Derek Erdman and Ashley Armitage moved to Chicago about two and a half years ago specifically to live in the apartment they’re in now. The couple’s 1,800-square-foot space in Logan Square, which also includes a 700-square-foot basement that Derek uses for painting, is brimming with color and characters. It’s the kind of place you’d want to be invited to for a party—you’d never run out of things to talk about. “My best friends bought the house and it had an extra unit, and I was pretty ready to leave Seattle,” says Derek. “I’d lived in Chicago in the past and missed it something fierce.”

<div class="caption"> That’s Archie and Chichi, rescues from <a href="http://www.pawschicago.org/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:PAWS Chicago" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">PAWS Chicago</a>. “They’re both the sweetest things, and they get along so well,” says Derek. “And they both have very distinct personalities.” </div>
That’s Archie and Chichi, rescues from PAWS Chicago. “They’re both the sweetest things, and they get along so well,” says Derek. “And they both have very distinct personalities.”

“I’m currently a painter and work in a law office,” Derek says. “I’ve painted for most of my living for the last 15 years or so, but I like having a regular job too—I need the structure. The law office is a civil rights firm that does a lot of meaningful work, and my title is something like intake coordinator.” Ashley, also in a creative field, works as a photographer and director, and uses her eye to zhuzh the apartment.

<div class="caption"> The large watch is a <a href="https://www.ebay.com/c/18004274206" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Swatch Maxi" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Swatch Maxi</a> that Derek bought on eBay. “You can get them relatively affordably,” he says, “especially if they don’t work, like ours.” </div>
The large watch is a Swatch Maxi that Derek bought on eBay. “You can get them relatively affordably,” he says, “especially if they don’t work, like ours.”
<div class="caption"> The vintage pencil bookends and the pencil lamp by <a href="https://www.michaelandgeorge.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Michael & George" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Michael & George</a> were gifts from Ashley to Derek for a very pencil-themed birthday. “The cheetah came from a trip to Tulum last year,” says Derek. “The small vases are by <a href="https://www.hellohappyplants.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Hello Happy Plants" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Hello Happy Plants</a> (hi, Kelsey!).” </div>
The vintage pencil bookends and the pencil lamp by Michael & George were gifts from Ashley to Derek for a very pencil-themed birthday. “The cheetah came from a trip to Tulum last year,” says Derek. “The small vases are by Hello Happy Plants (hi, Kelsey!).”

“I’m really lucky that Ashley is as tidy as me, and cares about her home surroundings,” says Derek, who loves having a colorful home: everything in its place, busy but organized. “My style is a little shabbier than hers, but I defer to her because she cares a little bit more.” Plus, they each get dibs on decorating different domains. Derek goes to town in his office and Ashley makes her mark in the living room and bedroom.

<div class="caption"> Derek’s office, at one end of the house, is where he is most of the time. “It’s where I get all of my work done and has two walls with windows,” he says. “It’s really comfortable and full of things that I love.” </div>

Derek’s office, at one end of the house, is where he is most of the time. “It’s where I get all of my work done and has two walls with windows,” he says. “It’s really comfortable and full of things that I love.”

<div class="caption"> “I have some things that are Ohio-related (where I’m from), and photos of <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lora_Logic" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Lora Logic" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Lora Logic</a> and <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christiane_F." rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Christiane Vera Felscherinow" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Christiane Vera Felscherinow</a>,” says Derek, describing just a few of the art and objects around the home. “These are all things that I love or meant a lot to me growing up. We also have a lot of <a href="http://www.asharmitage.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Ashley’s larger framed prints" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Ashley’s larger framed prints</a>—I love them so much.” </div>
“I have some things that are Ohio-related (where I’m from), and photos of Lora Logic and Christiane Vera Felscherinow,” says Derek, describing just a few of the art and objects around the home. “These are all things that I love or meant a lot to me growing up. We also have a lot of Ashley’s larger framed prints—I love them so much.”

The artwork filling the apartment is typically in flux. “We change it all the time, especially when our own work sells,” says Derek. “There’s a massive food painting in the kitchen, and the walls in the first hallway are mostly black-and-whites. There’s a closet where Ashley takes my stuff down and puts it in a pile. A framed photo of Studs Terkel hit the chopping block recently—it was quite sad.”

