Studio Brunstrum
Such a simple concept, yet so true: that which we manifest is before us; we are the creators of our own destiny. Be it through intention or ignorance, our successes and our failures have been brought on by none other than ourselves.
We made it out of 2020 – a feat that seemed nearly impossible midway through last year. While 2021 has already proved to be an interesting year two weeks in, we’re filled with renewed hope at a fresh start and the opportunity to set intentions to move forward.
We could fill up a year’s worth of newsletters with the lessons we learned from 2020 and another year’s worth of our predictions for the year ahead. While we have no idea what the 5,10,15 and 20-year ramifications of 2020 will be – globally, politically, culturally and personally, we’ve noticed one side effect of the pandemic that’s likely to have a large and long-term impact: the acceptance of a slower pace.
The pandemic forced life to slow down as we re-adjusted to new ways of doing just about everything. We accepted that not everything could be accomplished instantaneously while we all adjusted to working from home. We accepted that 2-day shipping might turn to 4-day shipping as manufacturers dealt with new timelines. We were even forced to accept that we don’t have an exact end date for when this new reality can start to shift back to normal. In our industry as in others, we’ve seen timelines lengthen as new logistics are implemented and vendors are dealing with delays and out of stock inventory. However, what we expected to be met with frustration has been delightfully met with acceptance and understanding.
So, we’re taking that energy into 2021 and applying it to all aspects of our lives. Giving up control is never easy, but if you are flexible and resilient you might come to find that the beauty of the journey is not always how fast you get there.
To 2021 – may it be full of fresh starts, thoughtful intentions, and the acceptance to take life as it comes.
Susan, Kelsey, and Patti
The Studio Brunstrum Team
See Ya, Stainless!
Bold Kitchens. Bye bye, stainless steel! For the past 10+ years, kitchen design has followed a fairly standard template. Now that most of us have been in our kitchens (and cooking) far more than usual, we’re seeing that translate to requests for gutsier and bolder kitchen design – including new and extremely colorful appliances. If you are confident in what you like or have a designer you really trust, we say go bold or go home! Art-like appliances and bold cabinetry can amp up the energy in a kitchen, letting your personality shine in one of the most used rooms of your home. We caution that bold appliances may not be for everyone – you need to make sure you love them prior to investing as they are the foundation of your kitchen.

Photos (left to right): Viking, Leeks Kitchens
Move Away from Big Box. The acceptance of a slower pace of life and longer lead times across an array of industries has led to a resurgence of craftsmanship and triggered a significant shift away from big box stores. Small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, but it’s been inspiring to see communities make an effort to shop local to support restaurants, retailers and other businesses in their neighborhoods. For interiors, that’s led to a rise in creativity and craftsmanship. Extended timelines from big box stores (especially as they wait for pieces and parts from overseas), have given small businesses a chance to compete as instant gratification is no longer an option from anywhere. We’re delighted to see the emphasis placed back on artisans and craftsmanship!

Photos (left to right): Lucy Slivinski, Nelson Upholstery via Studio Brunstrum
Lamination Station
Laminated Fabrics. More time at home inevitably means more spills and messes – especially with kids and grandkids! We recently discovered the magic of laminated fabrics (our Chicago go to is CLI Group). Laminating a fabric for a high-traffic upholstered piece (e.g. a kitchen barstool or a foyer bench) extends the life of the piece without sacrificing comfort, function or style. The fabric achieves the aesthetic needed, with the added bonus of texture, durability and wipe-ability.

Photos (left to right): CLI Group, Unknown
Pet Palace
Pet Friendly Design. Pandemic pets were one of the bright spots of 2020; local Chicago shelters more than doubled their placed adoptions last year! As more furry friends have found homes, we’ve seen an uptick for pet-centric and pet-friendly design. From traditional performance fabrics, to built-in doggy doors that match your other architectural elements, to building a dog bath, designing a custom upholstered doggy bed, or even installing a door bell so your dog can alert you when it’s time to go out – the options for making your home more pet friendly are endless and top of mind for 2021! The key? Planning ahead to integrate pet elements into your home – creating the perfect pet palace for you and your new best friend.

