The Coziest Rental Apartment in Chicago
Carly Martin, the founder of Clementine Studio, lives in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago, along with her husband, Scott, and dog, Norman. “I’m always drawn to old homes,” she says. “I appreciate the craftsmanship — the woodwork, the doorknobs, the mantles. It’s been fun finding the quirks. Of course, it’s always dusty no matter what!” Here, she gives us a tour around…
Daybed: West Elm, similar. Rug: vintage, similar.
On a friendly city: We moved here from New York four years ago. Bucktown is such a neighborhood-y area — so many families and dogs. I like the midwestern approach. People wave and smile as they walk down the streets. I’ve felt myself soften around the edges.
On working with the space: The apartment itself has so much character, so we let the home guide how we decorated it. For example, the fireplace was begging for a bookshelf. So, my husband and father-in-law made them from Home Depot. We also wanted a lower couch because we didn’t want to block the front window. My husband scoured Craigslist and found a West Elm daybed.
On a favorite spot: Norman is the mascot of the neighborhood. During colder months, he’ll sit on the daybed and look out the window. In the summer, he’ll sit on the front stoop and is very regal. I’ll be inside and overhear passersby say, ‘Hey, Norman!’
On surviving the winter: We spend a lot of time in the fireplace room in the winter. My husband and I both get seasonal depression, so having natural light is great. Also, WALKING. It took me a while to truly bundle up, but after a couple years here I was done trying to pretend that crappy gloves were keeping me warm! I invested in an ankle-length coat and under layers, like Uniqlo Heattech.
On the power of boredom: I listened to a TED talk about boredom, and it stuck with me how creative your brain gets when you’re a little bored. It’s so hard to be bored these days with the internet, your phone, TV… so I keep some board games and paper in the living room. If I feel myself craving an Instagram scroll, I’ll pick up my sketchbook instead and see what happens.
On an eye-catching tiger: I painted this tiger in watercolor and then sent the file to one of the last remaining American weaving mills, based in North Carolina. They’re woven by a digital weaving machine; it’s so cool. We hung the blanket on our front wall, so you can see it from the street.
Sofa: Article. Blanket on sofa: Clementine studio. Pillows: Territory.
On watching shows: Anything that’s being talked about, I watch. I just finished Bridgerton. I have a group text chain with my five college friends, and I talk to my sister a million times a day. So, I want to keep on top of things! Especially during quarantine, it’s so nice to have something to check in with your friends about.
Dining table and benches: Nadeau. Rug: Safavieh, similar.
On natural centerpieces: Whenever Trader Joe’s has these big flowering branches, I get them — they add such an architectural element.
On a meet cute: My husband and I met in college. At first, we were close friends. I’m definitely an introvert but that term wasn’t on my radar then. My roommates were kind of wild and we were going out all the time, but I remember one night when we were at the apartment where Scott lived, and everyone was going out, and he chose to stay home and read Time Magazine and watch a hockey game. And I was like, wait you can do that? You can decide to stay in? And that was the moment something changed. I was like, he’s my speed.
Ramen bowls: Monsoon Pottery. Espresso cup: Monsoon Pottery. Green glass tumblers: il Buco Family.
Bed: Breakwater Bay. Duvet: Parachute. Sheets: Casaluna. Lumbar pillow: Magnolia. Rug: nuLOOM.
On an interesting shape: The walls slant in a little, but we don’t need a big bedroom. I had to find these tiny nightstands and lamps to fit in the corner spaces.
On favorite bedding: This winter when it was so cold, I was craving the flannel sheets of my childhood. So, I found some at Target; they’re the same sheets that I had when I was 10 and they’re so cozy.
On bedtime routines: Norman is the first to go to bed. He’ll make his way in around 8:30 p.m. Then we follow. My husband makes fun of me because my book will literally crash into my face and then I know it’s time to go to sleep. During COVID, I’ve been a reading a lot but I’ve had to switch to lighthearted books. I’ve devoured food critic Ruth Reichl’s memoirs. I feel like I’m living in them while I’m reading them.
Bath mat: Cost Plus World Market. Amber glass soap dispensers: Cornucopia Brand.
On eucalyptus: When I lived in New York, I was right by the Union Square farmer’s market. There was a eucalyptus vendor, and he would have huge irresistible bundles all the time. They freshen the bathroom and smell so good.
On a better bathmat: We had so many terrycloth bathmats one the years and they always looked so gross. This teak one solves that problem!
On a career shift: As an illustrator, I have been designing wedding stationery since 2014. When the pandemic hit last spring, couples were starting to panic and needing to postpone their weddings. I worked with a few clients to design a digital ‘save the NEW date’ template. It unlocked something I’d wanted to do for a long time — which was come up with a way to offer my signature watercolor designs at a more affordable price. I made more digital templates and called them Clementine to Go. I’m so grateful for the time I had to do that this year.
On choosing a company name: I didn’t want to put my name on my company. As an introvert, I felt it was too personal and I knew that it would be easier for me to be a person behind a company to help sell and market it versus selling my own name. It took me while but I came back to Clementine because I eat pounds of them in the winter!
Thank you so much, Carly!
P.S. More house tours, including a “little gay house” in Oregon and 12 readers’ cozy corners.
(Photo by Carly Martin.)