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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:


6 Handy Design and Renovation Resources

Did you know April is National Decorating Month? For the occasion, we thought it’d be fun to offer some helpful design resources. Since we’ve done a number of posts that provide design guidance and solutions, we decided to look back at our blog and compile six of these in one convenient location—this very post!

  1. 5 Steps for a Great Interior Design Consultation
  2. Part 1: Building Custom Homes or Large Scale Renovations
  3. Part 2: Smart Planning for Custom Homes and Large Renovation Projects
  4. Chicago Townhouses: Renovation and Interior Design
  5. Popular Kitchen Renovation Trends
  6. How to Work with a Tiny Master Bath

Hopefully these will get you all set and ready to go with your design projects for National Decorating Month. What do you have planned for your interiors this April? Let us know! And if you need new construction selection expertise, design consultation, or turn key design for interiors, contact CMR Interiors.

Faux or Fresh Flowers for Home Decor?

I have a client in Lincoln Park, who was absolutely sick to spend $600- $800 for  flowers monthly, though she adored them. When the flowers died then her thrill was gone-not to mention her money!   Lets add this up: Over a years time that is nearly $10,000 + people.  That’s another vacation, a fab find for the home, extra landscaping out front, or charity.

Fresh flowers are great in home decorating, offering lively blooms and fragrant aromas. But in this economy, even wealthy clients—are opting out of this expensive habit. Only doing so on special occasions.  Other clients use their nannies to try to create the same look with little luck….and then there are other alternatives. Here are my tips on floral deals & steals:

I have found that you can take your great containers to Whole Foods who have great fresh flowers daily– and have them put together in a tight arrangement –for about 1/3 of the cost of a floral shop.  All it takes is more work on the clients end of project managing : getting the containers and having a clear, precise vision of what you want and being flexible on the blooms since they have what they have in stock and you have to work with them.  But even this done on a constant basis is still somewhat costly.

Or go faux: Jeff Jonen used to work for Zuvernicks (a past faux floral shop) and now has a company called Fresh or Faux? who works with clients who want faux but something that is realistic looking and not cheesy. Again, you have to be specific about what you like and what you want. He will often arrange something for your house that is faux and if you like it, you can buy it. He at least goes through the trouble of creating it based on the clients wishes, and then asks for feedback,  and his pricing is reasonable.

The other day  had to run something by my clients house. I walked in admiring the flowers when I walked in,  assuming it was the week when floral comes,  and these faux flowers looked just like the  talented florist’s work-where she gets her flowers from. I was surprised to find out that they were all faux-and that she had found Jeffrey who helped her create the same look for far less. And they would last.

Tips for getting what you want cheaper, than a typical florist:

  • For real floral, go to whole foods with your container, have a picture of how you want them to look and be specific. If planning for an event, do a test model.
  • If for an event, remember that they would have to order more flowers if they would usually not get in enough for your event and they will probably make you pay in advance for that floral that is coming in
  • You have to pick up and deliver. Have a plan for this.
  • Or go Faux….faux just isn’t what it used to be.
  • Fresh or Faux?   Jeffrey   (773) 388. 2395

So, which flower camp are you in: fresh or faux? Contact CMR Interiors today for beautiful interior design that will enhance fresh or faux flowers in your home.


How to Work with a Tiny Master Bath

There are times when you have a teeny tiny master bath to deal with –and nothing can be done about moving the mechanicals or plumbing—you are stuck !   I have a client like this in a townhouse in Dearborn Park, here in Chicago. So we met to discuss with Monica and her husband Kurt to determine a game plan on how to make it work. There are better ways of making the space seems larger than it is…..and by using higher end materials in some aspects, you can still bring desire for the townhouse without going overboard. Here were my suggestions and here is an example of a small bathroom maximized for space with new products from Toto:


