Studio Brunstrum
Only through connectedness to others can we really know and enhance the self. And only through working on the self can we begin to enhance our connectedness to others.
The prospect of summer, especially after a long Chicago winter, always brightens my mood. But, I’ll admit, I find it very challenging to stay grounded and connected in the hustle and bustle of graduations, travel plans, wedding season, and an eagerness to do it all, all at once. While I love the “go go go” energy and joy of being outside and staying busy, I need to remind myself to take a breather and find a way to bring myself back to center.
So, this year, I’m committing to doing at least one thing a week that forces me to relax – be that scheduling a slow Saturday morning at the Farmer’s Market, taking an extra long walk, calling a friend and catching up, or just allowing myself to sleep in.
I’m also relying on my home to bring me down to earth; more than ever I want it to be a relaxing respite and a place that brings me solace at the end of each day. In order to do so, I’m letting comfort be the primary factor on my spring cleaning checklist. If an element of my home is not functioning as it should or is contributing to the stress of a busy schedule, it needs to change. I want my home to work for me and be providing what I need when I’m there. If it’s not, it’s time for a change!
To staying grounded,
Susan, Kelsey, and Patti
The Studio Brunstrum Team
All But the Kitchen Sink
Mixed Material Sinks. Porcelain and stainless steel have been the standard in sink material for forever, but lately we’ve been seeing an influx of mixed material sinks – those created from integrating countertop material (quartzite, marble, limestone) or wrapped tile. We love using an unexpected element in place of a traditional sink – especially in kitchens, primary bathrooms, butler’s pantries or powder rooms; they create a nice continuity in the space and add a masculine feel to your plumbing.

Photos (left to right): Kalon Studio, Studio Onyx
To Grandmother's House We Go
Coastal Grandmother. Another day, another “grandma” trend. We’re phasing out of “grand-millennial” style into the cleaner and earthier feel of “coastal grandmother”. So, what exactly is Coastal Grandmother? It’s the style taking over the fashion industry for the summer; picture Diane Keaton in Something’s Gotta Give. Neutral hues, lighter fabrics like linen and soft cotton, and flowy silhouettes create the essence of the trend, and we have to say – we love it! Transition Coastal Grandmother from fashion to interiors by adopting the same color palette and use of billowy fabrics with oversized, cozy, curved and more feminine furnishings.

Photos (left to right): Warner Bros. Pictures, Starr Standford Design
Best of Both Worlds
Mod-itional. Mod-itional, or the cross between modern and traditional, is slowly becoming the dominating aesthetic we’re seeing in homes. The style combines traditional architectural elements with very modern or organic inspired lighting and contemporary, colorful artwork paired with either traditional or eclectic furnishings. It’s derived from wanting to keep the essence of older buildings and heritage/vintage feeling spaces, while allowing for modern touches to elevate the space and keep it from feeling outdated. To achieve the style, preserve (or recreate) classic architecture through crown molding and millwork and mix or pair with crisp, lighter paint colors. We love the balanced energy it gives to a space.

Photos (left to right): Unknown, Architectural Digest
Everything, Everywhere, All At Once
The Absence of Trend. (Everything Everywhere All At Once) Can no trend be a new trend? We certainly think so! While it’s our job to stay up to date on the latest in style, we’ve always been cognizant that homes are personal and should reflect the taste and aesthetic of the individual, instead of adhering strictly to trend. Instead, we like to look at trends as a jumping off point; they should be used as a way to get the conversation started and help narrow down likes/dislikes to create a home for you. We’re pleased to see both the fashion and interiors industry starting to adopt this model as well, where trends focus less on the specifics of achieving a certain look, but rather place emphasis on the individual and notion that you should look, wear, buy whatever feels the most “you”.

