For Gil Melott, home isn’t just a spot to hang one’s hat but a laboratory of sorts – a place to perfect his own furniture designs before offering them for sale at his gallery-like boutique, Studio 6F, which he opened in a bright and airy Logan Square corner storefront nearly six years ago.
A clever reference to FFFFFF, the code for white in HTML, the aptly named studio is a blank palette for Melott, who toiled away in a stressful, spiritually unsatisfying corporate gig for more than two decades, all the while envisioning a more fulfilling way of life.
After he had an often-deadly type of heart attack that’s been dubbed a “widowmaker” while out walking his bulldog, Champ, in May of 2015, he vowed to shake things up.
“It was an awakening,” he recollects. “I wanted to manifest a new life.”
In the ensuing months, Melott overhauled his diet, ditched his stressful corporate gig to open Studio 6F and downsized from an overly decorated two-bedroom Andersonville unit to a lofty fifth-floor one-bedroom with 14-foot ceilings and expansive windows in Logan Square.
Before he made the move, he ruthlessly jettisoned anything that didn’t inspire joy or have deep personal meaning, a process he compares to finally taking off a sweltering winter coat. “It was cathartic,” he explains.
In contrast to his overly decorated Andersonville home, Melott’s new space has a minimalist vibe rendered in warm colors inspired by the world outside the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Covered in a sumptuous olive-green mohair, for example, a tailored sofa coexists peacefully with a hand-hewn ash cocktail table with a Mexican red travertine top in the light-filled living area. Both are part of the Gil Melott Bespoke collection available at Studio 6F.
Another nod to the natural world can be found steps away in the open dining area, where curvaceous vintage Italian chrome chairs covered in a Holland & Sherry linen surround a tree-trunk-like faux bois table base with a glass top.
“Even in the most modern settings I will infuse natural elements because it humanizes an environment,” he explains. “My aesthetic will always be to mix materials and time periods without hesitation, but it’s done with a sense of reverence, not to surprise or shock.”
Its sleek flat-front cabinetry housed within a wall niche, the minimalist kitchen suited Melott’s needs with only minor tweaks, but he added a practical yet stylish stainless-steel restaurant table against the west-facing windows – a lovely spot to prepare dinner every afternoon around sundown. “It’s all there for effect, but it’s an effect I want,” he shares.
The same could be said about the artwork throughout. One of his own abstract paintings hangs prominently over his bed, which is covered with a hand-sewn textural mud cloth by Ruthie Seager, whose work he represents. A gift for his ninth birthday in 1972, a small snowstorm scene painted by Melott’s grandfather is perhaps his most prized possession.
“Every place I’ve lived has been lovely and well-appointed, but this one is authentically me,” he explains. “It has a sense of refinement and rusticity that suits me, and it involves the artists and craftsmen I cherish and work with on a daily basis. I couldn’t be happier.”
It’s not because his new life is more laid-back. In addition to overseeing several interior design projects and debuting a new lounge chair to his growing furniture collection, Melott is busily preparing to relocate Studio 6F from its longtime storefront location to a new showroom nearly thrice the size in Bucktown.
“Business is good,” Melott notes. “Every day is a pretty good day, even the relatively bad ones, and that’s a completely new feeling.”
Photography by Sean Henderson.