Dana Altman at home with her Chicago thrift store finds
Dana Altman sits on one of her splurges-a lambswool throw from Bedside Manor. The giant "D" was salvaged from signage on a building that was being torn down.

The owner: Dana Altman, identity development consultant, master thrifter.

The digs: An airy first-floor apartment in a big old yellow Logan Square house, complete with high tin ceilings, original moldings, and loads of vintage charm.

The driving aesthetic: The ’70s. "It’s when I grew up, and I loved it. There was a spirit of lightness and freedom during that time that I’m very nostalgic about. I wanted to incorporate that feeling in my home."

How she did it: About a year ago, Altman moved out of an apartment she’d lived in for 12 years and decided to start over. She was well into her 30s, discovering her taste and determined to purchase "only things that moved me." She kept three items from her previous life: a white Formica Parsons-style dining table [1], purchased at the Mt. Sinai Hospital Resale Shop (814 W. Diversey Pkwy., 773-935-1434); a Heywood-Wakefield dresser [2] from a dealer no longer in business; and a chunky butcher-block table (she uses it as a desk) that was in her kitchen when she was growing up. Her mom, a style maven in her own right, had had it custom-made.

Altman's living room
more thrift store finds in Altman's home
thrift store finds in Dana Altman's dining room

All about her mother: "She was the coolest. She modeled part-time, she was an artist, she had great style. She made her own needlepoint pillows [3], which I now have. They’re so Jonathan Adler. Over the years, she’s also given me her old pottery and earthenware [4] from the ’70s. And I have her brick-red Villeroy & Boch wedding china that’s drop-dead."

The deals: In her living room: a $250 walnut-and-chrome credenza [5] from Edgewater Antique Mall (3345 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-248-1117), a $170 double-slab marble coffee table [6] from The Ark (3345 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-248-1117), and two red velvet Knoll Divinia chairs [7], purchased at a Knoll closeout sale for $300. The spoils of a spree at a Design Within Reach warehouse sale include a $700 shiny white aluminum Flos lamp [8] and a $1,400 Ted Boerner khaki green leather couch [9].

The steals: A friend salvaged the aqua "D" [10] in her bedroom from the signage of a building he saw being torn down.

And the splurges: A $500 Nagel candelabrum [11] from Modern Times (2100 W. Grand Ave., 312-243-5706) that Altman saw, passed up, then dreamed about for weeks, before returning and buying it, and a $275 Cecchi e Cecchi Italian virgin lamb’s-wool throw [12] from Bedside Manor (2056 N. Halsted St., 773-404-2020).

The details: Despite her thrifty ways, Altman is a stickler about having original art on her walls. Paintings by the artist Dan Devening hang alongside photographs by a personal hero, Laura Letinsky, and by Ryan Robinson, whose large-scale image of a couple on a beach in Florida [13] (from a collection called "Snowbirds") dominates a wall in Altman’s dining room.

Bling on a dime: The tin ceiling in the living room is painted gold-instant glam for this creative Leo.


Photography: Katrina Wittkamp