Studio Brunstrum
Look after the land and the land will look after you.
What does it mean to be sustainable in your home?
We often associate interior sustainability in homes with being LEED (leadership in energy and environmental design) certified. To become LEED certified, a building must meet an ever-changing level of qualifications to consume less energy and water, minimize temperature loss and use materials that have less environmental impact. While the LEED certification is a great marker to look for, especially in new construction in larger cities, it is not the only way to be sustainable in your home.
To us, sustainability equates to being aware of our position in the world and recognizing that our purchase power matters. It means taking small steps to reduce our own climate footprint in ways that make sense in our lives and homes.
Sustainability in the home can come through furniture donation, reupholstering a piece of furniture instead of buying new, buying from vendors that are actively trying to reduce their environmental impact, or utilizing fabrics and materials that reduce harm to their environments. It also means adapting the way we live in our homes, installing a composter, using less water, or growing our own herbs.
Sustainability is not a perfect science, and it won’t look the same for each person; it’s important to remember that starting somewhere is better than not starting at all.
Susan, Kelsey, and Patti
The Studio Brunstrum Team
Keep it Simple
Monochromatic Paint. Simplicity has been one of the biggest “trends” to come out of the pandemic – and now it’s translating to how we paint our homes. We’ve noticed an uptick in monochromatic paint – i.e. painting your walls, ceiling and trim all the same color – and we don’t just mean all white. The result? A clean look that’s easy on the eyes and doesn’t distract from the rest of the furnishings and artwork in the room. Monochromatic paint provides a steady backdrop that lets the life within the room take center stage, instead of the room feeling overpowering.

Photos (left to right): Unknown, Pantone
All for One
Streamlined Tile. Tile has also been affected by the desire for simplification post pandemic; where we used to select multiple different tiles for one space (namely bathrooms and showers), we’re now selecting the same tile in different shapes and sizes and changing up the layouts to create different patterns and borders. The result? A more uniform look and increased longevity of the space.

Photos (left to right): The Madison, Unknown
Black, White and Bright All Over
Black and White Lighting. Say goodbye to boring lighting and make a statement with fixtures that mix black and white together. Light fixtures are an easy way to push boundaries through shape, scale and now color! The combination of black and white lighting is chic, yet noticeable, and upgrades your fixtures from being purely functional. Don’t relegate black and white fixtures to just foyers, bedrooms, or living spaces either – thanks to an increase in the presence of matte black and white plumbing fixtures, black and white lighting feels at home in kitchens and baths as well.

Photos (left to right): Diane Keaton, Room for Tuesday
Just a Trim
Trim. While our material selections (paint, flooring, tile, countertops, cabinets) are trending towards simplification, we’re noticing that details have come back into furniture and upholstery, specifically through the use of trim. Adding a trim to your window treatments, bedding, or upholstered furnishings adds the perfect finishing touch, creating a more custom look. Trim can come in all shapes and sizes and be as decorative or neutral as you want it to be; we love adding a touch of glamour through beaded or fringe trim or specifying trim in an unexpected space – on the back of a chair, a skirt of a sofa, or even the lead edge of a window treatment.

Photos (both): Studio Brunstrum
Fireplace surrounds are one of the primary architectural elements that can easily date a home. The good news? We find that they’re often ignored when considering other updates, but they shouldn’t be! Updating them to fit a more modern aesthetic doesn’t have to be a monumental undertaking.
There’s no one-size fits all option to updating a fireplace surround – you have a wide array of option to choose from so that the aesthetics fit within the rest of your home:
  • Clad a wall in stone or slab for a very clean contemporary look.
  • Add or update millwork that complements the millwork within the rest of your home for emphasis. Specialty painting your millwork, especially in larger or two-story spaces can help add definition as well.
  • Simply change the surround and the hearth to a different slab or create a mantle from a different material.
Be sure to keep size and scale in mind - your fireplace should complement (not overwhelm) the room!
I first discovered the LewAllen Gallery on a Design Trust trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2019. Located in the Railyard Arts Disctric, LewAllen has been highlighting contemporary and modern art for nearly 40 years. As one of the largest privately owned art exhibition spaces in the western United States, the LewAllen Gallery hosts an array of exhibitions, publications and art programs each year. Broken into two divisions: the Contemporary Division and the Modern Division, LewAllen highlights both nationally and internationally recognized artists, while also curating signal works from modern creators gaining recognition in the space. Some of our favorite artists represented by the gallery include: Peter Burega, Nathan Oliviera, and Dan Christensen. We recommended LewAllen Gallery to one of our clients and friends – they loved it so much, they took a piece home with them! Check out more on the gallery and artists here.
Kelsey is officially in Portugal and has sent out her first edition of In My Suitcase recapping her first week in Lisbon! Check out her blog here or check your inbox if you’ve already subscribed – it may have gone to spam.
We’re honored to have won an ASID Design Excellence award for best Residence by a Small Firm for our project A Lake House Haven. This project, like many others, evolved over time; what started out as simply selecting new counter stools for a twice returning client, transitioned into a complete refresh that turned their vacation home from less than functional to a home away from home. Lake views provided inspiration and source material for the theme throughout, challenging us to work within the white and blue nautical palette, while keeping it fresh and sophisticated, yet kid friendly. Check out the whole project here.
Remote work comes with its perks, but it’s also brought on a fresh set of IT issues as we get used to taking our work on the go in our homes and across the world. These past few weeks after moving out of our office space have made us realize just how thankful we are for our Chicago-based IT firm, Birds on a Cable. When we think of creativity, we often think of art or design, but IT comes with its own set of unique creativity and problem solving – especially if you’re like me and tend to break all things tech with no idea of how to fix them. Thank you to the Birds – we couldn’t be our creative selves without you!
We’re absolutely head over heels for this three-tiered cocktail ottoman from Kravet. Each tier of the ottoman is completely customizable – meaning you can have three different fabrics and colorways on each section, making the possibilities endless and allowing it to fit seamlessly in any space. For further customization, you can opt to have the top layer tufted, adding a sophistication to the piece. Better yet? The same concept and design is available in their Florence Chaise as well!
Home Going | Yaa Gyasi
Patti just read Home Going for her book club and immediately recommended it to Susan and Kelsey. Following a family tree over three centuries in Ghana, Home Going is based on the lives and descendants of two-half sisters, Effia and Esi. Effia marries a wealthy Englishmen and lives a life of comfort in Cape Coast Castle, while Esi is imprisoned and sold into slavery in America. Each thread of Home Going follows the vastly different lives of each sister and their descendants, taking us through times of warfare and British colonization in Ghana and slavery, Civil War and the Great Migration in the United States. The story shapes history into a visceral reality through the lens of its dynamic characters, depicting how the soul of a nation will always be defined by its past and how the stories of our lives are affected by forces beyond our control.
Carpets for a Cause
We’re honored to have been asked to participate in Oscar Isberian’s Carpets for a Cause, benefitting Designs for Dignity. The event, taking place on November 6th, will auction off exclusively designed rugs by some of Chicago’s designers, architects and artists! Studio Brunstrum’s rug, “The Ripple Effect” highlights the impact one person or action can have on the world around us. What may seem like a drop in the bucket can create a legacy that lives on. Check out more about the event and buy tickets here. Keep an eye out on our social media in the coming weeks for a sneak peek at all the rugs up for auction.
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