Playful design moves help an old industrial building get in gear as a fun, art-filled bachelor pad

h/t Cynthia Lynn Photography

An auto repair shop built in 1905 doesn’t sound like something that could anchor a bright and fun home. But designer Nicholas Moriarty tapped into the reinforced concrete floors, thick brick walls and 16-foot ceilings to create an industrial space that’s full of cozy color.

House at a Glance

  • Who lives here: An early-30s guy in finance
  • Location: Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago
  • Size: 2,000 square feet with a 600-square-foot patio; 2 bedrooms, 2½ bathrooms


Clean lines run through the open-floor layout. “The loft had good bones, but it lacked character,” says Moriarty. “The overall goal was for each piece to make a statement yet still work harmoniously with everything else in the space.”


When the homeowner isn’t working at his finance job, he spends most of his time working in a music studio. Moriarty embraced his client’s love of music by drawing inspiration from the British alt-rock and punk rock era. He then added depth, color and texture with eye-catching artwork.


In winter the homeowner feels most comfortable in his living room. Large windows that face north and west allow lots of natural light into the room, a huge help during long Chicago winters.



“Bubbles,” an art piece by Polish artist Krzysztof Wladyka, hangs above a credenza in the dining room. Moriarty sourced the photos from Castell Photographic Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina, and had them custom framed by Wall to Wall Framing.


With a desire to go big with colors, Moriarty bought this wall installation from Chicago artist Connie Noyes. The graphic piece spans the entire wall near the entrance of the unit.


In a second foyer, Moriarty included multiple pieces from Chicago’s Las Manos Gallery. The double art pieces, titled “Plate Etchings” by Mark Pease, are laser-cut etchings and aquatint on paper.


Moriarty worked with longtime friend Bladon Connerto create this custom bench near the foyer. It’s made of brushed steel and upholstered with a graphic fabric designed by Sarah Morris.


Moriarty framed 18 records and hung them on a wall that leads to a guest bedroom.


The guest bedroom also serves as an office and a music studio.


Bryan Morrison from Nest Construction installed a space-saving Murphy wall bed and custom closet. Jesse Furniture in Chicago designed the custom configuration for the sofa.


When the auto repair shop was converted to condos in 2007, a second-floor main bedroom was added to this unit. The space is also connected to a wraparound outdoor patio.

Simple roller shades and custom oatmeal-colored drapes help diffuse the ample light that floods into the space.



The main bedroom has a split layout that includes a seating area. The second floor is wired for multizone (indoor and outdoor) music, thanks to the help of Tom Burns of Hookup Solutions.

The homeowner and Chicago native appreciates his Wicker Park neighborhood for its personality and young, entrepreneurial, free-spirited vibe. Living in Chicago the majority of his life, he welcomes the diversity, culture and quality of life, including summers at Lake Michigan.

h/t Houzz