Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mamma's Day/Advice from Paula Deen

Out of gift ideas for Mother's Day? Then, why not focus on creating a memory, like having her over for lunch or tea. Paula Deen, chef of all things decadently-Southern, has served-up some tips on how to set the scene for a dainty girls luncheon.

1) CHINA - Pull out your antique china or borrow a setting, like this antique baby blue and pink floral pattern with a gold trim or a similar girly-feeling design. She bought antique brooches to adhere to each white napkin to dress-it-up and gave them to her guests as a favor. Perhaps the guest of honor, mom, gets a very special one?

2) PLACE HOLDER - To mark your guest's seat, borrow Deen's idea to cut up pieces of stock card and paste an old picture of your mom, or your guest's mom, to the front. In order to keep the cards from falling over, she punched a hole in the top and threaded a long-stemmed rose through the hole. Where the end of the stem touches the table, Deen placed a small ball of gum paste to keep everything in place.

3) LINENS - Throw some fresh linens over the table. In this picture, Deen uses a light pink color. If you don't have a linen table cloth, be creative with other fabrics that might be stowed away in your linen closet. Deen's tablecloth is actually a drapery panel!

4) GLASSWARE - Mix-and-match whatever old vintage glasses that you may have your cupboard, or venture out to the flea market to buy a set of four wine glasses to add to the ambiance. At Deen's table, she intermingles etched clear wine glasses with light blue hobnail sherbert glasses.

5) FAKE PEARLS - If you are not going to wear them around your neck, then think how to use them on your table. Deen has a simple arrangement of white roses, which are perfect in their most simple form, but look how she draped several strands of pearls around the bottom of the vase.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Space Hog/How To Create More Space

An Elle Decor interview with Dallas designer, Alice Cottrell, who recently finished her three-year remodeling of her 700-square-foot apartment, lends a couple helpful hints for making a small space look bigger.

  • It's as simple as cleaning house. Cottrell removed interior doors, raised doorways to the ceilings, and ripped up shag carpeting and waxed the underneath concrete to a shiny finish.
  • Another strategy is to concentrate on a single fabric (Cottrell picked a velvet material for her couch and chair, above) and to focus on lighter color scheme, such as white-and-gray.
  • Cottrell also did the renovation in stages as she figured out over time what needed to be done, and she says, "Doing the work in phases allowed me to save for what I really wanted.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Chic Finds Chicago

With everyone in spring cleaning mode, there's a superfluous amount of resales goods on the market and so we've sifted through the junk for you.

For $450, you can have this set of four midcentury chairs (below) made of solid beech wood and detailed with woven seats. Designed by Georg Leowald (for the Wilkhahn furniture company), an influential designer of that era, the seller notes that Leowald won the 1949 MOMA award for seating. No. 2 in line was Charles Eames.

Unlike the bare-boned, simplistic structure of the chairs above, these pair of midcentury lamps(below) are from the same time period, but are much more ornate. They maybe even on the verge of gaudy, but can add some funk to those white walls and hardwood floors. $100.

For $150, this white-washed antique dresser (below) is in good condition and can easily function as a dresser or a hutch-- or really, just a space filler.

For $250, this antique Asian side table (below) has two drawers with metal pulls and nice detailing. Due to age, there's a slight split on the surface, but at least you know it's old!

This French settee (below) upholstered in pink velvet (yes, pink!) is going for $250. The backstory is the owner bought it at a estate sale in Napa, Calif. But now she's getting married and has to get rid of all her girly things. See there are advantages to the single life like snagging this adorable steal.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I'm a Homebody/Home Shopping for April 16-18

The Merchandise Mart's DreamHome event begins today, where ten local design teams have mastered every room in the house from the bathroom to the living room to the foyer. Though there's nothing to buy, you'll be inspired to traipse around town on a home shopping expedition. Monday-Friday, 1o a.m.-5 p.m, Saturdays 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The Merchandise Mart, West Kinzie Avenue at North Wells Avenue, (800-677-6278).

Closing Sale!!! Spurlock Antiques and Decorative Arts is discounting merchandise 60 to 80 percent with desks, tables and ceramics that range from folksy to ornate. (Actress Rebecca Romjin recently bought a desk from them, too). 1647 North Francisco Avenue at West Wabansia. Friday-Saturday, Noon-6 p.m. (773-525-4204).

The grand opening of Seek Vintage Wares and Apparels is Saturday, where you can rummage through vintage Haeger planters, clocks, retro fans, old suitcases, and other keepers. Saturday, 4 p.m.-8 p.m. 1432 West Chicago Avenue, at Bishop Street (312-526-3164).

