Walk into Adam Smith and Danielle Zuckerman’s West Loop apartment and you’ll see that with 2,000 square feet and 18-foot-high ceilings, the expansive space could easily double as a mini roller rink.
“The thing that sold me was [when] the Realtor showed us the place, she suggested it’s a good size [for us to] put a bathtub in the middle and skate around it [a reference to the cult classic French film Diva],” Zuckerman, an actor and Girl and the Goat server, says. “That didn’t end up happening, but it was a good idea.”
Also, the building’s rough-around-the-edges aesthetic means that the two 25-year-olds don’t have to be too careful with the wood floors or exposed brick walls. “[Management] keeps it rough and everything comes with that,” says Zuckerman’s roommate, Adam Smith. “I think it’s [part of the charm], but I’m not of the age where I would complain. There are enough young designers [in the building] who really like it.”
There’s an inherent temptation to fill a space like this with stuff—such as the stack of five vintage TVs (three of them functioning) piled against the living-room wall—but the two have managed to allow the space to breathe while gradually adding to their collection of furniture and decor.
Putting Smith’s architecture degree and their shared appreciation of thrifting to good use, they’ve also kept their spending to a minimum. Between gifts from friends (see the Chinese wall hanging that stretches the length of the kitchen cabinet, a graduation gift to Smith) and lucky scores from alleys, thrift shops and artists’ sales, they’ve garnered everything from coffee tables to five-by-five-foot picture frames. Using salvaged and raw materials such as canvas, wood and glass panels, Smith has built out the rest—from shelving units to light fixtures to a pot-hanging rack (so far no roller rink).
“I look around and see new products built cheaply and poorly thousands of miles away,” Smith says. “While all around [here] there are amazing pieces of craftsmanship that will last longer than I will. With a little work, they can become something beautiful.”