Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

How Not To Stage Your Home For Resale


Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky

I’m addicted to looking through real estate  on sites like Trulia and Zillow; I fantasize about high rise living in Chicago or a beach house on Martha’s Vineyard and cruise the ads when I need to take a break from work. Sometimes the pictures shock me. Did these people realize pictures to try and sell their homes were going to be taken that day? Could they have maybe made the bed? Here’s one that really cracked me up today. It’s a nice place, it looks fairly clean, it’s not cheap, but it’s very clear that a dude or dudes live here. Dudes that were likely in a fraternity.

Nice open living room, but the fact that a Foosball table is a focal point tips me off that Joey and Chandler may live here.

This kitchen is acceptable and clean. However, if you’re trying to sell your home, clear your counters. You may leave a teapot and a wine rack out, but I don’t want to see your dishrack (this tells a potential buyer that dishwasher may not work so great), your clutter, and I can’t smell the kitchen from the picture, so go ahead and put the Fabreeze away. By seeing it, I’m already thinking that your kitchen may very well stink.

OK, where to start? The dead plant is just bad feng shui. Make your bed. Place your occasional chair in a place that makes sense instead of the middle of the room. Put your clothing and that weird exercise contraption in the closet. Put the TV on a table or stand instead of directly on the carpet. Put the creepy poster in the recycling bin. This room belongs to Patrick Bateman’s messier brother.

Again, throwing your comforter over your rumpled sheets is not making the bed. Hang your jacket up. Put your shoes away. Clear that odd console. Don’t have wires hanging down from lamps. You literally could have put all the clutter behind where the photographer is standing for five minutes and this room could have looked clean and normal.

Finally, these guys do get points for putting the lid down, my number one bathroom shot pet-peeve. However, put your personal toiletries away. I don’t want to see a loofah hanging in the shower, the fact that the bottles are on the shower floor tells me that there is not a handy niche in there and I too will have to bend down to get my shampoo or have one of those stupid faucet hangers that never works right. I’m glad that the owner clearly has good hygiene, but the clutter is distracting.

Again, this place wasn’t exactly ready for an episode of Hoarders, it just needed a housekeeper and a home stager. What are your biggest home staging pet peeves?


Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Mini Chicago Architecture Tour


Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky

The last time I went to Chicago I saw Desperately Seeking Susan in the theater, and it was a new release at the time. Also, I was at an age where getting to see Desperately Seeking Susan was the coolest, and I spent my allowance on a bunch of Madonna-inspired rubber and silver bracelets at Contempo Casuals at Water Tower Place, oblivious to the amazing city around me. Luckily this past weekend, I returned to Chicago more mature and appreciative of architecture, and I found myself cruising Trulia for Chicago housing as soon as I had to leave. Here are just a few of the sites that make up the amazing city.

One of the most fun things you can do in Chicago is rent a bike and take it up or down the coast of Lake Michigan; we opted to go North. It was worth the horrendous customer service and outrageous prices at the bike rental place on the Navy Pier.

One of the great things about the architecture of Chicago is all of those little details on the buildings that came before Mies stripped everything down. The detail above is from what is currently a Bloomingdale’s Home store, formerly the Medinah Temple, designed by Huehl and Schmid, built in 1912.

While I knew a bit about the 1922 Chicago Tribune building/contest (in architecture school you learn that the second-place entry is the one everyone is still talking about, by Eliel Saarninen). What I didn’t realize is that the existing neo-gothic architecture  has all of these little fragments from other buildings around the world stuck in it, from castles in England to the Great Wall of China.

Okay, so I was not coordinated enough to ride my bike and snap a picture of 860-880 Lake Shore Drive at the same time, so they are missing from this photo essay, as well as a slew of other iconic buildings. Sorry! Anyway, Marnia City  (1959) by a.k.a. the honeycomb buildings, was built by one of Mies’ proteges, Bertrand Goldberg.

He also designed the Prentice Women’s Hospital, a Brutalist building that is currently in danger of being demolished (last I heard  Northwestern University was still pushing to tear it down; sign a petition to help it get landmark status here). This building is a feat of engineering and was one of the first designs to use CAD, which was cutting edge technology at the time. The building was completed in 1975.

