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Nate Berkus Giveaway

Instead of the usual making dinner and putting kids to bed last night, Tessa and I headed to the city for a book signing with Nate Berkus at Jayson Home.  His new book “The Things That Matter” hit shelves last week.  While it’s technically not a memoir, Nate does share  personal stories and how those events have helped him decorate his own home.  In it he encourages people to be ‘rule-breakers’ and to create their own distinctive space.

He was just as adorable in person, but unfortunately they weren’t allowing any photos with Nate.   Tessa tried to play the pregnancy card for a photo-op, but his ‘people’ would not budge!  Lucky for you he signed an extra book for one of our readers.

And here he is signing that book for one of you…

To be entered in our giveaway and win a copy of this book, leave a comment on the blog and for an EXTRA chance share this post on your facebook page.  The winner will be announced on Monday.

Even though we didn’t get a photo-op with cutie-pie Nate, we still had a fun girls night out on the town!

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What’s Inspiring Me: Design History

Last week, my mum was visiting so we decided to head down to the Merchandise Mart’s International Antique Fair. If you haven’t been and you have an appreciation for antiques and fine art, I would definitely recommend checking it out next year. With more than 120 of the world’s top dealers, there was plenty to look at for every taste, from antiquities to mid century modern furniture, 20th century jewelry and handbags, rare books, folk art, textiles and accessories.  A flea market this is not. Prices reflected the beauty and quality of the pieces so unfortunately I wasn’t in much of a purchasing mode. It was fun, however,  just to  wander up and down the aisles speaking to the dealers and admiring so many beautiful treasures. Here are a few of my favorites from the show.

This beauty was at the top of my list. Apparently it was custom made for a family in New York during the fifties. Can’t get a hold of this exact piece? The Ming sideboard from Baker reminds me a lot of this piece and is more readily available (although unfortunately not much cheaper!)

Edward Wormley buffet from Lillian Nassau

This bowl would be the perfect accent to a contemporary coffee table or the Wormley buffet above. For a similar look at a fraction of the price, head down to Chinatown and search the import shops, or check out these options on eBay.

Chinese bowl from The Jade Dragon

Begging for a mantle…

Horse's head from Il Segno del Tempo Antichita

I’d put this little accent chair next to my entry console. Again, if you don’t have access to this gorgeous original, Ballard Designs offers the Delamere arm chair–not exactly the same, but is available in black and has a similar scale and weight so would also make a great chair for entries or extra living room seating.

Accent chair from Greenwald Antiques

The perfect coffee table (well, when I was in my 20s and didn’t have sticky-fingered kids around!)

Vintage Louis Vuitton trunks from Daniels Antiques

This whale was more than 6 feet long and would look great hanging from a high ceilinged entry way of a beach house.

Folk art whale from Roger D. Winter Ltd.

Picture this ram’s head chair recovered in a silk navy and white stripped fabric.  Would make a great statement at the ends of a dining table or as extra seating in a living room.  I actually saw something very similar at Evanston’s own Akbik Gallery but in a bone inlay.

Pair of Ram's Head Chairs from A Bird In Hand Antiques

Not only a fun day with my mother, but also a good reminder of the fact that there are few things that are really new–so much of what we see today is an evolution of the past and in order to really appreciate what’s in the stores today, it helps to explore what was there 50, 100, 200 years ago!

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What’s Trending: Kitchen Tour Recap

Friday was a great day spent at the Designer Kitchens of the North Shore event. Seven beautiful homes with even more beautiful kitchens, each one very different.  Tons of info here so bear with me!  Here were a few of our favorites…

Both of us picked the sleek, yet incredibly warm stunner of designer Sarah Dippold and her husband Matt as our overall favorite.

Sarah Dippold Design via Sun-Times Media

A grand, eclectic European style family kitchen by Susan Fredman Design Group’s Terri Crittenden (interestingly enough, the home owners are Terri’s brother and sister-in-law…talk about pressure!)

From Susan Fredman Design Group

A perfect example of how traditional materials become more contemporary by mixing them together–different woods, countertops, backsplash come together in a New England inspired kitchen from Morgante Wilson Architects.

Morgante Wilson Architects via Sheridan Road Magazine

A simple, yet creative space from Vince Weber at Normandy Remodeling–we particularly liked the open shelving in the corner (in lieu of a corner cabinet that is generally unusable!) and the quaint breakfast nook that is both practical and adds visual interest.

From Normandy Remodeling

At each house, the designer was on hand to answer questions about his/her design and each one was super friendly and generous with the tips!  One thing we heard overwhelmingly was that there are of course specific trends regarding materials (and we’ve outlined some below), but the biggest overall trend in kitchen design is the desire for a unique space that reflects the owners and their taste/lifestyle.   So, when considering a renovation, look at incorporating interesting hardware, or mixing cabinet colors, wood tones or surfaces…don’t be afraid to make the space your own.
One of the most interesting pieces of advice we got was from Designer Sarah Dippold who advised that when designing your kitchen, create balance, not symmetry.  For example, in the photo below, Sarah inserted a large sliding mirror into a prep nook to balance the reflective nature of the large refrigerator on the opposite side of the room; the window above the range, is balanced across the room with a fireplace. Items in the room don’t have to match, but to make the space feel cohesive they should be balanced in general size and weight.   In fact, this applies to all design, not just your kitchen.

Sarah Dippold Design via Sun-Times Media

From Sarah Dippold Design

Sarah Dippold Design via Sun-Times Media

We also had the chance to have lunch with Karl Sponholz, Finalist Season Six Design Star, and Jann Parr, Editor of Chicago Home + Garden.   Some of the key points we pulled away from the discussion:

  • Don’t rush the process–take your time and find the right solutions for your budget.
  • Looking for a quick spruce up, reface your cabinet doors and freshen up your backsplash (but we all knew that already!)
  • Mix it up!  Whether it’s traditional and modern finishes or different materials, having variety in your kitchen will help break up a large space–definitely evident in the spaces highlighted on the tour.
  • Don’t design your kitchen for the one day a year when you entertain 30 people–it should fit everyday living.
  • The line between the kitchen and the living space is continues to become increasingly blurred.

Karl pinpointed a few of the trends he’s seeing:

  • Glass/porcelain is taking over natural stone for backsplashes.
  • While granite is still a great option for durability and resale, quartzite is gaining speed for its uniformity in color and appearance.
  • In cabinetry, after a good long run espresso brown is starting to move aside  for more walnut and caramel wood tones. Also, gray is the new neutral.
  • North Americans haven’t really jumped on the glossy euro cabinet trend quite yet, but we’re seeing it more (particularly in urban areas.)
  • Stainless steel appliances are still the top choice; big hoods still are an in-demand feature.
  • On the way out: recessed canned lighting…unfortunately it’s not quite clear what exactly will replace these lights so we recommend holding off on ripping into your ceilings.
  • And, don’t forget to make room for a walk-in pantry.

And btw, after the post about my kitchen last week, I was super happy to hear that white kitchens are still having a good run (phew!)

Drop us a note if you have any additional thoughts on kitchens trends.

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