Open House: Barri’s old-fashioned family apartment

Author, stylist and M & B Vintage co-founder Barri Leiner Grant sometimes feels like she was born in a different era, which isn’t difficult to believe after seeing the vintage splendor of the 4 bedroom, 3 bath Lakeview apartment she shares with her husband Alex Grant and two daughters, Emma, 13, and Quinn, 6. A mix of old and new furnishings and charming vignettes enhance the unit’s original moldings, built-ins and other original features. In fact, when building owner Nettie Katzenberg told Barri she was planning to renovate the unit before Barri and her daughters moved in nearly three years ago, Barri offered to help. What better way to preserve the apartment’s original details? Barri says she nearly fainted when she saw the pantry’s built-in shelves, so even though they had accumulated thick layers of paint that prevent some of the doors from shutting, she nixed plans to tear them out. “It is what it is what it is,” she says. Barri also accompanied the building super to Home Depot and Tile Outlet to pick out period-appropriate subway and hexagon tiles for the bathrooms, and she asked him to install her own vintage chandeliers.

“The most delicious part was that (Nettie Katzenberg) let me pick me own paint color, and that made all the difference in the world,” says Barri. “Renters should live like they own the place.”

Continued . . .

Living well is important to Barri, so when she first met her husband Alex Grant, she took it as a good sign that his apartment was far more put together than the average bachelor pad.

“He had boy things that I didn’t care about as much as he did, but that I really appreciate: really sleek pots and pans, good knives and good electronics,” says Barri. “It wasn’t that he was overly concerned, but he had a certain respect and interest in living well.”

As it turns out, Alex’s stylish mother helped him decorate, and she also had a lot to do with his gentlemanly manners, which won Barri over in no time flat. Barri and Alex were married in New York City (her hometown) last New Year’s Eve, and Alex has settled in to life in the apartment. Barri gave up her office closet so Alex would have a place for his clothing, and she gave up a portion of the room for his large, flat-screen TV, but don’t worry! Despite the concessions, this “man-room” is still very pretty. Although Barri clearly exerts a stronger influence on their home’s decor, Alex doesn’t mind. In fact, he’s kind of old-fashioned himself. In addition to his sweet and sturdy traits, Alex calls Barri “doll” and their dog Rocco “fella.” One thing’s for sure: Barri and family think living in a big, light-filled vintage apartment is pretty swell.

Click here for past Open House tours. To refer a house, e-mail me (strangeclosets at yahoo).

Barri and her daughters enjoy roasting marsh mellows in the wood burning fireplace. As you know if you read the post, the original mantel and moldings were big selling points.

Barri paired these vintage Baker chairs, which “lived their lives in a fabulous Lake Shore Drive apartment” with a new dining table. The pattern has faded into a soft grayish color, but Barri says its original orangish brown tone would been a real commitment for the original buyer, because the distinct pattern means they were custom and very expensive. How cool that Barri receives the dividends of that investment to this day!

A gift from her friends at Chicago Home + Garden.

“This is my heaven,” says Barri of the built-in bookshelves.

Barri recommends having an objective set of eyes look at things like furniture arrangement and art placement. For example, she was thrilled when her friends Dan and Natasha Spencer, who own The Art of Installation, made suggestions about where to hang art throughout the house.

Good friend Nate Berkus also visited and helped Barri push furniture around until they found the right place for everything in the new apartment. “Maybe the chairs that faced each other in the old house belong in the bedroom in the new house,” says Barri, whose desk they used as a dining room table in their last apartment.

This is Barri’s office, which the family now calls the “man-room.”

To create an inspiration wall behind her desk, Barri applied cork sheets, which she then painted the same color as the other walls.

Barri and Rocco

Barri bought this Carter Kustera painting from Jonathan Adler as a gift for Alex. That is one lucky dog.

Check out Barri’s charm bracelet business M & B Vintage.

Because there is only one unit per floor, the exterior stairway makes the perfect mudroom.

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8 Responses to “Open House: Barri’s old-fashioned family apartment”

  1. gorgeous apartment; the colors, collections and floorplan. barri’s style and personality really shines in her home.
    my fav is the bookcase

  2. I want to live there! Gorgeous!!!!

  3. I love how you have created the feel of a single-family home from what I presume is a walk-up apartment on a tree-lined Chicago street? Lovely.

  4. Gorgeous place! I love your style!!! I love Rocco too… So cute! I have 2 Maltese and they are the sweetest :) Is the framed picture custom or is it something I could get too?

  5. This apartment is heavenly. Love the space and all of its original features. It shows that lots of love and care has gone into making it a home. It helps to have her type of friends! I agree with Barri about the built-in bookshelves – it would have been a sin to tear them out. Pic of Rocco gazing at the dogs is frame worthy.

  6. Barri’s Places Looks So Great! M&B Vintage Pieces are Amazing As Well..Very Well Done.

  7. Ab fab! Great proportions and light. Love bulldogs and maps!