Paige Wassel was working as a freelance prop stylist in Los Angeles when she decided to move back to her hometown of Chicago and buy a 700-square-foot condo. “I wanted something small that needed some work—not a full gut renovation—so I could renovate it on my own and with some help from my dad, who used to flip houses with friends as a hobby,” she says. Inspired by the process of it all, Paige started a YouTube channel on interior trends and celebrity homes, and even had her boyfriend pitch in on doing some of the work with the renovations. The most daunting task? Staying within a strict budget.
“When I first moved in [in 2019], my bank account was drained, so I didn’t start renovating for about six months,” Paige says. “Even then, my budget was tight, so the renovation happened in phases.” The creative prop stylist found a way around that, using YouTube to learn how to take out the bathroom sink and install a new one, and teaching herself how to tile a backsplash and replace light fixtures. For the work she couldn’t do herself, like installing wood flooring, for example, she found people to help through Craigslist.
Next up, Paige put a lot of work into finding fun, quirky details in secondhand shops. “I found an old cabinet for my office, knobs for drawers, fabric for a DIY headboard, and chairs to be reupholstered,” she says. “Almost everything in my place is secondhand and, if not, I shopped at IKEA. My sources included Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Etsy, OfferUp, vintage and antique shops, estate sales, Goodwill, Salvation Army, and others.” —Kristen Bateman
For five years, Robin Anderson worked her way through her clients’ historic Victorian home, room by room. The rebuilt carriage house—the original was destroyed by ice dams—was the project’s very last component. In the new design, the bottom portion housed a three-car garage and the top, a one-bedroom apartment. “They have all the rooms they need, so this is a bonus space, say, for girls’ nights. [It’s also] where her parents stay when they visit,” the designer says.
Since it’s separate from the main house, Robin reasoned, this didn’t need to be a clone. Instead, it feels like a mini vacation destination. Her style of choice? An updated take on French country. “The clients are more modern, but they’re into whatever I’ve got going on at the moment,” Robin says. “I experimented with a French vibe using classic and modern elements that feel European.”
A greige-and-ivory checkerboard tile floor greets visitors in the vestibule, then works its way up the stairs to the kitchenette in the airy great room. “The tile adds a lot visually and divides the kitchen from the living area,” Robin explains. “It helps it feel like its own room.” —Marni Elyse Katz