Closing on a house seems like a pretty satisfying moment. When it burns down nine days later, not so much. In 2010, recording engineer Sanford Parker and his wife, Taryn, hadn’t yet moved into their Logan Square threeflat when they were informed that the interior had been destroyed. Knowing the building was vacant, local kids had broken in and inadvertently set the pad ablaze. “Needless to say, we were devastated,” Taryn says. “You’re required to get insurance when you buy a house, so we basically maxed out our entire insurance policy right away.”
But the fire did offer the Parkers an opportunity to see how they could upgrade. While stripping the house, they realized they could combine the first-floor unit with the basement, where Sanford put in an acoustically treated room to serve as his mixing studio. They replaced the radiator heating with an HVAC system, and when redoing the hardwood floors, they chose wider slats—stained a dark walnut shade—instead of the standard flooring found in most Chicago apartments. “It’s an unintentional gut rehab,” Taryn says.
Today the house is cozy and stylish, with midcentury-modern furniture mixed in with elements of iron and wood and remnants of woodland creatures, like animal-skin rugs and antlers. “Sanford was born in Alabama. A lot of these antlers are actually from his family,” Taryn explains. “They’re not from the store.”
“I didn’t kill any of those,” Sanford adds.
Two Wesley Willis drawings in their living room are serendipitous scores from a previous apartment. “I was digging around behind the furnace and I found these just propped up against the wall,” Sanford says. “I was always a big fan of his.”
Taryn has had some lucky finds as well—a 1960s lamp from eBay, a custom-built dining room table by Metal Fred Designs found on Etsy, and a Danish teak table set bought from an acquaintance prior to the midcentury-modern revival. “She sold me the whole set for $40. That was before I even had good taste, but I just really liked it.”