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Studio Refresh: Big Style in a Small Space with Crate and Barrel

Cozy vibes on deck. Photo by Jesse Schroeder.

Cozy vibes on deck. Photo by Jesse Schroeder.

When I initially peeked into the attic that sits above my second floor apartment in Chicago, I didn’t think much of the space. It was dusty, full of old furniture, and frankly, not much to look at. It wasn’t until a few months later that I realized the potential it held— with natural light from a strong East-facing window, exposed beams and an A-frame ceiling, Studio 1037 has worked well for me as a portrait and product studio. 

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Over the last year and a half, the space has morphed and expanded for a variety of shoots, parties and creative experiments, but the time has come to settle on a fully designed space. My goals for the redesign included a welcoming flow, vignettes that are perfect for portraits, and a cozy seating area that encourages conversation and connection. That’s why I was so excited when Crate and Barrel reached out about collaborating on a design update for the studio! Like many spaces in big cities, Studio 1037 is small but mighty—so I thought I would share a few tips on making a small space feel like home. 


  1. Focus on Flow

As with any room, think about how the space will be experienced. Just because a space is small doesn’t mean there’s only one option when it comes to flow. While the primary goal of the Studio is photography, I also wanted it to make sense when you walk in for a chat or a drink. To that end the conversation corner acts as the focus when you enter, and features the Cavett Wood Frame Loveseat, the Memphis Light Gray Pouf, a Cozy Weave Throw and the Cooper Armless Leather Chair—all stellar pieces that work really well together. 

2. Create vignettes with purpose

Especially in spaces where maximization is key, vignettes keep your eyes dancing around the room. Each vignette should serve some sort of purpose, whether purely for the sake of functionality, or to further the aesthetic. Think of it as visual candy—too much will make you sick, but a little bit definitely makes the experience more enjoyable. The Wyatt Media Tower worked as a great backdrop for several vignettes, showcasing my love for gold accents, plants (featured in the Dundee Tabletop Planter and music—classic Aretha Franklin vinyl should always be on deck. 

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3. Think Big(ger)

Mirrors have long worked as a key to making a small space seem bigger, but placement for these is most important. Place them at strategic locations throughout the room to enhance any unique architectural moments that already exist, and in dead spots where you can create an opportunity to keep the visitor’s eye moving around the space. In Studio 1037, the mirrors also work as a fun photographic opportunity, adding dimension and a sense of intrigue to my portraits. 

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4. Candles = Cozy

It’s simple, but small flickering lights bring a new level of light, interest and drama to a space. I sprinkled small C&B votive candles throughout the room, added a set of taper candles to the Libations Bar Cart (because who doesn’t love a strong brass statement piece) and the Patchouli and Linen candle ensures that you immediately sense the vibe, even before you see it. 

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5. Every Piece Counts

Statements come in all shapes and sizes. For me, the success of a well-designed space includes a few large and confident statement pieces, along with smaller pieces that keep the heart of the room obvious. Invest in strong items the you know will last, and don’t be afraid to combine those with pieces of personal significance or antique/thrifted items. After all, no matter the size, your space should be a reflection of who you are—the sum of your history, your present and your future. 

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All in all, I’m so excited that the studio now has so much more seating, a vibe that’s expanded and visually represented no matter where you look, and will definitely be home to many photo shoots, cocktail gatherings and record parties come Summer. Don’t let a small footprint stop you from making your space feel like home. 

Happy decorating! 

Staying Cozy in Subzero Chicago

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If you haven’t heard by now, Chicago is reaching record low temperatures this week. It gets cold every year, of course—but today It’s colder here than it is in Antartica. Which just feels…incredibly unfair.

First things first: If you happen to be reading this and aren’t able to keep your home warm or find a warm place to be, Click here to find a warming center in Chicago. Lyft is also providing free rides to these centers using the code CHIJAYDEN19, and Uber is doing the same with the code DFSS. It’s also helpful to share this info on social just in case—you never know who may need it.

So today is all about staying indoors. I thought I’d share a few things that are keeping me warm and occupied this week.


  1. Metric Coffee - Colombia Roast

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I have the Colombia Nelson Chavez roast brewing all day today. It has a robust initial mouth feel, with notes of raspberry tea, reships and orange zest—and an ever so sweet finish.. I’m into it. Also glad I grabbed a couple cinnamon rolls from my favorite bakery in the suburbs to start the morning off right. ;)

2. Parachute Alpaca Throw

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This Windowpane throw from Parachute Home is made of Alpaca fur in Peru, and is seriously one of the coziest (and warmest) things I own. On a day like today it also could double as a shawl or scarf to protect against the arctic elements—I certainlyI wouldn’t judge! Take a look at it on their site here.

3. Music

I snagged a few faves from the growing vinyl collection to find a few albums that feel ideal for a winter day in.

Yebba is one of my absolute favorite vocalists and I can’t wait for the impending album. For now, we have one main single and if you spring for this LP, an exclusive special acoustic version that I’ve had on repeat for awhile.  Listen on   Apple Music   or   Spotify  .  Bonus: Watch the amazing exclusive Apple Music music video (with unique vocals)   here  .

