Marbleizing your home interior, softly

Stripes, chevrons, polka dots, plaids and other common patterns aren’t the only shapes that may grace your home interior. Now marble has transcended its stony properties and made its way into a popular pattern that’s popping up on decor, fabrics and other accessories. It is no coincidence that marbleized designs have appeared on fall 2011 fashion runways, either.

If the idea of marbleized motif looks and sounds a bit 1970s (read: gaudy), think again. Today’s updated looks are colorful, classy and won’t leave your home looking like a hotel or an oversize Easter egg.

For example: Old World overlay with New World color seamlessly meet for a timeless look. A lamp like this can sit on an end table for years, without question.

A faux marble-framed mirror can make a foyer more grand, a lived-in room more formal.
These napkins will complement any solid-colored dishware at the dinner table. Plume them at the place settings for a dramatic effect.

If you’re not feeling bold yet, start out small and inexpensive, such as with a pencil cup and notepad holder. See if you get any compliments from your friends!
When done properly, adding marble touches to your home decor can impress lasting quality on the style and mood of a room.

Photo source: Elle Decor


Southside Lakefront is Future of Chicago


Despite this drag in the economy that has been lingering for way too long, I have noticed how much money has tricked down to my neighborhood in TIF projects, road work, and future projects commercial projects.

Many of the projects have been voted on and are now in the works-thankfully.  I have observed nicer El Stops, new CTA bus stop shelters, rust free steel supports for el track bridges while North Avenue’s EL bridge off the exit has been deteriorating for way too many years. Brand newly paved streets, and a considerably nicer south LSD compared to the old pothole mess of North Lake Shore Drive. Then there is the new development for boat slips being built at 35th street on the lake just south of McCormick Place. Which will be the most high end boat slip development Chicago has ever seen with a restaurant, parking, parks, lots of amenities. Major work is under way now for the Harper Court project  and the building just west of Starbucks on 53rd is currently getting a major makeover. Wholefoods will be 30,000 square feet and is going to be replace the Village Foods entire lot.

What does this all add up to: The south side is the future of Chicago. Yes, the North Side on the lake, has come as far as it can go residential wise. Now things are moving on to the south side, where its widely undeveloped and untapped. We live about 2 blocks west of South Lake Shore Drive. It’s along the lake and it has very easy access to 90/94 and 55-far better access than the north side of the city. I have lived here for seven years and like the quirkiness of the area and also its edginess.  I have no doubt that eventually it will be similar to what Wicker Park and Andersonville is today. It will be diversified economically and socially, lots of new great properties and all the commercial infrastructure is finally coming to Hyde Park.

Residential wise, my favorite area is Oakwood Shores  from 46th to Oakwood Street. Always east of Cottage Grove. Because it has the easiest access to LSD and other highways.

  • Drexel Boulevard between 42nd north to the fountain
  • Oakenwald Street (entrance just past Walgreens  & 46th at Oakenwald)
  • Plus streets east of Drexel Boulevard between 44th and 46th-pockets

Both of these areas have easy access to a close exit to South Lake Shore Drive and all streets are very quiet without a ton of rentals or subsidized housing. I chose Oakwood Shores over Hyde Park because the condos are much larger for less cost and I like wide open spaces. Hyde Park feels too tight and clustered to me. Its a walking neighborhood and I’m clearly a car lover. It’s hard to find parking in Hyde Park unless you are in a single family home.

When buying a condo or single family, remember my past articles on buying condos. Read them and do your research before buying. Hire the right Real Estate attorney. Mike Dudak on Dearborn Street in Printers Row is one of my favorite real estate attorneys in the city.

If you are a dog lover, Drexel Boulevard is the place to be. I have a view of the park across the street and I love it. It’s quiet and very peaceful.  At Drexel & Oakwood there is a running track and a kids park.  That park is great for those who like to walk with their dogs too. There is an outside sidewalk outside the track and people with big dogs use that route.  Or you are only 2 blocks from the lake so you can always run over to the Oakwood exit and walk along LSD.  There are better areas of Drexel Boulevard too. The north side of the boulevard is noticeably nicer and quieter. Why? Not near as many rentals and more owners.

