Chicago Design State of Mind

Michael Shannon O’KeefeJul 25, 2017

Image: Revolution Brewery Tap Room

We all move through moods as the day transitions from morning to night. I wake up like a small child, approaching the world with innocent and open arms. In the early afternoon, I feel slightly mature having wrapped my head around the projects of the day. By the time night descends, I feel aged and introspective; examining the day’s scope from afar with a sense of contemplation. 

Just as my moods change throughout the day, so too do my opinions about pretty much everything. On this day, my emotions embrace interior design mixed with the betterment of my body through both exercise and flavor. Interior design, if articulated properly, directly represents its inhabitants’ inner feelings. Think of it as art – what matters isn’t the artist’s intentions, but rather the emotions that the piece evokes within the viewer. As it relates to the time of day, these Chicago offerings emulate my mood as it swings through the day.


The intimate movement from dream-state to consciousness always leaves me a little befuddled. Regardless of whether I'm immersed in an innocent floating fantasy or some darker scape, I rarely desire to disconnect from the happy hands of sleep. On this particular morning, my design-centric mind awakens in this funky, yet functional space designed by Jennifer Talbot, in conjunction with Homepolish Interior Designs

Image: Homepolish Interior Design (Source)

Much like my dreamy brain, there’s a feeling that everything is a bit out of place – the slipshod lengths of chord and mismatched lightbulbs, a mix of plastic and wooden chairs, and the smattering of different mediums of art upon the wall. My need-for-organization eye then grabs ahold of solid constants – a sturdy, repurposed barn door table, a balanced sitting area for entertaining, and finally, a massive and tactful wooden fire door on the wall.

As each element is unveiled, the entire room instantly comes together as one. From an eclectic hodgepodge one minute to a giddy modern Mid-West adventure the next. With that, the day has officially begun, and it’s time to get moving.

Homepolish Interiors offers a new approach to interior design. They handle the arduous task of finding a designer who is, not just right, but perfect for you. Fill out the online project questionnaire and their 'Queen Bee' will pair you with the proper designer for your style. You could spend upwards of eight months emailing, asking acquaintances, and hunting online for a designer -- or you could let the pros handle it. One could say that Homepolish is the wedding consultant for your project -- marrying your dreams to the designer ideally suited to you. 

There’s no better way to wake up than by boxing with the trainers at TITLE Boxing Club – the sleepy dancing butterfly shifts into the stinging bee of consciousness. The transition I make from a sluggish mass to a boisterous intense being is found the moment my fist connects to the heavy-bag. I was fortunate to sweat it out at TITLE's West Loop location - where the trainers don’t care about personal aesthetics – and neither do the other participants. 

Image: TITLE Boxing Club (Source)

They don’t care about my weight, my sex, how old I am, or the shape I’m in. They don't exhibit the attitude that there's a pointless need to dress up to sweat. They do, however, care about my betterment, both mentally and physically. Anyone who visits TITLE will be challenged to dig deep and find that extra nugget of strength previously thought impossible.  

Contrary to popular belief, the majority of modern boxing gyms are anti-violence. Driving home this point, TITLE's motto is, "Getting fit without getting hit". Outside of an accidental swipe from a practice mitt, you needn't worry about showing up to work with a black eye. Move away from boxing stereotypes, and gravitate towards the best features of your spin, yoga, and cross-fit instructors...and you get a TITLE workout.

Image: TITLE Boxing Club (Source)

The playful and coherent attitude of Jennifer Talbot's interior design, paired with the jocular and dedicated frame of mind found at TITLE Boxing Club keeps my childishness alive and brimming with positivity. Let's just hope I can utilize this enthusiasm to power through to the salad days of my mid-life mentality.


My afternoons usually entail a drive for productivity married with an attempt at creativity –  always fighting the ever-present nagging of a nap. This Chicago living room – also designed by Jennifer Talbot – promotes the appearance of relaxation, but is truly a room of enterprise. 

Image: Jennifer Talbot Design (Source)

The crisp high lines of the space, open movement areas, and chestnut stained floor provide the canvas for this eccentric room. The centerpiece is a plush and immense fabric-ensconced chesterfield couch. It conveys relaxation but genuinely delivers locomotion. Seemingly a cushy marshmallow of a seat, this couch emits a rigidity with its shape. Rather than a place for rest, its arms and backrest offer even more productive space.

The inclusions of the piano, swooping lamp, and small elegant round table encourage daydreaming. These lofty thoughts are quickly snuffed out, however, when you take in the bright green explosion of the artwork, modern fireplace, and cosmic chandelier. They're egging you on to get moving and be productive in your day!

Image: Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream (Source)

The decadent, natural, and decisive flavors of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream fits in perfectly with this afternoon headspace. Jeni and her team recognize when flavors warrant the heavy hands of Zeus – going mighty and intense with ‘Salty Caramel’ or ‘Gooey Butter Cake’ -- and when to whisper to the angels – easing your palate with ‘Savannah Buttermint’ or ‘Riesling Poached Pear.’ 

My brain elevates upwards into its happy place when tasting their ‘Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk’ ice cream. Jeni's flavor choice rides a beautiful balance between smooth milky softness and punchy fruity brightness, all while finishing with a noticeable, yet unobtrusive, charred taste. 

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream proudly participates in the Fellowship Model – using everything from Direct-Trade organic coffee from Chicago's own Intelligentsia Coffee to grass-grazed Ohio milk. The entire creation process from beginning to end is true, clean, positive, and honest. She and her team recognize that good product stems from happy people, properly treated animals, and sustainable farms. 

These two companies offer a fruitful supplement to my afternoon aging routine -- complimenting each other with imaginative and effective head spaces to get the job done. Jeni's sugar kick jolts me out of the dark ineffectual chasm that is my mid-afternoon lull, and skyrockets my brain back into gear as the day starts to wrap up.


As night falls, my aged mental scope desires clean, undramatized simplicity. This bathroom - again, by Jennifer Talbot of Homepolish - goads me into an elegant purity. The marbled wood tile utilizes stout earth tones and subtle, yet sharp lines -- offering just enough ‘pop’ to prevent full-on descension, while still allowing for spa-like relaxation. 

Talbot's design removes the bells and whistles, engulfing me in hard contours, but softening where it matters. In this case, the curvy tub and solitary spherical ceiling lamp. In addition, the smooth half eggshell tub might be one of the few non-hot tubs I’ve seen that can fully submerge my lanky 6’3” frame. 

Image: Homepolish Interior Design (Source)

Disagree if you will, but bathtubs and beer go together like scrapes and city-cycling. Begin contemplating sleep’s onset while enjoying the ‘Eugene Porter’ from Revolution Brewery

Bordering on dessert with its sweet caramel and full flavored chocolate malts, this porter has a mild complexity, subtle nuttiness, grassy hops, and easy dry notes. It's nose delivers big bodied sweetness, while its flavor is relaxed with a balanced bitterness. 

Imagine having this porter in that tub... "Matrimony I say!" It’s perfect for assisting my languid descent into my elderly and contemplative brain space. 

Revolution Brewery has only been around since 2010, but in that short time, Josh Deth and his crew have won numerous awards from notable critics on multiple continents -- the most celebrated accolade being involved in the Brewers Association’s list of the top 50 US craft brewing companies in 2016. Relax with a pint, and have an unexpectedly delicious meal at their brewpup -- with its high tin ceiling, solid oak bar, and second floor brewer's lounge -- in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood on Milwaukee Avenue.

It’s time to place my aged brain on the shelf for its revitalization in slumber. Chicago interior designs and adjoining companies have flexed my headspace into a fun wandering of artistic and beneficial emotions. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?