. Your new place is so light and airy! I cannot wait to see what you do with the place and see how you mix masculine details with your style.

  26. Congrats Alaina, can't wait to see what you come up with, you already have so many great pieces to work with!

  27. Your new place is gorgeous! It reminds me a ton of my old apartment in lincoln square/ravenswood/andersonville. Such a great space, can't wait to see it come together!

  28. Nice! I love the apartments as you go further north in Chicago - they have this character to them and I definitely see it in yours! You have a great template to work with.

  29. the place is indeed huge! I can't wait to see the progress of you furnishing/decorating it..

  30. Excited to see how you plan and decorate each room. Were moving in the next year and I'm not sure how to even begin with a blank space.

  31. WOW! That is so huge! I can't wait to see how you decorate it!

  32. Gorgeous! I'm so envious of all that space! And I am astounded that your landlord is letting you paint over all that icky wood paneling! I would say that floor mural is a small price to pay :) Best of luck moving in. I can't wait to see all the progress! Especially make it a guy/girl friendly space!!

  33. It looks amazing Alaina!! Love the character of old homes (live in one myself at the moment!) and all the wonky bits that come with them ahaha Can't wait to see how you decorate & style it!! xo

  34. Yeah. It's HUUUUGE.

    I'm an idiot. Why did I not take photos of my place before I moved in? Oh well. Next time.

  35. Wow! It looks amazing and adorable! Can't wait to see what everything looks like once you're moved in! Good luck and have fun decorating! :)

  36. very very pretty, cant wait to see what you do with it, I bet its going to be amazing!

  37. Hello from Evanston. What a charming place. Congratulations and keep us posted on your decorating!

  38. Your Belle is beyond charming; cannot wait to see how it comes together.



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