Nadeau Chicago has two new shipments in this weekend. Click here for a sampling of what's new, but to view everything, you'll want to drop by their warehouse. 4433 North Ravenswood between West Sunnyside and West Montrose Avenues (773-728-3497).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Beach Bum/Apartment Turned Beach House

Doesn't the beach-y, simplistic white decor each spring make you want to whitewash your walls and spring clean all the color in your place? Interested in revamping your cluttered, dark place into last summer's beach house? Then, you'll be curious about checking out the season's must-have gear for that carefree oceanside look.
Every suitable beach house has a collection vintage books that are left to be read for the continuous stream of summer vacation guests. Put some order into those carefree stacks with these white ceramic bookends (above) from Mecox Gardens for $195.

On top of your shabby chic vanity that's speckled with gold accents or your white wicker desk, try placing these assortment of beach find perfume bottles (above) from Anthropologie that start at $88 each.

What's easier than buying a few shells strewn about on a coffee table, a side table, in the bathroom or on shelves. The conch shells (above) are available at Pottery Barn for $12.
Another simple idea is this vintage glass fishing float for $17 (below).

You can even find a way to make laundry charming Wisteria offers this set of three linen-lined baskets (above) for $34.

Pottery Barn is also offering these "arches lanterns" (above) and a variety of others that you can mix-and-match for $19 and up.

And if lying on the beach becomes a bore, what about a beach activity -- say badminton? (Even if you don't like to play, play the part. It's a stylish prop). Restoration Hardware is offering this set (above) for $79.

Maybe you need a tray to carry out some Pellegrino or Diet Coke to the back porch? Try this round rattan tray (above) from West Elm for $29. It also comes in rectangle.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I'm a Homebody/ Chicago Home Shopping for April 9th-11th

Oh, my, I know you're thinking that if the rain would only if it does, here's one thing to look forward to this weekend.

Scour through antiques and collectibles at the Arlington Park Spring Antiques Show (2200 W. Euclid Ave., Arlington Heights; 618-444-2803, Friday, April 9th-Sunday, April 11th). Admission is $8.

Forget Pier 1 framed prints. Want an easy way to find something original? The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is hosting its Spring Art Sale with one-of-a-kind photographs, paintings and sculptures, prints and drawings (112 S. Michigan Ave.; 312-629-6880, Friday, April 9,11 a.m. -7 p.m. and Saturday, April 10, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Decal-ious/Dress-up Your Walls with Decals

Wall decals seem to be the next hot trend to inject life into a boring, drab wall-- and not to mention, a decoration that should be less expensive than finding a piece of art or a mirror. On a shopping trip to Jayson Home & Garden a week or so ago, I stumbled upon the wall (pictured above). The store created a montage out of small wooden-carved birds (below), which they are selling for $15 each, and the result is an interesting --but not overpowering -- diversion for the eye.

Other places to search wall decals are Etsy, like this simple "birds on a branch" decal (below) that makes the blase background wall, come to life. (Get this instead of wallpaper for $27).

Or maybe you've been wanting a chandelier? Well, this one's only $30.

Don't have the money to replace the tile in your kitchen? Why not go with some Moroccan bubbles? You get 30 graphics for $52.

However, a word of caution: Some of the decals in a rainbow of shades could overwhelm your space and make it look like a kid's room. So to not overshadow the rest of the room and keep it sophisticated, try sticking to a two-color scheme (white/black, grey/white, green/white, etc.)

That's decal-ious.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Manhandling/Chicago's (Hot) Handyman Service Launches

Bury your fears of a greasy guy with plumber's derriere showing up to fix your water pressure. Or wondering if the guy you contacted on Craigslist is going to turn out to be some serial killer.

Thanks to DailyCandy for the top that Chicago has a new Mr.Fix-It service in town that sends over handsome, capable men in a jiffy to tackle any of your domestic needs.

Founded by Clayton Jarvinen, the service "Call Clayton" starts at $65 for first-time clients. On top of fixing leaky facets, this team of buff (I don't know that for sure, but I'm imagining it to be true) handyman can help you set up your T.V., hang art and mirrors, put up holiday decorations, install a closet organizing system, hand blinds and shelves, or put together assembly-required furniture.

The services are endless...literally.

Finally, you won't have to cringe when your plumber bends over. But the house rules, according to the Web site--no touching allowed.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Eat Your Walls/New Food Paint Smells Yummy

There's few smells worse than paint: gasoline, rubber cement, a skunk, a crushed bird egg.... okay, we all know where that list is going.

So while a few years ago, eco-friendly, "green" paints were all the rage, now manfacturers have come out with something to top it.

