This Curated Apartment Is Proof That Family-Friendly Décor Can Be Chic

Updated 06/08/18
Devin Kirk Chad Idol home tour
Jonny Valiant ; DESIGN: Devin Kirk of Jayson Home

For a self-proclaimed nomad, 13 years in the same apartment feels deserving of an award. When Devin Kirk, VP of merchandising at Jayson Home, and his partner, Chad Idol, originally moved into this 1600-square-foot Uptown Chicago apartment in 2005, they didn't plan to stay more than a few years.

Initially drawn to the area by the vibrant music scene: the Aragon Ballroom, the Riviera Theatre, and the legendary Green Mill Cocktail Lounge—a favorite haunt of Al Capone—they now spend more time appreciating the proximity to the beaches of Lake Michigan, one block away, which they frequent with Harry, their 20-month-old son.

A lot has happened in this apartment since 2005. Once a sad '80s condo conversion in a classic 1917 three-flat building, it was brought to life by the couple with thoughtful curating: a collection of framed butterflies, rugs sourced around the world from Morocco to Belgium, and a baby grand piano the whole family enjoys. "I was convinced Chad would get bored of playing it and it would just collect dust, but I was completely wrong," Kirk tells MyDomaine. "It fills the apartment with music and has inspired many impromptu sing-alongs.

I can't imagine a house without it now."

Mixed throughout is a multitude of vibrant patterns, and yes, a few baby-friendly solutions. "I think the hardest part was just beginning," he adds. "I think we can all get stuck in our ways, and once you change one thing, you inevitably change another and another. It's tempting not to get that ball rolling. But the result is such a comfortable and happy space that I am thrilled I took the leap."

In his own words, Kirk tells the moving story of the unexpected apartment that became a happy home.

Devin Kirk Chad Idol home living room
Jonny Valiant ; DESIGN: Devin Kirk of Jayson Home ; PICTURED: Kirk had a custom sofa upholstered in a marbled fabric he found on MyDomaine(!). The vintage rug pillows are from Jayson Home and the ottoman is from Lee Industries

We never intended to be here for very long. When Chad and I bought this apartment in 2005, flipping apartments was all the rage. I was only 26 and had never lived anywhere, not even as a kid, for more than a few years. My mom always said this was because of her Gypsy blood. I tried to rebel by nesting into every new place, but I was born with a wandering eye too. Forever has always been a really hard idea to wrap my head around.

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Devin Kirk Chad Idol home bedroom
Jonny Valiant ; DESIGN: Devin Kirk of Jayson Home ; PICTURED: The bedroom is painted in Ralph Lauren’s Warwick Lodge. The mirrored wall is original from the 1980s renovation. The bedding is from Pine Cone Hill, and the striped pillows are from Jayson Home

Nevertheless, over the next few years, we settled in and made a home that we really loved. It was pretty but still felt age-appropriate with the odd poster tacked to the wall and hand-me-downs mixed in with splurges like our baby grand piano. There were only nods to growing up. I loved that we had a formal living room that we barely used—we had arrived! The dining room's mammoth table was perfect for our Thanksgiving dinners with friends, no matter that it sat empty the rest of the year. Most nights, we holed up in the second-bedroom-turned-den watching Netflix and eating takeout.

It was perfect.

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Devin Kirk Chad Idol home breakfast nook
Jonny Valiant ; DESIGN: Devin Kirk of Jayson Home ; PICTURED: In the den, a zebra paper maché from Anthropologie bust hangs above a bistro-size tulip table. The mixed seating features a ticking stripe banquette and leather-wrapped molded plastic Eames armchairs

And so it just seemed to make sense that 10 years later, after finally getting married and beginning the process of adopting a baby, we were looking for a change of scenery too. We couldn't picture raising a child in this place, with its linen sofas and limited storage. So we stalked new listings, went to open houses, and drove slowly down our favorite streets looking for rogue FSBOs.

Over and over, we were disappointed by what was out there, and at some point, I realized that if we had seen our apartment at one of those Sunday open houses, we would have written an offer on the spot. Sure, we wanted a third bedroom and a balcony, but we would have compromised for the good bones and great light. It was an aha moment.

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Devin Kirk Chad Idol home living room
Jonny Valiant ; DESIGN: Devin Kirk of Jayson Home ; PICTURED: The Theodore sofa is from Jayson Home. The vintage canopy chair was found in a Palm Beach antique store, while the vintage Lucite-and-brass cocktail table was purchased in Belgium. The artwork above the mantle is by Chicago artist Michael McGuire

And so I began giving away old furniture and selling off what I could. I took pictures off the walls and patched up the paint. I brought home the Jayson Home Theodore Sofa, covered in a smart Sunbrella fabric, which is all at once chic and family-friendly. A rug I found in the souks of Marrakech cozied up the living room.

