I first met Tessa and Murtaza at an event for the Psychology program that Tessa and Ben (my boyfriend) belong to. I was immediately impressed by the effortless style that the duo possessed, which would be intimidating if they weren’t so incredibly friendly and warm. Together they live with their pint-sized pup, Meeko, in a 700-sq-ft Logan Square studio.
The first time I visited, I was not surprised to find that their home was straight out of a magazine. Their space is filled with authentic personality and lets you take a peek into the beautiful life these two share. On a sunny, October Sunday, Tessa & Murtaza welcomed us into their home and let us take a few photos and ask a few questions.
Why did you choose Logan Square and how did you find this place?
We were both living in Austin previously and had visited one of our close friends in Logan Square a year before. We found it to be such a lively, beautiful neighborhood that has so many things to offer. The tree-lined boulevards, the ethnic diversity, and the burgeoning restaurant and cocktail-bar scene really enticed us to make this our new home. Plus it doesn’t hurt that the rent was relatively cheaper compared to some of the other areas that we looked at. We found a listing for our place on Padmapper and had our friend who lives here check it out in person for us. She FaceTimed us while she was there and based on what we saw and her recommendation, we thought it was a great fit.
What struggles have you faced with your small space?
Storage space has definitely been an issue that we have faced, especially since this is the first time that we are cohabiting. We were forced to downsize a bit after combining all of the stuff from our previous apartments and get creative with storage solutions.
What inspires your style?
Murtaza: I find myself usually finding prints or art that I like from vintage/thrift stores as well as from our travels. We usually make an effort to bring something back from our travels to different cities or countries and enjoy finding where they fit into our home.
Tessa: I’m a big advocate for finding things, whether it is artwork, furniture, or small household objects that you really love, or that are meaningful for you, as opposed to operating from one décor style or theme. The process of finding a way to creatively incorporate them into your home can be really fun. I think my style also tends to incorporate a level of comfort. I want to love the way my apartment looks, but also love how it feels.
What are a few of your favorite pieces and where did you get them?
Murtaza: As far as art pieces go, one of my favorites is the print of a red-headed woman sitting on the floor. It’s by Egon Schiele and it’s titled Sitting Woman with Legs Drawn Up. I got it from one of my friends that was getting rid of some things in her apartment. My other favorite piece is the two abstract acrylic paintings that one of my close friends painted for me as a birthday present. I just really love the texture and all the blues within them.
Two other functional pieces that I really enjoy are the extra long solid wood desk/table that I re-purposed from a large door and the kitchen island that I designed and made from wood and plumber’s pipe.
Tessa: I also really love the kitchen island. We searched for an island for a long time but couldn’t quite find one that we loved that was also in our price range. When Murtaza designed this piece it was the perfect balance between style and affordability. In terms of artwork, I love most of the pieces we have from our friend Gabrielle, including the acrylic paintings.
What helps your place feel like home?
Our dog, Meeko! He really is the best pup and is always ready to greet us with enthusiasm when we walk in the door. Also, filling the house with small touches of the things we love, such as coffee beans from our favorite coffee shops around Chicago, chocolate, or local items we pick up at markets.
What have you learned from having a small space and what advice would you give to others?
We both agree that keeping the space as open and fluid as possible is essential when living in a small space. The way you arrange furniture in the apartment can greatly impact whether it feels cramped or spacious. Our first piece of advice would be to experiment! Be intentional, but also move things around to get a sense of what feels comfortable. It’s so important to love the space that is yours so that you feel that you’re at home.
Second, when you’re downsizing to a smaller apartment it can be really helpful to reevaluate the things that you have. Sometimes purging extra things that you’ve been holding on to for awhile can be liberating if they don’t hold special meaning or purpose.