  1. Pocket Doors Essential in Small Bathrooms: Find a way to get in a pocket door; when you have a tiny bathroom, a regular door is just in the way– not to mention annoying, especially when two people are trying to fit into a cramped space!
  2. Use Fewer Contrasting Materials in tile:  Instead of using various mismatched sized tiles of the same stone and try to keep the bathroom monochrome and light in color so it looks larger and less cut up. To save money on tile use an attractive limestone, buy in larger sizes, and then have a stone company cut the pieces for you so you can have different sizes in different places. Its more precise to have a stone fabricator cut up than your tile guy who will charge more in labor.
  3. Walk in Shower or tub?   My client wanted to get rid of the tub and just have a walk-in shower—this helps because then they can do a half pane of tempered glass across the front and not have to run across-which save money and not having a high step-in tub and instead having a walk-in shower makes the space seems larger as well.
  4. Floating vanity: When you have a tiny bath but really need storage in your vanity, then float the vanity so the room again feels a little larger. Having space under the floating vanity makes the room seem deeper. Although you have to run the tile and finish the baseboard under the vanity, it’s nice-looking and worth the extra expense.
  5. Lighting: You want to make sure you have enough lighting so there are no dark corners in the bathroom—at least two 4-inch cans in the shower and one can over the faucet, as well as ample sconce lighting with wall lights on both sides of the vanity walls, either on the side walls or two on the back wall.
  6. Details: A custom medicine cabinet that offers more storage and has built-in tube lights (like this one from Kramer Design Studio) would work really well.
  7. A great toilet that’s streamlined & clean: Take much consideration to your toilet and try to get something that looks small and compact and not bulky. Also comfort height is a must.
  8. Velux Skylight : This client had one small sun light that didn’t allow for any ventilation and didn’t have controls. I suggested the Velux skylight that is double the size in length because more natural sunlight makes the space feel more open , even if it’s not and with Velux you can get in fresh air ventilation at a control of a button. Nice.
  9. Accessories: Hooks go in the back of the shower for towels so they are not out in the open and are where you need them when you get done with your shower.
  10. Hidden Toiletries: Niches are great  in the back of the shower for shampoo and toiletries so that they are hidden. Plan around your towel hooks .

Orange Interiors Are Still Hot This Winter

Even though the coolness of fall has finally given way to the crisp, frigid winter, it doesn’t mean that our love affair with warm autumn tones has vanished. Take a look at these divinely orange room designs we spotted on A Punch of Color. Orange vases? Check. Orange blooms? Check. Orange oranges? Check. We can’t tell if this is a kitchen or a common living area, but it really doesn’t matter. This color has the power to bring any room alive.

Look closely. You’ll notice here that the accent colors on the bed and nightstand are actually red. So the orange fabric foot stool adds a definite pop to this simple bedroom.

Another tasteful way to add visual interest to a black and white themed room is by adding one simple burst of color. This orange framed mirror hung over the mantle brings this room together in a classy, delightful way.

Contact CMR Interiors today for help adding touches of orange to your home!

Photo Credit: Elle Decor

Part 1: Building custom homes or large scale renovations

Why Hire an Interior Designer with Project Management Experience?

I often get frantic calls from clients who are knee deep into a project , but have no idea what to do or how to fix a bad situation.  These are clients who thought they didn’t need a designer, and suddenly begin to see the value that a designer could have added to their complicated project AFTER they are along in the process, are frustrated, and are not getting the results they dreamed of.

In terms of custom home building I find that the client often hires a builder based off of a spec house they walked though, yet they wanted that spec house builder to do their house “better” and more “custom”.  Yet they don’t know specifically what that means for them. They may know what styles they like,  but to put that into a plan that flows nicely and works room to room is time consuming and not in their professional work realm.  And they don’t understand that trying to make a spec builder into a design-build type of builder is NOT for the inexperienced because it’s comparing apples to oranges. The two different types of professionals each have completely different methods of working on a project, and different philosophies on building. I will explain the difference in a later article between the two different types of builders because I think its a very important distinction.

