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For artist Josh Yöung of Josh Yöung Design House, home is where the art is. Three years ago, following an eight-year stint living in NYC and Milan, Josh and his husband set down in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood, beset with the idea of landing a prewar apartment that they could infuse with hallmarks of Josh’s artistry. “Unlike our previous apartments, I wanted the space to really tell a story of who I was as an artist and creative,” says Josh. They ultimately settled on a 1,000 square foot apartment and set about transforming the space into an artful abode that serves as a sophisticated backdrop for Josh’s modern masterpieces. Step inside the duo’s stunning digs (and upstairs studio!) to discover their pitch-perfect mix of modernist and classical influences, and don’t miss out on your chance to shop the look, including an exclusive offering of Josh’s personal pieces!

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Artist Josh Yöung
“For the apartment, it was all about layering and adding high contrast while maintaining a collected, edited look and feel,” says Josh of his decorating process.
“Books make a home,” says Josh of one of his favorite decorating devices. “I feel like I can look at someone’s collection and instantly tell you who they are as a person.”

Classic Nouveau

Topping Josh’s have-to-have list while apartment hunting? Historic details aplenty. “We knew we wanted a pre-war building with all the original, charming features,” says Josh. “I remember walking in and seeing all the framed moldings, original brass hardware, and tall ceilings, and I was instantly sold.” Taking a cue from his own artwork, Josh opted to offset those classical details with notes of the neoteric. In the living room, for instance, a vintage marble mantle crowned with an Art Deco mirror plays opposite a Mid-Century Modern coffee table and a sleek pair of contemporary accent chairs.

A series of Josh’s abstracts take up residence behind a Federalist dresser, which also happens to be one of Josh’s favorite design styles.

“I was born and raised in a small, colonial town in Pennsylvania, and I think that early American style has always followed me. On the other end of the spectrum, I lived in Milan for six years and have an admiration for the Italian rationalist style. I absolutely love marrying the two. Minimalist design meets maximalist with cross cultural references.”

Josh Young
“I truly love every style and period and they are all in some way represented within my space,” says Josh. “From Art Nouveau to Art Deco to Mid-Century and Neoclassical, they’re all equally present.”

Chic Antiques, Please

“Everything in your home should tell a story,” says Josh. “Antiques bring a sense of character very similar to artwork, including a sense of uniqueness and non-commercialness.” Josh’s knack for making vintage items feel like part of the modern dialogue is a skill he hones by never relying too heavily on any one style. “For example,” he says, “I love Federalist furniture and currently have three pieces from that period. That’s enough. Its presence is there without turning the apartment into a museum from Williamsburg, Virginia.” When asked about how he goes about sourcing vintage, Josh says, “It’s all about keeping your options open! Don’t just shop out of a catalog. Visit your local antique and thrift stores. Use online shops like Chairish. There is such a curated feel to Chairish that really allows you to digest what you are looking at.”

“I love walking into a bedroom that feels open and allows you to look directly at the bed and nightstands,” says Josh. “For small city living, it’s all about maximizing on limited space.”
“Neutrals have always spoken to me both within my interiors as well as in my artwork,” says Josh of his signature palette. “They have such a calming, organic feel.”

Tricks of the Trade

Being an artist, Josh knows his way around an optical illusion, a trait that came in handy when it came to maximizing how big the apartment felt. “Our bedroom was tricky for me because it has a very odd layout,” he says. “Even though I love all of the light in the room, there are almost too may windows, and it became a problem finding a proper place to put our bed.” To resolve the conundrum, Josh opted to line one of the window-covered walls in ivory-colored Belgian linen curtains, a whopping eight panels in all. “It feels really luxe and textural, and you would never know that there were windows behind it,” says Josh. “This acted as a background/backdrop for us to place our bed in front of, which in return, opened up the entire room. It now feels so proportional and open.”

“I wanted my studio to feel dreamlike, warm, and old world,” says Josh. “When visiting, I want you to know and feel that you’re in an artist’s studio in the heart of a bustling city. I wanted it to feel authentic and genuine.”

A Show-Stopping Studio

After living in their apartment for a year, Josh and his husband snagged a unit on a higher floor of their complex to act as Josh’s studio. Like their apartment below, the studio is a corner unit with windows facing both east and south. “We have the most amazing lighting throughout the entire day.” To ensure the space doesn’t detract from his focus on his canvases, Josh elected to keep the palette primarily white and monochromatic. “At the same time, I wanted my studio to feel dreamlike, warm, and old world,” says Josh, who counts his studio as being a touch more whimsical than the apartment below. “My studio is more about filling the space with items and accents that inspire me and feed my eye. It was important to me that it feel like my second home as well as be a place to explore, create, and discover.”

Ever the master when it comes to packing maximum personality in a small space, Josh hung a series of his original abstracts perpendicular to one of his mixed media portraits.
“For my artwork, specifically my abstract pieces, I actually use pastels and oils I source from one of the oldest companies in France that has a long history of being used by some of the great masters,” says Josh. “In a small way, that’s me paying homage to the past while still creating pieces that feel modern.”

State of the Art

“I don’t release a piece or collection unless I myself would bring it into my own home,” says Josh. The ideology provides a bit of clarity to the question of why Josh’s artwork resonates so strongly. While new art can occasionally skew a bit impersonal, Josh’s art deftly walks the line between old and new. “It’s all about the artwork,” he says, “Honestly. Not only my own, but other artwork, vintage pieces, and photography that I own as well. Artwork is the most timeless thing one can own and acquire. It’s something you hand down to your kids and truly becomes a legacy of your taste and eye.” 

A gallery wall in the bedroom displays some of Josh’s most beloved 20th century icons including Truman Capote, Wallis Simpson, Little Eddie Bouvier and Salvador Dalí.

Playing with various styles, materials and textures truly creates the most perfect and classic environment. 

Josh Young
A tonal moment in Josh’s studio comprised of a cerused dresser and one of his monochromatic abstracts.

My artwork is my life. Since my studio is in the same building, I practically never leave, which is exactly how I want it.

Josh Young

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All photos courtesy of Josh Yöung

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February 13, 2020

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