The Grotto

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The Old Condo

OakStreetBeachThis is the view from the deck of the condo we sold when we left Chicago. It is on Lake Shore Drive and Division in the Gold Coast. We could walk out the front door, walk into a tunnel that took us under Lake Shore Drive, and exit directly on to the beach. I never thought I’d be the type of person to want to sit, cocktail in hand, on a beach doing nothing, but I adapted quickly.

The building is a mid-century highrise, so we decided to decorate it with mid-century-type furniture. IKEA is perfect for furnishing a small apartment like this. A college friend of ours, when she first saw the apartment, exclaimed, “somebody went to IKEA!” All of this furniture is now in our son’s library/guest room.

Condo Living RoomIt took us over a year of looking for the right condo, and several unsuccessful offers before we bought this one. Of course it didn’t look like this when we bought it. It hadn’t been updated since it was converted to a condo in the ’70s; the walls, trim, electrical outlets, and switches were painted army green. There was so much paint on the switches that they didn’t work. The kitchen cabinets were the original steel units from when it was built in the ’50s that had been roller-painted flat white. The light fixture, if you could call it that, was a single bulb hanging from romex. The kitchen counter was a poorly fitting butcher block-look laminate and thick backsplash, with an oversize sink that meant there was little actual counter space. But the ’50s chrome cooktop and wall oven worked.

Condo KitchenAll the issues in the kitchen I could fix inexpensively with the help of Retro Renovation. I sanded and re-enameled the cabinets, made a new countertop with period-correct boomerang laminate and a metal edge, installed a checkerboard ceramic tile backsplash, installed a smaller sink and faucet, put in a checkerboard tile floor, and put in a nice drum light fixture.

The Old Condo

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