Reader OMG! – Lydia’s Historic Whimsical Home

Reader OMG! is a series showcasing home tours from my favorite people…The DIY Playbook readers! Every month or so, I highlight the home of someone with some serious design style. I hope that these swoon-worthy spaces will make you say “OMG”…hence the name! It also gives me a chance to feature home styles outside of my own, so you can take away some fresh ideas for your space.Reader OMG blog series

So far we’ve featured these amazing homes in the series…

Lydia’s Historic Whimsical Home

Lydia sofa portrait
  • Homeowners: Lydia and Christopher, plus their two teenage children, two dogs, and one cat.
  • Location: Evanston, IL
  • Home Type: Craftsman Home; 3 bedroom, 2.5 baths
  • Year Built: 1920
  • Describe your Home Style: Traditional, with a touch of modern whimsy. I don’t follow any rules; I just try to incorporate what I like. I’m drawn to rich earth-toned colors, leather, and velvet.
  • Favorite Spot in your House: The tiniest room, the sunroom in the back of the house. It’s everyone’s favorite because it faces south and the sunlight is incredible.
The sun room in Lydia's whimsical home

Because we feature reader home tours from all over the country (and world!), I don’t always get the chance to meet the homeowners, in person, and photograph the space myself. But Lydia’s gorgeous home was only a twenty-minute drive, so I had the pleasure of seeing her whimsical home in person. And let me tell you, it is magnificent – and so is she!

tree wallpaper in this whimsical home with unique accents

I truly believe “whimsical” is the best way to describe her home. You can instantly tell that Lydia has a love for interiors as soon as you walk into her home. You’re greeted with the coolest wallpaper – that she installed herself, of course – a little otter sculpture, and a porcupine quill mirror. Say what?! Right away, you know that someone really cool lives here!

Dark and moody lounge in the basement

And it should be no surprise that Lydia has a creative career as a graphic designer and artist. (She has an Etsy shop with pet portraits!) But she’s also a mom, and while I photographed her home, we had the best discussions about raising kids and the ups and downs of motherhood.

I’ll do my best to share sources for Lydia’s home, because I know you’ll want to recreate so many of her idea. However, she is an estate sale and thrifting goddess, so many of these pieces are one-of-a-kind finds. Let’s get to it!

The Living Room

Lydia's historic and whimsical home tour
A whimsical home with leather sofas and unique touches
An Evanston chicago home tour
Cute family portrait in a gallery wall
Dark fireplace with a wood mantle
Lamps behind a couch

Paint Colors: Ralph Lauren “Design Studio White” (Walls, Doors, Trim); Valspar “Nocturnal Green” (fireplace)

This is the first room you see when entering their home, and Lydia describes it as their “everything room”. Here, they watch TV, entertain, sit by the fire…a little bit of everything. And it’s definitely set up for lots of conversation with a large cozy rug, two sofas across from one another, and two gorgeous side chairs, which are Milo Baughman vintage finds…swoon.

My favorite area is the little gallery wall with loads of personalized art, featuring their adorable family, along with the bear with glasses and the black sheep. They are the best additions to this family-friendly home.

The Kitchen

Small and functional kitchen in Evanston, Illinois
Honey and sugar in this kitchen setup
hanging shelves from the ceiling in this home tour
Colorful and whimsical home and kitchen space
A family-friendly kitchen

Paint Colors: Benjamin Moore “Stardust” (Walls); Ralph Lauren “Design Studio White” (Trim)

The family gutted the original 1950s kitchen about 15 years ago and the new design has worked well for them ever since. Even though it isn’t huge, it has everything this family needs and plenty of storage space. I like the mix of closed and open storage to make it feel a bit more open. And what an awesome idea to hang the shelving from the ceiling to hold extra pots and pans! Oh, and I must mention that waterfall edge with the countertop. It adds a cool modern touch.

The Dining Room

Traditional dining room in a historic home
Adding a white sheep to a dining room
Bar area in a dining room

Paint Colors: Benjamin Moore “Gibraltar” (Walls); Ralph Lauren “Design Studio White” (Trim)

A city home with a dedicated dining room is pretty dang amazing. And this dining room is a big one! Lydia says the family uses this room often for meals, school projects, Lego building, and more. The dining chairs are a vintage find that she had reupholstered in gray velvet. And Lydia even swaps out the chairs seasonally…bringing in green mohair ones for the summer months. How freakin’ cool is that?! And how about that bar area? It features another fantastic gallery wall with unique pieces.

