The beautiful city of Chicago (where The Everygirl office luckily gets to call home) is known for its iconic architecture and amazing, old construction. When Kathryn Larocca was looking for her 1920s Gold Coast apartment, she was looking for a building with vintage charm and character, and she found exactly that. When styling her home, she aimed to create a welcoming and cozy space while keeping the spirit of the building alive. She was able to find the perfect balance between modern and vintage decor, as well as affordable and big-ticketed pieces. Keep reading to get Kathryn’s take on transitioning from living with roommates to living alone, decorating in a smaller space, and how to live your best life!
Name: Kathryn Larocca, Marketing Manager at Expedia Group
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Sq. Ft.: 1,000
Years Lived In: 1.5 years
Rent or Own: Rent
What was your first job and how did you land it?
My first job out of college was in product marketing at a retail analytics company. My friend’s cousin worked at the company and referred me to the role after she heard about my background. I worked at Nordstrom during summer breaks throughout college and had a handful of marketing internships during college, so it was a great fit.
I worked there for five years, but recently switched companies. I learned so much during those five years and met so many amazing mentors along the way — one of them even helped me land my current role!
Can you tell us a little bit more about what you’re doing for work currently?
I work at Expedia Group as a Marketing Manager on the portfolio marketing team. I am focused on marketing revenue management products to our hotel partners with marketing materials and content that is leveraged by our sales teams, at events and via digital marketing channels. As a product marketer, I have the opportunity to work cross-functionally with all areas of the business on a global level, as well as meet our hotel partners at company events, which I really enjoy.
How did you find your current apartment?
I was living with two of my close friends at the time and we’d all decided that we were going to look for separate spaces the following year. I started my search for one-bedroom apartments about three months before our lease ended. I have always wanted to live in a vintage, 1920s-era building, which isn’t too hard to find in many areas of Chicago. My apartment was the first and only place I saw. I knew it was the one right when I walked through the doors. I couldn’t wait to sign and get my key!
What is your favorite thing about living in the Gold Coast neighborhood?
There’s a lot to love about the Gold Coast! I love being near the lake and so many old, historic homes. The area has so much charm — I am always in awe. It is also close to downtown Chicago which makes for an easy commute to work, but, somehow, the neighborhood also feels like it’s tucked away from the city at the same time.
How did you start the decorating process?
My apartment’s bones and features were a great canvas to start with! I knew I wanted to keep the space classic and neutral. I only bring in pieces I absolutely love. I started by purchasing big-ticket items — such as a sofa, a dining table, chairs, a coffee table, and all the other larger items that were necessary. I then added on layers and textures to make the space my own. I have a slight obsession with vintage candlesticks and glassware and have hoarded magazines for the past 15 years, so I knew I had to display those items around my home. Comfort was also key, since I love hosting friends for wine nights. I wanted the space to feel relaxed and have a good flow. I made sure there were plenty of throw pillows and blankets. I also find that lighting is an important factor when it comes to creating a great space, so I replaced all my lighting with warm light. At night, it brings a candlelight effect to the space, and is not as harsh as white, bright light.
Were there any quirks in the space you had to design around? If so, tell us about them.
In an older building you are always going to get some quirks. Most of the quirks in my space add charm, but I don’t think I will ever be able to decorate around the large air conditioning units in my apartment. I am slowly learning to embrace them because they come as part of the territory with an old building!
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Modern with a vintage charm. I love classic, in-style pieces with a mix of older pieces that have been redone. I have three major items in my space that I got at antique stores and/or re-did myself. I think the combination of old and new is such a great juxtaposition and gives your space a personal touch.
Where do you get your style inspo?
I am a huge fan of Pinterest and Instagram. If you saw my “saved’ section on Instagram you would see many different boards with hundreds of photos that I have saved to refer back to for design inspiration. I also love marking photos within Domino Magazine, Architectural Digest, and other interior design magazines to refer back to for inspiration.
Your bar cart is so cute! Do you have any advice for beginners on styling a bar cart?
Thank you! I think it’s fun when a bar cart isn’t only for liquor. I love to add art, vintage glassware, greenery, candles, linen napkins, decanters, and other elements. I also make sure to follow a color theme so that everything looks nice and cohesive. Always make sure you are displaying pieces you love and rearrange it every so often to keep things interesting.
Where do you shop for furniture/ décor pieces?
My sofa is from Interior Define, but a lot of my other main pieces are from West Elm, Pottery Barn, Ballard Designs, and Target. I also have a few basic items from IKEA and love to go to Home Goods and World Market for throw pillows, blankets, candles, and décor. I have a lot of vintage items that I have found at antique stores around the Chicagoland area. A lot of my prints are from Etsy. A mix of high- and low-priced items is perfect for my budget and I slowly saved up for all my major purchases. I never buy anything I don’t love because if I am on the fence about an item, I almost always end up returning it.
What is your favorite piece or element in your home?
I love the buffet cabinet I have in my living room. It was at my parents’ home and they no longer needed it, so my mom offered to help me redo it. We used chalk paint to change the yellow wood to a glossy white, and I changed out all the knobs to vintage pulls. I bought a vintage-looking mirror to put on top of the buffet and it quickly became my favorite element in my home. Whenever I have friends over the buffet is used as the place where I put out the wine and appetizers. It’s always the center of the party!
You had roommates before you moved. How did you know you were ready to live alone? What is your favorite part?
I knew I was ready to live alone when I started craving a place of my own to decorate and have time alone in. I think everyone should live alone at some point in their life if they can! It creates a form of independence that not everyone gets to experience.
What’s your best piece of advice for designing with a smaller space?
Only purchase items you love, and don’t buy items that are too big for your space. I wanted a larger sofa for my apartment but knew it would look silly. Make sure you measure and find pieces that go well together.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Chicago when the weather is nice?
I love going to local farmer’s markets and street fairs. There are so many things to do when the weather is nice in Chicago, and most of the fairs are free! I also love going to restaurants with outdoor patios for dinner and drinks. There are so many amazing restaurants and bars in Chicago, and my list of places is constantly growing. I tend to stay in a bit more in the winter since it gets so cold, so my summers seem to be a bit busier because I’m always attending the street fairs, hanging out on the lake, and spending time outside.
What advice would you give to your 22-year-old self?
Never settle. That goes for romantic relationships, friendships, your career, and much more. If you are not happy with the people and places you spend most of your time with/at, it’s impossible to be living your best life. Also, always be happy for others when something exciting happens in their life. It’s so much more fun to be genuinely happy for others then feeling jealous and/or playing the comparison game.
Kathryn Larocca is The Everygirl…
Go-to meal to cook?
Grain bowls filled with brown rice, roasted veggies, tofu, avocado, and a homemade dressing.
Self-care activity you love?
Doing a guided meditation recording via Lacy Phillips. I also would be lying if I didn’t also say enjoying a glass of Pinot Noir and flipping through one of my favorite magazines.
Your camera roll is full of…
Screenshots of photos from Instagram, quotes, and a bunch of photographs that will probably never make it to social media.
Favorite brunch spot in your town?
Etta. Their farm-to-table menu is spectacular and every cocktail is unique and delicious.
Home essential everyone needs?
While it may not be essential, I think every home should have a signature scent. For my bedroom and bathroom, the scent is always lavender or clean cotton. For my main room, I love teakwood. I stock up on candles every time I am at Home Goods.
I wish I knew how to…
Speak another language. In my current role, I work with people from all around the world who speak multiple languages, and I really admire that.