Daran Puffer and his 1,500-square-foot deck
On the 1,500-square-foot deck, an ebony-stained cedar pergola shelters low-slung ’60s Italian fiberglass seating pods topped with Sunbrella-upholstered cushions, all surrounding a crisply geometric cedar coffee table with a black marble mosaic top designed by homeowner Daran Puffer. The space also includes a built-in day bed, an adjacent koi pond, and a pop-up stereo component that pipes music to six speakers. Puffer built a raised garden bed for an artful assortment of juniper, sedum, and other low-profile plants and stones. Photo Gallery »

When Daran Puffer bought a condo sight unseen three years ago, he knew exactly how he could inject some of his own groovy vintage style into the developer’s minimalist plan. He just went into the basement of his now-closed Evanston shop, Den Antiques, and set aside a pair of 1960s Op Art–style sconces, an Italian chrome chandelier, a vintage bar cart that could be converted into a sink console, and several other pieces that he knew would give his new home some character.

“I’m always saving things I know I’ll never find again,” he says. “I still have a few sofas in storage that I’ll use when I have a bigger house.”

Daran Puffer's kitchen with a view of the deck
An open floor plan, with the kitchen, living, and dining areas flowing into each other, makes the condo feel large and airy; sliding doors open to a huge rooftop deck. Amber semi-sheer panels that don’t cover the entire span of the glass can be shifted to follow the sun, so some portion of the view is always available. Photo Gallery »

Until then, his 1,550-square-foot Wicker Park condo, with a deck of the same size (plus a large side terrace) will do just fine. He bought it specifically because of the outdoor spaces—and because he was familiar with Ranquist Development’s fastidious approach to new construction. “I had lived in one of their projects before,” he says. “I didn’t even need to see floor plans to know I would love it.”

He had the floor ebonized instead of lightly varnished as they are in the rest of the units (“a dark floor really grounds things”), changed out Ranquist’s six-inch-wide can lights in favor of three-inch ones (“I don’t like big holes in the ceilings”), and covered a wall of exposed cinder blocks with shiny black marble tile (“I wanted a more glam look, rather than industrial chic”).

Puffer credits studying photography and painting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for his design sense. And though he deals in antiques (he has a space at the Edgewater Antique Market), he doesn’t feel compelled to fill his home exclusively with them. He’s perfectly content lounging with friends on a low-slung Room & Board sectional and putting his feet up on two pushed-together marble-topped coffee tables from CB2.

“I don’t want anyone to worry that they’re going to ruin some expensive vintage furniture when they’re at my house,” he says. “I don’t like to make a big deal out of material things.”

Resources: See Buy Guide.


Photography: Andreas Larsson
Styling: Diane Ewing