The Sunroom

The sun room in Lydia's whimsical home
A sunroom off the back of a historic and whimsical home

Paint Colors: Benjamin Moore “Swiss Coffee” (Walls) // Ralph Lauren “Design Studio White” (Trim)

As mentioned, this is the favorite room in the house! It’s a small little alcove off the back of the dining room and kitchen that gets lots of natural light. When the kids were younger, they would eat in here, but as their family’s needs have changed, so has the sunroom. It’s now a nice spot to sit and relax. The Plunkett sofa was actually in Lydia’s parent’s home when she was growing up, and she completely modernized it with new cushions and fabric.

The Main Bedroom

A dark gray bedroom in the color silver sage
A main bedroom space with dark gray walls
A moody dark gray bedroom space

Paint Colors: Benjamin Moore “Gibraltar” (Walls); Ralph Lauren “Design Studio White” (Trim)

This moody bedroom looks incredibly calm and relaxing (something I love about a dark paint color) and Lydia again combines both new and old items, seamlessly. The bedroom set is in the Prairie Style, but Lydia makes it more modern with the brass sconces. (Fun fact – my childhood home had a Prairie Style design.)

And listen to this…Lydia’s son found the REAL Eames lounger in the alley on trash day. The previous owners must not have realized what a gem they had on their hands! Lydia restored it and is currently on the hunt for the matching ottoman.

The Main Bathroom

Classic bathroom with white subway tile
1920s bathroom tile with modern touches
Subway tile in this classic bathroom

Paint Colors: Restoration Hardware “Silver Sage” (Walls); Ralph Lauren “Design Studio White” (Trim)

This bathroom gives off major vintage vibes and that’s because much of it is vintage! The floor is original, along with the bathtub. Lydia then chose other elements to go with that same style, including the pedestal sinks and white subway tile. You really can’t go wrong with black and white. The look is classic and timeless.

Daughter’s Room

Teenage girl's room with green bedding
Cozy chair in a teen girl's room
Wallpapered ceiling in this daughter's room
The cutest teen girl's bedroom space
The cutest pinboard in a kids' room

Paint Colors: RL Design Studio “White” (Walls); Ralph Lauren “Design Studio White” (Trim)

This bedroom gave me so much inspiration for a future big girl’s room for Rory. It really is the perfect bedroom for a teenage girl. The green, white, and gold make for a beautiful color palette, not to mention the coolest wallpaper on the ceiling! Lydia found the desk on Facebook Marketplace and the desk chair was a Craigslist find. (I told you she was a thrifting goddess!) The accent chair looks like a cozy spot for homework and Lydia does it again with a whimsical swan over the bed.

Son’s Room

Paint Colors: Restoration Hardware “Ash” (Walls); Ralph Lauren “Design Studio White” (Trim)

Here’s another cool kid’s room! You won’t be surprised to learn that Lydia handpainted the mural behind her son’s bed. One of my favorite parts of both of the kid’s rooms is the use of the high shelving around the room. It’s a great spot to store favorite items, like her son’s Lego collection, while adding interest to the room.

The Basement Lounge

Green velvet sofa in a basement lounge
Gallery wall in a basement lounge
Dark and moody basement lounge

Paint Colors: Sherwin Williams “Urbane Bronze” (Walls); Ralph Lauren “Design Studio White” (Trim)

Okay, you made it to my favorite room in the house…the basement lounge. Lydia almost didn’t show me this spot, because basements can be tough to shoot without lots of natural light, but I gasped when I walked in. I mean, can you even with this cabin-inspired family room? It’s so cozy and has the coolest art collection on the walls. Lydia and her kids actually put this space together while her husband was out of town for a big surprise. (His dream is to someday have a cabin in the woods.) Until his dream is a reality, he enjoys relaxing down here.

I got lots of inspiration for this space and it’s making me excited to go dark on the walls and ceiling in our own basement.

Shop the Look – Whimsical Home

Clock // Light // Wall Swan // Bear // Couch // Pillow // Floor Lamp // Rug // Marble Table // Calendar // Vase // Faux Tulips // Stool

Lydia's historic and whimsical home

A big thanks to Lydia for inviting us into her modern whimsical home. I know I certainly left inspired and eager to add more vintage pieces to our home. If you’re looking for some new art, be sure to check out Lydia’s Etsy shop right here.

Modern and whimsical home tour

Submit Your Home TourReader OMG blog series

Want to see your home featured on The DIY Playbook? Send an email to [email protected] with the subject line “Reader OMG!”, including lots of photos and information about your gorgeous home.


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.