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Local Event: Kitchen Tour

Live in Chicagoland and looking for a little inspiration for your kitchen, check out next week’s Designer Kitchens of the North Shore tour–May 3rd. Featuring six homes in Wilmette, Kenilworth, Glencoe and Winnetka, it’s always great eye candy. Amy and I went last year and had a great time. You can read about it here in one of our first posts! What’s great is that there is a good variety of kitchens–some super high end and others that are more practical (but not necessarily less beautiful!)

One of the best features of the tour is that each kitchen’s designer is on hand to answer questions. Last year we were able to chat with them about general things like where they got their idea, but also specific things like types of and sources for materials.The next best thing is that you generally get to see the whole first floor of these houses so it’s more than just kitchens!

This year’s tour will include kitchens by architectural firms Morgante-Wilson Architects, and Gensburg, Toniolo and Harting. Kitchen designer and cabinet maker Christopher Peacock (a huge favorite of ours!!) will be on hand, as well as reps from Heritage Luxury Builders, Benvenuti and Stein, and Scott Lyon & Company.

Here’s a selection of the work by the above companies…gorgeous stuff!



Gensburg, Toniolo and Harting

Gensburg, Toniolo and Harting

Heritage Luxury Builders

Heritage Luxury Builders

And seriously (I’ll say it again!) one of my favorite kitchen designers of all time, Christopher Peacock

Christopher Peacock

Christopher Peacock

Wish we could go this year, but with a nine week old baby, getting away for a day of kitchen tours just isn’t realistic this year. Hopefully next year we can make it work again because we really do recommend it and it’s for a good cause–proceeds from the tour support the Junior League of Evanston-North Shore and help fund many of the group’s charity projects. This year’s tickets are $50 in advance/$60 day of which includes a luncheon featuring HGTV personalities Brandie Malay and Barry Wood. You can learn more here.

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Ikea Recap

Tessa and I survived our  trip to IKEA on Saturday for their Bring a Friend event. It wasn’t easy getting out of the house with six kids between the two of us. So, we packed up the babies (and Tessa’s mom) and braved the huge weekend crowds (it was seriously a mad house–there’s a reason we avoid this place on the weekends!) so we could see one of our fav bloggers.


We had about 20 minutes to spare before Erin Gates and Peter Walsh were scheduled to speak so we dashed around the store and took a peek at a few things. I quickly snapped a few photos (apologies for the crappy iPhone photos–I was being jostled by the masses of people and had a baby in my arms!) of items I haven’t seen before.

This desk in the kids’ section is just adorable…

 Desk lid down-Ikea

…and then you realize the top lifts up for storage and bonus, it gets even better. They’re small and have simple, clean lines so would go with any decor. I can see having a few of these in my playroom so that each child has his/her own desk with storage for special things.

Desk lid up-Ikea

As we were whizzing by the furniture department, I caught a glimpse of this beautiful chair for only 279.00!  It also comes in a graphite gray color, too. Looks like something that Room & Board might carry.


And lastly, this small cart would be perfect for anyone attempting an art cart.  Tessa picked up two..one for her son’s room and one to keep in the pantry with art supplies. It has wheels on the back legs so easy to move it around and it’s priced right at 14.99!

Art Cart close up-Ikea

Now on to the event….Tessa and I were both so excited to see Erin (Elements of Style Blog) in person and hear her talk. She looked so effortlessly put together and as usual, she was rockin leopard print in her outfit (this time on her shoes.) She gave a few takeaways about some of the easiest fixes to update a room.

1.  Window treatments are an essential, but you don’t have to buy expensive ones. She mentioned (naturally!) that IKEA has some great ones that she uses and they’re reasonably priced–such as these drapes. Make sure you hang drapes as high and close to the ceiling as possible.  Nothing annoys her more (or us, for that matter) than when curtains are hung right above the window frame or on the frame.

3.  Lighting-make sure you have different heights of lighting in a room by using floor lamps, table lamps, and reading lamps.

4.  When purchasing furniture it’s best to stick with neutrals. Bring color into the room through pillows, walls, and accessories. Take a cue from your clothing–if you make your big, expensive staple pieces neutral, you can bring in color and change it up as you want.

5. Change the paint color–painting a room is one of the easiest ways to make change without ‘permantely’ committing.  You can always paint over if you don’t like. Don’t be afraid of color!

After she spoke, we were lucky enough to chat a bit with the darling Erin and her husband, Andrew. The two of them together are adorable and so darn likeable!


Peter Walsh didn’t disappoint either. He came out on stage with an insane amount of energy.  He cut right to the chase by saying to the audience that he bet there were no Martha Stewarts in the crowd and that all of us probably had some kind of clutter control problem. I wanted to raise my hand and say not me, not me!

Peter Walsh

The biggest takeaway he gave the audience was when he talked about how there were two types of clutter: present and memory clutter. This resonated with me because I find when going into people’s homes that it’s the memory clutter that is the hardest for people to address. A good rule of thumb is if it’s so important to you then don’t keep it in a box–find a way to choose and display just a few of your favorite mementos (and I’m not talking about a whole bookcase of random hand-me-down porcelain figurines!) That’s why organization and design are so closely linked–cutting things down so you really focus on a few special items that you can incorporate into your home. I also loved that Peter really emphasized the need to let go of the guilt surrounding keeping items–it’s sweet that your mother wants to pass on all her old dishes, but have the confidence to say, “thanks, but no thanks” so that you don’t end up with a basement full of old dishes in five years!

But, the biggest lesson of the day? Don’t go to Ikea on a Saturday and expect to enjoy yourselves–moving forward we’ll stick to the luxury of being able to go on a Tuesday morning! We all gave a big sigh of relief when we finally got into the car and pulled out of the parking lot–but Erin and Peter made it worthwhile.

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Elements of Style, Peter Walsh and Ikea

Tessa and I are headed out to IKEA Schaumburg tomorrow morning for this special event. If you’re local to the Chicago area, you might want to check it out (and it’s going on in other markets so check with your local store.)


Not only are they offering free breakfast (who doesn’t love those outrageous cinnamon buns?!) but we’re also excited to meet two featured speakers: Erin Gates of Elements of Style Blog and organization guru Peter Walsh (if he’s good enough for Oprah and Nate, he’s definitely good enough for us!) We’ve been following Erin’s blog for a few years and are both so excited to meet her in person!

Erin will be speaking about designing on a budget and Peter will be discussing how you can improve your life and home by decluttering and organizing your home.

Here’s a couple of pics of Erin’s South End Boston home when it was featured on The Everygirl (she has since moved and is working on renovating her new home):

Erin Gates via the Everygirl

Erin Gates via the Everygirl

Erin Gates via The Everygirl

Erin Gates via The Everygirl

Tessa and I (with babies in tow) are headed to Schaumburg to tackle IKEA and meet Erin and Peter–hope to see you there!

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