Open House Sequel: When Craig Met Matthew
You might remember today’s Open House star Craig from the now classic post, When Matthew Met Craig, which is either a sweet tale about how true love conquers all or the story of two grown adults who are recklessly wagering their established lives for the flip-of-a-coin possibility that the result will be happily ever after rather than you have 24 hours to get your stuff out of this house. It’s pretty romantic (and for the record, I’m betting on happily ever after).
If you haven’t already, please read part one (which I may retitle, “A New Hope”) before reading this sequel. Matthew sold his apartment, which was formerly owned by Chicago interior designer Nate Berkus, in eight days; he was the talk of the neighborhood (seriously, I ran into several people who mentioned it to me).
Craig recently listed his place, a two bedroom, 2 bath loft in Lincoln Park, and it’s quite fab – click here to see his listing. Craig’s lived there for years, first buying a one-bedroom unit and then combining it with the neighboring one-bedroom unit (of course he bought if prior to construction). After I photographed his place recently, we corresponded via electronic mail.
You’ve lived here a long time, right? When did you buy the loft?
I purchased the first apartment in May of 1992 (it actually was the first condo I looked at with my realtor) and the second apartment in 1998 (I think that’s right). It took me another year to combine the two units. Lisa Jaffe (Jaffe Architectural Group) is responsible for the design. Combining the lofts was a great decision. I loved living in the one apartment, but once I combined the two units, it was hard to imagine how I’d functioned in such a confined space. I did sort of miss spending nights in the sleeping loft. It was like the overnight summer camp experience I never had as a kid. But I was ready for a real bedroom.
I’ve always wanted to live in a loft.
I’ve been attracted to lofts since seeing the French film “Diva,” in high school. In the movie, one of the main characters lives in a raw loft space in Paris. He has no furniture and his girlfriend roller skates around the apartment. At another point they live in a lighthouse, but that would involve too many stairs. I guess I like the formal simplicity of a loft and the flexible floorplan. I love the soaring ceilings, rich textures, bright sunshine and views that my place offers. There’s a certain airiness to the building even though it used to be a piano factory and could probably support the weight of a tank.
Continued . . .
A French film called Diva about a loft in Paris? With roller skates? Count me in. Can you tell us a bit about your decorating style?
I’d like to think my place reflects my aesthetic sensibilities, which have definitely been influenced by the principles of Modernism–I love the work of Mies, LeCorbusier, Marcel Breuer, and members of the Bauhaus School. That said, I’m no ideologue; clean lines are great, but a sofa still has to be comfortable. I also wanted to create a setting that would accommodate my metal sculptures (I weld as a hobby) and work well for entertaining.
How do you feel about the prospect of moving?
I’m sad about leaving the building. Most of the neighbors know each other and many of us hang out in the courtyard garden and grill on summer evenings. There’s a great mix of professions, ages, and backgrounds in the building. I’ll miss that sense of community. Still, I’m excited about creating a new home with Matthew and building a life together.
Your life seems so perfect. I was hoping you had awful neighbors.
I love my neighbors! The couple next door are in their 80’s. He’s a retired pediatrician who creates the most beautiful wood furniture (see my coffee table base) and she’s a metal sculptor. Their daughter, who lived in Spain for 15 years, is my upstairs neighbor. We have artists, lawyers, doctors, opera singers, musicians. . . it’s a great building. We briefly considered selling advertising space on the water tower to Chock Full of Nuts Coffee because we thought it would capture how eccentric some of the residents are.
Continued . . .
I met one of your neighbors. When I was leaving your condo, I shot a few lobby shots, and this woman asked what I was doing. When I told her she said she read Strange Closets and invited me to tour her apartment. Later I scolded her about allowing strangers in sans credentials, but of course I didn’t say anything until I’d already seen her space (which was very cool).
You live right across the street from Jayson Home & Garden, and there’s quite a bit of retail on Clybourn now, but it must have been pretty different when you first bought the place?
When I moved in, Clybourn was fairly undeveloped and deserted. We’d even get the occasional hooker and john parking behind the building.* The old 1800 Clybourn Mall (now Bed, Bath & Beyond and Patagonia) was still standing with its odd mix of artist-designed miniature golf, the Remains Theatre (CSI’s William Peterson lived in my building) Barbara’s Bookstore, Metropolis 1800 Restaurant, Salon 1800, and the Dance and Mime Shop. Now, Clybourn’s hopping all the time. Although I miss the tranquility of the early 1990s, it’s nice having Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Crate & Barrel Outlet and Jayson Home and Garden a mere steps away. I had an older cab driver once who said he grew up on Clybourn. He and his friends used to play stickball on the then untrafficked street. I’d like to see someone try that today.
Eek! So I hear you and Matthew have some big news. Spill.
Matthew and I just returned form Peru where we got engaged! I popped the question at Machu Picchu at sunrise with “the Incan gods as our witnesses.” He said yes and then started crying like a baby. I guess we’re engaged not to be married (at least in Illinois).
Hey, congratulations Craig. Good luck building your new life together. Let’s make this a trilogy; I know everybody will want to see how you combine your styles.
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* Note – That wasn’t a hooker, just a good friend.