Step Inside Our Fashion Editor’s Vibrant Chicago Condo

There are some people whose decorating style perfectly encapsulates their personality. You could walk into their home blindfolded, open your eyes, and immediately know who the space belonged to. That is exactly how I’d describe the colorful downtown Chicago apartment of our very own fashion editor, Madeline Galassi. If you’ve met Maddie in person, you know she has an infectious personality and a playful sense of style that turns heads in any room, and her decorating style matches this energy to a T. From the cheeky gallery wall above her sofa to the purse wall in her closet, it’s just the kind of space you’d expect a trend-savvy fashion editor to call home. See the full tour of Maddie’s apartment—which she shares with her 17-year-old dog Max—and her best tips for adding personality to a small space below.

Madeline Galassi’s Chicago Condo Tour

The details:

Name: Madeline Galassi, Senior Fashion & Beauty Editor at The Everygirl
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Square Footage: 650 square feet
Rent/Own: Own

You’ve been with The Everygirl since 2018. Tell us about how you got started with the company and how your role has changed over time.

It’s so crazy I’m nearing my sixth anniversary here—time flies! I always wanted to be responsible for our site’s fashion content, but it’s definitely been a winding road to get here. I began as an editorial intern after I graduated from college in 2018. Then, I was a part-time copy editor, associate editor, content manager, and now, the senior fashion editor. After interning, I did whatever I could to get into the company in a full-time capacity, but our section editor roles didn’t exist at the time. When I was our copy editor, I spent all my spare time pitching and writing fashion articles, which eventually convinced our editor-in-chief to transition me to heading the fashion vertical. A lesser-known fact is that I’m responsible for our site’s beauty content, too.

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“I don’t know if my apartment falls under any one ‘aesthetic,’ but it’s very playful, as is my personal style.”

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As a fashion editor, you obviously have a killer sense of style. How does your personal style compare or contrast with your apartment’s aesthetic?

Thank you so much! I think that there are probably an equal amount of similarities and differences. I have a really good handle on my personal style, which is something I’ve worked on for many years. When it comes to my apartment, everything kind of follows the Marie Kondo rule of everything being beautiful or having a purpose. I don’t know if my apartment falls under any one “aesthetic,” but it’s very playful, as is my personal style. I love color in both categories and also stick to pieces that feel really true to me that I know I’ll love for a long time.

While I’m (obviously) really in tune with fashion trends, I am not in the know when it comes to home trends whatsoever. I couldn’t tell you what’s “in” in the interior world at any given moment, and I definitely experiment with what’s trending in my personal style much more frequently.

How has your decorating style evolved over time?

When I moved into my apartment, I owned (literally) no furniture, so I had to furnish the entire thing—from my mattress to my dining table—very quickly. At the time, I had a bit of decision fatigue and definitely picked up some pieces that I didn’t totally love.

When I first moved in, it was very much the era of neutrals, and I stuck to that for a little while. However, as I worked from home throughout COVID, I needed my apartment to feel more full of joy and inspiration for me, so I’ve incorporated a lot more color and pattern over time. I want my home to be somewhere I feel inspired, and for me, that equates to mixing and matching colors and shapes and cheeky details.

Did you do any DIYs in your apartment?

Ah, I wish I had more of a DIY gene. The one DIY in my apartment is my bookshelf—which was a massive lesson in how difficult it is to choose paint colors. It was originally black, but I wanted to switch up the color since my black couch lives so close to it. I chose what I thought was a muted, light green—but it ended up being a bright yellow-green that looked like it belonged in a 12-year-old’s room. I lived with it for a few months but finally re-painted it recently to be the color it is now, which I’m obsessed with.

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You actually own your apartment in downtown Chicago. Tell us about that process and why it was a worthwhile investment for you.

I do! It honestly felt like fate. I bought it in March 2020, right before COVID hit. I hadn’t really considered buying, but my dad brought it up to me, and I was only loosely playing with the idea when I booked an appointment to see a condo with a realtor. I didn’t love that one, but in a Big-and-Carrie-buying-their-penthouse moment, she mentioned she had another unit nearby that wasn’t listed yet and took me straight to see it. It just felt like home from the second I walked in. I only viewed these two units, but it was a “when you know, you know” experience. I didn’t feel like I needed to keep looking, and since I could see myself in my current unit for a few years, it convinced me to buy.

At the time I bought, interest rates were low, and it was very much a buyer’s market. I was a little nervous about such a big commitment, but my building allows owners to rent after a year, so I knew if I ended up moving, I’d have the option to sell or rent. Needless to say, I’ve been here for four years, so it was very much worth the effort for me.

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When working with a small space, some people shy away from larger furniture. How did you decide to go with a big comfy sectional in your living room instead of a smaller piece?

I’m a comfort gal, through and through. I’d choose a piece of furniture that’s hard to look at but comfortable over something beautiful but hard to sit on any day of the week. But luckily, with my couch, I got the best of both worlds.

