How To: Make Your Home Sellable

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How To: Combine 2 Homes into 1

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You Have A Problem If….

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Diplomacy and The Art of Negotiation

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Moving: Does it stay or does it go?

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Creating an Appealing and Functional Home Office

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How to Combine Modern and Vintage Style

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Choosing between modern and fresh or vintage and traditional styling for your home doesn’t have to be an either/or decision. There’s been a big uptick lately in combining the two styles to create an eclectic look that’s uber-personal. The goal is to achieve a beautiful balance between the two, which requires some strategic planning. Here are a few of our designers’ best tips for blending both styles.

Image via Camille Styles

Pair modern art with vintage furniture

If your furniture and room décor is skewing towards the traditional side, add a dash of intrigue with modern art pieces. It freshens up the space and prevents it from seeming bland or stagnant. (Not sure how to start curating your own art collection? Read our tips here.)

Image via Traditional Home

Achieve balance. 

The attraction of this trend is the juxtaposition of opposites, but if you go too heavy on one style or another, the result may look thrown together and disorganized. There’s no perfect formula for balancing modern and traditional, but generally speaking, if your larger furniture pieces are one style, choose accessories and accent pieces of the opposite. Experiment until you’re happy with the result.

Update vintage pieces. 

You can always give outdated vintage pieces new life by reupholstering or specialty painting them. For the Lake Forest Showhouse last year, we specialty painted this vintage chair a bright, bold yellow that picked up on hues in the artwork and immediately became a focal piece for a previously unused corner. This is a great way to update well-loved family heirlooms that just don’t go with your new design, or to create a one-of-a-kind piece from something with great bones but no style.

Image via Apartment Therapy

Don’t keep something you don’t love.

Just because something is a family heirloom, that doesn’t mean it’s valuable or stylish. If you don’t like it, offer it to another family member who will treasure it. The same is true when shopping for something vintage. Treat it like choosing a piece of artwork. Only buy a piece if you really love it and it works well with your existing furnishings, otherwise it won’t make you happy once you get it home.

Image via Randolph Street Market

Where to find great vintage pieces.

Chicago has tons of incredible street markets and antique fairs all spring and summer where you’re bound to find something new to treasure. Here are a few of our favorites:

Randolph St. Market
Touted as the country’s largest antiques market, Randolph Street hosts events monthly from March through December, and many of them are housed entirely indoors. With over 125 vendors and plenty of dates, you’re sure to find something you love. I know I have!

Vintage Garage Sale
Held in a parking garage in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, this popular fair occurs on the third Sunday of every month, April through October. Each week has a different theme, though there are always gems from every era to be discovered.

Sandwich Antiques
You never know what you might find if you’re willing to venture a little bit out of the city. Sandwich Antiques has events once a month, May through August, at the Sandwich Fairgrounds in Sandwich, IL, less than a two-hour drive from the heart of the city. There’s always a great selection to choose from, so make a day trip out of it and go exploring!

Susan Brunstrum

Creating Inward Change for Outward Life Design with the Influential Entrepreneur

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This past week I got the opportunity to chat with Mary Carol Fitzgerald for her wonderful free video interview series, The Influential Entrepreneur.

We discussed embracing and being open to change, trusting your instincts for decision making, nurturing your personal growth, aligning yourself with your business, and much more!

As I explained to Mary Carol, one of my main mantras in life comes from a book I used to read my children, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” by Helen Oxenbury. The repeated phrase “We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. Oh no! We’ve got to go through it!” has become my metaphor for navigating life’s ups and downs – you just have to go through it.

I think it’s important to be open to change and to where your path takes you. Change is either proactive or reactive. Reactive change happens to you. Proactive change occurs because you see a need and cause it to happen. Proactive change allows you to control what’s next. Successful people and businesses are proactive and ever evolving.

It’s also important to work on aligning yourself and your goals with your business. Often in the beginning, it’s all about striving to discover and reach your goals. However, along the journey you realize you need to align yourself with your business. Figure out what you really want out of the business, and what your business needs from you so you can align yourself moving forward.

For more insight and advice, watch the video interview here, and be sure to check out the rest of the series as well! It’s all about finding that balance between personal life and business, and includes interviews with tons of inspiring entrepreneurs discussing their businesses and journeys.

Thanks so much for having me, Mary Carol!

Susan Brunstrum

Tips for Preventing Furniture Damage

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For years we have called on Art Self to handle furniture repairs and spot refinishing for our clients. He is a master at making scratches, dings, gouges and cracks disappear, and he fixes moving parts such as drawer glides and motion hardware, too.

Art is a third-generation furniture craftsman with 42 years’ experience. He learned his trade as an apprentice in his father’s shop and now works primarily with designers and furnishings vendors at the Merchandise Mart here in Chicago.

Images via Art Self

I caught up with him recently to get some tips on how to prevent furniture damage and keep your pieces looking beautiful and new for years to come. Here is his expert advice:

1. Make sure to use the correct cleaning supplies.

Most of today’s furniture has a durable, water-resistant clear coat that is pretty low-maintenance. Use a damp clean rag with water or mild dish detergent to clean the surface and a second clean, dry cloth to polish it.

Always wash and dry with the grain, don’t leave any water on the surface, and make sure you or your cleaning service use a soft, clean, all-cotton cloth such as a t-shirt or diaper. Dirt residue can actually cause scratches.

2. Protect against heat.

If you use placemats on a wood table, always insert a thin, insulated cork layer between the mat and table so that hot dishes won’t leave white rings. The heat loosens the clear coat, which cools quickly and causes damage.

3. Seal semi-gloss with paste wax.

Once or twice a year, protect your glossy or semi-gloss furniture with a layer of paste wax. It is much better than an aerosol product, which is not as durable or water resistant, and the sheen will bounce back much faster.

Image via Mohawk

4. Get a touch up marker for small issues.

For small nicks, purchase a matching fill stick and touch-up marker at a home center. Apply the fill, wipe off the excess and seal with the marker. That will tide you over until you get it spot finished.

Susan Brunstrum