Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Lots of Spooky Halloween images to share today -

My Mom used to collect the most wonderful, whimsical things. This first one is a vintage post card from her collection - she had a shoe box full of vintage postcards of all types and subjects. I have started my own mini collection of vintage postcards - Holidays, Chicago, Glen Ellyn, National Parks... maybe a post for another day.  I learned so much about life and the details about how things used to be from poking through antique shops and flea markets with her.  Happy Halloween, Mom!

The rest of the images I am sharing today come from an amazing blog called The Graphics Fairy.
On this website, you'll see a fascinating collection of vintage art work, all old enough to be in the public domain and free to anyone!  She is truly a Graphics Fairy! 
Check out her blog and Enjoy!

 Love this gorgeous grackle!

A Butterfly tinted especially for Halloween?

Another Spooky witch.

A Jolly little witch...

 And one more just for fun...

How about this for Halloween cheer?

Or this?

And everyone loves a nice black cat, don't they?

This one is a bit more traditional ...

I love the vintage hand colored postcards the best.

And this one would be great for crafts...

And one more pumpkin picture, just for this occasion, taken by me,

Happy Halloween to Everyone!
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Friday, October 28, 2011

Fabulous Kitchen Remodeling Project * Before and After!

This past year, I had the pleasure of working with the delightful Park family
on the design for their kitchen remodeling project.
This kitchen was recently featured on the  Bridge Communities 2011 Glen Ellyn Kitchen Walk. 
The changes were quite extensive and the results are pretty fabulous! (Toot!)
 It helps when you have a client with exquisite taste! 

This vintage Colonial had been remodeled by former owners to add some modern features and additional square footage, but the original kitchen remained tiny and out of scale with the rest of the home.
 Here is a Before picture of the kitchen. 
 (Actually this is part of the former family/dining room which became the new kitchen) 
The former kitchen became the new butler's pantry, as you will see later... 

Here is an After picture of the same wall, now part of the spacious new kitchen. 
Love, love, love how the new windows and vaulted ceiling design turned out! 
The contractor, Doug Funk,  ( did a fantastic job
of interpreting our vision for this space. 

The cabinetry was provided by Peggy Udelhofen of Design Systems in Glen Ellyn. 

Here's another Before picture of the opposite wall,
looking into the former kitchen from the former family room. 

Here is the former kitchen, destined to become the new Butler's Pantry:

And here is an After picture of the same wall- taken from the new kitchen,
looking through the new butler's pantry to the elegant dining room just beyond it.
Most of the red wall above was removed.
In my dreams, I finally find a way to create a butler's pantry in my own home...

Here is a Before picture of the wall which now houses the new commercial range and hood... 

And here is the same wall, showing the new range and hood. 
Love the chandeliers, too!

Walls were removed, floors were leveled and the former screened porch was incorporated into the kitchen to create a bright and charming dining nook. 
Here is a Before picture of the porch:

And here is the same porch, transformed into the new dining nook:

Here is an After picture which shows how the new dining nook is nestled into the new kitchen:
Kudos to Doug for the seamless transition!

Here is a Before picture of the old kitchen, showing the main design constraint we faced -
 the ceiling is lower here due to the staircase above it. 

Here is a picture of the same view, with a new china cabinet built into the new butler's pantry where the refrigerator used to be (just visible on the right edge of the photo above).
We decided to create a focal point that is visible from the front entry.
We modeled the mullions here after the new kitchen window, which is modeled after the original and  truly wonderful window that dazzles you from the top of the staircase as you enter this elegant colonial home.

Did I mention that the owner has exquisite taste? 

Just Wow.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Little Cottage by the Lake

Are you ready for another "Before and After"?
This is a post I have been eager to write- Four years ago today, we bought a tiny, and I mean tiny, shabby, neglected, little cottage in a fabulous location on a dune overlooking Lake Michigan, only 1 1/2 hours from home. The area has an abundance of grand things to do - art galleries, wineries, antique shops, fishing, kayaking, biking, walking, dining, relaxing and so much more. In the past four years, we have spent countless hours remodeling the cottage, and it has been very rewarding. We now have a nearly finished, enchanted little getaway and we have gained a whole new neighborhood full of wonderful friends!  It has truly been a labor of love, mostly love on my part and labor on Mr. Grand's.... I still cannot believe I convinced him to buy it.

The Setting
Second cottage from the left with the lovely brown trim. 
These 7 cottages were originally built over 70 years ago as "Housekeeping Cottages" that were rented to families trying to escape the summer heat.
We looked at exactly one cottage to buy, because this is exactly what I wanted
(and all we could afford)
and there are no other setups like this on the lake side of the road- it's mostly mansions on the lakefront lots.  We had rented a cottage nearby more than 10 years ago and I always remembered these little cottages at the top of the dune and I wondered who the lucky families were that got to stay there... We share the lot with our new neighbors (those same lucky families!) and the Association takes care of its' maintenance.  In theory, it would be practically carefree...