I think I like this view of Frank Gehry’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park (2004) the best. He sure knows how to make you want to go check out what the rest of it looks like with a big metal tease. Here’s what the rest of it looks like.

Obligatory shot of Cloud Gate (2004), a.k.a. “The Bean,” by Anish Kapoor.

Last picture I took before I got super tired and picture quality got even worse – Yvonne Domenge Sculpture at Millennium Park.


Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Designer Interview: Maria Boustead, Founder of Po Campo


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Today we have the pleasure of sitting down with Maria Boustead, co-founder of Po Campo, a Chicago-based company that has found a way to produce some of the cutest and most useful, durable and weatherproof bike bags around. An avid biker herself, Maria knew exactly what she needed from said bag and what she couldn’t find on the market. She partnered up with her friend Emily Taylor and the rest is history. Here’s the history and some advice from Maria:

What inspired your business ?
Biking has always been my favorite way to get around Chicago. It’s fun and practical for city living. However, I don’t like wearing backpacks or messenger bags because I get too sweaty and they hurt my back if I’m toting a lot around. In the summer of 2008 I was biking to work with my normal purse bungee corded to my rear rack and I wondered why there weren’t any bike bags more appropriate for women biking to work. I was picturing something more professional and tastefully designed that could easily attach and detach from my bike, something to bridge the gap between riding my bike and the rest of my life. I shared the idea with my friend and fellow designer Emily Taylor and we decided to design a line of bags that would do just that.

How did you start your business? Were you sewing at home? What’s the production like now and how did you grow to this point?

Designing the first bags was pretty straightforward because we knew what we wanted. We identified two times when the typical bike bags on the market didn’t work because they were too basic, blah and masculine: Going to work and going out on the town. Then, we designed bags to fit those occasions. Our first Rack Bag (now the Armitage Satchel) was large and roomy for going to work and the Handlebar Bag (now the Streeterville Clutch) was small and cute for going out with the girls or out on a date.

We sketched up our ideas and made some rough prototypes on our home sewing machines. In the beginning, it was really important for us to produce locally and it took quite a bit of legwork to figure out how to do it since most cut-and-sew production has moved overseas. We finally found the right partner in Chicago with a proved track record of quality bags and the ability to scale up as we needed to. We’ve been working with them ever since.

What inspires you? What do you do when you have a creative block?
I like being out and about and experiencing things in the city, anything from attending an arts event to people watching to hanging out at the lake. Chicago is full of interesting creative people and I love being around that. Creative blocks for me are usually solved by a long bike ride, yoga or hanging out with friends and throwing ideas around. You never know where the next idea will come from, so I always try to stay receptive to new things.

What is your personal workspace like?
Ha ha, sadly nothing too glamorous. Po Campo is half of a desk in my apartment that I share with my husband! For now anyway….

Any advice to those who are looking to make the jump into starting their own business?

Just go for it, ask lots of advice and don’t look down.

Where does the name Po Campo come from?
Our brand name Po Campo comes from a character from Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove novel (my favorite book). Po Campo was the cook that went along on the cattle drive from Texas to Montana. We found him inspirational because he did things his own way, was always open to adventure and found something to appreciate in the most mundane or trying of times. Starting a business making fashionable bike accessories in Chicago, we needed a dose of his self-assuredness because we heard plenty of “that will never work”. As time has gone by, though, I feel his openness to what’s around the next corner continually inspirational. It’s kind of like the beauty of bike riding because you can go at your own pace and go where you want to go and experience new things each time.

Thanks so much for maria for chatting with us today! And for sharing this shot of herself and her bag in action!


Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Video: Po Campo in Action


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Emily and Maria, the adventurous gals behind the bike accessory company Po Campo, like to “instill a sense of independence and love of exploration in every item we make by producing everything with pride in our home city, Chicago.” In that spirit, they shot a typical day of going through the to-do list, including the bike ride over through Chicago, which they have shared here:

More of Po Campo’s stylin’ bike bags.