Top 5 Cool Products

Here are some really cool products that I’ve stumbled across lately.  Enjoy!

  • EVOline – this is a neat way to plan your electrical access in your kitchen.  Just think, no more breaking up your backsplash with unsightly outlets.  Store them either above the counter or below and access them with the touch of a finger!

Schulte Electro Systems answer to unsightly outlets!

  •  Best Hood’s “Lipstick” ventilator.  Ok, it’s not for everyone, but you have to admit it’s kinda sexy!

The "Lipstick" range hood

  •  Miele’s pop-up ventilation- A neat way to ventilate without making it a focal point.

Miele's Downdraft ventilation

  •  The S-box storage system.  Ok, I agree that I have a thing for ways to conceal stuff.  Maybe it’s the neatnik in me….

Lots of ways to conceal those things that clutter up your counter!

  • Last, but not least- Modono glass tiles.  Right, this has nothing to do with any of these other products, but it’s on my “cool” list.  These are actually textured tiles, available in many colors and patterns.

Modono Glass tile

So, do any of these do it for you??

Posted in Great Interior Design Products | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Survey Help

Hi Readers,

I would love your help and feedback on this very quick 5 question survey for those who have done remodeling projects, or are thinking about doing a remodeling project.  It can be a project of any size and complexity- from a simple re-do of the Master Bedroom to a whole house remodel and room addition.

Please click on the link: to access the survey.

It won't even be this hard!

Thanks so much for your help, I’ll let you know the results!

Posted in Case Studies | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Chicago- Winter to Summer in a Week

Welcome to Chicago, where as they say- if you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes and it will change!  What happened to Spring?  I was gearing up for warmer and warmer days, but it’s gone from 40 to 80 within days.  Sheesh!  One day I’m complaining about how cold and rainy it’s been and the next day it’s about how hot and humid it is.  I’ve been caught off-guard regarding the start of the summer pedicure season.  Wasn’t I wearing boots about a week ago? 

My favorite floral scent

Ah well, as a native Chicagoan, one thing I’ve learned is that you have to go with the flow.  So now I have my sights set on Summer, and I’m thinking of my favorite Summertime activities like:

  • Backyard Barbeques with our friends- and staying outside late enough to annoy the neighbors with our raucous laughter.
  • Enjoying all of the beautiful flowers (my favorites are lilacs, which should be blooming soon!)
  • Breakfast outside as often as possible
  • Seeing the Baltimore Orioles that return to our yard for a short time
  • Seeing the hummingbirds that visit our feeders
  • Our annual trip to the Lake with the kids- and hopefully my niece will join us this year
  • Opening all of the windows and leaving them open unless it’s unbearably hot and humid
  • Going to Ravinia with my girlfriends and not really caring about who’s playing

    Ahhhh, yes! This is Summer!


Yes, I could go on and on.  What I enjoy most about being in a place where you experience all 4 seasons- however long or short they seem- is really watching the change happen and anticipating all the fun things to do in each season.  What about you?  What are your favorite Spring/Summer experiences and activities?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Do It Yourself Design

I was reading a major do-it-yourself magazine recently and was struck by the photo of a low-budget bathroom re-do.  While I applaud saving money (I  like to get great looks for less!) it made me sad to think that by having spent just a little extra money on a designer, the owners could’ve had a much better bathroom.   Why?  Well, because a designer could’ve helped them make better selections that would save money and take the look beyond ordinary.  Even if you want to  (and can) do a lot of the installation yourself, a designer can help you:

  • plan the project properly, so everything moves smoothly
  • make suggestions for space-saving and sufficient storage
  • find the selections (tile, fixtures, lighting etc.) that can keep costs down but give you a look that doesn’t say “home improvement warehouse”.
  • help you pull it all together with a cohesive color scheme

Sometimes people like to rely on their contractor for design and finish advice.  While some contractors have a great eye and can give good advice, there are many others who are only familiar with what they’ve done (over and over again).  Case in point- the following picture was taken from a contractor’s website- advertising low cost bathroom remodels. 

Bathroom Remodel

What distresses me is that someone spent money on their bathroom and got this, when they could’ve gotten something much, much better for the same amount. 