I’m a couch person—I love to sit on my couch when I work, nap on it, and host people who sleep on it a lot, too. I really didn’t want to sacrifice comfort for style, and with this couch, I didn’t need to. I sit on it constantly (and usually in the same spot), and despite that, it has shown literally no wear, even though it’s two years old. It’s survived spills and naps and dog nails, all while looking the same as the day I got it.

I had an obsession with wanting a black couch for years (courtesy of a gorgeous photo of Kat Tanita’s home that I saw years ago), but it turns out they’re hard to find in a way that doesn’t look like a frat house. With Interior Define’s fabric options, I got to choose a beautiful black bouclè, as well as gold legs. The combination made it feel elevated and beautiful, and it is honestly the couch of my dreams.

My living room isn’t huge, so I never thought a sectional would be an option for me. But after measuring, I realized the Caitlin sofa had a sectional option that was small enough to fit in my space. I was afraid it would be too big and overwhelm my living room, but it honestly ended up being the perfect size. It can sleep two comfortably (something that happens often when I host) but isn’t so big that it looks out of place. Having a chaise has been huge for me personally; if you need me, there’s a 100 percent chance I’m sitting on my chaise. I love how functional it is for me in my personal life and when I host. It checks all the boxes for me with both functionality and beauty, even after two years. It’s the centerpiece of my living room, and I couldn’t think of a piece more deserving of that title.

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“I want my home to be somewhere I feel inspired, and for me, that equates to mixing and matching colors and shapes and cheeky details.”

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This gallery wall was a journey, to say the very least. It originally began as six completely different pictures, and when I started to incorporate more color, I decided I wanted to swap them all out. This current arrangement has been the same for about two years. The piece I started with was my Barbie print (which was before Barbiemania, might I add), which was done by a super cool artist who sets scenes of vintage Barbies and photographs them. Once I had that one down, it all kind of came together—I scrolled on Pinterest a lot, and when something caught my eye, I searched for it on Etsy. I love the colors, how playful it is, and that every picture feels really personal to me.

The arrangement itself was not easy; I ended up finding a super helpful graphic on Pinterest of different gallery wall dimensions and arrangements and copied the one I liked most to a T. I never could have figured it out on my own.

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What are some of the biggest challenges of living in a small space, and how have you worked around them?

Funny enough, I worried about this place feeling “small” when I moved in, but it really never does; it’s a perfect size for one girl and one senior dog. But during the pandemic, I definitely struggled with it a bit more.

I feel really lucky that my space is sectioned out pretty distinctly, as the different areas make me feel like I have more space. For example, my desk area has its own little corner of my bedroom, and so I get to treat that half of my room as my workspace—it doesn’t have to double as anything else. If you live in a smaller space, I’d really recommend creating little vignettes where you can. I also have many spaces that are multi-functional. I obviously eat at my dining table, but often work there, too, and having a variety of places where I can spend my time while in my apartment really helps.

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One of the trickiest parts of decorating a small space is figuring out how to carve out space for different functions. How did you work to create separate areas for lounging, dining, working, etc.?

I’m pretty lucky that my apartment is set up well for this; it’s divided into pretty distinctive (albeit smaller) rooms. My kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom areas are all pretty separate, so it’s really allowed me to create different functions for each.

When I moved in, I didn’t know I was about to be in lockdown in such a small space, which posed a lot of challenges mentally (as it did for everyone). I don’t thrive on working from home, so I had to really intentionally create a workspace that allowed me to feel productive while at home. I bought a big desk that lives in my bedroom, but because of its location, feels like its own little separate work area. When I sit at my desk, I’m very much in work mode, and to this day, it’s where I’m most productive. My living room is where I spend the majority of my time, and I wanted it to feel like a place I was happy to both spend time alone and with friends and family.

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Where are your favorite spots to shop for furniture and decor?

I would say I found the majority of my things through World Market, Anthropologie, Target, and just good old Googling. If there’s something I have my eye on, I’ll research it pretty excessively until I find one that fits the bill—I care less about where things are from than the vibe they bring. I also live and die by Etsy for art. I’ve found my very favorite pieces from there, and I love that they’re usually things nobody else has.

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Your space is such a good example of bringing in color through smaller accessories and accent furniture. How did you decide on the color palette?

One of the first things I bought for my apartment were my dining chairs, which are a deep, emerald green. Shortly after that, I found my pink chair, and it kind of made me settle on a green-and-pink palette as a happy accident. Since then, I’ve also brought in a lot more color through my art, which is so nice because it’s non-committal.

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With your desk located in your bedroom, how do you make an effort to unplug from work when it’s time to log off?

My bedroom is by far the most neglected part of my apartment. It’s long and skinny, so I’ve found it hard to style in ways I would have if it was wider. I love the area with my desk; it’s set far enough away from my bed that it feels like its own separate area of my apartment. I lucked out so much with finding my L-shaped desk, though. I have a column in the center of my bedroom and managed to find this desk that fits perfectly in the gap between it and my wall. That has made it feel like it’s literally made for the space, and its size is something that’s so helpful for me when I work.