<div class="caption"> Derek’s great case for <a href="https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/do-you-have-what-it-takes-to-live-with-open-kitchen-shelving?mbid=synd_yahoo_rss" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:open kitchen shelving" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">open kitchen shelving</a>: “Not having to open a cupboard is one less thing to do in life.” Also, some favorite wares: the <a href="https://fave.co/2VLDSwn" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:black Sasaki dishware" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">black Sasaki dishware</a> and the <a href="https://fave.co/3bDVxgh" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Waechtersbach coffee mugs" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Waechtersbach coffee mugs</a>. </div>
<div class="caption"> “I love the dining room/living room combo,” says Ashley. “When I’m not on shoots, I’m working at our dining room table. It gets the most amazing natural light.” </div>

“I love the dining room/living room combo,” says Ashley. “When I’m not on shoots, I’m working at our dining room table. It gets the most amazing natural light.”

<div class="caption"> The list of artists whose works fill the space is almost to great to capture. But a brief overview: “We have drawings, paintings, photos, and sculptures by <a href="http://bethhoeckel.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Beth Hoeckel" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Beth Hoeckel</a>, <a href="https://www.joanlemay.com/portfolio" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Joan LeMay" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Joan LeMay</a>, <a href="https://www.instagram.com/jasonpolan/?hl=en" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Jason Polan" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Jason Polan</a>, <a href="http://jeremyandfarrah.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Jeremy & Farrah" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Jeremy & Farrah</a>, <a href="http://www.aaronbagley.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Aaron Bagley" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Aaron Bagley</a>, <a href="https://www.brandonvosika.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Brandon Vosika" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Brandon Vosika</a>, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herg%C3%A9" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Hergé" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Hergé</a>, <a href="https://www.instagram.com/mariekemcclendon/?hl=en" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Marieke McClendon" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Marieke McClendon</a>, <a href="https://www.jimnewberry.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Jim Newberry" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Jim Newberry</a>, <a href="http://stevekeene.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Steve Keene" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Steve Keene</a>, <a href="http://www.artnet.com/artists/raymond-pettibon/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Raymond Pettibon" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Raymond Pettibon</a>, <a href="https://www.hardlyart.com/artists/shana_cleveland" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shana Cleveland" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Shana Cleveland</a>, <a href="https://www.damedarcy.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Dame Darcy" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Dame Darcy</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Artist/Darryl-Ary-131821593579717/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Darryl Ary" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Darryl Ary</a>, <a href="http://egglestonartfoundation.org/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:William Eggleston" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">William Eggleston</a>, Jamie Drier, <a href="http://www.autotone.net/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Mike Force" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Mike Force</a>, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matt_Groening" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Matt Groening" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Matt Groening</a>, <a href="https://www.instagram.com/smackmusic7/?hl=en" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Karen Constance" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Karen Constance</a>, <a href="https://www.instagram.com/johnscottatkins/?hl=en" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:John Atkins" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">John Atkins</a>, <a href="https://www.instagram.com/annaclairewhite/?hl=en" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Anna Claire White" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Anna Claire White</a>, and Alissa Atkins (and a few others).” </div>
The list of artists whose works fill the space is almost to great to capture. But a brief overview: “We have drawings, paintings, photos, and sculptures by Beth Hoeckel, Joan LeMay, Jason Polan, Jeremy & Farrah, Aaron Bagley, Brandon Vosika, Hergé, Marieke McClendon, Jim Newberry, Steve Keene, Raymond Pettibon, Shana Cleveland, Dame Darcy, Darryl Ary, William Eggleston, Jamie Drier, Mike Force, Matt Groening, Karen Constance, John Atkins, Anna Claire White, and Alissa Atkins (and a few others).”

Beyond the amazing finds from trips and friends, Craigslist, and eBay, and the artwork that comes and goes, the space has needed little reconfiguration. “We changed some overhead lights. We painted the walls white—they were an odd puke green/gray when we moved in. Who even picks a color like that?” says Derek. “Otherwise it really hasn’t been rehabbed ever, aside from one of the bathrooms and the kitchen.” The kitchen cabinet doors coming down was a quick project for Derek and Ashley, who found them quite boring. “Plus I like to see all of the stuff, and not having to open a cupboard is one less thing to do in life.” Ashley adds, “Not only did we take off some cabinet doors, we also took off some doors! There used to be a swinging door between the kitchen and dining room and it felt in the way, so we took that off after about 48 hours of moving in.”