Again, contrary to the misconception many people have about designers, I don’t believe you have to spend a lot of money to get a great looking project.  What I do believe is that a designer can assist you in making your investment pay dividends by making every element work together for a cohesive look and a functional space.  Here’s my real message- you deserve to have something beyond ordinary when it comes to your home!

Posted in Case Studies, Tips and Advice | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Get Them Before It’s Hot!

Believe it or not, Summer will be here very soon.  Unofficially at the end of this month.   It’s time to get some great outdoor furniture at the Merchandise Mart floor sample sale!  May 12-14, showrooms on floors 15 through 17 are open to the public!  You can save up to 75% on names like Lloyd Flanders, Brown Jordan and more.   Hours are from 9-6 on Thursday and Friday and from 10-3 on Saturday.  Of course, if you see something that you’d like to order I’d be happy to arrange that, as custom orders need to be placed by a designer.

Here are some cool warm weather looks!

Teak furniture is great for the outdoors!


Funky and space-saving!


Makes me want to grab a cool drink and relax!

 You can find out more at:

Enjoy and get ready for fun and sun!

Posted in Tips and Advice | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Someone You Should Know- Part 2

Last week I talked with Alan Karzen of Alan Karzen Restoration ( about reupholstering.  This week we talked about refinishing your fine wood furniture.

Alan Karzen

Alan Karzen of Alan Karzen Restoration

Q.  Alan, what about refinishing wood furniture?  What can a client expect?

A.  With refinishing, as with reupholstery, having a good quality piece to start with makes a great deal of difference.  I can do anything from changing the color of the stain (within certain parameters) to adding character with glazes and paints.  I recently took a couple of nightstands from a client and refinished them with a two color process which resulted in a completely updated look.  One of the other ways that we can help clients is by giving their kitchens an entirely new look by refinishing their wood cabinets.  I can change the look of their kitchen and freshen it up for a fraction (about 25%) of the cost of replacing cabinets.  Considering that you’re not throwing away perfectly good cabinets and creating landfill, it’s also a very “green” alternative!

Secretary desk before Alan's magic touch


Secretary desk, completely restored!


Q.  That’s great, Alan!  What should someone look for when they’re considering a refinishing and reupholstery professional?

A. One of the most important things is to find out how long they’ve been in business.  I’ve been in this business all my life, as my father was in it and I learned from a master, at his knee.  I have decades of experience and can handle the most complicated residential or commercial projects. 

Alan, thanks for a most informative interview and I wish you many more years of success!

Posted in Tips and Advice | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Someone You Should Know – Part 1

Heeeere’s Alan!

From time to time I’d like to introduce you to some of my group of trusted professionals.  Today, I’m interviewing Alan Karzen of Alan Karzen Restoration (  Alan is in the business of restoring not only your fine antique dining table and chairs, but reupholstering and cabinet refinishing.  I thought I’d ask him some of the questions that you might want answered.

Q.  “Alan, what should people think about when determining whether or not to reupholster a piece of furniture?”

A. “Regarding upholstery, I can get a sense of the quality of the piece by asking a few questions.  First, I ask how long ago it was purchased and what the item cost.  This will often give me a clue as to whether or not it makes sense to reupholster.  If it’s a piece that was an inexpensive purchase, it generally doesn’t make sense to reupholster it as the quality of the frame- the “bones” of the piece isn’t good and probably won’t last long enough to make the price of reupholstery worthwhile.   Reupholstering is costly because it’s very labor intensive.  We take a piece down to the frame, inspect it for damage, repair it, re-tie the coil springs,  and add new padding and cushions.  If an upholstered piece of furniture has a history- say it was handed down from Grandma or Grandpa, has a carved wood frame and good “bones”, it pays to reupholster it.  I can even change the style somewhat by adding or deleting a skirt and changing leg styles as well as changing the finish on exposed wood.” 

Reupholstery by Alan Karzen

Thanks for a great interview and timely tips on reupholstering, Alan!  Stay tuned for Part 2 of my interview next week where we’ll talk about refinishing wood furniture and cabinets.

Posted in Tips and Advice | Tagged , , ,