Yebba is one of my absolute favorite vocalists and I can’t wait for the impending album. For now, we have one main single and if you spring for this LP, an exclusive special acoustic version that I’ve had on repeat for awhile.

Listen on Apple Music or Spotify.

Bonus: Watch the amazing exclusive Apple Music music video (with unique vocals) here.


I inherited this album from my Great Grandmother, and I’m so glad I did. There’s a special energy about live recordings from this era, and Harry’s charm & charisma are so evident throughout the whole album.   Favorite song:  Day O  Listen on   Apple Music   or on   Spotify  .

I inherited this album from my Great Grandmother, and I’m so glad I did. There’s a special energy about live recordings from this era, and Harry’s charm & charisma are so evident throughout the whole album.

Favorite song: Day O

Listen on Apple Music or on Spotify.

This album is basically perfect. To be fair, I can listen to this album any time of the day or year—but it feels especially perfect for the end of a day in. Let S. Carey guide the transition from day to night and keep it nice and cozy.   Favorite Song:  Have You Stopped to Notice  Listen on  Apple Music  or Listen on  Spotify.

This album is basically perfect. To be fair, I can listen to this album any time of the day or year—but it feels especially perfect for the end of a day in. Let S. Carey guide the transition from day to night and keep it nice and cozy.

Favorite Song: Have You Stopped to Notice

Listen on Apple Music or Listen on Spotify.

4. Candles

This one’s a no brainer. I burn a candle or incense nearly every day so I go through scents quickly—but today I’m burning New York by   Roam   ,  and in addition to the perfect notes of Amber & Birch, it also boasts a 45 hour burn time which is amazing for a candle this size. If you have a favorite candle, feel free to leave a link in the comments!

This one’s a no brainer. I burn a candle or incense nearly every day so I go through scents quickly—but today I’m burning New York by Roam, and in addition to the perfect notes of Amber & Birch, it also boasts a 45 hour burn time which is amazing for a candle this size. If you have a favorite candle, feel free to leave a link in the comments!


However you’re spending the winter months (and extra chilly days if you’re in the Midwest) I hope you at least get a few moments of cozy. A special shout out to those who can’t take the day off or work from home—public servants and other workers who keep things moving even on days like today.

Giveaway with Korchmar Bags

The holidays might be over, but I’m still in the gifting mood!

Photo by  Jesse Schroeder

Lately I’ve been searching for a smaller bag for day to day work, when I don’t need to lug around my camera and all my equipment. Enter Korchmar Bags, with the Edwin—their slim leather briefcase I‘m just a little obsessed with. They’ve been making fine leather goods since 1917, so the quality is pretty amazing.

Photo by  Jesse Schroeder

To win one of your own, just head to Instagram and follow the directions in the caption linked here.

Good luck—Giveaway closes Friday at 5PM CST!

Staycation - Chicago Athletic Association

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stay with me

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Sometimes you just need a break, but don't quite have the time (or energy) for a long trip. That's why I was so glad when the folks at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel asked me to come for a staycation, experiencing all the amazing culture and cuisine the hotel has to offer.

Reserved for Chicago's elite for over 100 years, the Chicago Athletic Association and Hotel now serves as a place for everyone--complete with lots of original architecture and nods to the building's tremendous history. 

It also features seven dining experiences, rendering it basically unnecessary to leave the building (especially in the brutal winter months.) Find Cindy's Rooftop & the Cherry Circle Room featured in the photos below.

I can't recommend this place, the amazing views and kind staff enough! Located right on Michigan Avenue across from Millennium Park, it's a great place for folks visiting the city or just looking to get away for a minute.  

Click here to book a room.

Check out a few favorites from my stay below! 

Suited Up with The Black Tux

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"Dressing well is a form of good manners."

-Tom Ford

Since my I was a boy and my mom dressed me up in suits and bowties, I've enjoyed getting fancy. As a music major in college, I always opted for the 3-piece-suit for recitals and performances, even at 9AM--often with matching ties that matched my shirt. Extra, I know. It was 2009, cut me some slack. 

I like to think I've added a little more nuance to my wardrobe and style preferences since those college days, and my latest discovery is the genius of The Black Tux. Instead of buying a new suit every time I have an event, TBT makes it easy to rent the perfect look for nearly any occasion. Excited to share some photos from two different looks: a trip to the opening night at the Lyric Opera, and a trip to Paris. 

A Night at the Opera

Final checks in #Studio1037.

Final checks in #Studio1037.

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Red Carpet looks with the always fabulous Daina, AKA  @agentlewoman . Photo by  @mushroomstew

Red Carpet looks with the always fabulous Daina, AKA @agentlewoman. Photo by @mushroomstew

Photo by  @mushroomstew .

Photo by @mushroomstew.

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Intermission. Photo by  Greg Birman    (@gregbirman)

Intermission. Photo by Greg Birman  (@gregbirman)

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Greg & Nika. 

Greg & Nika. 

Bravo, Lyric Opera! 

Bravo, Lyric Opera! 

Time to go.

Time to go.


Away in Paris

In search of something a little more casual, I rented the Tan suit from TBT and paired it with my favorite dress shoes, and (inspired by a bouquet of roses I got for the week) a floral print scarf from the Bastille Market. Voila, an ascot!

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Photos by  @trelawnydavis

Photos by @trelawnydavis