Layered Minimalism in a Chicago Condo

This is the eclectic home of Justin Colombik and his partner Jason Sebacher. Justin is an interior designer who designs high-profile restaurants and hotels throughout the United States (currently he's working between Chicago and San Francisco)—as well as abroad. Jason has two jobs: he is a playwright—having produced and published plays all across the country—and manages the Department for English as a Second Language at Truman College.

Their home is a condo on the top floor of a vintage four-story walkup. It's in the historic Andersonville neighborhood, on Chicago’s north side, a hop, skip, and a jump away from the lake. Consisting of one bedroom, a library (second bedroom/office), a living room, dining room, 2 foyers (front and back) and a back porch, they have lived there since 2013 and it's their first home together.

Loving the style of their home, we asked Justin a few questions:

Q. What attracted you to your home in the first place?

A. The layout, the “bones,” and the neighborhood.

Q. What improvements/decorating have you done?

There was really a top-to-bottom renovation; other than moving walls (which we thankfully didn’t have to do) and the charming, old-world details that you just don’t see in new buildings (like the fittings and moldings), almost everything has been gutted to the studs, updated and/or cleaned-up.

First, we had all of those vintage details restored and touched-up. Those were an important centerpiece to the design, and we wanted to make sure they shined. In every room we repaired and painted the walls, added period moldings and refinished the floors.

The kitchen and bathroom were gutted. In the kitchen, we got new appliances suitable for a small space, cabinets, lighting fixtures. The kitchen has a convection microwave, which doubles a second oven. We configured the layout to increase storage, appliance size, and countertops with changing the size of the space we had or moving plumbing. We replaced the granite countertops with quartz. In the bathroom we updated the shower fixtures, replaced the vanity/countertop refinished the cast-iron tub, and added a stackable washer and dryer.

In the bedroom there were these bizarre three-foot-deep, full-length mirrored closets that we moved a long with the wall and install custom full height built-in modern wardrobes with lighting.

Q. What are you most proud of in your home?

A. I really love how my partner and I blend our personal styles together to create our own style. Jason would be happiest if books covered every available wall and surface, and I am more of a layered minimalist. Together we created a smart, comfortable, interesting space that we both love—lots of rich textures and great art.

Q. Are there any more improvements you wish to make in the future?

A. I’d love to have a stair go directly to the roof so we could access the rooftop and create a roof-top garden.

Q. Where do you get your inspiration from?

A. Jason and I started with what we both loved, and with how we want to live. His incredible book collection was a design challenge that we also used. While I usually get my inspiration from fashion, pop-culture and architecture, for this project, I was inspired by us.

Q. How would you describe your style?

A. To me the greatest beauty is simplicity. It’s a fine line to toe, and my style exists in the spaces of clean architectural lines, a connection to history, layers of textures, and meaningful stories.

Q. Do you have any favourite shops/market?

A. Many of the pieces in our home come from a design shop called Scout, which is a few blocks away. Amazing one of a kind finds!

Q. Have you found any real bargains?

A. When my grandparents moved from Illinois to become full-time Floridians, they gave me a lot of their furniture and art. Visiting the house was like walking through a Mad Men set; they have wonderful taste that has enhanced our homes design—as well as making it more connected to them.

Q. Do you entertain often and how?

A. Absolutely! We have a formal dining room that comfortably seats eight, and we like to fill it! Jason also has actors over for script readings.

Q. What’s your favourite menu/music for entertaining?

A. I love cooking, and work my way through interesting cookbooks I pick up—so it depends! That said, you can never go wrong with comfort food. Jason likes to put together the music for when we entertain; we both love the 80s, so there’s a lot of fun to be had.

Q. Which is your favourite room and why?

A. Personally, it’s the kitchen! I love to cook. With the great appliances, finishes, and layout, it’s such a pleasure.

Photographs: Annkathrin Murray (annkathrin.murray@gmail.com)
You can see more of Justin's work here and here.