People from the Chicago area tend to have a lot of hometown pride. Chicagoland is always growing and changing, without losing the energy and spirit that make it totally unique.
And that means people here are always looking for fun and clever ways to celebrate that singular local spirit — including in their home’s design and decor!
Want to bring a little bit of the essence of Chicago into your home? Whether you’re looking to go all out or just bring in some small reminders of the Windy City, here are a few interior design ideas that can help you truly embrace Chicago style in your space:
Think Like Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright is one of the most famous architects in history, and Chicagoland was his home and playground. Oak Park is home to the highest concentration of Frank Lloyd Wright homes anywhere in the world, and you’ll find homes by Wright or his proteges throughout the region, from Hyde Park and Beverly to the North Shore.
Wright’s influential design aesthetic is often called Prairie Style, because of the way its buildings become married to the ground. Inspired by the flat, long landscapes of the Midwest, Prairie Style went on to influence the Bauhaus designers, who in turn helped shape many of the elements that we associate with mid-century modernism.
Prairie Style architecture focused on craftsmanship, simplicity, and a deep connection between buildings and nature. You can embrace some of its core tenets by choosing design elements that promote balance and harmony, with lots of living plants and natural materials, and a naturalistic color palette featuring shades of brown, gray, and green. Decorate with vintage vases and urns, and use fun geometric patterns on glass windows and tile floors. Above all, remember that Prairie Style was all about thinking horizontally, rather than vertically, so consider how you can emphasize long, straight, horizontal lines throughout your home.
Go Industrial Chic
Embracing industrial design is a subtle but impactful way to pay homage to Chicagoland’s long-standing connection to manufacturing and industry. The West Loop was one of the nation’s preeminent centers for food processing and meatpacking. The Ravenswood corridor was a massive manufacturing center. The South Loop was the hub of the Midwest’s printing and shipping industries, while Pullman was originally a company town focused on the production of rail cars.
You can pay tribute to the local history of these neighborhoods with an industrial aesthetic, which focuses on marrying the old and the new. This means celebrating architectural elements like exposed brick, large windows, concrete floors, and visible pipes, while bringing in modern finishes that fit seamlessly into these spaces. Many industrial homes boast leather furniture, metallic and wood finishes, lots of dark colors, and minimalistic ornamentation. Industrial design is a great fit for condos and vintage buildings.
Embrace the Speakeasy Style
When many people think of Chicago, they envision the city as it was during the Roaring ‘20s — a gleaming, Art Deco metropolis populated by some of America’s most famous politicians, artists, and historical figures.
You can still see plenty of the design flourishes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries around Chicagoland, particularly in the Beaux Arts-style buildings that still stand prominently around the city. Many of Chicago’s historic hotels also still proudly represent this era; you can see classic design elements from this period downtown in The Drake or The Blackstone, among others. Many Chicago clubs and restaurants are also keeping the speakeasy spirit alive, from The Drifter to the Green Mill.
To embrace this vintage aesthetic in your home, try modernizing some popular early 20th century design trends; Apartment Therapy has a great list to get the inspiration flowing. Utilize leather and velvet furniture and look for brass, gold, and nickel finishings. Decorate your space with lots of ambient lighting, geometric prints, and mirrors. Add a stylish bar cart for functional flair, and add a retro feel with mosaic tiles and jewel tones such as purple, dark green, silver, and navy.
Bring a Piece of the City Home
Looking for that perfect finishing touch in your bedroom? Want to liven up your basement? When you’re searching for decorations and finishings, try bringing in pieces that remind you of Chicagoland. Some classic examples that fit into all kinds of decor schemes include maps of the CTA system, historical maps of the city, or photographs and paintings of famous Chicagoland-area landmarks.
Finish your cozy media room with classic movie posters for films set in the Windy City, or memorabilia for your favorite local sports teams. Look for vintage advertisements for classic Chicago brands to go in the kitchen or garage.
For a more subtle touch, you could also bring in furnishings and design pieces handcrafted by a local artisan. Here are a few places to start your search for your next perfect, locally sourced piece:
- Curbed Chicago lists Chicagoland’s best home decor stores and boutiques
- TimeOut counts down the area’s best furniture and home stores
- Architectural Digest explores the best home decor stores in the Midwest
- Choose Chicago lists some of the area’s festivals and fairs
- Racked shares its picks for Chicagoland’s best independent boutiques
- The Chicago Reader suggests some great options for locally made candles
Warm Up In Classic Midwest Comfort
There’s no place quite like the Midwest. Our region is full of unique traditions, including the retro “supper clubs” you’ll find throughout Wisconsin, northern Illinois, and Minnesota. Embrace the feeling of an upstate lodge or supper club by adopting their coziest design elements for yourself.
After all, we’re well-known for our winters here in Chicagoland! When roaring winds and piles of snow come through the area, you’ll be glad you invested in comfort and warmth.
That might mean using modern plaid blankets in your living room and bedroom, and mixing up various textures and textiles throughout your space. Wrought iron finishes and warm wood accents can add a distinctly hygge vibe, while nature photos and a roaring fire can make you feel like you’re enjoying a night camping in the Great Outdoors.
We’re By Your Side
Your home is more than the place you live; it’s the life you get out of it.
At Baird & Warner, we’re here for you. Our specialized, hyperlocal agents know just what it takes to help you find the Chicagoland home you’ve been looking for. Whether your goal is a high-rise with a view, or a quiet house with a finished basement to make your own, we can help you find your ideal Chicagoland home.
And with sales, mortgage, and title services all under one roof, our One-Stop Shop can make the process easier at every step of the way — from the day you start envisioning your next home, to the day you’re handed the keys.