The View

in need of some serious TLC...

Back to the Beach and the reason the cottages were built there- it's so close, you just tumble down the dune and there it is - breezy and wide! 
Down is easy. We won't talk about the trip back up -
 we call it "Buzz Kill Hill" when climbed after cocktails and campfires on the beach...

The Michigan coast is so beautiful -
winding and wooded and often deserted, except for about 6 weeks in the summer. 
Burly and Mr. Grand love running there.

Fast Forward - Four Years Later:
After a new roof, new windows and doors, new siding, a new deck and new landscaping, 
plus a complete interior gut job, here is what the cottage looks like today...

Here is the front view, "After". 

Here is the back view "After" -
and a peek at the re-done outdoor shower, built by hand, by Mr. Grand, on the left side of the picture.

I'm sure the neighbors miss that old gold shed...

Here are my girls, painting the new outdoor shower.   
I'll save the whole shower post for another day.

I just love this picture...

Here is a sneak peak at the fabulous interior decor - "Before", in case you were wondering...
Diggin' the Brady Bunch vibe.

Another peek at the interior, "Before". 
I may have been suggesting that a new kitchen might be in order.
I 'm not sure Mr. Grand was too thrilled here.

I'll save the gritty "Before" and miraculous "After" interior pictures for another day...

Time for a sunset, a campfire and a nice beverage....  

 Come on down to the beach!

Can you see the skyline of the city of Chicago, way off in the distance? 
So close and yet so far. 

It's Just*Grand!

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Glory of Fall

We have had some wonderful weather and the Fall colors are pretty much at their peak. 
I took a stroll through the Morton Arboretum and I want to share some photos I took there. 

I love this natural collage of colors and shapes and textures.

Here is a carpet of glorious Mums- the colors are so vivid.

This pumpkin was my favorite- perfect shape and what a stem!

But this one wins for spookiness....

And these make a gorgeous still life study...

This Kale is way too pretty to eat, but it's tempting!

It was so delightful walking through these crunchy maple leaves.

I wish I'd made a note of what kind of Maple tree this was.
I would love to have one in my yard, if the oak trees would allow it...

This one leaf took my breath away...

It's amazing how the glorious Autumn light illuminates everything.

Hope you enjoyed this walk in the woods.

Will someone please leave a comment in the comment section below? 
I am starting to wonder if it works. 
I get lots of email feedback and I thank you for that. 

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Grand Project

I don't know about you, but I love a good "Before and After" feature-
 on blogs, TV, in magazines and here in reality. 
I thought I would start off with what we will call "The Grand Project"
Just a little review of what we have done here over the years.

Here is the "Before" picture of our house, pretty much as we bought it in September, 1989. 
We painted the front door red, but not much else had been done outside by Christmas. 
We were busy inside, though, adding on a family room in the back and remodelling the kitchen.

We made some exterior changes over the next few years, including a new cedar roof, new landscaping, and a covered, gabled entry with some stately columns.

Then we decided to get fancy and replace our tired, old screened porch.  And the ever peeling cedar siding. And we hired our painters to do the whole job.  What could go wrong? 
Here is the sagging old porch "before" it was torn off to make way for the Grand new porch:

Here is our poor, naked house after the siding was removed. 
The scary old black tar paper coincided nicely with Halloween and the Sox in the playoffs... 
So basically, this was taken in the Fall...

And here we are, the following Spring, still sans porch and siding...

Time to get tough and fire the "painters". 
We hired a great builder (Tom Phillabaum of Baumson Builders) who got things back into shape, pronto.  Here is an "After" photo of the house with the new siding and porch.

And here is an "After" view of the back of the porch... 
We love it and we live out there, practically year round. 
My sweet brother Paulie laid the stone path for us.

We have screens, too, but after we put the glass windows in that first fall, we have never put the screens back in again!  It stays clean and dry, cool in the summer from the shade of the oak trees and the whir of the ceiling fan.

Speaking of ceiling fans, I had this flea market chandelier hard wired into the ceiling fan in place of the standard light kit that came with the fan.  This little project was "no problem" for our trusty electrician, Brian AuBuchon.

Here is an interior picture of the new screened porch, demonstrating the "Chandelfan" concept:

And, in the spirit of the season, one last photo -
you may recall this nightmare scenario - "The Spider that took Grand Avenue"! 
 It made the Glen Ellyn News, thanks to my pal, Julie "Dubs".

So, let me know what you think! 

I will be featuring some sweet "Before and After" kitchen projects soon!

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