Photos (left to right): The Design Files, Frank De Biasi Interiors
All Photos via Studio Brunstrum
We often talk about “bringing the outdoors in” by adding touches of life to your home through the addition of flowers, plants, and trees. Like anything in the home, it’s important to know how to choose the right indoor plants for your space.
First, be honest with how much of a green (or brown) thumb you have. If you’re not great at remembering to water, opt for plants that don’t require much maintenance like succulents, Aloe Vera, Snake plants, bamboo, or philodendron; or choose to forgo having plants that need to be kept alive and introduce life into your home with cut flowers and vases knowing that they’re not meant to be kept forever.
Second, determine the quantity of plants you need, keeping in mind the scale of your space and furniture. The plants you choose to put in your home shouldn’t overpower the rest of your furnishings but should complement the space instead. Available locations for plants will help determine what kind you should buy. If you want something for the bathroom, make sure you’re not buying a plant that needs an abundance of natural light; Bromeliads, Parlor Palms, English Ivy, and Cast Iron Plants all do well in the dark.
Lastly, choose the right containers for your space. Vases and pots can add a spot of color, texture, and pattern to complement the rest of your interiors. Again, keep size and scale in mind and make sure the pot relates to its surroundings.
Bonus- don’t forget to check the toxicity of the plants you’re planning to buy if you have furry friends. There are some (Lillies, Azaleas, Sago Palms, Asparagus Ferns, Jade Plants) that pose dangers to dogs and cats, so make sure to avoid bringing those into your space.
I recently saw Relentless by Tyla Abercrumbie, the second play to be developed through TimeLine’s Playwrights collective. Set in the Black Victorian era, Relentless explores the relationship between a mother and her two daughters following the matriarch’s death. The daughters travel to Philadelphia to settle her estate and along the way discover a series of diaries written by their late mother, revealing truths and secrets from her past, forcing them to confront how well they knew her and how much the past can stay buried. After a sold-out run during its winter debut at the Theater Wit, Relentless returned for a Spring session at the Goodman and is rumored to be making its way to Broadway in the near future! I was enamored with the emotive storytelling and explosive performances of the cast. Don’t miss this fabulous play!
We partnered with NuHaus Cabinetry to transform this outdated kitchen into a sophisticated and simplistic workspace that could accommodate more than one chef in the kitchen, as both husband and wife love to cook. The rest of the home had been previously updated, so we took our cues from the more modern space to make the kitchen feel cohesive within the home. Working within the existing footprint, with the exception of moving the south entry location to accommodate better traffic flow and a view of Lake Michigan, we added double ovens, a steam oven, created a coffee bar area, and maximized storage space by separating the upper cabinets from the lowers. In addition to creating closed storage to house their HVAC unit and revamping the pantry space, we also added USB ports underneath the seated side of the peninsula countertop to accommodate additional workspace when their adult children visit and custom designed drawer insets to organize an array of spices, oils, and utensils. The best part? The insets are flexible so they can change at whim to adapt their needs. After finessing the footprint to maximize the functionality of the space, we turned our attention to the details, utilizing various elements throughout the home to ensure the kitchen would blend in seamlessly, while still maintaining a “wow” factor. We chose to use three different cabinet finishes – a gray blue lacquer on the fridge and dining room built-ins, a washed driftwood on the perimeter and seating peninsula, and a cream in the pantry, along with mixed metal accents throughout to add dimension. Our biggest challenge? A two-week long countertop, backsplash and base molding installation, diligently ensuring the veining in the quartzite was bookmatched and seamless throughout. The Calcatta Chiara countertop material was also used as a footer to balance out the narrow soffit and give the kitchen a crisp, clean look. We dropped a lighting soffit over the peninsula to accommodate three custom pendants to match the gray blue lacquer of the fridge and clad the walls surrounding the south side of the kitchen and into the pantry for continuity. Antique mirrors and glass above the sink and in the pantry added a touch of glamour to the space, while the simple routing on the cabinetry doors was mirrored into metal detailing on the fridge. Leather wrapped hardware in the dining room inset cabinetry added the perfect finishing touch. Check out the full project on the website!
After discovering artist Jonathan Swanz on my art trip to Hawaii, I fell in love with his installation “Who Hung the Stars” and similar lighting pieces in the collection. Aptly named, the textured glass segments wrap around loosely shaped metal “branches” to create a stunning visual that feels both modern and organic.
The Defining Decade | Meg Jay
Need a gift for a recent graduate this Spring? Pick up a copy of Meg Jay’s The Defining Decade. As a clinical psychologist focusing on patients in their 20s, Meg Jay is urging the younger generation to not disregard their 20s as “the fun years” and not get serious until the 30 milestone. Rather, she stresses that the 20s are your foundational years in work, love, and life and will determine your path well into your 40s, 50s, and 60s. The book breaks down common misconceptions through detailed examples of past patients and provides ample advice for how to make the most of the defining decade. Kelsey read it in a college course years ago and I’ve since purchased it for every grad gift I needed! Honestly, I’ve read it myself and it has some valuable life advice for any age; I like to think of it as a crash course in life or “what I wish someone taught me in college”. From the importance of loose ties, to the paradox of choice, to freeing ourselves of the “should” – it’s a great reminder for all ages of how to be intentional with our lives, instead of letting them happen to us.
Lifestyle ROI Journal
t’s hard to believe it’s been over two years since the pandemic irrevocably changed the world. When we first went into lockdown, we sent out a Home Assessment Journal – asking you what you needed from your home as we transitioned it to a place of work AND rest, hoping to answer the question “is your home working for you?”. Since then, the ongoing pandemic has forced us to reconsider what our priorities are – what family, friends, community, and our homes mean to us. I know many of my priorities have changed. In fact, the very definition of home has changed. So, we created another Home Assessment Journal that ask you to consider how you live in your home now. Have fun, be honest, and let us know what comes of your assessment! And, of course, if you need to make changes – give us a call!
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