Create a Chicago-Inspired Space In Your Interior Design
No matter where you live, this design guide will outline elements of the heart of Chicago Style, from the cityscape to the Midwest, and industrial inspirations that you can mimic in your home. This famous Midwest metropolis has a vibrant energy all its own. Humming with historic music venues, it’s an enviable downtown scene, surrounded by skyscrapers topped with restaurants and hangout joints, all stemming from the city’s storied history. It’s a combination of the unique architecture, the vibrant traditions, and how the residents embrace cultural diversity. All this can be brought into your home’s interior via the Chicago design style.
It was October 1871 that a two-day blaze took the lives of 300 people and destroyed over 17,000 buildings, leaving four square miles of the Windy City, including its business district, in ruins. After the fire, the rebirth of the city saw an eclectic mix of architectural styles, from postmodernism to art nouveau. Famous architects, both Frank Lloyd Wright and Miles van der Rohe, had their hands in the creation of Chicago’s mecca of new design and cultural building explosion. Following the examples set by these creative architectural styles, homeowners brought that same energy and look inside the home decor. Thus was the beginning of Chicago’s signature urban aesthetic.
HOMETOWN PRIDE - CHICAGO STYLE
Residents of this windy city have a lot of hometown pride. People love to celebrate and support the local spirit in Chicagoland in all sorts of creative ways. (Chicagoland is an informal term for Chicago, used in a lot of media arenas to describe the region that includes the City of Chicago and its surrounding suburbs.) Bringing the energy of Chicago pride into your home’s design and decor is simple with any of the following accents.
PIECE OF THE CITY
Chicagoland memorabilia can be anything that captures the city and reminds you of Chicago. Most of these ideas will work well with several different types of decor styles:
- Maps of the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority, or subway) system
- Historical maps of the city
- Local sports teams items
- Classic Chicago brand vintage advertisements
- Classic movie posters for films set in Chicago
- Photographs or paintings of famous Chicagoland-area landmarks
- Emil Bach House
- Biograph Theatre
- Canal Street Railroad Bridge
- Carrie Eliza Getty Tomb
- Buckingham Fountain
- Chicago Harbor Lighthouse
Here is a list of local resources:
- Curbed Chicago lists Chicagoland’s best home decor stores and boutiques.
- TimeOut shares the area’s best furniture and home stores.
- Architectural Digest explores the top home decor stores in the Midwest.
- Choose Chicago lists some of the area’s festivals and fairs.
- Racked offers the picks for Chicagoland’s independent boutiques.
One of the most famous architects in history made Chicago his home and experimental design oasis. The highest concentration of Frank Lloyd Wright homes anywhere in the world can be found in:
Wright’s design is often called Prairie Style, inspired by the flat, long landscapes of the Midwest. This style influenced the Bauhaus designers, who were part of shaping many of the elements associated with mid-century modern style.
Prairie Style focuses on:
- Connection of buildings to nature
Prairie Style is all about horizontal lines. Thus you’re looking to explore long, straight, lines throughout the house. To mirror this same style in your Chicago inspired interior decor, bring in design elements that display balance and harmony, such as:
- Living plants
- Natural materials
- Nature inspired color palette- green, brown, and gray
- Vintage vases
- Geometric patterns in tile floors
Similar to the warehouse and loft districts in New York, Chicago also has a wide range of refurbished spaces in the manufacturing sectors where warehouses have been upgraded to residential living. Here the Industrial Style is prevalent, with metal details, vintage throwback feel, large windows, brick, and exposed pipes.
Famous manufacturing centers in the city include:
- The West Loop -preeminent center for food processing and meatpacking.
- The Ravenswood corridor - a massive manufacturing center.
- The South Loop - the hub of the Midwest’s printing and shipping industries.
- Pullman - focused on the production of rail cars.
Celebrate the industrial style that had its roots in these manufacturing plants by merging elements from times past with a modern twist. An industrial home space takes advantage of the buildings raw construction components such as:
- Exposed brick
- Large windows
- Concrete floors
- Piping systems
Then adding modern accents and furnishings that complement this style is what makes an industrial space feel like home. This can include leather furniture, metallic and wood finishes, lots of dark colors, and minimalistic ornamentation. Get further details with the full Industrial Style Guide here.
In the city’s heyday, Chicago was an Art Deco metropolis; full of jazz clubs, dinner lounges, and home of the bad boy gangsters of the prohibition era, famous historical figures, politicians, and artists. You can still find homage to this Roaring 20’s history in many interiors showcasing velvet upholstery, ambient lighting, and a plethora of warm woods, such as the Beaux Arts-style buildings around the city. Other historic hotels, restaurants and clubs still pay homage to this style as well:
These elements can be included in your home to achieve a look that’s enticing and elegant. To welcome the gorgeous vintage vibe into your home, incorporate some modern early 20th century design trends.
- Bold mirrors
- Brass, gold, and nickel finishing
- Geometric prints
- Jewel tones - royal blue, purple, dark green, silver
- Leather and velvet furniture
- Loads of ambient lighting
- Mosaic retro tiles
- Stylish bar cart
Being a member of the Midwest region and a member of the cold winter club as well, Chicago style also includes a large nod to this region's traditions and home decor stylings. One unique feature is the retro “supper club” look you’ll find in northern Illinois and other Midwest regions. Gaining popularity in the 50’s and 60’s, supper clubs were usually found in the outskirts of town or the more wooded areas. These lodges delivered old time hospitality and ambiance. Back in the day you might find dancing and live music; today it’s more of a generational family-style eatery with a bit of a snazzy overall vibe. Bringing this upstate club feel in your home’s decor or dining area requires only a few elements:
- Rustic decor
- Relaxed setting
- Old-fashioned comfort
- Soft lighting
- Wood paneling
- Fireplace and stone work
- Table settings with white cloth napkins and tablecloths
Additional Midwest style comforts in the home are focused around staying warm in the bracing and long winters.
- Modern plaid blankets
- Mixing various textures and textiles
- Wrought iron finishes
- Warm wood accents
- Nature photos
- A roaring fire
More than simply a place you live, your home is a foundation for much of the comfort and joy in your daily life. If Chicago style attracts you, there are several ways to impart that unique city’s vibe into your home. From the merging with nature concept founded by Frank Lloyd Wright, to the streamlined and more austere look of the industrial style, to the jazzy opulent lounge clubs of the 20’s, to enjoying a night camping in the great outdoors by embracing the Midwest woods and warmth design.
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