A Humboldt Park pad incorporates Latin American influences | Space | Chicago Reader

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A Humboldt Park pad incorporates Latin American influences


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For Luan Barros and Kelly Parsell, Humboldt Park is the perfect Chicago setting to call home. “It’s a comfortable neighborhood to live in, especially being from a different country,” says Barros, a Brazilian photographer who first came to the U.S. in 2008. Soon after his arrival, he met LaGrange native Kelly Parsell, owner of greeting card company Nerd Press and an interdisciplinary artist who has assisted fiber artist and SAIC professor Nick Cave. The couple spent some time traveling internationally, and after a six-month sojourn in Barros’s homeland, they took up permanent residence in Chicago in 2010.


Together they’ve created a culturally rich interior in their Humboldt pad. Most of the decor comes from their travels—a woven rug from Istanbul accents the living room, textiles from Chiapas cover pillows, and painted figurines from Oaxaca adorn surfaces. The process of buying the hammock swaying on their enclosed back porch taught Parsell how to bargain in Brazil. The couple also like to acquire things from special people in their lives, and most of their artwork was made by friends. “We made our choices,” Barros says, “about the things we love and the things we want to be close to.”

Parsell also brings her textile expertise to the space, adding hand-sewn curtains. “Instead of buying curtains, I find fabrics that I love, patterns that I love, and make them fit,” she says. Parsell has fashioned some curtains from vintage sheets. (She also creates wallpaper from colored pencil drawings, which will be part of her art exhibit at Paperish Mess opening Fri 2/13, 7-10 PM.)

When it comes to the aesthetics of living, Barros can’t help but notice some distinct differences between South America and the U.S. “The arrangement and color palette is totally different,” he says. “[Brazil’s] color palette is more vibrant. And Brazilians are more about being comfortable than being tidy.” Those Latin American principles have had a positive effect on Parsell. “I have relaxed,” she says, “and I think my space reflects that.”

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