Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Mike’s Chicago Apartment

During our vacation/scouting trip to Chicago, we viewed 4 apartments from our short list of the dozens that we found online.  Like I mentioned we had decided on one as soon as we saw it; a small studio condo in Streeterville.  We drove out last week and officially moved Mike in on July 18th.

As promised, I’m here to show you the apartment; mostly to share our new adventure, but also since this is my digital diary of sorts, I want to remember this part of our lives.

Since it’s a studio, we’ll start in the main room. These are from the listing, and everything but the stuff on the shelves stayed.

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The room has a full size couch from West Elm, a coffee table that converts to a dining table (with the help of extra leaves), a storage unit with a TV and a built-in desk on the platform area.

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Looking from the other direction you can see the kitchen on the left, the front door straight ahead, and the walk-in closet is behind that bump out with the picture on the right.

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The kitchen is compact, but as Mike’s visited other apartments in the city, he feels lucky to have even this much space!

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The bathroom is to the left of the front door, behind the kitchen and was recently renovated.

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Since these photos were taken a mirror and glass shower doors were installed.

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Across the hall is the walk-in closet and is honestly bigger than our closet at home, and Mike doesn’t even have to share!

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You might be wondering where the bed is since I’ve basically showed the entire space at this point.  Well, behold the adult trundle bed!

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A full size mattress pulls out of the platform steps and it’s actually pretty genius, since the space is so tiny.  The condo owner, whom Mike is renting from, actually designed and had this system installed. 

Mike grabbed lunch and drinks with him last weekend and he’s our age and was living in the condo on his own before meeting his now fiancĂ©e and moving in with her not too far from this place.  After staying a few days in town before heading home, I can see how this place would be (and will be) perfect for one person.  It’ll be fine for weekends when I visit, but it’s a small space and more appropriate for just Mike. 2016-05-23 22.03.51
What really sold us was the outdoor space.  Not a lot of 3rd floor downtown apartments come with its own patio, complete with sectional, storage, grill, and that view!

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Here’s a shot I took while I was there one evening.

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The patio actually opens to a rooftop terrace with shared space with grills, seating and gardens.

And it’s 1 of 2 rooftop terraces for the building (technically 3 since the building has two separate apartment complexes with a shared lobby, but I’m not sure if our keys work over there).  The second floor rooftop is above the lobby, has a giant fountain and looks out towards the lake and what is known as Ogden Slip (a little slip of water created to increase water frontage back in the 1800’s) that runs parallel to the river and out towards Navy Pier.  All this to say, that the second story rooftop is the perfect location to watch the Navy Pier fireworks which are every Wednesday and Saturday throughout the summer!

Mike’s been there a full week now, and he’s really happy with the apartment we found.  With all the custom features, and dual purpose pieces (that coffee/dining table gif gets me every time) it feels a lot bigger than its 500 sqft.  We were worried about storage when we were planning, but the built-ins, as well as a pretty good sized linen closet next to the bath provided a lot of storage and Mike didn’t even begin to fill it all!

I stayed there for 4 days when we drove up to move him in, and I’m not going to lie I was more than a little jealous Mike got to stay and live it up in the city!  I’ve already booked my next trip out there next month and can’t wait for more grilled dinners on the patio and catching fireworks on the rooftop!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Porch Refresh | Sources & Cost Breakdown

I shared our front porch refresh earlier this week, and wanted to follow up with a cost breakdown and source list for those looking for a similar look as well as my own resource for when I need to replace something, or just remember where I got it and how much it cost!

Porch Couch Detail

Porch Details

Porch Close-Up

Let’s start with the products I bought.  Unfortunately the furniture set from Bed, Bath and Beyond is no longer available, but I found something comparable and not a thousand dollars.  The rest are all exact products, but some are on clearance, so they eventually may sell out as well.

Danks & Honey Front Porch Product Board

1 Wicker Mirror | 2 Gray Outdoor Pouf | 3 Tan Geo Outdoor Rug | 4 Four Piece Deep Seating Conversation Set | 5 Brushed Chrome Foil Wrapped Planter | 6 BIGARRĂ… Plant pot with saucer |  7 Zuma Stripe Indoor/Outdoor Pillow | 8 Black Striped Throw Pillow  | 9 Watercolor Palm Leaves Throw Pillow | 10 Large Clear Medallion Glass Lantern | 11 Small Clear Medallion Glass Lantern | 12 Concrete Eucalyptus Citronella Candle | 13 White Citron 3 Wick Candle | 14 Large Silver Lantern | 15 Small Silver Lantern | 16 Gold Drum Table







Outdoor Rug (5’x7’)


4-Piece Conversation Set


Gold Planter


Black Planter


Blue Pillow ($26.99x2)


Black Striped Pillow


Watercolor Palm Leaves Pillow ($33.00x2)


Large Black Lantern


Small Black Lantern


Concrete Citronella Candle


Citron 3 Wick Candle


Large Silver Lantern


Small Silver Lantern


Gold Drum Table


Plants (approximate)





This cost isn’t exactly what I spent.  Some of the items I got a discount on like using a 20% off coupon for the furniture from BBB, and others I already had like the black lanterns which were gifts.  But, it’s a good representation of what it would cost to buy all of these items to recreate this look.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the cost and extremely happy with the results! 

