The fire pit on the Partio
The fire pit on the Partio Credit: Andrea Bauer

Most of us can’t say our apartment includes a fountain room. Or a pinball room. Or a “partio” shared with close friends. Simply put, Jesse Woghin and Maria Krasinski scored when they found their Logan Square pad and got their friends Rachel Winn and James Barron to move in next door.

Once inside their home, I’m blown away by the amount of space Jesse and Maria have. It’s not your typical Chicago-style apartment. Instead of a common galley layout, the apartment takes up an entire corner of the building, which results in taking the shape of a giant square, partitioned off with French doors. “It feels like a ranch house,” Maria says.

The design offers so much space that they each have a hobby room. A member of several Chicago bands over the years and the owner of Flameshovel Records, Jesse has his own room to play music in. Maria keeps a painting/sewing studio in the fountain room. That’s right—the fountain room. In run-of-the-mill apartments, this might be called a sunroom. But when the room’s nucleus is a freestanding cherub fountain, well, it’s natural to add a twist. The defunct water spurter was a fixture long before they moved in. “While I’m not averse to owning a fountain, I did not bring my own,” Maria jokes. Another perk: the place came with a pool table in the dining room.

Across the hall, I meet Rachel and James, who found their place through Jesse and Maria. “Jesse and I played in a band together, the Narrator. We’ve spent a lot of time in tight quarters,” James says. “When [the apartment] came open, he thought of me. I’m happy that happened.”

It wasn’t that easy, though. James and Rachel moved back to Chicago from LA but basically had to camp out in the bushes and wait for the previous tenants to close on a house. “I found the worst place I’ve ever lived in,” James says. “We sat there and waited for this place to open up. It took six months.”

But it was worth the wait. Their apartment is as charming as Jesse and Maria’s. The kitchen is a creative installation of cooking utensils—the lack of cabinet space inspired Rachel to take a tip from Julia Child and line the walls with Peg-Board to hang pots and pans. The TV sits on a stack of salvaged postal boxes; an extra bedroom is packed with a pinball machine collection that began when Rachel gave James one for Christmas—under the strict condition that he not take it apart. The day it broke, of course, he violated the terms. “I started pulling everything out and trying to get it to work . . . I figured out how to fix them,” James says. “Now that’s what I do for a living.”

Both apartments have kitchens that open to a sprawling communal outdoor space. So sprawling that the word “patio” doesn’t do it justice. It has a fire pit, rooftop views, and a garden—the last time they counted, they had 88 potted plants. “Partio” seems like a much more fitting term.

“We have spontaneous barbecues, or we sit around the fire pit hanging. You feel like you went out even though you didn’t,” Maria comments.

“On any given night, I can walk outside and Jesse is eating his supper,” Rachel says.

“It’s the most comfortable place I’ve ever lived,” Jesse says. “It’s not like anything else I’ve ever seen in Chicago.”

And cue the Friends theme song.