It's a paint that smells yummy and is good for you, too. Anna Sova's "healthy paint" has introduced a zero-V.O.C. paint (meaning it emits less pollutants than the old-fashioned kind) made mostly of ingredients found in food, which allow you to find scents like a vanilla milkshake, powdered donuts and chocolate. She offers around a thousand different hues.

Click here if you're interested in how this works. (Unfortunately, the smell does fade in about three days).

According to Consumer Reports, low-V.O.C. paints have drastically improved in the past few years in terms of quality and coverage.

It's healthy, but as a precaution, don't go lickin' your walls.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I'm a Homebody/ Chicago Home Shopping for March 26-28

Urban Source is throwing a sample sale just for fabric: one to five yard pieces of upholstery, drapery fabrics and wallpaper rolls. It's probably a good idea to bring your measurements or any swabs of fabric from pieces you are trying to match because all sales are final. Friday, March 26, 11–7 and Saturday 10–5. (1429 W. Chicago Avenue; 312-455-0505,

Want a set of hotel silver on the cheap? Then, run over to P.O.S.H's annual The Dish Ran Away with the Spoon Sale, which is offering up to 75 percent off all merchandise until Friday, April 2nd. Monday thru Saturday 10-7, Sunday 11-5. (613 N. State St.; 312-280-1602, (But don't get too excited and run off with their spoons!)

Susanin's Auctions is a go this weekend. The live auction for Auction 82 is on Saturday at 10:00 a.m., but you can check out the collectibles going on the auction block all week and until 7 p.m. on Thursday evening. (900 S. Clinton at Taylor Street; 312-832-9311,

Nadeau Imports has just gotten some additional shipments from India, which means there are over 500 new pieces, including dining tables to bookcases and coffee tables, for you to peruse over the weekend. Click here to see some of the new pieces (although please note that not everything available in the warehouse is pictured). Monday thru Saturday 10-6; Sundays 11-5. (4433 N. Ravenswood; 773-728-3497).

Last call! It's the final weekend for Jayson Home & Garden's spring upholstery sale, offering 20 percent off all fabric-covered furniture. Mondays and Thursdays 9-8; Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 9-6; Saturdays 10-5; Sundays 11-5. (1885 N. Clybourn Ave.; 800-472-1885).

If you haven't O.D. 'ed on , "Dollparts: A Fabric and Vintage Sale," is combining vendors Heliopsis, Tessaboo Vintage, Yellowbirdd Vintage for a street fair of vintage clothing and yes, again, fabric. Saturday, 11-7. (2016 W. Concord Pl., at Damen Ave.)

Happy hunting!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Chip and Chic

Via Real Simple, you no longer have to strip the paint off your chipping furniture to refurbish it. Confused?

Essentially, it's the recipe to keep the original color of paint on a stool, chair or accent piece you adore with a little sandpaper and primer.

  • One gallon Ace Royal Touch Interior Alkyd Enamel Undercoater (about $40, for store locations)
  • One gallon Behr High-Gloss latex (shown in Citrus Blast; $24, for store locations)
  • Regular or foam paintbrush (prices vary, at hardware stores)
  • One pack 100-grit or 220-grit sandpaper (about $4 each at hardware stores)

How To:

  1. If the paint is peeling or uneven as a result of multiple coats, give the entire surface a light once-over with 100-grit sandpaper to smooth rough edges and create a uniform surface. If the old paint is in good condition, with no flaking or bumps, use 220-grit sandpaper to rough up the smooth finish a bit so the new paint will stick. Vacuum up all the residual grit, or wipe it off with a clean cloth.
  2. Apply a single, uniform coat of primer with either a regular or foam paintbrush and let dry. Many brands recommend waiting up to 24 hours before painting.
  3. When the primer is dry, use a clean brush to apply the first coat of paint. Let it dry for at least two hours, then apply a second coat and let it dry (two coats are generally the minimum needed for a nice, even finish)
  4. For furniture with intricate carving or thin spindles, consider using a spray primer and a high-gloss spray paint after sanding.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Photofabulous with Clifton Henri

He's 30. His clients include Disney, Dow Chemical and McDonalds. And he's also working on his first book. Raised on the South Side of Chicago, Clifton Henri is a self-proclaimed storyteller, who finds inspiration from "emotion and nostalgia." And the only thing more impressive than his award-winning bio is his body of photographic work, which will make you stop and ponder.

Prices range from $40 and up for a 5x5 print; $95 for a 12x12. Click here to see Henri's complete portfolio.

I Spot Ikat

Ikat prints, a trend revival over the last couple of years, don't appear to be a one-hit wonder. Delivering to you, some of the best ikat-inspired prints, fabrics and accessories ready to be snapped up from across the Web.

