Cait Weingartner’s Chicago Studio Tour

Pretty & Fun may be the name of her blog, but we think it also perfectly describes Cait Weingartner’s studio apartment style. Originally starting her blog as an outlet for her creativity, her apartment has transformed into a creative outlet as well! Cait has managed to transform her tight-on-space studio into a stylish retreat filled with clean lines, bright colors, and fun accents. Using pieces that are both stylish and storage-friendly (like her amazing IKEA bookshelf), she maximizes every inch of her living space. Her delightful apartment is complete with a fun gallery wall, beautiful Lake Michigan views, and two cute roommates—her dogs, Callie and Holden. Join us as we tour Cait’s Windy City studio—we have a feeling you’ll fall in love as much as we did!

Full name: Cait Weingartner
Age: 25
Location: Chicago, IL
Current title/company: Social Strategist, [wire] stone
Educational background: BA Communications, emphasis Print Journalism

First, tell us about your story! How do you fill your day when you aren’t decorating your fabulous apartment?
I’m an east coast girl who has made a home for herself in the Windy City. I share a home with my two dogs, Callie and Holden, and truly live for sunny days along the lakefront and the thrill of giving someone the perfect gift. By day I work in the marketing world, developing social strategies for clients to help them achieve their business objectives by tapping into the amazing community that is the social media world. I also run a lifestyle blog, Pretty & Fun. It serves as my outlet for all that inspires me, whether it be new recipes or beauty products, fashion, or interior design and styling.

How did you find the apartment you’re currently living in? Tell us the process you went through while looking for it! What made you finally settle on your apartment? Do you rent or own?
I had less than a month to find an apartment, schedule movers, and move from NJ to IL when my job transferred me in 2011. It was a crazy time and I knew nothing about the city, so I initially ended up living in the suburbs near where I was working. I quickly realized that Chicago was where I needed to be, and arranged to transfer to another building that was owned by the same company that I had my initial lease.

I’ll admit when I first saw my current apartment I was less than impressed. Going from a much larger space to a studio (and yet paying a lot more) was very discouraging, but thanks to some encouragement from a good friend, I decided to go for it. The view is really what sold it for me and I still feel so incredibly lucky every time I see the sun rise over Lake Michigan.

When decorating your home, what area did you concentrate on first (bedroom, kitchen, etc.)? Why did you choose that area? What was your first big purchase for that space?
Dividing up the space into separate living and sleeping areas was really important for me. I immediately knew that a large bookshelf would do the trick and add much needed storage and it made a huge difference. While it wasn’t a huge investment (thank you IKEA), the bookshelf has made the space feel bigger and has added a true bedroom area.

What key items did you consider “must-haves” in terms of furniture and accessories when decorating your home? What is the most unique piece you found while decorating?
For me, it was really important that everything in my home had both a purpose and a place. Living in a small space has really forced me to love everything I own and think twice about random impulsive purchases. In terms of furniture I wanted a mix of items that felt curated and not matchy, and accessories that reflected things I loved.

I’d say the most unique piece I found while decorating was a set of Matryoshka dolls that I purchased on eBay. I saw a photo of a set of the dolls on Instagram while browsing my feed one day and was instantly brought back to my childhood where I had a set in my room. I hopped over to eBay and was able to find a vintage set from a seller in Russia. I had a friend visiting on the day they arrived and shocked her with the most random package ever, but I love them and the little memory they represent.

Tell us about your favorite budget friendly piece that you incorporated into your space! Where did you find it?
Years later I am still absolutely obsessed with a dresser I scored at the Salvation Army for $20—it’s an awesome mid-century modern piece that has big, roomy drawers and really unique knobs, which are a nice contrast to the clean lines. I painted the interior of the drawers a bright neon pink to add a pop of color to the walnut—it’s like the dresser has a hidden secret and I love it.

What are some of your favorite stores where you found affordable pieces for your home?
West Elm is my absolute favorite for furniture—the quality is great, and I love how diverse the styles are. I have a lot of West Elm pieces in my home and they provide the perfect backdrop to add all of the finishing details to make your space unique. IKEA and Target are also favorites as well or eBay and Craig’s List when you’re looking for something specific.

What is the biggest purchase that you splurged on when decorating your place? Why did you decide to splurge on that piece—why did you have to have it?
My West Elm sofa was my first big grown up splurge—it was a purchase out of pure want rather than necessity as I made the upgrade from an IKEA piece right after moving out to Illinois. I still love the gray velvet, and it was definitely a purchase that made my home feel much more “adult” than previous apartments.

