House Beautiful

C-bus or bust: Steph’s New Digs

For those of you who don’t speak the made-up language that I do, “C-bus” is code for Columbus (Ohio), and “C-bus or bust” is code for, OMG, I’m moving there in 2 weeks for work. And while I will be VERY sad to leave the sweet Chicago apartment that I have called home for the past 4 years…  a little Victorian gem with original millwork, 10-ft. ceilings, glass transoms over all the doors and a GIANT hot pink walk-in closet…  a space that I have tinkered with, toiled over, and painted every square inch of…  and a place complete with: a Saturday farmer’s market about 12 paces from my front door, the most endearing character-out-of-a-movie mailman (what up, Tony?!), and a backyard that looks like the Secret Garden..  Wait, where did this sentence even start?  The point is, I do love this place, and I love this city and I love my friends here. That’s the bitter part. But here’s the sweet: who doesn’t love change? C’mahn. It’s kind of exhilarating (wheeeeeeeeeeeee).

New places to see, new local gems to discover, a new crop of boys to sift through new people to meet, and – oh yeah buddy, you know it – new digs to decorate. I was in the market for a downtown loft or 1 BR – something small but nice, preferably not in the hood, and maybe peppered with a little exposed brick. Instead, something that looks like the Who’s the Boss house went to Neverneverland fell in my lap:

When I say “fell in my lap,” I mean that after an exhausting (and fruitless) 2 weeks of watching the grass grow on Craigslist, I put out my own ad with photos of the kind of space I wanted, must-haves, deal-breakers, and my max price. And then sold my little self as a model tenant, citing my time as a landlord and my interior design biz on the side. In the most serendipacious, serendipalicious stroke of luck, the family who owns this place (which was soon to be empty but not even on the market yet) called and offered it to me at my price… which is a fraction of what it should rent for otherwise. It’s more than I need and it’s not what I was on the hunt for, but it’s awesome, I have plenty of room for family & friends to come visit, and for the price – I would’ve been certifiably insane to turn it down. Moving along – before I tell you how I’m about to have my way with this joint, here are some “before” sneak peeks of the place:


Can you say “full of character”? This is a little recessed, arched nook in the master bedroom. There is also a mini-fireplace (what??) on the other side. So sweet.


All the interior doors have been restored to their original glory. Gorgeous.


A little screened porch? Oui!


The backyard – aka Gus’ new wild kingdom, and the place I plan on hosting many-a-BBQ’s – looks like Ferngully. Planting an herb garden and stringing globe lights stat.


I’ve never seen a fireplace so massive. Holler. And love the French doors on either side of it that go out to the screened porch.


A huge slice of nature with a bike path that leads downtown and a river… 1 block away.

Much of the house has been lovingly restored – the doors, the hardwood floors, etc – but the kitchen and bathrooms haaaaaaave not. And therein lies one of the BIGGEST draws of this place: they want me to help them with the redesign of those spaces. I see subway tile, I see carrera marble, and I see glass front cabinets. OMG, I think a little pee just came out. For now, here’s what we’re working with:


Love the vintage penny tile… don’t hate the pink & blue shower tile, because it reminds me of my Nanny’s bathroom. But to steal some verbiage from Nan – “I don’t rightly know” if I can deal with that wallpaper for long. Like, for more than 7 minutes.


Powder room… mmmmmmmeeeehhhhh.  The best thing I can think to do with that wallpaper is to perhaps repurpose it…  over a picnic table?


There’s even blue carpet in there. And I’m not kidding – I wouldn’t joke about something like that.

However – here’s the thing about those spaces:  Well yes, they’re outdated. But they have a good vibe to ’em… a sweet,comforting, nostalgic one. They feel like they’re straight out of a lake cottage… or one of my grandmothers’ houses. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t attack them with a sledgehammer and a paint roller in a skinny second, given the chance.  Here’s the gist of what I’m thinking about doing…

SCREENED PORCH: I’ve been puttsing around Craigslist and am about to scoop up a wicker loveseat – or a few chairs – and spray paint ’em something between sage and seafoam…  OR black…  then toss in some SUPER bright, happy pink and red pillows.  Comme ca…

MY BEDROOM: I’ve loved that shot below for YEARS.  Mostly for its simplicity.  You can barely tell what color the walls are, but they’re the faintest lavender.  And, I’m hanging that daisy sputnik light below in my bedroom.  HUGE thanks to Laurel from Fernbird for hanging onto it for me until I get there!!  Can you say girlie to the max?  I can.

