Carolyn Purnell, Apartment Therapy

Carolyn Purnell

Apartment Therapy

Chicago, IL, United States

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Past articles by Carolyn:

House Tour: Nostalgic & Chic Style in Chicago

Name: Irina (and Lummi) Location: South Loop; Chicago, Illinois Size: 975 square feet Years lived in: 1 year; owned Coleridge, influenced by an opium-induced dream, wrote of "a stately pleasure-dome" that Kubla Khan established in Xanadu. In this space, verdant gardens mingled with caves of ice, and the sweet scent of incense floated above the sun-dappled hills, inspiring "deep delight." Irina,… → Read More

Gabriel & Grant's Warm Minimalism in Chicago — House Tour

Name: Gabriel Fontes de Faria & Grant Gochnauer Location: Wicker Park; Chicago, IL Size: 4,000 square feet Years lived in: 4 years; owned If I had to summarize Gabriel and Grant’s home in two words, I would pick “beauty” and “restraint.” The couple’s townhouse is elegant and pared down, and each element seems considered and loved. Gabriel is an architect and interior designer (check out his work… → Read More

House Tour: A Comfy and Colorful Chicago Home

Name: Taryn & Sanford Parker (and their dog Iris and cat Tron) Location: Logan Square; Chicago, Illinois Size: 2,000 square feet Years lived in: 3.5 years; owned It's almost unimaginable. You buy a house, and a few days before you're slated to move in, some hooligans break in and burn the interior, and you are faced with a gut rehab of what you thought would be a virtually move-in-ready space.… → Read More

House Tour: A Calm & Collected Chicago Home

Name: Andrew Samuel and Anne Greenwald Location: Ukranian Village; Chicago, IL Size: 1,000 square feet Years lived in: 3 months, rented I visited Drew and Annie's apartment on the first snowy day of the season, when everything outside was still and white. Annie was out of town, but Drew, who used to work at several independent record labels and who now works at Intelligentsia Coffee, played the… → Read More

The Psychology & Science of Decorating: Understanding the 5 Ways We Experience a Room

As anyone reading this site knows, design is about a lot more than just having a pretty room. There are many different elements that go into the experience of a space, and they can all have a significant impact on the way that we relate to our surroundings. → Read More

10 Creative Ways to Display Postcards

When I travel or go to museums, I often end up buying postcards. They're cheap and colorful souvenirs that have a lot of visual power. I've sent some, and others have permanent homes in frames, but I still have stacks stashed away. Determined to put them to use, I hit the net in search of creative display options that go beyond the usual gallery wall. → Read More

A Creative Way to Make Your House Number Stand Out — The Shingled House

Whenever I go to a new place, I often feel like I'm playing hide-and-seek as I search for the proper house number. Address visibility is a problem, and in the past I've noticed some creative solutions: neon signs, giant digits, and brightly painted numbers. But recently, I stumbled upon an idea that I had never seen before. → Read More

Start With This Checklist: 4 Things to Consider Before You Design

Generally speaking, the rooms in our homes have to be multifunctional, but it's not always easy to design with all those functions in mind. Whether you're starting from scratch or trying to make the most of what you've got, making a checklist is one of the first things that you should do to make sure your room satisfies all your needs. → Read More

Before & After: A Living Room Goes from Ho-Hum to Happy

When Cassie from Hi Sugarplum! moved into her home, the basic features were solid: a wall of windows, a brick fireplace, and plenty of space. But the room seemed too dark for her taste, and the furnishings didn't feel quite right. Fast forward a few years, and it feels like a completely different room. → Read More

Cabinets of Curiosities: A History of Making Room for Wonder at Home

The Wunderkammer, or cabinet of curiosities, was a phenomenon born in the early modern world. As the name implies, these chambers included wonders of all sorts—natural, rare, miraculous, mythical, and mysterious. They drew on the power of surprise and dreams to augment a collector's home, and I would argue that, even today, it's a powerful thing to have some wonder in the home. → Read More

5 Ways to Keep the Peace in the Bedroom

One of the joys of living with the person you love is that you get to go to bed with him or her every night. But one of the worst parts of living with the person you love can also be that you get to go to bed with him or her every night. If the bedroom has become a place of frustration instead of one of peace, here are five suggestions that might help you restore the balance. → Read More

DIY Ideas: Valentine's Day Cards for Kids

With Valentine's Day around the corner, it's time to start thinking about all those class cards. Instead of giving candy, there are plenty of other Valentine's Day options, and while you're at it, why not seize the opportunity to have some fun with your kids? Here are 10 relatively inexpensive ideas to get the V-day creativity flowing. → Read More

A History of "Hands-Off" Items

Imagine: a guest comes into your home and starts fondling your prized collection of nineteenth-century porcelain. He then wanders over to a painted landscape, lovingly strokes it, and then touches his tongue to the canvas. He sniffs your collection of crystal decanters and then puts his ear up to the ship-in-a-bottle that your grandfather built. I'd guess that at this point you're up in arms,… → Read More

Design Time Capsule: Organizing Ideas from 1964

Good advice rarely goes out of style, and home decor is no exception. This month we've been talking about organization and freeing our homes from both mental and material clutter, but this problem is not one new to the 2010s. Here are some insights (and colorful images) that I gathered from McCall's Decorating Book, which was published in 1964. → Read More

14 Ways to Use Coconut Oil at Home

Coconut oil is increasingly a go-to ingredient for cooking and body care, but this versatile substance can work wonders in a number of different contexts. Read on to discover 14 ways that you can use coconut oil in every part of your home. → Read More

Beautifully Organized: Family Rooms

A family room is the workhorse of the home: television, playtime, conversation, games, relaxing. It's the room that has to handle it all. Here are some examples of rooms that manage not only to accommodate all those activities, but also to do it beautifully. → Read More

Saucy, Snappy (& Only a Little Sappy) Handcrafted Valentine's Day Cards

It may seem a bit early to start thinking about February 14, but you only have a few weeks to get cracking on any Valentine's Day treats that you may want to share. Here are ten options for some handcrafted cards–some funny, some serious, and all seriously charming–that you can pass on to loved ones. → Read More

Clutter Cutter: 5 Tips for Storing Only the Linens You Need

Like many things that tend to come in sets, towels, bed linens, and cloths never seem to come in the right-for-me quantity. I've got stacks of washcloths that I never use, while I have to frequently wash kitchen towels since I seem to never have enough. I've decided: it's time to tailor my linens to my behavior, so that the inefficiency comes to an end. → Read More

5 Ways to Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder & The Winter Blues

It's that time of year again, when everything is gray, white, and gloomy. The pallor of winter can all too often cast a similar sickliness on your mood, and when it's so cold outside, it's difficult to motivate yourself to push past the doldrums. But there are several things that you can do to fight the winter blues. → Read More

Beautifully Organized: Home Libraries of All Sizes

Whether grand or small, full or empty, bursting with books or outfitted with objects, I'd wager that all of us have bookshelves of some sort in our home. Having a dedicated library room is not a luxury that all of us can have, but no matter how small your library, there are still some tips for making it as beautifully organized as possible. → Read More