The Nest Issue: Stuff and How to Have It | Feature | Chicago Reader

Taking a look around Eva Niewiadomski's two-bedroom Andersonville condo, you might find it hard to believe she was ever an accountant. It doesn't seem fitting, a corporate number cruncher living in this bright, whimsical environment, much less creating it. But that's where Niewiadomski, who's worked in finance and also as a brand manager for the Quaker Oats Company, would tell you you're wrong.

"Who wrote the rule saying that beige and cream are business colors?" she asks. Niewiadomski took it upon herself to rewrite that rule at Quaker, starting with her cubicle, which she decorated with Chinese lanterns and toys. ("People loved meeting at my desk.") She then turned two corridors into "innovation hallways"—covered floor to ceiling in retro-fabric panels with bold prints, the spaces became walk-in bulletin boards where anyone could post ideas—and put together a "creativity room." In 2002 she struck out on her own to found Catalyst Ranch, a event space designed to help suits brainstorm better.

Her apartment is similarly energizing. Even in rooms with white walls, there are vivid colors everywhere—in marionettes, folk art, woven textiles, and ceramics, lots of 'em. Niewiadomski says she's not a collector, but she enjoys surrounding herself with "things that are made with skill. If it's idiosyncratic, quirky, or wacky I tend to be drawn to it, because the artist is giving it their own personality." —Katherine Raz





"The birdcage is a vintage piece I found at an antique market. The 'stand' is actually from a vintage lamp from the 1920s, which I found later at a different antique market. The birds are a mix of blown glass Christmas ornaments with feather tails and painted ceramic birds from Guatemala.

"The dress on the dress form is a costume I purchased from the Civic Opera House when they did their warehouse sale a few years ago. The costume dates back to the 1910s."


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