Kristen Sullivan’s Evanston, IL Home Tour

There is a certain type of woman who tends to make us think: “How does she do it all?” Kristin Sullivan is one of those women. When she isn’t working at her full-time job in the U.S. Navy, she dedicates her time to Chic Little Secret, her fashion and lifestyle blog. Oh and her husband is currently stationed in Florida with the military. Talk about multitasking! On top of everything, she has managed to find time to impeccably decorate her bright and airy Evanston, Illinois apartment.

By combining new pieces, thrift store finds, and glam accents, Kristen has created a cozy and feminine space that’s all her own. Keep reading to find out more about Kristen’s career in the Navy, her love for blogging, and how she juggles it all!

Name: Kristen Sullivan
Age: 25
Current Title: Human Resources Officer, United States Navy // Blogger behind Chic Little Secret
Education: Bachelors of Science in Oceanography from the United States Naval Academy

When did you realize you wanted to join the Navy?
I knew I wanted to be in the Navy ever since my first trip to the Academy at age 11. I was captivated by how professional the students were and was determined to be a part of such an impressive organization. I spent most of my formative years preparing myself for a career in the military and my hard work paid off; I was accepted to USNA in 2008 and graduated as an officer in the U.S. Navy four years later.

Tell us about your first job after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy. What lessons did you learned?
My first job in the Navy was as a division officer on the USS SIMPSON. Basically, I was in charge of a small group of technical specialists. It was definitely an interesting experience, especially because I was the only female out of 200+ men when I first arrived. I quickly learned not to take things personally or be too sensitive about unimportant issues. And I developed a more colorful vocabulary.

What is your current position? What are your responsibilities?
I recently transferred to the human resources community; I currently work as a training operations supervisor at RTC Great Lakes, the Navy’s boot camp. A lot of my job is administrative work but my favorite parts include teaching educational classes to the recruits and performing special ceremonies to commemorate milestones in their training. I am also lucky enough to rub elbows with some of the nation’s most important military officials!

In addition to your job with the Navy, you also run a fashion and lifestyle blog called Chic Little Secret. Tell us about CLS and how it got started!
Chic Little Secret is my escape from the male-dominated world I work in. Everything in the military is very “by the book,” so it’s nice to have a project where I can do things my way and get creative. I’ve always adored the world of fashion and interior design and after months of my husband encouraging me to do something with my ideas, I finally caved and started my blog! I’m also very interested in photography so this gives me a reason to take pictures every day.

Sounds like a lot of work! How do you balance maintaining a career, a blog, and a long distance relationship? What does a typical day look like for you?
That’s a great question and, to be honest, I’m still trying to figure it out! I typically stick to blogging on the weekends only since I have a full-time job during the week.

As for my marriage, it’s been tough living far from my husband but somehow we make it work; we typically text throughout the day and end the night with a Skype date in our pajamas. We’re also fortunate enough to visit each other every month or so. Neil is currently finishing up flight school in Jacksonville, FL and will be moving to Washington soon, so the ultimate goal would be for me to follow him in a few years if the Navy can support it.

As far as what my typical day looks like: My weeks are pretty standard but the weekends are lots of fun. I am an early riser so I’ll normally get up around 7 a.m. and eat breakfast while checking emails and then head out to take photos of three or four outfits for my blog. I love riding my bike into downtown Evanston and my three main stops are the antique shops, the library, and one of the many charming cafes for lunch.

Your apartment is perfection! How did you house hunt in Evanston; how did you land this one?
As soon as I found out that I was moving to the Chicago area, I flew up on that Friday to spend the weekend looking for an apartment. I was overwhelmed by how charming all the buildings were but I knew instantly that this was the one—I fell in love with the original hardwood floors, crown molding, and vintage crystal doorknobs. My building is also in a great location being just three blocks from the beach, a five minute bike ride from downtown Evanston, and around the corner from the train.

How would you describe your personal decorating style?
I would say that my personal decorating style is very colorful and eclectic. My current apartment’s ambiance is a lovely mix of vintage, bohemian, and whimsy…basically, I wanted it to feel like the inside of Anthropologie! I do a lot of entertaining on the weekends so it was important for me to create a space that is both inviting and comfortable. Once my husband and I move in together, I’m sure I will graduate to a more refined decor style that focuses on investment pieces and classic designs.

Did you decorate on a budget? What are some of your favorite places to source furniture and décor? Did you take on any DIY projects?
I inherited my love of thrifting at a very young age from my mother. She frequently took me and my sister to antique stores to dig through mountains of goodies; we always found the best stuff!

My favorite places to shop for large furnishings are Homegoods and Target and I frequently scour Craigslist for unique items. Goodwill and Anthropologie are my go-to’s for knick-knacks and conversation pieces. As far as DIY goes, does putting on a fresh coat of paint count? I don’t really have the patience for lofty craft projects but I did paint my coffee table gold to make it a bit more glam!

What is your favorite thing about the apartment?
My favorite thing about my apartment is the natural light that streams through my windows in the afternoon. Nothing brightens my mood more than sunshine. Except maybe my fluffy cat, Milo.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years I will finally be living with Neil in our own home and hopefully have a few “littles” or one on the way. I’d love to be dedicating more time to my photography and possibly still blog from time to time. Whatever I’m doing, you can bet it will be something creative.

Kristen Tella is the Everygirl…

I wish I knew how to speak a foreign language.

Dream vacation? Some place exotic where I can ride elephants and lounge on the beach with my husband.

Guilty pleasure? I love reading Harry Potter fan fiction. I know that’s super nerdy but I don’t even care.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received. My parents taught me to value family above all else because at the end of the day, they’re the ones who will love you no matter what.

If you could have lunch with one woman, who would it be and what would you order? I’m going to pick two and say my mother and sister because they’re hilarious company. I would order the biggest hamburger on the menu. With fries.

Product Sources

Living Room
Couch, IKEA
Rug, T.J. Maxx
Coffee table, Craigslist (painted gold)
Wnd table, Craigslist (painted gold)
Pillows, Homegoods
Blue-velvet arm chair, Marshalls
Media console, Target
Cat Print, Etsy
Gallery wall art, DIY
Elephant head, Homegoods
Iron side-table, Homegoods  
Bar-cart, Vintage
Barstool, Homegoods
Glassware, Vintage
Ottoman, T.J. Maxx 

Dishtowels, Anthropologie 
Patio table and chairs, Vintage
Wooden Mirror, Craigslist
Framed Map, DIY

Desk, World Market
Chair, Marshalls
Bookshelves, Target
Record Player, Urban Outfitters
Floor Mirror, Homegoods
Rug, Rugs USA
Lamp, Thrifted (painted white and gold)
“Courage, dear hear” Print, Send Her My Love
Clothing Rack, Target
Barstool, Homegoods  

Headboard, Vintage
Large dresser and matching nightstand, Craigslist
Small Dresser, Goodwill
Nighstand, Homegoods
Linen Shams, Anthropologie
“S” Pillow, Anthropologie
Bust, Homegoods
Large gold mirror, T.J. Maxx
Lamp, Macy’s 
Alarm clock, Anthropologie