For Kim and Scott Vargo, DIY is a major component of their approach to design. The couple’s 130-year-old home is often the object of their reno projects, big and small, many of which are depicted on their blog Yellow Brick Home. The Chicago-based husband-and-wife—who also happen to be the winners of the Modern Maverick category in the Domino Design Blog Awards—share their home with their new daughter, Lucy, and three rescue pets. Armed with the mantra that “there’s not much that hard work and a gallon of paint can’t fix,” it’s safe to say that the Vargos aren’t afraid of a little elbow grease. We caught up with the creative duo to talk decor splurges, productivity, and their biggest design risk to date.
Describe your style in three words: Comfortable, minimal, quirky.
Our work/space is inspired by: We always start with the bones of the structure to guide our design decisions from the beginning. We consider everything from the light a space receives to where it’s located in the world! Our 1800s Chicago home is full of classic finishes and colors, whereas our small Michigan lake house is filled with warmer tones, exposed wood, and leather. It’s more fun to listen to what the house wants, rather than force something that’s not meant to be. That’s not to say we get it right on the first try, but the process and mistakes along the way are what help us to fine-tune our style.
We’re 10 times more productive when: Our workspace is clean, a candle has been freshly lit and we’ve pressed ‘play’ on an upbeat playlist. Caffeine helps, too!
On the weekends you can find us: Enjoying our hometown we love so much and experiencing it through fresh eyes all over again with our sweet Lucy. (She turns a year old in January!)
My biggest design splurge was: Our kitchen countertops! We landed on a gorgeous slab of White Macauba Quartzite with strong veining throughout. We’ve grown so accustomed to them, but we’re always reminded of them when a new friend sees our kitchen for the first time, and they say, ‘what are these countertops?!’ They’re just different enough from classic marble or white quartz, and they really make a statement in our all-white kitchen!
The one item I can’t live without is: Our cameras. We don’t travel anywhere without a DSLR and a mini Polaroid! I know that smartphone lenses have come a long, long way, but I couldn’t bear to be without my nice camera! It brings me so much joy to capture special moments.
What’s the biggest design risk you took that paid off?
When we become the owners of our Chicago house, it was initially overflowing with tiny nooks that were considered ‘bedrooms.’ Over the last five years, we’ve turned it into a duplex, and we had to make a lot of decisions on what to do with all these rooms that were way too small to fit a bed.
Off of the former second-floor kitchen was one of those teeny bedrooms. We arranged it in such a way that the kitchen became our master bedroom, and that small room became the laundry room. While we know that the more popular choice would have been to turn the small room into an ensuite, I couldn’t shake the idea of a laundry room. It made so much sense for us to have our clean clothing, bedclothes, and towels next to our closets. Plus, once Scott was on board, we never looked back. It was the best decision to have our laundry room off of the master bedroom, and we worked hard to turn it into the sweetest little space.
What’s a throwback design trend you’re hoping will make a return?
Furniture that puts comfort first, but in an updated way. Low slung, chunky furniture is slowly making its comeback already, but we’ve never craved anything more since the birth of our daughter early this year. She’s truly changed the way we see design! Comfort is king.
Describe the moment you knew you wanted to do something with design.
We both come from creative backgrounds (I have a degree in fine art photography and Scott grew up helping his dad DIY around the house), but I think we got the interior design bug when we purchased our first Chicago condo together. It was a great way to dip our toes in the water, so to speak, as it was a recently renovated, builder basic 700-sq-ft home. We started small—painting over the beige walls, reupholstering furniture—and we learned so much along the way. We have the fondest memories of that home! We moved from that condo into our current house five years ago, and we always think of that starter home as the launching pad to the bigger, greater design challenges we face now.
What does winning the Blogger Award mean to you?
Winning the award reminds us that we have a responsibility to be cheerleaders for our friends and followers that are also making their way in the DIY realm. As a Modern Maverick, we were especially struck by the descriptor that calls us to foster a sense of community. We’ve strived for that for as long as we’ve been sharing online. Thank you for recognizing that within us, but it’s so much more than that. We’re cultivating a space to learn, create and inspire—and that works both ways!
The best part of doing what we do is: Being able to work with each other. We’re teammates in more ways than one.