16 years in an apartment at the Astor Hotel, Kelly Wilson and James
South embraced a decorating conundrum when they doubled their living
space last August, moving into a 2,000-square-foot loft in Walker’s
Point with their three cats.
Snug above an
antiques shop, Cream City brick walls and ceiling beams crafted from
railroad ties are odes to Milwaukee’s architectural past. Yet the
tall, floor-to-ceiling windows suggested custom window treatments.
(Wilson scoured the web until she found 14 10-foot panels for $30 each
in aqua, sage and brown.) And, despite gourmet accoutrements like a
dishwasher, granite countertops and a stainless-steel refrigerator,
the previous owner took the high-end stove with him. So the couple —
who have never enjoyed cooking — happily rely upon gadgets like a
toaster oven, wok, hot plate, electric kettle and microwave, viewing
the minimalist kitchen as an opportunity to explore more restaurants
and peruse delis (like Outpost Natural Foods, particularly since South
follows a vegan diet).
A lack of
interior walls coaxed bookshelves and armchairs — like the licensed
Eames Plycraft chair bought off Craigslist.org — into cozy nooks,
perfect spots to indulge in their hobbies. For Wilson, knitting hats
and scarves; for South, chair of Marquette University’s Philosophy
Department, penning a follow-up to his four pop-culture philosophy
books on James Bond, "Mad Men" and "Buffy the Vampire
Slayer." Bookshelves from Crate and Barrel and IKEA house sets of
retro dishware as well as South’s extensive DVD library, which
consists mostly television series, film noir, screwball comedies and
quirky objects like a vintage lunch box.
Keeping to a
Midcentury Modern theme, they bought furnishings off Craigslist.org,
but also kept an eye on IKEA’s and Crate and Barrel’s latest
catalogues and dropped into Tip Top Atomic Shop in Bay View and 2nd
Street Antiques Mall often for decorative accents, such as lamps. From
the Italian red sofa bought new to the two 1960s televisions — an
Admiral and Zenith: both still work although they are used as tables
— it’s a truly eclectic look.
modern? Is it industrial? Does everything match? No, it doesn’t, and
that’s how I like it," Wilson says.
increase of living space allows ample room to, at last, properly
display the couple’s two collections: posters from
international films as well as 1960s spy movies and television
shows, and comic-book trade paperbacks.
poster collection began when they met 25 years ago. "On our
very first date we went to a poster show and bought one from ‘The
Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ James watched it as a kid and me in
college. When the Beatles came over here, they asked to meet
them — instead of the other way around," says Kelly
comic-book trade paperback collection has newer roots. "We
both started getting into all sorts of comics. We found favorite
writers and we stick a lot to DC, but I’ve moved into Marvel
Comics with Daredevil and we do a lot of individual stuff,"