Chasing Paper’s Co-Founder Lives in a Gorgeous, Colorful, Patterned 1870s House in Milwaukee
Elizabeth Rees is the co-founder of Chasing Paper, a popular removable (and traditional) wallpaper you should absolutely know about if you rent and love pattern (or own and love pattern!). The spacious Milwaukee home she shares with her husband, their two daughters, and dog, Lucy, has a gorgeous color palette, beautiful custom built-ins, and yes… great patterned wallpaper in many rooms of the house.
“When I left NYC, I packed everything into storage and traveled for work and pleasure for about six weeks. The last stop was Italy with my now husband and a few friends. While we were there, our real estate agent, who is also my husband’s childhood friend, sent me a link to a home that he thought was ‘my style;’ I remember having a bad connection on my phone and each image coming through painstakingly slow. But every detail I saw — the high ceilings, original fireplaces, coved plaster molding, wide pine plank floors — I felt like I wanted to catch the next flight home to make sure this home was ours. We were the first people to see it upon our return, and when I walked through, I was immediately transported back to Clinton Hill, Brooklyn,” writes Elizabeth.
“It had a classic brownstone layout and all the charm of the homes I would peer into on my walks home from the subway — except I was in my hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which in some ways, made it feel more special and kismet. As I walked through the rooms, I had a very clear vision of the years ahead in the home, getting married, having babies and creating memories between these special walls.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: I would describe my style as clean but cozy. I like modern lines and architecture, but also textiles that make the home inviting and warm. Everything in our home is pretty casual. We have two little girls, and I like things to look smart but also be durable.
Inspiration: I was in Italy when I first saw the listing for the house, and the home is actually an Italianate townhouse; so I referenced pictures I took on that trip, the color palette of rich colors offset by a black and white backdrop.
Favorite Element: We designed the built-ins in the living room, and I really think that they look like they have always been part of the home. It created such a beautiful space to display treasures from travel, books we love, and also closed storage for the girls.
Biggest Challenge: It’s a very old home, like 1876 old, which means the original details are so incredible but can also be challenging to find tradespeople to help solve issues as they arise. The home is also historical, which meant checking with the city before tackling certain projects.
Proudest DIY: I wallpapered my daughter Uma’s room when I was 7 months pregnant, and I loved how it turned out. It was so worth the somewhat precarious step ladder and large belly combination.
Biggest Indulgence: When we bought the house, the backyard was completely overgrown and pretty unusable; we ended up tearing everything out and starting fresh. This was well before COVID hit, and we were SO glad that we had that during the month of lockdown. Having outdoor space to take in some fresh air safely was a sanity saver!
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? The house has almost no closets! I am not sure if this was just something people didn’t need in the late 1800s, but storage is very minimal, which has made us be very thoughtful about what we bring into and keep at our home. I take boxes to Goodwill about once a quarter!
What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? I bought four drawings when I was in Portugal with my brother that I really love. I bought them in the gallery in Porto after I had left NYC and didn’t even have this home yet, but they really go so well in the space — simple but tell a great story.
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: We have very high ceilings, so I have learned to really use them! In the very few closets we have, we have shelving going up to the ceilings and invested in step stools.
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Find things that tell your story, artifacts and details that are uniquely you. Homes that feel special are the ones that you remember — take risks in places that feel like an unexpected surprise.
PAINT & COLORS
- Living room — Farrow & Ball’s “Oval Room Blue”
- Dining room — Benjamin Moore’s “Whirlpool”
- Hallways/Entry — Behr’s “Burnish Clay”
- Porto Tile Wallpaper — Chasing Paper
- Shelter Sofa — West Elm
- Stockholm Rattan Coffee Table (discontinued) — IKEA
- Boulevard Cafe Collection Lounge Chair — Sauder
- Throw Blanket — Hawkins New York
- Alto Compass Opal Light — Cedar + Moss
- Pillows — The Work Room
- Jute Chenille Herringbone Rug — West Elm
- Firewood Holder/ Fireplace Tools — Inherited/hand-me-downs
- Built-in Vases — Inherited/hand-me-downs
- Terrazzo Wallpaper — Chasing Paper
- Rug – World Market — Discontinued
- Tres Shade Pendant Lamp Light Fixture — Safavieh
- Roar and Rabbit Pleated Bed — West Elm
- Dresser — Vintage
- Soderhamn Chaise — IKEA
- Pillows — The Work Room
- Linens — Parachute Home
- Simon Adjustable Sconce — Urban Outfitters
- New York City Print — 42Pressed
- Art Print — Louise Gray
- Project 62 Mirror — Target
- Dresser Lamp (discontinued) — Urban Outfitters
- And the Light Took Us Tapestry — Form Fine Goods
- Triangle Side Table — Urban Outfitters
- Starburst Tile Wallpaper — Chasing Paper
- Spotted Wallpaper — Chasing Paper
- Kids Hampshire 6-Drawer Dresser — Crate+Kids
- Dresser Lamp (discontinued) — CB2
- Feelings Flag Pennant — Secret Holiday
- Hampshire Crib — Crate+Kids
- Hoppy Tails Baby Quilt — Crate+Kids
- Glider — Crate+Kids
- Cosmos Floor Lamp — Crate+Kids
- Wanderer Throw Pillow — Crate+Kids
- Jenny Lind Daybed — Crate+Kids
- Additional Art Prints — Artfully Walls
This tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.
Share Your Style: House Tour & House Call Submission Form
This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Chasing Paper’s Co-Founder Lives in a Gorgeous, Colorful, Patterned 1870s House in Milwaukee