What a difference a paint job makes in glamming up a Lakeview apartment.
While the bright-pink dining room in Jessica Murnane and Dan Jividen’s Lakeview apartment makes a memorable statement, it’s the streamlined black-and-white paint job on the furniture that ties the whole place together. Between the matte black-painted chairs (a recurring motif in half the rooms) and dresser set spruced up with a whitewash and cream trim, you’d never know that Murnane picks up a good portion of her furnishings at the nearby Mount Sinai resale store. The home exudes glamour more than thriftiness.
“I feel like a lot of people might not buy something because they don’t like the color of it, but I look at something for the shape of it and think what can I do with it,” Murnane says, gesturing to the now-white plastic giraffe head from Z Gallerie peering above a pile of books in the dining room. Given the nature of Murnane’s work—in addition to being a co-owner of Angels & Kings, she designs a high-end stationery line called Suitor (available at Greer, 1657 N Wells St, 312-337-8000, greerchicago.com)—that clean aesthetic, not to mention creative moxie and vision, should come as no surprise.
Drawn to the apartment’s open layout and spaciousness, as well as its charming details such as decorative molding and old-timey light sconces, the couple found an inspiring empty canvas in the all-white apartment when they moved in. “I wouldn’t say I [should be on] A&E’s Hoarders”—she launches into a brief explanation of her obsession with people who compulsively collect—“but I have a collection of things I think are really pretty,” Murnane says. “So whenever [my husband] Dan and I move, I lay out the whole collection and kind of move them around to different rooms to find the perfect home.” Mostly those “pretty things” come from travels, such as the heavy shoe-shaped ashtrays from Madrid, or as gifts from friends, like the branch from a flower arrangement that Murnane painted black and displays in a vase in the bedroom.
If the apartment appears at all cluttered, it’s a result of the hundreds of books and magazines, a veritable marriage of her Martha Stewart instructionals and clunky Phaidon design encyclopedias and his Jonathan Swift essays. “We definitely have issues with too many books,” Murnane says. “If there’s a spot that seems to be missing something, we’re like, ‘Let’s put a pile of books over there.’?” They appear in stacks on chairs pushed against walls, piled on the floor as a doorstop and artfully arranged by color on shelves. Murnane even created large-size prints out of two book covers—Albert Camus’s The Stranger and LeRoi Jones’s Tales—which she Photoshopped to remove the book titles and framed in black.
After two and a half years of tweaking and rearranging and hunting for just the right pieces—they settled on their zebra-print Ethan Allen couch only six months ago—the couple finally feels done…for now.
“It’s a proud moment when you feel complete [in your home],” Murnane says, sinking into her sofa and dramatically exhaling. “I don’t have any reoccurring projects right now, and that’s kind of exciting.”