A Palmer Square–residing couple shows off their decked-in-Deco abode.
In decorating, just as in life, things often don’t go as planned—which is just what happened with Kevin Palmer and Frank Schneider. When the couple moved into their Palmer Square home, they had their sights set on Victorian decor. But after quickly concluding that the 19th-century frills simply didn’t fit with the working man’s two-flat, they turned their eyes on Deco.
Fifteen years later, the top floor of their home exudes an aesthetic purism that looks like a lifelong commitment to collecting nothing but the streamlined, mechanized style characteristic of the postwar movement; two plates on the dining room table purchased at Chicago’s One of a Kind Show are the only elements on display that don’t date at least five decades back.
“We decided we wanted to collect something we would both appreciate,” says Palmer, a high-school history teacher. “It’s created a life of its own.” To that end, they can’t watch a period film now without pointing out the inaccurate props, and they host an annual dinner party for the group of local antique dealers who’ve supported their scouring habit.
The basement level, however, is another story, featuring a hodgepodge of artifacts of bygone eras, from 1940s and 1950s smoking paraphernalia to dozens of paintings from contemporary local artists, not to mention Palmer’s complete collection of hardback history books. Yet somehow it all works. “It’s our two worlds,” Palmer says.
1 Dozens of paintings from local artists adorn the wall leading down to the basement.
2 An adoration of McCoy cookie jars grew into a hundred-plus collection of pottery displayed in glass cases, shadow boxes and shelves.
3 Two Argentine candelabras rest below British stained-glass windows bought from a PBS Old World furniture auction.
4 Colorful posters from the Chicago World’s Fair hang above functional decor pieces featuring the classic sprite figurine.
5 Silver Ralph Lauren paint, which accentuates the crude plaster job, sets off an original, working Wurlitzer phone made in Chicago in 1934.