I use under my bed for storage—I have a lot of stuff, I can’t help it!—so I’ve had dreams of buying a bed that has storage built into it rather than just throwing everything under my bed frame. That hasn’t happened yet, but it’s definitely on my list. I’ve also thrown around the idea of swapping my door with a barn door (right now, my door hits my nightstand if I open it all the way). If I did that, I could scoot my bed out of the corner and have a nightstand on both sides. All of these are super fixable problems, but they truly just haven’t bothered me enough to actually fix them. I only work and sleep in my bedroom, and I tend to prioritize the front-and-center styling first. I’d rather add something new or fun to my living room (where my friends and family spend time) than fix a problem in my bedroom, and unfortunately, that’s kind of clear. However, it’s all functional enough and is still a place that I love being in.

I only sit at my desk when I’m working, so during non-working hours, it kind of just feels like an untouchable space to me. I have a lot more problems if I choose to work from my kitchen table or couch—if my laptop is within reach in the evening, I’ll find myself picking it up to finish some work or start a new project. When everything is contained at my desk, it feels like it’s closed until business hours begin tomorrow.

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“I love what I do, and I feel lucky to do it. I think I’ll always have that up in my home somewhere.”

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Your desk area is so personalized, complete with a mood board that just screams “Maddie.” Tell us how you pulled everything together—is there a special meaning behind anything?

I love my desk area so much—not to mention the pandemic again, but this is another thing that came together during that time. Obviously, being in quarantine wasn’t super conducive to writing about fashion—nobody was leaving the house—so I really needed a space to sit and work that made me feel inspired. I got the bulletin board to fill with things that made me excited in magazines, as well as some happy photos with friends so that while I was sitting here working, I felt motivated. I’m lucky to have friends who give really good cards, so there are a few of those hanging up, too. It feels like such a little collage of all my favorite things.

There’s one thing in particular that feels really special to me—in 2022, I was flipping through a magazine (I wish I could remember which one), and the top of a spread said, “Rich textures, fanciful feathers, fabulous fringe—this season’s most sumptuous pieces offer a bit of something for everyone, with one common thread: a return to joy.” After years of sweatpants and loungewear, something about the beautiful prose combined with describing that season’s clothes as “a return to joy” made me super emotional. I love what I do, and I feel lucky to do it. I think I’ll always have that up in my home somewhere because of what it meant to me to read it during that time.

Of course, we can’t forget about your adorable dog Max. How have you balanced making your space pet-friendly while maintaining the look you want?

Oh, if there’s one thing I’m an expert on, it’s pet-proofing. Max is almost 18, and all owners of senior pups know that the older they get, the more havoc they wreak on your space. Fellow pet owners—especially senior pet owners—know there’s no perfect answer to this, but I have created some systems that allow me to maintain the things in my apartment without having too many dog-related casualties.

I have to out him and admit that he did ruin one of my rugs completely. It was jute, which is not really cleanable, and therefore was a pretty silly purchase (you live and you learn). When I replaced it, I opted for one that would be more forgiving and invested in a Little Green Machine, which I owe my sanity to. I should also own stock in Folex at this point.

Owning a black couch and a white dog was also not my finest moment, but I’ve turned to my fellow pet owners for cleaning tips, and now I live and breathe by the Chom Chom pet hair remover. I use it pretty much every night before I go to bed, which removes any Max hair and fuzz from that day—no harm, no foul.

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Absolutely no one is surprised you have an entire wall of your closet dedicated to your purse collection. How did you come up with the idea and how did you make it happen?

One of my favorite places in my apartment! If there’s one thing this apartment has in spades, it’s closet space (which God knows, I need). In addition to an entire wall of closets, it also has a walk-in closet, which I actually didn’t end up needing for storage. Instead, I decided to turn it into a little “getting ready room,” where I put my vanity, makeup, accessories, and obviously, purses.

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When I moved in, the walk-in had zero shelves—it was just a tiny empty room—so I added floating shelves to display my purses instead of ones for storage. It’s probably also not a surprise that these are roughly 1/4th of the purses I own, but I swap them out about every month, depending on the season and what I want to prioritize reaching for. The whole setup is so fun for me—it very much feels like a thing little Maddie would have loved knowing her 27-year-old self had.

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What does an ideal day in Chicago look like for you?

I’m lucky enough to live directly across from the lake, so if you can’t find me, I’m likely on the lakefront path. My perfect day would involve sleeping in, then going for a run on the lake first thing (in this scenario, I’d expect it to be sunny and approximately 68 degrees). Lake runs are one of my very favorite things in the world.

I also love to walk, and one of my greatest joys in life is literally just a day spent walking around the city with no solid plans and the freedom to do what I want. With that said, I’d definitely have to get an iced latte from Sawada in the West Loop (the best espresso in the world), then would probably mosey around there for a bit and head to Lincoln Park or the Gold Coast area to pop into shops and walk around a little more. I’d come home, take a little nap, and regroup, then head back out in the evening for happy hour and dinner with friends.

If it’s summer, this would also have to involve spending the afternoon sitting by the lake with my friends and some High Noons.

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