If you feel the smack of the wild decor (though we still find it quite cozy), it’s likely because Derek says he has always favored style over comfort, even to the dismay of guests. “Sometimes I’ll visit a friend’s house who has really comfortable chairs and realize, ‘Oh, a person can do that.’ But I have certain things that I love and care about,” he explains. “I’ve always decorated my house in my own paintings too, which I guess could seem tacky, but if I want a painting of Skylab, I can just make one.”

<div class="caption"> “I would paint all night long if I was able, but that’s proven to be unhealthy in the past,” says Derek. “We take a lot of long walks, we love our cats, play a lot of <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Mille-Bornes-Card-Game-Colorful/dp/B00KXSJSC0" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Mille Bornes" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Mille Bornes</a>, cook elaborate meals. We’re really fortunate and I’d say we’re really happy.” </div>
“I would paint all night long if I was able, but that’s proven to be unhealthy in the past,” says Derek. “We take a lot of long walks, we love our cats, play a lot of Mille Bornes, cook elaborate meals. We’re really fortunate and I’d say we’re really happy.”

Loved by Derek, Admired by Ashley

The painter and photographer share their favorite places to shop and find inspiration.

Instagram feeds to follow:

Derek: I don’t really look at Instagram, I just post and go.

Ashley: I love @homeunion, @the_80s_interior, and @kjplumb for home things right now!

Dream addition to your space:

D: I’d kill for a proper claw-foot tub with arm space on both sides. That’s it really, otherwise it’s prefect.

A: Yeah, a tub. Ooooh, and a sunroom/greenhouse situation that I could fill with plants.

Favorite detail in your home:

D: I’m a big fan of the pantry, that’s such a nice thing to walk in to. I’ve never had one before. A room full of food. Okay!

A: I love our orange-subway-tile bathroom. Pastel-tiled bathrooms are my favorite thing in the world, so I’m happy to finally have one in my house.

Biggest design inspirations:

D: This one is probably for Ashley.

A: Honestly, I love ’80s interior design books. I go through phases where I buy them in bulk from thriftbooks.com.

Last thing you had delivered/bought for your home:

D: This one is for Ashley, for sure. Probably some candlesticks or a duvet cover. She has exquisite taste.

A: I did just get us a new Dusen Dusen duvet cover! Our cats scratch the heck out of our bedding, so we have to replace it like once a year.

<div class="caption"> “I made all of the paintings in the bedroom, except for the pull-down map that we bought at the <a href="https://bamchicago.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Broadway Antique Market" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Broadway Antique Market</a> in Chicago,” says Derek. “I’m pretty sure Ashley has that slated to come down, though.” </div>
“I made all of the paintings in the bedroom, except for the pull-down map that we bought at the Broadway Antique Market in Chicago,” says Derek. “I’m pretty sure Ashley has that slated to come down, though.”
<div class="caption"> “I bought the pink and wood drawer chair from a guy on Craigslist who had an old prop warehouse in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle,” says Derek. “He made it in the 1980s, it’s <em>really</em> uncomfortable to sit in. There was a mummified mouse in the drawer when I bought it, but I don’t think I’ve ever told anybody about that until now.” </div>

“I bought the pink and wood drawer chair from a guy on Craigslist who had an old prop warehouse in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle,” says Derek. “He made it in the 1980s, it’s really uncomfortable to sit in. There was a mummified mouse in the drawer when I bought it, but I don’t think I’ve ever told anybody about that until now.”

<div class="caption"> “We have a few fluorescent lights made by <a href="http://www.neonshopfishtail.com/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Neon Shop Fishtail" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Neon Shop Fishtail</a>: some bobby pins and one that says ‘Candy,’ which is the exact one that is also used in the candy department at Nordstroms across the country,” says Derek. Talk about sweet! </div>
“We have a few fluorescent lights made by Neon Shop Fishtail: some bobby pins and one that says ‘Candy,’ which is the exact one that is also used in the candy department at Nordstroms across the country,” says Derek. Talk about sweet!

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest