Ghalioungui covers a pair of chaise lounge chairs in crisp white sheets to protect the fabric from the harsh sunlight and also because she likes the way it looks.
Ghalioungui bought the antique lamp at the Kane County Flea Market in 1976 for $32. "This is one of my first acquisitions," she says.
A Czech black glass vase, Persian lotus blossom tiles and an Egyptian incense burner create a worldly mantel vignette.
An antique Syrian wedding chest holds a grouping of reproduction pottery and a Moroccan brass lamp.
A grouping of Arts and Crafts pottery sits atop of an oak cabinet. "They weren't bought for their name. I just like the different shapes and colors."
Judie Ghalioungui admits that her massive four-bedroom apartment (located on the top floor of a three-flat in Logan Square) seems like a lot of space for one person, but she never doubted her ability to fill it. “The problem was getting rid of things,” Ghalioungui says. “I call it the purse theory—the larger the purse, the more you fill.”
Indeed, the unit, which she estimates to be between 2,600 and 2,800 square feet, is chock-full of European, Art Deco and Middle Eastern antiques as well as stacks of books, framed photos, artwork and plants. “I have a need for contrast in my life—different people, different styles, different language. Same-same is boring,” she says.
Ghalioungui was working as a junior model when she realized she enjoyed styling the photo shoots more than appearing in them. “The part I liked the most about modeling was the other side of the camera: setting the feeling and composition,” says Ghalioungui. She later transitioned to freelance photo styling.
In a sense, Ghalioungui collects things for a living. In the living room, she displays dozens of silver cocktail shakers in a vintage custom-made Art Deco vitrine. “What can I say? I like the occasional vodka martini,” she says. In the dining room, Ghalioungui pairs a grouping of colorful and ornately patterned Gouda pottery in front of an Impressionist painting with similar tones of blue and orange. “Look at those colors,” she says. “I didn’t even have to think about it. It just sort of fell into place.”
Her flair for composition extends to the kitchen, where she stores dozens of wooden kitchen spoons at arm’s length in a white ceramic basket on top of the microwave. To make up for the lack of cabinet space in the vintage kitchen, Ghalioungui created a makeshift shelf for pots and pans using a reclaimed ceiling rafter she found at an antique shop. A piece of black-and-white striped fabric hides cleaning supplies underneath the original apron sink. “I love kitchen supplies, implements and cookbooks. Even if I’m not cooking at the time, I love to live with them,” Ghalioungui says.
Although Ghalioungui’s is the only name on the lease, her mother lived in the extra bedroom for years until she passed away last year, and Ghalioungui hosts a steady stream of guests—friends, friends of friends and even a historic conservationist from Barcelona whom she met on the Internet. Most recently, Ghalioungui’s daughter and granddaughter moved into the back bedroom while they look for a new apartment.
“I don’t travel as much as I’d like, but having guests kind of brings the world to me,” Ghalioungui says. “I like abundance.”