Open House: When Matthew Met Craig

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“It was love at first sight,” says Matthew of the one bedroom apartment where he’s lived for more than eight years.  While Matthew’s building is located steps from Lake Shore Drive, Oak Street Beach and the bustling Magnificent Mile, the building and tree-lined street nevertheless feel quiet, tranquil even.  Matthew loved the lobby’s elegance, the nearly century old marble floor and rich wood paneling.  After touring countless flashy newly constructed properties, Matthew found the building’s elegance, friendly doorman and vintage features to be calming.

“The phrase, ‘They don’t build them like they used to’, is so true with this property,” says Matthew of his condo, which was designed to take advantage of cross-ventilation and which shares no walls with its neighbors, a feature which makes shared living far more quiet (and which probably explains the resident’s friendly camaraderie and semi-annual parties).

Matthew bought the building from a notable Chicagoan and Interior Designer Nate Berkus* . . . and immediately hired former Open House and Apartment Therapy star David Hopkins to help him re-design the space.  (I fear that writing this may be the equivalent of rear-ending Tony Soprano, but hey, I’m banking on the fact that Nate won’t see it).  But if you are reading this Nate, my Mom says hi.  Lunch?

“Some of (Nate’s) choices like the chandelier over the bed would not work for me,” says Matthew (fearlessly).  “Other touches were unexpected and spot-on, such as the gold painted rope molding in the den and the sisal carpeting in the kitchen.”  Hopkins helped Matthew create a space where he could hold a black tie party in the evening yet still feel comfortable kicking off his shoes and putting his feet up on the furniture when everybody left.  And that’s pretty much exactly how it feels, sophisticated and elegant yet incredibly comfortable; after shooting the space, I found myself lazily lounging on the furniture chatting with Dave, Matthew and Craig (we’ll get to him later).

Continued . . .

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Prior to moving to Chicago Matthew lived in a 3500 square foot Michigan home, but he never missed the extra space.  “I often felt out of place in my own house when I was there by myself,” says Matthew.  “In contrast, when I walked into this condo I felt that everything was custom built for me.”

The rooms feel spacious, the layout ideal, and it’s hard to imagine why a single gent would need more space.  Matthew’s home, his life . . . it all feels just about perfect.  But perfect is relative, a fact of life that became clear when Matthew met Craig.  Despite each having homes they love and the freedom to decorate however they want, they’ve decided to create a new life together in a new home, a place where they’ll attempt to blend Matthew’s Gold Coast charm with Craig’s more loft-like modern edge.

Combining their very different aesthetics is going to be a challenge.  Let’s face it; decorating is tough, and it’s always a roll of the dice to combine two such different styles.  Mixing vintage and modern can feel eclectic or it can feel thrown together, and combining their extensive art and artifact collections may prove frustrating, but they’ve decided that the upside is worth the risk.  And after spending a bit of time with them and observing how they interact, I’m pretty confident they’re going to pull it off.

Matthew and Craig, like most new couples, will need help.  But they have Decorator Dave (who’s chomping at the bit for a new challenge), and they have friends and family who will offer advice and counsel.  When it works, mixing different styles feels exciting and fresh, and as his style and his style become their style, it feels like home.

Thanks Guys.  I hope I score an invitation to your new home. Click here to see past Open House tours. And please email me (strangeclosets@yahoo.com) if you know interesting peoples who have great stories and unique spaces.

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* Decoratus Natusberkus?  Didn’t think so.

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23 Responses to “Open House: When Matthew Met Craig”

  1. Decorator Dave 12. Mar, 2009 at 11:49 am

    I wonder if Nate misses his little brown apartment and would trade his current marvelous Samuel Marx flat for this old one. It was a little intimidating to rip out the ‘Natefied’ things and do it to Matthew’s taste; I could hear Oprah and Nate wimpering with each hammer blow.

  2. Getting close to my “ideal” space! Beautiful dark walls, they define the space rather than shrinking it. Lovely photos, Tate, your eye for the fine detail (pens in the holder!) always amazes me.

    Only thing I would add is a discreet shelf above the bathroom sink. My toothbrush needs AIR to stay healthy every day; it can’t be shut into a cabinet.

  3. I love the idea of putting art on the floor, but a) how do you keep people from kicking it and b) isn’t it bad for the canvas and/or frame?

    Enlighten me!

  4. That apartment is absolutely stunning. I could live there, and would never, never leave it. I’ve never seen a condo like it. Every inch is the very best in taste, design and materials, except for the carpeting in the kitchen! Love it, love it, love it! Also, nothing wrong w/artwork on the floor.

  5. Siri Gottlieb 14. Mar, 2009 at 8:58 am

    Not only is Matthew’s place elegant and comfortable, he is the consummate host and very generous in allowing friends and family to stay. The apartment is even more inviting and serene than the photos can convey.

  6. Love your place, Matthew!
    Love the Hermes box—-nothing brand-conscious about you!
    If I were moving to Chicago (get me a job!) I’d make you an offer than neither you nor Tony Soprano could refuse.

    Martin

  7. Tim Heggemeier 14. Mar, 2009 at 10:29 am

    I’m very proud to say I’ve attended a few of Matthew’s dinner socials. Congrats to a good friend and a Class Act!

  8. I moved to Chicago six years ago and feel as though I ‘grew up’ watching this fabulaous place evolve to what it is today. The combination of the friendly welcome from the doorman, Matthew’s great hosting abilities and the warm interior always made me feel like I was at home, or visiting a close relative. I’m curious though, what ever happened to the big palm in the den? Wasn’t it baptized a name, Lewis or something?

  9. Wow, I’m so jealous Tim. I’d love to attend one of those parties. Maybe someday . . .

  10. This apartment is so wonderful…but is still dwarfed by the wonderfulness of Matthew and Craig who improve everything they touch in life.

  11. It’s true Phyllis. When I left their place I was surprised to see a traffic cop leaving me a note of apology on my dash for all the recent tickets. Then, attempting to drive home, I was annoyed by a spontaneous parade . . . until I figured out Matthew and Craig had organized it in my honor at the last minute. So nice.

  12. Matthew, beautiful place!! Love it all (and what an awesome view.) I can’t wait to see your new place. Take care!

  13. MANLY!!!! Their place is warm, inviting, and manly. I really appreciate that. The strong lines and hues- very nice. It feels very manly too- did I mention that???

  14. What a beautiful and elegant place to call home!Congratulations, Matthew! That said, on to the future — now I’ll be eager to see what a glorious nest Matthew and Craig put together!

  15. Of course the apartment is fabulous………it is Matthew’s! I don’t know what I will do without my “suite-mate” down the hall. He has a neighbor who will miss him and Craig terribly, and will have to go buy another pair of Brook Brother pajamas for some one else to join our pj parties. It is a warm and fun “neighborhood” here on the 7th floor. Much luck to both of you!

  16. I love it! When do I get to come over????

  17. the ottoman is fabulous and that high back chair (of sort) is awesome,….several great pieces in that space.

  18. Keep up the good work! Look forward to reading more from you in the future. I think it will be also nice if you add “send to email” tool so people can forward the articles to their friends easily.

  19. What can I say.. beautiful apt…. no doubt. the photography is fantastic!!!! heres to the photographer….

  20. reading this *so* makes me want to be friends with matthew (if you’re reading this, i’m a certified hag who *loves* your taste – misababy@aol.com – you won’t regret it, i promise).

    i LOVE the small picture between the bed and the floor lamp. completely unexpected, yet colorfully eye-catching in a beautiful way. i always enjoy different ways that people can surprise you in their design; most notably in big ways by using small things.