Meet Madeline, a member at Common Simonds in Chicago, an interior design powerhouse, and a mental health advocate.
While most people move to New York City to pursue a dream, Madeline left her New York startup career to move back to Chicago. Exhausted from being surrounded by creatives without a creative outlet of her own, she decided to pursue her dream of working in interior design in a new city and new home.
Completely self-taught, she built her interior design firm, Verge of Human Design, to help clients feel safe and at home in their urban spaces. As you can imagine, her own Chicago studio at Common Simonds is a perfect balance of comfort, chic design, and hidden storage hacks.
Keep reading to hear more about her journey, her day-to-day life as a Common member, and some tips for making a small space your own!
Hi Madeline! Changing cities and careers at the same time is definitely not easy. Can you tell us more about what inspired the transition?
When I was living in New York, I was constantly surrounded by so many creative minds. The energy of the city gave me the desire to build something of my own, but I felt unable to financially take a risk. My job, at the time, was in a startup environment and left me with little energy or finances to focus on my own passions–I honestly felt like a shell of myself.
Moving into a studio in Chicago gave me the financial freedom to take classes, network, and teach myself the skills necessary to start my own firm! It taught me that your home should truly be your personal sanctuary and that everyone deserves a place to feel safe to decompress. After working with a lot of local designers and firms, I was inspired to start my own firm where I merge elements of mental health into my design philosophy.
Living in a city can definitely leave you craving a personal sanctuary. What do you do to specifically cater to your client’s mental health needs in the context of design?
My goal as a designer and with Verge of Human Design is to help my clients elevate their spaces and their mood so they can be the best versions of themselves. I believe there is a strong correlation between mental health and the space you come home to every day!
If your home is in disarray or is not what you want it to be, it can stifle you from being the best version of yourself. Having a space to call your own, feel safe, be proud of, and reflect your true personality makes everyone feel a little more ‘human’.
What makes my work unique is that I don’t focus on one aesthetic or design template. Every space I design is completely customized to the needs of my client’s lifestyle and personality! Verge of Human Design uses all of the senses to create a space that feels safe to not only live in, but thrive in. For instance, if a client is coming to me for help with seasonal depression, I might suggest making the main color palette white to help brighten up a room.
How did living within the Common community help you in your transition to Chicago?
Actually, I originally moved into this building before Common took it over! The space was originally unfurnished and we didn’t have access to the amazing community aspect that comes with living in a Common home. I love that it’s a no-brainer way to foster growth and connection amongst others. Everyone walking into a coliving space inherently is in the same position and is open to connecting with people in a non-traditional way. In the world of social media, loneliness is becoming more prevalent and we are losing face-to-face human interaction across the board. Communities like Common help bring that sense of community back into our culture which we are so desperately lacking.
For instance, I was talking to a friend recently who is moving to Peru for a teaching job, and she explained that moving to another country was easier for her than moving to another city within the US! The programs set in place by the expat community allowed her to find great housing and a community. If you move to a new city in the US you’re pretty much on your own to start over. With Common, all of that is built-in, which makes it so much easier.
Do you have any advice for someone living in a small or pre-furnished place?
Definitely! My first tip is to encourage people to find their personal style, which is much harder than you think. Take time to look on Pinterest, Instagram, or other sources of inspiration to save images and get a feeling of what stands out to you.
Next, it’s vital to prioritize your belongings when you live in a small space. Do you really need that magazine from 5 years ago? Or is it just collecting dust? The benefit of living in a studio is that it’s taught me what I actually want and enjoy in my space instead of just adding clutter. This takes time to learn, but a purge of what you own is a necessary step.
If your space came pre-furnished, sticking to a color palette can be very helpful in making a space feel like your own and decorating with purpose. For storage solutions, clear boxes and a label maker are a must! This way everything is organized and easy to find when you need it.
We are definitely feeling inspired! How can people get in touch with you?
If someone is looking for some hand-holding throughout the design process, then contacting me through my design firm is best. If someone is looking for some simple help with where to place items and what to buy then they can find me as an E-Designer on Havenly. Also, if someone isn’t interested in design and just wants to connect on a human level, I’d love to chat! One can never have too many friends! You can stay up to date on all of my interior design work by following me on Instagram as well.
If you’re looking to find a new space to create your own sanctuary in Chicago or beyond, check out Common’s latest coliving, studio, and apartment openings.
*Common works with developers to manage buildings, sometimes resulting in taking over buildings and leases to bring the Common experience and community to its residents.