Porch Reveal 1

We continue to love this space and I’m happy I’ve finally gotten it right after almost 4 1/2 years!

If there are any other questions about specific items, or something you see that I didn’t mention, just let me know!  For see all these items, as well as some that I didn’t end up using or things that I might buy in the future, check out my Front Porch board on Pinterest.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Front Porch | Refresh

I mentioned back in May that I was revisiting my earlier plans to decorate the porch.  I had bought new furniture and a new rug, but needed to add some layers and to pull everything together.  Well I finished, and finally took photos!

Porch Close-Up

Just because Mike’s leaving for a few months doesn’t mean I’ll stop decorating!  I may even do it more since he won’t be around to call me crazy.  (Just kidding Sweetie, I won’t change a single thing while you’re gone, HA!)

The furniture and rug were nice, but it needed a lot of accessories to make it awesome.


New Porch Furniture

and After:

Porch After

To connect the chairs I added a gold drum table I scored on clearance from Target. 

Porch Chair Details

I wanted a pouf for additional seating and to kick my feet up on (I usually sit in the chairs, while Mike lounges on the couch) and after trying this one from Target, I settled on this gray knit pouf from World Market.  Both were comfy, but the knit one is firmer, and I didn’t like the giant stitching on the other.

Porch Reveal

I was stumped for a long time on how to fill that area between the windows.  I saw this wicker mirror from Target on sale and grabbed it wondering if I was crazy to put a mirror on the porch.  A couple days later I saw Julia from Cuckoo4Design use a couple mirrors in outdoor settings and knew my idea would work!  

I tried using the heavy duty/waterproof command strips, but the hook wouldn’t lay flat against the siding and didn’t have enough connection to stay up.  Mike suggested some vinyl siding hooks and I found a pack of hooks small enough on Amazon to work.  These clips fit right into the siding seam and can hold up to 5 pounds.  The only problem was that I was limited by the seam of the siding on the height.  I had the mirror a little lower, but had to move it up for the clip.  It doesn’t bother me at the moment, but I may use some fishing wire to hang it a little lower.

Porch Reveal 1

I had a heck of a time finding outdoor pillows I liked, but finally found several from Society6.  I also came across these Zuma Stripe Indoor/Outdoor Pillows from Pottery Barn and grabbed 2 of those, then picked a couple coordinating ones from Society6 from my short-list.

Porch Couch Pillows

I went with two Beverly II Throw Pillow by THE AESTATE and one TX01 Throw Pillow by Georgiana Paraschiv.  I bought the inserts from Society6 as well, but I wasn’t that impressed with them.  Next time I’ll buy them separately.

Porch Pillow Details

They don’t necessarily look like they match, but the coordinate well together.  And they make me happy!

Porch Pillows

The porch itself has a lot of neutral colors with the tan siding and carpeting, and white trim.  I tried to stick to a simple palette of natural wood, blues, greens, metallics, and black. 

Porch Couch

The plants bring in a lot of the green, while the pots and small accessories, like these lanterns I was gifted with at my wedding shower years ago, add the black elements.

Porch Couch Detail

Porch Fern

I also picked up these Threshold lanterns (in small and large) from Target.  I bought the giant plant pot and saucer from Ikea before I found this massive fern at the grocery store.  I’ve already under-watered it from the brown leaves I see, but I’m determined for another grocery store success story like my Japanese maple.  I also added the metal “M” that’s the match to the one in our basement family room.  My sister gave it back to me after using it in her apartment for a few years and I honestly didn’t know what to do with it!

Porch Reveal Side

The only thing I had in my plans that didn’t get included was a overhead fan.  I have dreams of a giant fan keeping the mosquitos at bay while we sip margaritas out here, but 1 - outdoor fans are expensive (!) and 2 - the ceiling isn’t that tall, and a fan with a light would be just above 6 feet.  Meaning any adult could hit the blades if they raised their hands.

I was still gung-ho, but Mike suggested that before we spend the money and time let’s see if adding a box fan would increase the amount of time spent out here.  So far, we have spent a lot more time out here enjoying the summer evenings, but I’m not sure it’s enough to warrant a ceiling fan just yet!

I’ve only showed the one angle, but the front door is on the other side, and there’s really no space for anything else.

Front Porch with Red Door

I tried to add in some red to go with the door, but I just wasn’t happy with it.  Maybe the red coordinates with the orange tone of the furniture and mirror?  I think that’s a stretch but I’m sticking with that reasoning.

I still love that red door, even though I don’t use red a lot.  With the tan siding and black shutters, it really needs a red door to make it stand out, especially under the covered porch.

House Front Porch

The porch furniture doesn’t show very much over the railing, but you can tell it’s finally got it’s sh*t together even from the street.  And, all the boxwoods made it through the trauma of temporarily being moved to the side yard!  It was touch and go there for a minute, but we’ve even got new growth happening!  What didn’t make it though is that center hosta, which is weird because I was under the impression that hostas could not be killed, which is why I love them so much.  These were all taken from the side yard either completely or split, so I’ll get another to put in the center later.

Overall I love the new front porch space and it’s literally my favorite “room” this summer!

Porch Details

Later this week I’ll share a budget breakdown of all the items, since it’s basically all just bought items that created this space.  Until then, you can most likely find me lounging out here with Mike and Benelli and some adult beverages.

Porch After 2