Experiments in home decorating, DIYing, and vintage furniture collecting.

A vintage + modern guru's top tips for styling your house

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October 26, 2015

One of my favorite sources for vintage inspiration in Chicago is an amazing vintage-modern shop called Humboldt House. It's one of those places where you walk in and want to live there. It's filled with amazing Chesterfield sofas, leather butterfly chairs, patina-ed credenzas and the most beautiful, unusual assortment of decor you'll ever find.

Shop owner Claire Tibbs opened Humboldt House in 2013 to combine her love of beautiful things, comfortable spaces and community. She built her business by putting her whole heart (and sense of style) into the shop, sourcing from local Chicago artists and designers, well-loved and well-designed vintage modern furniture, and eclectic textiles.

Naturally, she's a go-to resource about how to style inspiring spaces, collect vintage furniture, and discover up-and-coming creatives. I interviewed Claire for her tips on all of the above, and I think you'll love her ideas as much as I love her store:

#1 What is your best tip for styling vintage furniture in modern, contemporary way (like you do in your showroom, for example)?
"Always start with the rug. It defines the space, the color story, the textures. It can be overwhelming to look at a blank room and have limitless directions. Find a rug you love and fits the space and then start building up."  

#2 What advice would you give to someone who wants to start collecting vintage pieces but doesn't have an eye for it, and isn't sure where to start?
"If you want to start collecting vintage than you already have an eye for it. If you see vintage and your heart skips a beat because you didn't know that something so functional could be so beautiful than you have an eye for it. Buy what you like. Buy what makes you feel something."

#3 Can you tell me about some of your favorite up-and-coming designers, artists, etc.?
"YES! So many exciting things happening in Chicago right now. Leah Ball is an amazing ceramic and jewelry artist. We carry her marbled ceramics and are excited to launch her Feminist As Fuck fine jewelry collection. Lindsay Lewis is another of our favorite designers. Nearly every person in the shop lights up because of her designs. They are approachable, but also visionary. She is definitely a Chicago trendsetter."

#4 What do you do when you're short on creative inspiration?
"I love a good self date. I take myself to my favorite Chicago restaurant, Lula Cafe or Rootstock. I order a nice glass of wine, people watch and then think all the thoughts I can think. Enjoying time by yourself is how I recharge."
Claire's advice is simple, practical and genius. And makes me want to give away everything I have and start over with one of her amazing rugs. If you're in the Chicago area, it's worth making an afternoon of visiting the store. (And while you're in the area, check out Humboldt House's Guide to Chicago for some wonderful spots to eat and drink!)

All photos via Humboldt House