When the client has a full time job of their own, and can’t spend it taking care of their project,  and also will not spend money hiring a professional, he or she often finds that the house is not turning out to be the house of their dreams, but rather an extra job that they feel unqualified to make decisions for. Sadly, the client starts to bemoan how hard it is to build, when in fact building & renovating is exciting and fun for the most part– especially when you have qualified assistance in all the decisions it takes to bring the project to fruition with the look the client dreamed of.

If you have an interior designer who has great management experience with similar projects that they took under their wing, with great photos and references, then you will have the necessary component for fielding MOST daily questions from the contractor and subcontractors, and will have a qualified pro who can deal with job site  headaches– which are very much part of building and renovation–no matter how fabulous the designer or builder is. But it’s the details that make spaces great and without the right designer and project manager to hold those contractors and subs responsible for the details, many of the details are not implemented  at all, or incorrectly.

We designers work on behalf of the client, and their interests.  Yes, we definitely help the spec builder and design build firm in getting our clients to make timely decisions,  and to also make experienced decisions.  But we are specifically focused on the client and making sure they understand the questions, concerns of their builder and contractors, understand what something will look like, and in order to facilitate decisions we draw up specifications for the client to review and the subcontractors so they know how we want tile laid out, what the grout color is, provide millwork drawings and specifications on finishes, provide trim profile mock ups and samples so that the client can better understand what they will be seeing and provide consultation and opinion on hundreds if not thousands of decisions for homes. So its worth the investment to have someone by your side who works directly for you, to make sure that your dreams are turned into reality and all the work, that this entails.

Top 4 Color Trends for 2011

If you’re like most style-conscious individuals, you’re more than likely interested in staying abreast on the latest design trend predictions for the year ahead. Luckily, the experts at Merida have pulled together their top 8 color trends for 2011 to help with all your interior design planning. With the help of top fashion and interior design magazines and as a member of the Color Marketing Group, Merida’s gained a reputation for being pretty on-target with their predictions from the year’s past. CMR Interiors encourages you to peruse this list of colors when orchestrating your home’s interior color scheme.

#1 Midsummer Night’s Dream

A dramatic combination of Boudreaux reds mixed with rich plum and olive greens

#2: Daybreak

The washed out acidic tones of celery greens, chartreuse, corals, blush and camels are refreshing and new.

# 3: Forrest

Olive oil and army greens ranging from light lime to deep avocado are paired with each other in the same palette.

# 4: Mystic Blue

The unusual combination of indigos, icy grays and camel tones define our Mystic Blue category.

Photo Credit: Merida

Contact CMR Interiors today to learn how we can help create these color schemes in your home.

Conrad Shades & Odd Shaped Window Applications

I love the look of  Conrad Shades for Chicago and suburban homes.  They are a unique product that is fantastic in homes ranging from modern, minimalist, transitional and even to the more traditional homes. These shades are understated, yet warm with an earthy organic look to them. So many times men are not crazed about the thought of window treatments. But even the guys I show these to happen to appreciate the look.

Conrad shades are certainly not the cheapest of shades….they are a higher end woven product somewhat similar in price to what Hunter Douglas refers to as their “wovens”. But that is as far as it goes in the comparison of the two products.

However Conrads are far nicer in various details that typically make up a woven shade.  For one, control versatility is high on this product. And because each window treatment is custom, they can make their shades for odd shapes and sizes of windows, bowed or curved windows. Also for the high rises where there are ceiling floor to ceiling windows, conrads are a perfect installation because they can make the shades in wider runs and higher heights than other company who have limited sizing. Conrads have smaller 1 inch by 1 inch headers –which are more discrete and attractive at the top of a window than other brands too.

Another benefit of these shades is adding texture to rooms that may have little architecture or too much drywall everywhere. So it gives the room nice  texture.

For those who love motorized shades I like the conrad motorized shades where they can be controlled easily with a buttom, panel or from a computer.

Please take a look at these pictures from the Conrads website of installations.

Photo Credit: CMR Interiors

Photo Credit: Conrad Shades

Drapery and Window Treatments

An often overlooked aspect of interior decorating that gets put on the back burner are window treatments.