Currently I’m still driving to Roosevelt for Whole Foods but it doesn’t bother me. I also go to treasure island on Lake Park and Hyde Park produce on 53rd which I love. But I’m looking forward to more choices in this neighborhood and hope more are to come.



Coming To Hyde Park:

Lineoleum & Vinyl: Cool, Green, & Updated for those on a budget

I’ve already decided: my next floors will be linoleum and I don’t care what anyone thinks. I like linoleum. And I like new vinyl wood floors. They have come a long way.  Linoleum is a green product, great for people with allergies and pets..and its very easy to care for. It also doesn’t cause leg fatigue like ceramic.

Do I think its for all homes?  Absolutely Not. Its not for a penthouse or a high-end home. I see it for a smaller cottage like homes or bungalows. You have to use it carefully especially with furniture and design. Everything around it has to stay within price perspective.

I like the thought of linoleum with a mix of white oak floors about the house, but I’ve always wanted an interesting floor in my kitchen without spending crazy money and this is the way to achieve that. I can see a checker board floor but not in black in white…in my next kitchen. The colors these days are wide and current, and you have a lot of choice in the design because they have more rectangular sizes and varied square sizes.  Now they even have crocodile embossed vinyl as well .    Which is gorgeous but not as cheap as a simple colored marmoleum linoleum. Also if you grow out of these and want to upgrade, its very easy to put wood right over these floors.

Vinyl Wood floors have come a very long way…look amazing, and are totally appropriate for those who have kids and dogs…..its soft on the legs and feet and just needs a special soap for the vinyl and water on occasion. I have seen it used in home gyms , kitchens,  and throughout the house of a MODERATE priced home.

Sheila at International Floor Coverings in Chicago (847) 943-2016 has the nicest  Vinyl Wood flooring samples to choose from. I’m not so sure if she has a lot of Marmoleum. Her typical client doesn’t request this but she could easily get samples if you need them.

Fantastic New Diet Cookbook

I’m not a practiced dieter. My Mother was on a constant diet, and aunts and other members of the family. But I just assumed I would never have to worry about this area because I was always  skinny. Watching others diet  seemed like a constant roller coaster of planning and work.

Since I  love cooking, and starving is not negotiable, I have turned to Cooking Light Magazine, who has the best tested recipes. But little overall information on dieting in general. I also found NOW EAT THIS DIET, endorsed by Dr. Oz and a very thorough, colorful, organized DIET book to help all dieters and newcomers to eating light,  finally get it straight.

What’s great about this Now Eat This Diet, is the order of the book. Whoever compiled the book is a great project manager….it’s extremely  thorough & educational. The recipes are full of taste without the fat and sugar. And the book gives you a concrete idea of what you should be eating outside of the book. What a typical 1200 a day calorie diet looks like vs a 1400 calorie a day to maintain a weight.

I hope Rocco Dispirito comes out with a second version that is full of more recipes. I’ve tried several and they have all been fantastic.

Favorite Fabrics from Robert Allen

Robert Allan just came out with a new line of fabrics you may like:  Here is the You Tube video describing the line:

Modern Library — I like it…its modern with organic patterns.

Here are my favorite fabrics from the new line.

Diamond Braid

Dragon Lizard


Inner Eye

Twist Around


Zebra Lines

Center Square

Here is the other line called DWELLSTUDIO ECLECTIC MODERN:

Dotted Trellis: Charcoal


Maze Work

Mini ZigZag

Plush Dotscape

Pyramid – Love this one.

Snake Chain

Tonal tweed

Do House Pets Decrease Common Childhood Allergies?

I have always had dogs as a kid — sometimes multiple dogs. And I never had a single allergy as a kid. And I was also never sick from school. But then again, my parents were not concerned with germs –which are just a part of everyday biology. Not something to be avoided with weird hand sterilizer every 5 minutes, thus ruining a kid’s immune system.

There was a late study showing that babies with exposure to cats and dogs their first year from coming home from the hospital, had a less likely chance of having animal and other allergies later on in life.

Take a look at a few of our favorite articles from around the web:

How to Use Window Films

I have a kitchen window that looks to nothing but my neighbor’s greystone 6 feet from me….I can see that she needs new windows and isn’t taking proper care of her lentels or her masonry. Also her bedrooms windows are across from me and she has horrid draperies…so I need to cover it up.