Chad and I had been picking up framed butterflies from Deyrolle on our annual trips to Paris over the last few years, but I had sort of been saving them for the place I thought we might end up. No more! Unpacked and unpinned, the butterflies took pride of place on the mantel in the living room.

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Devin Kirk Chad Idol home formal dining room
Jonny Valiant ; DESIGN: Devin Kirk of Jayson Home ; The narrow Boulevard table and Gemma chairs are from Jayson Home. Kirk had big seat cushions made using antique textiles found in London

Needing the second bedroom to go back to being an actual bedroom, I transformed the dining room into a multipurpose media room. Equipped with a long skinny library table, it's perfect when we have 10 people for dinner, and it works just as well when it's only needed for coloring books. On the other end of the room, the sectional gives us more seating than we ever could have fit in our old den.

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Devin Kirk Chad Idol home living room
Jonny Valiant ; DESIGN: Devin Kirk of Jayson Home ; PICTURED: A collection of art hangs in the living room above the marbled sectional. A small stack of books is set atop an African Senofu stool

I found myself so inspired by vintage sectionals in their original snakeskin prints and mod psychedelic fabrics from the '60s and '70s I'd find on buying trips to Palm Beach that I hunted down a black-and-white marbled fabric that would give our space serious style while camouflaging anything our new life might throw at it—literally. A Lucite console, one of my nostalgic thrift store finds, did not meet our requirements for storage in the entry, but we found a new life for it when we slipcovered it in linen under the TV (did you know you can remote control through linen?!).

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Devin Kirk Chad Idol home bathroom
Jonny Valiant ; DESIGN: Devin Kirk of Jayson Home ; PICTURED: The bathroom was recently updated using a Kohler bathtub and sink. The ticking shower curtain is from Etsy. The vintage stool and rug are both from Jayson Home. The vintage safe was updated with a Calacatta gold marble top for added storage

We remodeled the bathroom and cleaned out the cookbooks in the kitchen. We got the nursery ready, but after a year of being "on the list", there was still no baby.

I'm not good at waiting. And so, feeling a bit restless, I decided to tackle a transformation of the foyer, which was still not quite complete. I wanted it to be bold—something geometric, something saturated, a wow moment when you walk through the door. After looking at every wallpaper on the market, I couldn't find one I loved, so I decided I would just paint the iconic tumbling block motif I had in mind myself. What I had no idea of was how long that would actually take.

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Devin Kirk Chad Idol home entryway
Jonny Valiant ; DESIGN: Devin Kirk of Jayson Home ; Kirk handpainted the tumbling block motif on all four walls of the entryway The rug is from Serena & Lily. The cabinet was found at a flea market in Paris

When I completed the entire first season of the Serial podcast before finishing the first five rows of blocks on just one wall, I knew I was in for a long project. I spent entire weekends painting perfect diamond shapes over and over but still wasn't getting very far.

On a buying trip with my colleague and Jayson Home partner-in-crime Caroline Scheeler, I was explaining to her that I thought I should cut my losses and call it quits. "Keep going," she said. "It's good for your brain." I wasn't sure what she meant, but Caroline does yoga and sometimes I see her reading books about meditation on the plane, so I figured she knew what she was talking about. It turned out that it was good for my brain. So desperate for this baby to come a few months prior, I now found myself praying for it to please just wait until I finished the last wall of blocks.

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Devin Kirk Chad Idol home kids' room
Jonny Valiant ; DESIGN: Devin Kirk of Jayson Home ; PICTURED: Kirk painted black and white stripes in the nursery. The crib bedding is from Crate & Kids. The vintage mobile is from Paris. The vintage rug is from Jayson Home

Our baby did wait just a little longer. Harry Thomas Kirk-Idol was born October 11, 2016, and came home to his black-and-white striped room (which he adores) the following week. As a baby, he was mesmerized by all the little things to see in our happy home, especially the bits of ephemera covering the walls—which has led me to decide that he will one day have a shop of his own: Prints Harry.

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Devin Kirk Chad Idol home tour
Jonny Valiant ; DESIGN: Devin Kirk of Jayson Home

Next up: Victoria's Secret model Josephine Skriver's Nashville home is a modern Scandinavian dream.

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