This interior designer is maximizing her 600 square foot apartment located in Lincoln Park in Chicago.

Ciarra Celiano designs the interiors of hotels for a living. She is also constantly transforming her Chicago apartment into a calming space to land at the end of the day.

Her apartment was built in the 1920s and she has tried to keep the vintage feel of her building alive, while still giving her apartment a modern touch.

Her Jump-Start Into Commercial Design:

After college she was hired at a university where she worked on several residence hall renovations. She interned there 2 years before graduation.

This, she says, was her jump-start into the commercial design industry.

As a child, she was one of those little girls who constantly rearranged her bedroom and asked for cans of paint for her walls. She says she inherited the design bug from her mother and her grandmother.

Light-filled room with house plants of various sizes

Ciarra now works as an interior designer for a hospitality firm, where they focus on three-to-five star hotels across the US.

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A Crosley record player on a shelf with other decor

Old Architecture With Unique Features:

She says she’s a sucker for old buildings with all the molding details and unique features. When Ciarra saw the built-in glass display cases in the kitchen she immediately knew she wanted to live in this apartment.

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A comfy leather chair in the corner with a standing lamp nearby

The apartment building was once an old hotel from the 1920s and has great character. Her landlord allowed her to paint the kitchen cabinets white and add decorative hardware.

A velvet upholstered headboard and elegant neutral bedding

She loves living in Lincoln Park. The nearby lake and park is her escape from the noise of the city. Her neighborhood is very walkable and connected to public transportation.

Sometimes she spends mornings wandering the side streets and gazing at blocks of beautiful, old Chicago homes.

A bed with an intricate classic round night stand that is an accent table with vines painted on top

DIY Velvet Headboard:

Her bedroom is luxurious with soft bedding and a velvet headboard. A gold mirror hangs overhead and an accent table with painted vines on the surface sits beside the bed.

She designed her headboard herself because she couldn’t find anything she liked that was within her budget. And she sourced the fabric from Valley Forge through contacts at her workplace.

The foam for the headboard came from The Foam Factory. And she had Home Depot cut the wood to size.

The entire project cost about $175.

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Only Displaying What She Truly Loves:

Ciarra has limited space, so she only covers surface spaces with items she really loves and that have meaning to her.

A gallery wall of framed French scenes

She says it’s hard to classify any one design style, but she considers her taste worldly and lived-in.

Ciarra likes clean-lined, modern elements in contrast with ornate and worn vintage items. She likes to have a balance between the two styles.

This designer is inspired by the apartments in Europe, where she imagines ornate spaces filled with collected furnishings.

An open black book shelf in the cubby- style filled with books and other kinds of decor

Achieving Balance In Decorating:

She believes that balance is key and tries to find furniture similarly sized. Mirroring a shelf layout is a way to also achieve balance.

A small galley-style white kitchen with a black and white area rug on the floor

The kitchen is small and galley-style, which you see in so many apartment layouts. A rug softens the tile floor.

A knife stand close to a Lazy Susan withkitchen accessories and various cutting boards arranged against the wall

This is an area in her apartment kitchen with utensils at the ready when she’s preparing meals. Several cutting boards are arranged artfully against the wall.

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A small round Parisian-style table with two black chairs

Why She Decorates With House Plants:

She believes that plants make people happy. Trying to keep her overall color palette neutral, she thinks the living plants are the perfect color balance.

“They add this soft, ever-evolving color and texture to a space that you just can’t replicate. Also when the morning sun comes in the windows, the leaves quite literally light up the room.”

Black metal hangers on the wall holding house plants

Sustainable & Organic Trends:

This designer loves the fact that the sustainable and organic trend is happening in food and wellness and is now translating into the design world.

She finds herself obsessing over natural fibers and raw and textural materials.

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Small white bathroom in apartment in Lincoln Park

The bathroom is tiny but has a white palette to soften the angles. A shelf gives her storage space.

A Home Tells A Story:

In designing both at home and at work, the first thing she considers when creating a space is what the story of the home wants to tell.

Ciarra says everything has a story that needs to be unearthed and interior design is a great catalyst for this.

“Every decision in design is going to ultimately evoke a feeling. So it is important to determine the direction of the narrative before making any design decisions, big or small,” she says.

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I hope you enjoyed seeing how this designer maximized her 600 square feet apartment and transformed it into a cozy beloved home.

{These photos and details came from The Everygirl}

{This post contains affiliate links}

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  1. I love the bedroom ,especially the velvet headboard and the lights on each side of the bed.Also it all looks so clean and airy.
    Good to see you and IVY doing so well.She is a cuddle baby now and feeling the love .

  2. What a beautiful space she has. Did you catch that light above her little table? I can only imagine what it looks like at night. And how ingenious her wrought iron plant holders are on the wall. I love these tours you give us, Brenda.

  3. I love this. What a cute place. She did so many unique and clever things to her living space. As you know I have lived small and you just have to learn how to utilize every inch of your space. This apartment is adorable. Loved this one Brenda thanks for sharing.

  4. A lovely post. Thanks. I will be clicking on the link to purchase a record player. I own one but prefer the nostalgic look of the Crosley especially as they have up-to-date technology.

    1. That is not the Crosley CD player I have. But I don’t have a record player. I tried to add a link to a record oplayer that looked like the woman’s in the post photo.

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