Photos (left to right): The Fox Group, Laurey W Glenn
Photos (all): Studio Brunstrum
Finding the perfect number of pillows for your sofa, sectional or bed is always a balancing act! Pillows have the dual role of adding both visual interest and comfort to a space. They’re often used to segue a color palette or introduce an additional texture and pattern, all while serving a functional purpose. Often, we find that a space either has too few or far too many pillows, so we’re sharing our pillow guide to help point you in the right direction for your space:
Types of Pillows -
Throw Pillow: Used on sofas and daybeds. These are typically square and can be a variety of sizes (20x20 or 22x22 is often a safe bet for a standard sofa).
Euro: Large square pillow (traditionally 26x26) used on a bed and placed behind queen- or king-sized shams.
Lumbar: Because of their rectangular shape, these pillows provide lower back support and are a great addition to tight-back upholstered sofas and chairs.  
Round: Circular and flat. Used on a chair or layered on a sofa or daybed. A unique way to add visual interest to an otherwise angular space.
Bolster: Cylindrical. We would use an elongated version of these as the finishing touch on a bed or sofa.
Helpful hints for choosing the right pillow combination: Always consider comfort and the shape and scale of your furniture first; be sure to measure the interior width of your armchair or the height of your sofa back in order to determine size. Consider traffic flow and pillow usage when determining a fabric – you don’t want a hair-on-hide pillow for a couch nap, but it could be used as an accent pillow instead. When determining quantity, think about how often you use the space and if you want to spend time taking pillows off and putting them back on in constant rotation. Our rule of thumb: there should be enough to create interest, but not so many that they outshine the furnishings.
We’re taking our own advice and supporting local – introducing you all to one of our favorite Chicago shops, Neybir! Pronounced “neighbor”, the lifestyle and housewares store has quickly become one of our go-tos for unique, found objects; we never cease to be stunned at the pieces we find there! Open to the public with limited hours and by appointment due to COVID, they also house a curated selection of their products online. Check out their website HERE.
We’re sharing a sneak peek at a living room we’ve completed but haven’t yet photographed. Asked to collaborate on a longtime friend’s new home, we combined and merged styles and furnishings from their past individual homes. While the rest of the home was focused on curating a style based on repurposing pieces they had, the living room was all about a new, combined space that represented who they are as a couple! Located in a historic beaux arts building, our two design parameters were to work with the existing wine-colored marble fireplace and accent the stunning views of Lake Michigan. We built a color palette that incorporated the fireplace and introducing complementary blues, greys, greens, and beiges that accented the ever-changing colors of the lake and beach. As the couple enjoys entertaining, we focused on the need for multiple seating areas and designed pieces that could be easily moved or grouped if needed. We love the conversational curve of the sofas that made the room feel open and welcoming. To make the space feel cohesive, we incorporated pieces of the couple’s eclectic art collection within the living room and throughout the hallway, dining room, family room and master bedroom. Voila! What was once two now becomes one!
Equal parts soft and striking, we love the overt femininity of the Avant Curved Sconce from Visual Comfort. We envision a pair of them in a master bathroom, acting as both a light source and an objet d’art between two sinks.
Siddartha – Hermann Hesse.
Considered an all-time classic for a reason, Hesse’s 1922 novel Siddartha spans the limitations of generations and cultures, with a message just as resounding today as it was upon the book’s release. Following a wealthy Indian Brahmin, Siddartha, as he chooses to reject a life of privilege in search of truth and wisdom, we journey with him as he meets a cast of characters from all walks of life, trying to ascertain the meaning of love, work, friendship and fatherhood. Influential and inspiring, Siddhartha serves as a wonderful reminder of what’s important as we embark upon another year.
Luxury Daily Panel
Join Susan this Thursday at 1:45 CST for Amenity Wars: What is Next In Luxury Buildings and Custom Homes, a panel hosted by Luxury Daily as part of the first annual SOLRE: State of Luxury Real Estate conference. Register for the panel HERE.
New Year, New Goals! Team Studio Brunstrum has set a renewed intention to find better work-life balance this year and we’re starting in the office! Our Christmas gift to ourselves was a Peloton that we set up in some of our under-utilized office space (we like to take our own advice from time to time). Catch us cycling into our 2021 goals!
Luxury Daily Article
We’re honored to have been quoted in one of Luxury Daily’s recent articles, “Home Improvement to Remain a Big Task in Coming Months” where we talk about the trends and predictions we see for home renovations in the new year. Check out the full article HERE.
Redfin Blog
Thank you to the team at Redfin for the mention is their blog, How to Design a Kids Room That Grows with Them! Check out the article HERE to see what Susan recommends!
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