LIVING ROOM: Super pale, misty greyish-blue walls…  neutral upholstery (including my beloved cream sectional that my 17-year old brother has been spilling chocolate milk on for years)…  a Pottery Barn Persian shaggy rug…  the 1st Dibs lamps I scored earlier this year…  and pillows dip-dyed in watered-down fuchsia for a pop of color (ask me what color my hands & nails are right now from dip-dyeing?  Mmm hmm.  They’re purple).

DINING ROOM: Walls the color of vanilla ice cream + a ceiling the color of seaglass…  an overdyed violet rug from the big Rugs USA clearance sale this weekend ($210 for that 8×10 beauty??  No brainer)…  a flaxy-linen upholstered wingback settee…  and either the Louis XVI cane back chairs I’ve had for years (with the seats covered in Schumacher’s chintz) -or- the tufted grey linen side chairs.

Oh.  And you better believe I’m hanging this bad boy over the dining room table.  BANG.

PS: Am I the only blogger in the universe who lives in the stone ages and doesn’t have Photoshop yet?  Ah well.  Who doesn’t love a Microsoft Paint collage?  Anyhow, that’s where we are so far.  I’m sure I’ll change my mind 14x by tomorrow 🙂  But will keep y’all posted on how it shakes out!  I’ve packed 2 boxes so far.  Whoops.

Happy Hump Day (already!!!)

Image Credits:  {Vintage Car – source unknown}  {Brigitte Bardot photo by Philippe Halsman}  {Black wicker chairs – Hillary Thomas Design via Lonny} {Outdoor table setting by Kathryn M. Ireland}

Inspiration Board Sources:  BEDROOM {Lavender Bedroom | Sputnik Chandelier} LIVING ROOM {Marta Gil Photography | 1st Dibs Lamps | Pottery Barn Adana Rug | Dip-Dyed Pillows | Buttery Leather Pouf | Lee Jofa Threads | Fresh & CleanClean Living Room}  DINING ROOM {Overdyed Rug | Benjamin Moore Papaya 957 | Sea glass paint | Grey dining chairs photographed by blogger | Linen settee | Schumacher Hollyhock chintz chintz in tobacco | Breakfast vignette}

10 Responses to “C-bus or bust: Steph’s New Digs”

  • I love the house, Stephanie, and I know you will make it your own and it will be beautiful. You don’t seem to have trouble making friends wherever you go and I bet you won’t be in C-bus a couple weeks until you have about 12 people in your backyard for a bbq. Good luck on your move and your new beginnings for work. Love from Aunt Betty and Uncle Jim

  • Love this~can’t wait to see the “after” pics! So excited for you to start your new adventure~big hugs!

  • REPLACE…We need you in the MID-STATES OF DECORATE…what FIRE….ok, KEEP IT IN THE REAL stay connected…Love,

  • Positively, thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. If I met you in real life, I’d like to be your friend.

    Those bathrooms and kitchens are frighteningly hideous, but the rest of the house and property looks down right loverly. And I’m sure you’ll have those other…less than…loverly spaces lookin spick and span and stylish in no time!

  • Stephie B | Admin

    Annie gurl, we can be friends anytime!! Thank you so much for the sweet comment. And, OMG… I know. If only the clover wallpaper could magically transform into Peter Dunham.. a la:… And, I am speechless on the master bath. I think if they let me strip or cover that wallpaper for the short term, I’ll be a happy girl.

  • your new house is precious!!!! omg!!!!

  • Looks like you have a few projects on your hands! Looks like a great spot for you!!! Will miss you up here–

  • Steph’s new digs are just too lovely to look at. I was feeling a little dull today when I saw this blog and these pictures and it made me smile. Thanks for sharing.

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