Photographers John and Maura Stoffer are partners in work and in life. They worked together on this shoot, capturing their Chicago home, a 1950’s mid-century ranch, that they share with their two children. Maura told us how their differing styles complement each other and why Chicago is that rarest of things, a big city with a true sense of community.

‘We have lived in our home for almost four years now. We bought the house from John's grandparents as they were transitioning out of the unfriendly Chicago winters and into approachable and predictable Arizona sunshine. Our daughter was about nine months old at the time and we were in desperate need of some walls and closed doors in our home after living in an old Chicago loft space with none of those. We changed it a lot! The only way we could see ourselves living in this home was to make it our own, which meant raising the ceilings, getting rid of lots of carpet (in the kitchen and bathroom even!), new windows, new kitchen, new bathroom, you name it. Thankfully John's mom is a designer and really held our hands and guided us in the whole design process.

‘Coming from charming (read, OLD) rental apartment after rental apartment, really anything feels luxurious in our book. Having a predictable oven and refrigerator is lovely. But we cannot get by without our espresso machine. The first thing our daughter does in the morning is turn on the machine for us. She knows what we need! I also very much love our open shelving we found at CB2. We have no upper shelves built in to our kitchen, so I was so thankful to find these and they fit perfectly. We get to style them but also need everything on there. I like to make sure our "stuff" is only things we use regularly.

We make a great team, although it has taken us a few years to discover. We each have different strengths and different ways of communicating with and understanding our clients. For this shoot, John set up technical overall shots that feel pleasing to the eye because of the mechanics and thought behind each one. I set up shots that make you feel like you're in the space. Vignettes and shots that pass between multiple rooms. We both enjoyed styling the house and organizing each shot.’

The heart of the home

‘Home is family. Making meals while kids sit on the counter. Seamlessly transitioning from the kitchen to the living room then back to the kitchen. A space that brings us closer together while having the ability to retreat.’

Refined style

‘I would describe our aesthetic as simple, clean, only the essentials. We are inspired by the age and style of the house while putting our own, more soft touches on the space like the herringbone floors and the leather cabinet pulls.’

Lighten up

‘As photographers we are always thinking about light. Light can change a way a photograph feels in the same way it can change the way a room feels. With our windows and doors we tried to maximize the amount of soft natural light that comes in.’

Warm welcome

'Our entire home is basically our kitchen/living room. We spend a lot of time at the counter and on the couch together. John's love language is making coffees and cocktails for friends and family and I love to host and cook.’

‘We have made it to quite a few of the Houses and really appreciate the uniqueness of each one, while still being true to the overall story. We've visited two houses in London, the Little Beach House outside Barcelona, Soho House Barcelona, the Malibu Beach House, Miami, and New York. From each we've discovered the beauty in detail. Each small detail has a story that works together so beautifully when in a room together. We are inspired to embrace the eclectic and see how each piece fits together. I also love how the design embraces the context of the city it's in and lets that speak to the overall design of the House.’

‘I have heard it been said many times but it definitely rings true for us, that Chicago has everything you could want in a big city (and more!) while maintaining an encouraging and supportive community without toxic competition. We are founding members of Soho House Chicago and John has been capturing all the of the images you see on the @sohohousechicago Instagram feed for three years now!’

The Stoffers' favourite Chicago hangouts

Coffee: 'Metric is a roaster with a small, minimal take-away cafe and outdoor patio. 4 Letter Word is a cosy and beautiful coffee shop on Logan Square.'

Brunch: 'Lula Cafe is a Logan Square institution with solid pastries, breakfast cocktails, and the best breakfast burrito in the city. Cafe Marie Jeanne has an amazing natural wine selection. Bring a big appetite and order the duck frites! The Allis on the ground floor of Soho House Chicago is the most beautiful place to brunch flooded with natural light.

Dinner: 'Go to Bellemore to experience the design, stay for the caviar-topped oyster pie. Cafe Cancale has the best happy hour in the city right now - solid martinis and $1 oysters in Wicker Park. Big Star does delicious tacos and boozy margaritas with vinyl bumping.'

Drinks: 'Right in the middle of Logan Square, Young American has fun decor and vibe - chill out with a CBD infused cocktail, Fox Bar has kind and knowledgable bartenders in an unpretentious and Chicagocentric package.'

Activities: 'Garfield Park Conservatory is an expansive, well maintained conservatory. It's great for the winter months to escape the dark and cold days. Shedd Aquarium is a world class aquarium. Check out the deep sea exhibit with 30 foot windows to the shark tanks!'

Soho House Chicago

John and Maura Stoffer are fans of their local House, in a former belt factory in Chicago's Fulton Market District.