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A structural glass inset in the ceiling brings extra light into the living room from the level above. The carpet and the coffee table (made from a vintage ox cart) were purchased at the now-closed Fenway Gallery; oak flooring was stained ebony. In the kitchen, Ikea cabinets are complemented by countertops of statuary marble. See more photos in the gallery below.
Kristina Albaugh and Josh Ingmire are home-makeover veterans. Since meeting at the University of Oklahoma 17 years ago, they have rehabbed two houses and three condos in various cities, completing the design and much of the demolition and construction work themselves. Trained, respectively, in advertising/journalism and architecture, Albaugh and Ingmire moved to Chicago nine years ago for careers in retail fashion; Ingmire joined Luminaire as general manager in 2006.
“We tell our real-estate agents to show us the crappiest places they have, but with the best square footage, in a good neighborhood,” Albaugh says. “Then we take it from there.” Adds Ingmire, “We don’t mind living surrounded by tarps.”
Their latest challenge was turning a 1,400-square-foot bare-bones loft in the West Loop into a multilevel pad with a townhouse feel. By expanding a sleeping loft to a full floor and adding a third level above it (the original space had a 33-foot ceiling), the couple increased their floor space to 2,400 square feet. Over three years, the evolving configuration has yielded an open yet intimate living room and dining area adjacent to the kitchen, a master bedroom framed by translucent glass doors, a guest room/study, and a third-floor sleeping loft/studio. A split-level 700-square-foot roof deck tops things off.
Finishes were carefully chosen. Warming the living room is a wood-burning fireplace faced with remaindered teak; an ethyl-alcohol-burning fireplace in the study is surrounded by sleek Cor-Ten steel. The kitchen island has a waterfall-edge marble top. And the couple reconfigured the original staircase in an L shape, fitting the steps with ebony-stained oak treads.
Ingmire’s technical background aids their do-it-yourself strategies, while Albaugh’s eye—she is an assistant manager for MaxMara and also an artist and online vintage-clothing dealer—balances the duo’s design equation. They like to mix modern American and Italian furniture with standout vintage finds, such as a weathered wingback chair and a coffee table created from an old ox cart.
“We wanted to make our home express who we are instead of contriving rooms that felt too pristine,” Albaugh says. Ingmire agrees. “A minimalist loft was just not for us.”
Photograph: Bob Coscarelli
Styling: Diane Ewing