Art Direction for ABC Makeover

 

Last night, Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition aired on ABC, the episode I art directed for the makeover for Chantell’s apartment in Elgin, IL.

It brought back memories of working last year, driving back and forth from Chicago in stop-and-go traffic, in an un-airconditioned black car, during one of the hottest damn summers on record.

Little did we know when we started the makeover that her building would soon be condemned.

In the meantime, though, there was a lot of good news: I was working on transforming a home for someone who would lose nearly half her body weight over the course of a year, and she would work to finish her degree. That environment had to be motivating.

After hearing more about Chantell from the producers, I knew that I wanted to create something lively and colorful to accentuate the original fireplace detail—as well as her warm personality. This room had to be more than just a bed; it had to also be a gym, a functioning kitchen and a place for Chantell to kick off her shoes and sit down after a long day’s workout.

I wanted to do a collection of dreamcatchers over her bed, so I had them custom made by Sara from Seven Wishes Dream Catchers. Dreamcatchers were originally an Ojibwe concept. Nightmares begone. Manifest dreams.

The colors added in the room made a huge difference. Paint for the space was by Devine Color, which is a refreshing paint to work with since it’s a rather creamy consistency that covers well. There are so many fun palates to choose from. We got serious with the color and used the pale yellow “Devine Butter” on the ceiling, “Devine Poppy” in the kitchen and “Devine Mo’ Pink” in the bedroom/gym/living room. The thick crown moldings, baseboards and architectural trim were painted in “Devine Rino,” a dark, brownish black.

Thankfully, many businesses in the Chicago area contributed to the studio apartment as well. Antique chairs, gold French mirror, floor lamp and lingerie chest were found at The Find, where Julie, the owner, is an absolute delight. I love so many things that she gathers and assembles in her stores.

The metal café chairs and ironwork piece, which I added as a diamond cap or crown to the graffiti graphic was sourced at Architectural Artifacts, where I also found four antique tile pieces that made two pink bows. I had the bows framed as an art piece and hung them over the lingerie chest, where the mason jars of marbles represented lbs lost.

Fabric for upholstering the chairs was sourced from Architex International, as were the yellow sheers and stipe draperies that I sewed up for the windows. The plush hemp and silk rug is from Organic Looms, which sources incredible custom rugs from Nepal and India. You must feel these rugs under your feet and explore the possibilities for your own space.

Kristie Kahns created the gorgeous photograph of a flamenco dancer, an action shot, capturing an animated shawl mid-twirl. The energy of this shot adds to the motivation of the space and acts as a reminder to dance and keep on moving. The goldish-silver frame for the print was done by Frames Graphics Studio—this place does a super job and is very affordable.

Many people helped make this little studio makeover possible, including two remarkable neighbors living below and hands from the rockstar field producers who brought me on.

I’m glad that Chantell did the work to create her self-transformation. As we all are hopefully opening up, reflecting, learning, risking and moving toward something, the known and unknown. So when the building is being condemned, you keep on keeping on.

For me, reality is still more interesting than Reality TV. If only you could capture THAT. Better said, I’ll continue to live it.

For those who missed the episode, check it out.

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