Since they are the perimeter of the room –they completely add and detract from overall architecture of the room. So all the details of a window treatment are very important. The fabric, the color, pattern or the texture , hardware or hidden hardware, the style, length, controls…….or adding layers.

Here is my philosophy on drapery: Houses without window treatments can be fully decorated with art, accessories and gorgeous furniture. BUT the rooms don’t feel like a home without window treatments–the house will still look and feel like a spec house :  austere and somewhat cold and empty without window treatments in the house.

Many of my modern clients are initially against covering their windows. Especially in high rises. But window treatments and drapery are about control of light, not about frilly fabrics and trim. You can have super sleek and modern window treatments , which my clients like because it gives them control over privacy levels, light levels, and draperies even block out street sound and absorb sound  in rooms.

Here are some examples of a simple modern sheer in a Dallas highrise from Architectural Digest, and other photos that show a layered window treatment in various styles of homes. I also frequently install and am a great fan of Conrad Shades for the home which are my favorite to layer under draperies in these highrise homes that have little architectural character, and lots of drywall–where texture is very much needed!

Kips Bay Showcase Charles Pavarini--layered with draperys, a roman and sheers

Architectural Digest: Dallas Highrise Loft with modern ripplefold sheers

Elle Decor picture with boxpleat draperies and sheer romans

Contact CMR Interiors today give your windows an update!

5 Steps for a Great Interior Design Consultation

You don’t have to be rich to hire a great designer. Design Consultation is a way to work with a designer on a limited scope. I have many clients I work with who like working like this because they can control their costs and also save money by hiring an expert to begin with.  They just need a designer’s advice for a couple of hours here and there.

And then I have wealthier clients  who know what they want and know they need to hire a designer for a large project. My best advice for these clients is hire me first for a design consultation. By hiring me for a designer consultation before signing a contract we were able to discuss the weaknesses and strengths of a home and how to play on both to make it the best–for their custom project. I’m able to go through the entire house and point out what needs to be renovated or should be, what rooms need more lighting, what fireplace needs work, and look at the house from what I would do it were my home, with this new clients likes and dislikes. When I leave the client has better idea of how to proceed or who they want to hire.

Either way the client wins because they get excellent advice, a quick summation of who I am as a designer, and a great service for a fair price. I also don’t feel like my time has been a waste, and the client got something of value in return. Even if the client decided to go with another designer, they will be able to weigh my comments and advice against their own contractors or designers.

After you’ve chosen a design professional that you feel comfortable working with, the next step is to focus on planning out your decorating consultation.  Here is what I like to see when I come to a clients home or potential future home:

The answers to the following questions should serve as an outline for your consultation planning.

1. Decide Your Budget It’s always important to think ahead about how much money you would like to spend on your decorating project. Narrowing down a budget will prove to be very valuable when deciding on expenditures.

2. What Is Your Design Preference? What’s the look you’d like to create? Are you going for something cool and contemporary or do your digs need to be a bit more on the traditional side? A great way to capture your style is by living in clip. Cut out magazine scraps of furnishings and accessories that appeal to you.

3. Functions For Your New Space Knowing how your new space will be utilized and by who is a very key piece of information for your designer. With this information in hand, he or she will be able to better discern what needs to go where.

4. What Direction Does The Room Face? Contrary to popular belief, whether your home faces the north or south really does actually make a difference! As such, your decorator will make important recommendations based on the orientation of your room.

5. How Long Do You Plan On Living In Your Home? Whether or not you plan on living in the home for a while affects a huge aspect of how the designer will approach their work with it. For example, if you plan on being there for an extended period of time, your designer will more than likely choose materials and furnishings that will improve the quality of your life and will be an investment in your home. If you plan on remaining there for only a few years, he or she will most likely choose design materials that will have wide appeal for home sale profitability.

Contact CMR Interiors today to learn more about scheduling a design consultationone for your space!