Clayton Gray Home's blue ikat pillow (below) goes from the ordinary to the extrordinare with a fancy fringed "jute" edge for $130. (Or visit Etsy for a wide selection of ikat prints as low as $20).

Recovered in Lee Jofa fabric, this antique mahogany corner chair (below) dazzles with its updated ikat print cushion.

Pottery Barn's fabric-by-the-yard includes this graphic ikat print (below). One yard is priced at $50.

For only $325, get this Indie-chic indigo ikat print chair (below) from Urban Outfitters.

Even ikat chair prints are available, like the one (below) by Anne Harwell. This one is $25.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Once you put a high-gloss coat of veneer over burl wood, there's nothing burly about it. It's silky smooth and it creates that addictive sensation where you just want to keep running your hand over it. But underneath, it's a complex, interesting design of wood swirls.

Mid-century legendary furniture designer, Milo Baughman, produced many of today's vintage pieces from the 50s through the 70s, which other designers of the time emulated and today modern furniture designers are still reiventing his ideas.

Here's some wood burl pieces, which are timeless due to how they can fit with both forward-thinking spaces and more classic settings-- and then of course, where to find them for less:

Instead of chrome legs in typical Baughman style, Jonathan Adler's "bond desk" (above) is mixing in the material of the moment -- lucite. To get it for less, check out this Ebay posting for a burl wood glass writing table. It's going for $650, but start at a lower offer.

The burl coffee table (above) -- a Baughman original-- is listed at $2400. If that's a budget buster even for a collectible piece (for many of us, "yes"), then check out this 70s vintage burl coffee table (below) with chrome inset designs listed on Ebay for $499. There's no guarantee, but the chrome base may have been designed by Baughman or another reputable mid-century designer, Paul Evans.

The dining room tables, like the Baughman 114-inch long one (below) is so versatile. Pair it with elegant high back nailhead trimmed chairs? Or match with the mod lines of an Eames-style chair? (Many of the dining tables are also sensible for small spaces because they come with two leaves allowing it to expand to an 8-person table.)But don't give up on finding an original if that's what you want. It just takes more patience and a little more digging. An estate service is auctioning this Baughman designed olivewood burled Parsons dining table (below) for $495.

Nobody will be laughing -- just envying-- your apartment's burl-esque addition.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's a Small World

It's your lucky day. You can forget calling back that outrageously expensive interior designer that your over-the-top friend recommended. This month top designers open up to Elle Decor on their tricks and secrets on how to decorate small spaces. See the sages' advice below on how to turn your overmatured dorm room into a mature, sophisticated apartment.
  • "A generously scaled sofa, mirror, chair, rug or piece of furniture will trick the eye," says designer Mariette Himes Gomez. In the picture above is her Manhattan apartment, where the oversized bookcase is making you forget about the room's low ceilings and narrow design.
  • "Always make sure that every piece is multiuse," says designer Alessandra Branca. So, for example, use your table as a desk and an eating table.
  • "Use larger patterns on floors. Stencils the floors and upholster the walls. With a small room, think grand," says interior decorator Alex Papachristidis. The idea is creating an illusion to distact the eye, so that it's hard decipher the exact size.
  • Designer Suzanne Kasler says "add a wall of make the room look exponentially bigger." Yet again, it seems like another device to trick the eye into seeing more where there is less.
  • Against the grain of most design advice, which advises painting rooms lighter shades to make it look brighter, designer Amanda Nisbet thinks you should embrace the "inherently cozy" nature of a small apartment. Her instructions: paint the room a dark glossy color or cover the walls with wool or velvet. Add a large, fluffy sofa, a small chair and try to incorporate different sources of light. The last touch? But of course--a cashmere throw.
In line with the motto of these designers, it may be a small world, but you should always think big.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Welcome to the Fold

In Manhattan, (I think) the most elite invitation of all is the invitation into someone's home.

With through-the-roof rents, small and cramped apartments, and kitchenettes deemed a way of life, soirees among the 20s subset usually migrate elsewhere.

But if you do want to do something special and welcome friends over for a cocktail or dessert, one easy trick is to stow a set of six folding chairs under your bed or in closets.

Bygone is the era of folding chairs with white and metal frames. From bamboo to orange to mod, you won't begrudge pulling out seating next time the gals mosey over for a glass of Chablis.

Tap your French-Indian style with these bamboo folding chairs (below). Each chair is $17.

So clever. These turquoise "ghost" folding chairs (below), which are available in every color of the rainbow and beyond, fold into themselves and therefore, minimize their storage size. Fold-away chairs (below) in one of the hottest materials of the year-- lucite. They're available from Gracious Home for $129 each. Target's "Cannes" folding chairs (below) in every color of the rainbow, retailing at $189.