Your gallery wall is amazing—we love it! Tell us about your artwork. How did you find such unique pieces to incorporate? Any unique stories behind any of your works of art?
My gallery wall really came together in this apartment after I’d been collecting random prints for years. I’m totally addicted to Etsy—I love how it has made unique, handmade art so accessible. Some of my favorite pieces include the watercolor robin, which was handmade by an Italian artist, and the custom-made quote from Perks of Being a Wallflower (“we accept the love we think we deserve”), which has been a favorite book of mine since I was a teenager. A lot of my artwork also has been made by my family and friends, or has been given to me as a gift. I love having little reminders of the people I love every time I look at my gallery wall.

Do you consider yourself a DIYer? If so, what in your apartment have you completed DIY?
I am not much of a DIYer, but I do love to tackle simple projects—especially those involving gold spray paint. I am a big fan of repurposing items (if you can count that as a DIY), like using apothecary jars for unique storage or using vintage glasses to hold a few blooms.

How would you describe your decorating style? Where do you look for inspiration? Do you gain inspiration from any specific design books, blogs, or designers?
I’d describe my style as “modern eclectic”—I’m drawn to clean lines (especially mid century modern) mixed with fun accents and bright colors. I’m endlessly inspired by design blogs and online magazines like Design*Sponge, Lonny Mag, and Desire to Inspire, and I still have every issue of Domino magazine saved.

Do you have advice for other girls coming out of college who are trying to decorate their first apartment while sticking to a budget? How would you suggest girls interject their personality into their apartments like you did?
Start early! I had started hoarding random, very affordable apartment items years and years before I moved into my first apartment. Spending $50 or so at a time along the way made the whole process a lot less stressful and overwhelming when I finally was able to take the plunge and move into my own space.

What are your current career aspirations? Where do you see yourself in five years?
My career is my absolute main focus at the moment—I’ve gotten hooked on the thrill of success, and honestly can’t wait to see what the next five years hold. I’d say my main aspirations are to continue to take advantage of every possible opportunity, and to stay hungry and never get too comfortable. One of my all-time favorite quotes is: “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.” I hope to always be fueled by a little fear.

Tell us more about your blog! What inspired you to first start Pretty and Fun?
After being absolutely obsessed with the blog world and actively involved from a reader’s perspective for years, I finally took the plunge and launched Pretty & Fun in March of 2011. I had blogged in several other formats over the years, from LiveJournal to Tumblr, and spent a lot of time planning out all of the details of Pretty & Fun. The blog world had been such a source of inspiration for me. I really wanted to be part of that world, and have a creative outlet for my interests and things I gravitated toward, all of which tended to be pretty and fun.

What has been the most rewarding experience that has come from starting your blog?
Having the blog made me much more confident in my decision to pursue a great opportunity that meant moving 800 miles from home all by myself. Blogging has connected me with some of the best people I know. Many of my friendships in Chicago started with the blog, and I don’t know how I would have dealt with being a newcomer in a big city without such an incredible network to tap into. I still have to pinch myself every time I have the opportunity to work with a brand I love, and I am endlessly grateful for everything blogging has added to my life. It can be so much work, but at the end of the day it’s always worth it.

How do you balance your job at an advertising agency with updating your blog?
Balance is something I’ve struggled a lot with to be honest. I love my job, and my commitment to it is my top priority at the moment. There are plenty of days where I get home after work and the last thing I want to do is open up my laptop and work on the blog—one can only stare at a computer screen for so long!

Being really organized on the blog front has helped a lot. I regularly will sit down and brainstorm out 50 or so posts at a time to help combat the feeling of having nothing to blog about, and then will organize those in a flexible editorial calendar using Google Calendar. I try my best to write all of the upcoming week’s blog posts over the weekend, which gives me a nice escape from the workweek, while also making my schedule less crazy in case of big meetings or late nights at the office.

Take us through a typical day in the life of Cait Weingartner!
My days always start with the same two things, a dog walk and a cup of coffee. During the week I like to get into the office early to take advantage of my morning burst of productivity—there’s something very satisfying about being the one to turn on the office lights. Every day is different in the agency world; there’s always something going on. My clients range from the tech world and education, to products you’d find in the grocery store. I love being kept on my toes and never knowing what the day holds. After work I slip into blogger mode and relax by reading through my Google Reader, catching up with friends on Twitter, or browsing Pinterest. I’ve become much more of an introvert over the past few years, so I tend to stay in and lay low during the week.

Weekends are my time to catch up on life outside of the office—from brunch with the girls to getting a long run in if I’m training for a race or a trip to the dog beach. I love lists and having a set schedule. I’m happiest when I’m really busy, and I tend to be that way both professionally and personally.