I could do a window treatment but I want the natural light to come through, but want privacy. So after much thought, I’m just going to do this cotton linen like window film.

Where else can you use this film:

1. Top Boxes where you don’t want to do anything decorative on top but want the lights to shine through
2. On kitchen cabinetry on the glass panels, so the items inside don’t have to be so need to be so perfectly displayed…but it still will slightly show through so you can’t have it be a mess either.
3. Basement windows where you want privacy from your neighbors on the side windows and you want the natural light
4. For Double Hung windows where no one is living above you and can look down into your top part of your window and then the treatment can be like a top down, bottom up shade.
5. Bathroom windows around a tub window or a toilet room widow, where you want tons natural light but camouflaged privacy.
6. Kids rooms to look as a sheer with curtains if very close to a neighbor’s house.
7. Front Door Glass to let the natural light through but privacy (plain frosted or cotton or linen)

Photo Credit: Decorative Film Store

French Cooking 101

I highly recommend to people to adventure often out of your comfort zone and take classes in instruction of any sort.

Last week, I decided to take a class on culinary essentials at the last minute. During class, we descaled, butchered and roasted and learned good tips and better timing skills.

Here are a few of the recipes we cooked on our own:

Poached Eggs
Egg’s Benedict
Salad Nicoise
Pommes Puree
Hollandise Sauce
Several Different Frittata’s
Cream Puff Dough-so easy!
Hors D’ Oeuvres & Canapes
Cream of Cauliflower Soup: Delicious!
Roasted Chicken, Grandmother Style
Creme Caramel Custard
Blood Orange Frozen Fruit Souffle
Striped Bass Over French Lentils: Delicious!
Roasted Rack of Lamb with couscous and roasted veggies
Potato Au Gratin: made for us since time was short
Artichoke Heart, Fennel, Watercress Salad w/ Grapefruit Citronette & toasted walnuts

Debra's Leg of Lamb

Frozen Blood Orange Souffle

Bread at Dean & Deluca

Striped Bass over French lentils

Other recipes were demonstrated due to running out of time. I also got a quality chef’s outfit and amazing kitchen tools so I was able to throw out all my cheap knives
which I always made fun of.

The best thing about taking these classes is that it’s a fun adventure (though somewhat exhausting) and you get to meet lots of new people that you have something in common. We all bonded over this fast-paced, intense cooking class and now we are all keeping in touch via e-mail chatting about cooking apps, recipes, work, and life.

New Ideas for Faux Paint in Homes

Can’t afford high end wood doors in your home? Need to do something interesting with your front door? I love these ideas for faux painting from Allison Cosmos:

1. A stria finish on a plain double panel door makes the door look far more high end. A high gloss black or hot color would have looked great as well!

Here is the same door in a dining room with fabulous wallcovering. Look how much better a wood finished door looks over a white!

Here is a close up of the finish. Gorgeous!

Here is another great pic of those doors in the living room. See what  a huge difference its makes?

2. I like interesting ceilings in dining rooms, so I like this darkened ceiling. It makes the room feel more intimate, and I’m sure this is some kind of pearlized copper leaf finish. It looks more finished.

3. This cute table for a hallway area gets a facelift. Before:


4. A sweet but dated bedside chest. Before:


Take stock of what you have around the house, and what could be improved with sophisticated painting techniques


How Décor Can Help You Look Younger

Just as outdated clothes scream that you bought them years ago, outdated home décor can loudly show that your home’s interior design is from a different era. Design site ShelterPop did a great piece recently, cutely pointing out “The bad news: Your decor is aging you. The good news: Redecorating is less painful than botox.”

The rest of the article goes over ways your décor can make you seem younger. A couple of suggestions include updating drab florals with more current ones, like metal flower-shaped accessories, or switching from overhead lighting to the younger look of lamp lighting. Like we said, it’s a light-hearted but interesting article, and we suggest you check it out.

If you really want your décor to make you look younger, hiring an interior designer who knows what’s current will do the trick. Contact CMR Interiors for help updating your old Chicago-area interiors.

Image: Arteriors via ShelterPop