Shopping Modern & Vintage: Back to School Chicago Style

August 31, 2015

We’ve all heard the old saying, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” I’ve always been a little nerdy when it comes to organization. I was the type who couldn’t wait to buy school supplies, organize her desk, backpack, you get the idea.

As an adult, I find a more organized work space definitely boosts my productivity. With all the back-to-school buzz this time of year, I thought I’d share some of my favorite local spots to shop. If you’re in the market to update your office space or get a little more organized these places are sure to inspire!

In my office space, the storage is all hidden behind that serape curtain. Having an accessible closet allowed me to have a desk with little storage and a modern look.

In my office space, the storage is all hidden behind that serape curtain. Having an accessible closet allowed me to have a desk with little storage and a modern look.

Desks & Storage – 

Design Tip: Keep your storage situation in mind as you’re choosing your ideal desk. If you’ve got ample storage in a closet or file cabinet you can go with a more streamlined look, but if you need to hide your clutter you’re going to want lots of drawers!

Local Retailer: Mint Home – North Center Neighborhood, 2117 E Irving Park Rd

Mint Home has refurbished more than 2,000 pieces of furniture! Shop owners Keisha and Jessie have a great eye for Mid Century Modern styles and color. There are ample options for desks and storage. My back to school picks are:

  • White Desk with Vintage Brass Hardware – perfect for the glamour girl, just add flowers and your to-do list, $299


  • Vintage Orange Highboy – store art supplies, lots of paper, and all your fabric scraps in this bad boy, $499


Design Tip: Many retailers who sell refurbished furniture will also update your old pieces in need of some love. Think twice about what you’ve got in the house, at grandma’s place and double check the alley! A paint spray booth and new hardware will work wonders on just about anything.

Local Retailer: MegMade – Roscoe Village Neighborhood, 2415 W Barry Ave

Owners Meg & Joe started painting furniture to save money while decorating their first home. Fast-forward a few years, and they have a HUGE showroom and warehouse stock-piled with furniture, and a state-of-the-art paint spray booth. MegMade also will refinish and paint your furniture in need of an update. My back to school picks are:

  • French Style Pale Mint Desk – for the traditionalist who loves vintage charm, $555


  • Blue & Wood MCM Small Storage Piece – for the mid century enthusiast who needs a few more drawers to store office supplies, $320


School Supplies & Artwork

Design Tip: Inspirational quotes are great motivators! Pinned on a bulletin board or neatly framed, inspirational artwork is perfect for the dorm room, home office or anywhere for that matter.

Local Retailer: Neighborly Chicago – Ravenswood Neighborhood, 2003 W Montrose Ave

You’ll recognize owner Jenny Beorkrem’s style, because you’re sure to know her first brand and company Ork Posters. Her brick and mortar shop Neighborly, expands on her graphic sensibility with a curated collection of artwork, inspirational prints, unique school supplies, and gifts/accessories. Even better is that most items are locally or artisan made. Loving these items for back to school:





Design Tip: It’s always a good idea to stock-up on extra paper goods, thank you notes and greeting cards. You’ll always be prepared for that co-worker or teacher’s birthday with thoughtful items on hand!

Local Retailer: GREER – Old Town Neighborhood, 1657 North Wells

Former ad agency executive Chandra Greer opened the kind of stationary and gift store that you’d imagine in your dreams. Artful displays at every glance, you’ll get lost reading cards and perusing the pretty things for hours. I can’t live without:

  • The Rifle Paper Co. 2016 Birch Floral Planner: $33


  • The Old School Blogger Journal: $14


  • Rainbow Note Block: $14.50


Retro Accessories

Design Tip: Have it feel like summer camp all year long with some artfully placed accessories that say, “I love summer” even when you’ve got the back to school blues.

Local Retailer: Brimfield –  Andersonville Neighborhood, 2519 N Clark St

For vintage with a big dose of prep school head to Brimfield. It’s the perfect spot to find signage, storage, vintage blankets, furniture, basically everything you need to style your study space like it’s the coolest retro summer cabin ever. Don’t miss one-of-a-kind items like:

  • This industrial metal cabinet. It’s the perfect way to organize all your school/office supplies!


  • The retro pennants and wall signs. Pop a sign or flag on a blank wall for instant cool factor.


  • The wall of sweet plaid blankets (Brimfield is named after a type of plaid). Cozy up with one of these while you’re typing away.


Here are a few stellar home office designs I’m loving at the moment. Hope these resources and ideas will get you excited to be more organized and productive in your work space this fall! XO – CLAIRE



via @apartmenttherapy

via @apartmenttherapy

via @mydomaine


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Meet Claire

Claire’s creative energy comes from her unique perspective on the world as both a trained interior designer and a passionate yoga teacher. Her affinity for kitchen design, timeless style and eclectic decorating are shared here, along with lots of interior design education and tips. Thanks for being here, please enjoy!

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