Sarah Reilly’s Chicago Home Tour

What was the decorating process like? Did you bring most of your furniture with you? Did you purchase pieces in Chicago?
It’s amazing when you move—you definitely weed things out, but I decided that since I had collected furniture along the way that I would continue to move what I loved with me from NYC to San Francisco back to NYC and finally to Chicago! I didn’t invest in ‘throw away’ pieces—I bought things I knew I could refurbish or refinish if I needed to that had a good structure. I got many pieces online through Craigslist when I got my first one bedroom in San Francisco. I painted dressers and reupholstered chairs, and collected more traditional pieces from my family, like an oriental rug, a writing table, and Chinese urns. I wanted to blend the things that I have together with bolder fabrics and color too, so I continue to be on the hunt for rugs, pillows, and accessories that keep it fresh.

How would you describe your describe your decor style?
I don’t know if I have a particular style—but I’m so happy that eclectic style is in because that is how I would describe my apartment. My dream home style is a modern farm house with beautiful outdoor landscaping and tons of natural light through an open floor plan and large windows (something that apartments sometimes lack).

What are the biggest challenges when starting over in a new city?
It’s hard at first to find your routines, your spots in the neighborhood where you feel welcome and comfortable. And it takes time to meet people but when you do, you feel like you’ve really conquered something, and now that I live in Chicago I feel grateful that I can visit friends across the country and know great restaurant spots in these great cities.

What advice would you give to a girl who is about to move to a new city on her own?
Do it! Yes, there are ups and downs—I’m a huge believer in ‘wherever you go, there you are’—so you have to be okay with spending some time with yourself. I really think it’s a unique opportunity to grow and learn. Sometimes the comfort zone doesn’t push us to explore what we are capable of—and it’s fun!

How did you save money when decorating your apt?
I saved by not picking everything out of a catalog. I really pulled old pieces in with new. For fabric I searched discontinued patterns and have an amazingly resourceful mother who never tires of looking for bargains. I think we spent several hours in HomeGoods before I moved.

What is your favorite budget-friendly piece in your home and why?
My Zebra chair—I bought this great chair at Salvation Army—it was donated after a local bank in Rhode Island had closed. I found an amazing zebra print fabric and had it recovered. It stands out in any room. The chair cost $15, and the fabric was expensive, but I didn’t need much. In fact I chose a cheaper fabric for the back of the chair since it was going against the wall. All in all it cost under $100 and looks very unique.

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