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Salvaged Wood & Sleek Design Set This Bridgeport Gallery Owner's Apartment Rehab Apart

Welcome to House Calls, a feature in which Curbed tours the lovely, offbeat, or otherwise awesome homes of regular Chicagoans. Think your space should be featured next? Drop us a line with a few photos and details about your place.


[All photos by Nick Fochtman]

Publisher, artist and entrepreneur Edward Marszewski has been called the Mayor of Bridgeport for the sheer numbers of projects, businesses and events he organizes, owns or puts together in the South Side neighborhood. From the Co-Prosperity Sphere gallery, which plays host to art and design events such as the Version Festival and Typeforce, to Maria's Packaged Goods & Community Bar, where his mother Maria, the owner, will often check your ID at the door, it's clear he's put down roots in what he's called "the neighborhood of the future." So when Ed, his wife Rachael, and their four-year-old daughter Ruby Dean began to outgrow their apartment, it seemed like a forgone conclusion that they weren't moving very far. But after searching for a home to rehab and refurbish in Bridgeport without luck, the Marszewskis decided to stay put. Working with designer Charles Vinz, who worked on Parachute Restaurant and now runs his own studio Adaptive Operations and is the Director of Sales and Production at the Rebuilding Exchange, they decided to join their existing apartment with a neighboring unit they also owned. The end result, an open and airy three bed, two bath home with a flowing main room, offers a gorgeous view and plenty of space to hang their art collection.

What are the stats?
A roughly 2000-square-foot, three-bed, two-bathroom home in Bridgeport.

Who lives here?
Ed, Rachael and Ruby Dean Marszewski

I'm guessing with the Rebuilding Exchange being involved, there are interesting stories behind the material used in the rehab. Can you tell me where the wood came from, especially the pieces in the entryway?
Charlie Vinz: All of this Douglas Fir cladding in the stairwell was lumber we pulled out when we gutted the original apartments. Rob Christopher, a great carpenter (owner of Emotive Reclaim), milled it all down to use for the cladding. The kitchen is all cedar, which came from a high-rise downtown. The same cedar shows up in the bathrooms. The ceiling is made from scraps we had at the Rebuilding Exchange, and the custom casework and shelves, as well as the tables and benches, were made from material pulled out during the building process. The wood used to make the landing was left over from when we made the benches at Maria's.

How did the layout change during design and construction?
Rachael Marszewski: The basic layout changed multiple times.
Charles Vinz: We reoriented the kitchen. Initially the bedrooms were going to be on the other side of the space, but we wanted the public space to be as open as possible, so we reoriented around the view and the sunlight.

What do you like most about the place?
Rachael Marszewski: It's hard to say, since we were pretty closely involved and picked just about everything. Probably the fireplace. I've been having fires every weekend. The space is great and Ruby has her own bedroom. We have dinner in that nook every night.
Ed Marszewski: The open space gives me the freedom to think. It allows us to live with the artwork that we have and enjoy upgrading our existence, in a sense.

Is all the artwork from your personal collection? Can you talk about some of the pieces?
Rachael Marszewski: Yes, and we have more stuff that's going to be framed. This [pointing to the large framed paper print in the background above] are by a New York artist, Swoon. It's a woodblock print. She carves these massive woodblocks and prints on butcher paper, and then wheat pastes them all around the city. I'm pretty sure she also also participated in a very early version of the Version Festival.

Ed Marszewski: That [image on the left] is made by a French print group, Le Dernier Cri, who do a lot of amazing prints. They were part of a show we did called Radar Eyes that was all about hallucinogenic, psychedelic art or print works.

Ed Marszewski: This neon piece was by Ben Jones of Paper Rad.

Rachael Marszewski: That table is made from black walnut. A friend of my parent's actually have a farm up in Wisconsin, and had an old, downed black walnut tree. They had the wood milled, and Rob Christopher made a table out of it. It's covered with epoxy; if you look close, you can see a clear seam. It's held up by the Floyd Leg, that Kickstarter project you can use to turn anything into a table.

Ed Marszewski: This is one of the first prints we probably purchased (left side of the photo), it's by Aron Gent, a young emerging artists who owns Document Gallery. We loved his whole series, which showed his family in a domestic setting, so it fits in well in our home.

How does the space fit into the neighborhood? I realize this is sort of a funny question to ask, but what's great about being in Bridgeport?
Ed Marszewski: For many years, I've been saying Bridgeport is a neighborhood where you can do anything that you want. It's a neighborhood of possibilities. You can draw big. This is definitely the result of that kind of ethos. If you look at the architecture here, it's completely crazy town, with so many eras, and each building different than the next.

What was this building before you owned it?
A long time ago, in the '30 and 40's, is was a department store, Weller's Department store. This was once a very busy commercial strip, with a trolley line. By the time I bought it, it had become a hoarder's cave of sorts. It was just 6,000 square feet filled with piles of old mattresses, broken pinball machines, refrigerators, stoves … just imagine the worst shit from a thrift store, all in one big pile.

What did you like about working on this project?
Charles Vinz: Well, Ed made me do it (laughs). I lived in Bridgeport for about six years, around the corner from Maria's, which is how I met Ed, so there's some backstory. Ed has always gotten me involved in a lot of the projects he's done.

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