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On Turning Two, Part 1: Around the Home

In honor of our virtual casa turning two last week, we thought it’d be fun to formally open the floor on what’s got you thinking. We’re often asked questions in the form of email and comments, but it was a fun change of pace divulging on your tidbits and quirks – while returning the favor. And with the wide variety of questions coming our way, we thought we’d split the Q&A sesh into two parts, starting with what you’ve been wondering about our home and the city we love.

Q: What is your absolute favorite renovation you’ve done in your home?

Kim: Admittedly, our home was a complete gut rehab, and we were the first ones to live in it. Nothing, technically, needed to be done. It’s funny though, because that, for us, was the biggest challenge. We had this “perfect” contractor’s box – one that was screaming for some individuality. (It’s true, it told me so during our first paint excursion.) Over time, it has certainly evolved into something that is very us, and it’s so fun to kick back with the neighbors – all with the same floor plans – and see how we’ve all made it ours. No two units look alike – whether it’s our paint choices, furniture styles, room arrangements, and so on. But. If I had to pick my favorite thing we’ve done, it would be our wallpapered hallway. Every day, I love it.

Scott: While the wallpaper was a huge dramatic change, the built-in media wall packs the most punch for me. We learned more (thanks, Ross!) and honed our carpentry skills unlike any project before it. I’d never built a “real” piece of furniture before, but feel like I’ve got the necessary skills once we eventually have the work space.

Q: Why did you decide on Chicago?

K: Growing up most of my life in small town Ohio (albeit, a pretty sweet hippie town right outside of Dayton), I would constantly dramatize to my parents how one day, I’d live in New York. Or on the opposite spectrum, sometimes, I said Colorado. Regardless, neither of those happened, but my parents will agree that I was way too energetic, curious and fidgety to stay in the O-H. Then 6 years ago on a whim, Scott and I took a weekend trip to Chicago, and we fell head over heels in love with the city. It wasn’t my NYC, but it was closer to family and seemingly more within reach (read: less expensive). And it was a city! A big one! I had stars in my eyes (and still do!).

S: Less than a year later, I sold my home in Cincinnati, ditched my Jeep Wrangler and off we went. Chicago has everything we were looking for in a place to set down some loose roots: Amazing music, a beautiful body of water, a great food scene, art, public transportation (so that we could be a one-car family)…

K: …and Chicago dogs.

S: And bike lanes!

Q: How do you decide on window coverings? I have the hardest time choosing them and you two do a really nice job!

K: One word: Ikea. Really. With so much color in our home, layering in white drapes are all we need! With Ikea’s many, many options, textures, and extra-long lengths in white, it’s a cinch. We like to hang our curtains as high as they can go (and in some cases, they’re installed right into a track on the ceiling), so we save a lot of money going the Ikea route – where they’re usually $30-50 for 2 panels in 115″ length.

The only room that doesn’t get down with Ikea is our living room, where we splurged on silky golden-striped panels before we moved in, and they’ve stayed put ever since – close to 4 years now! It was a housewarming gift to ourselves, courtesy of Bed, Bath & Beyond (fancy, we know).

S: Agreed. The Ikea curtains that Kim mentioned are at least 25% of the cost of other 115″ lengths we’ve found. Our ceilings are rather high at 9’6″, and costs would have added up pretty quickly if we had splurged at a different retailer. While the shiny gold curtains were far from my first choice, I let Kim win that battle and have come to like the living room curtains. Honestly!

Q: Y’all have some fantastic art in your home, what are your favorite resources for finding such great pieces?

K: A lot of the art in our home has simply been collected over the years by doing art swaps with friends. Coming from a background in fine arts, many of my friends are artists as well, and what better way to decorate your college day apartments than with your closest pals masterpieces? Also, never underestimate the powers of what a mat (Frames by Mail has a mat designer that is the shizz) and frame can do to a photograph, cross-stitched memento, or inexpensive art fair find. Which, of course, we also attend art fairs (such as Renegade), student art sales (the School of the Art Institute of Chicago hosts a public sale every spring and holiday), and even pick up old photographs from flea markets. You can also check out resources such as Etsy (since many art fair vendors will sell their craft virtually through Etsy) and – a recent find on my part – 20×200.

S: And it’s a sweet deal not coming from the fine art background, but inheriting said art.

K: P.S… Not all of our art is even in our home, sadly. When we packed that moving van to the Windy City, many of my insanely large photographs and projects (I liked it big. Like really big. Like 4’x6′ frame size big) had to be stored in our friend’s attic. (Sorry, Kelly! And thank you, too!)

Q: How do you keep your place looking so tidy with three pets?

K: We talked about the big fur issue earlier this week, but that aside, our pets don’t really have “stuff.” For example, Jacks a tough chewer, so he has a Kong and Nylabone, and the kitties aren’t much into extraneous mice and feathers. They love the laser pointer, which can be kept in a drawer and out of sight. And as for Jack’s bed, well, that doubles as a floor pillow and doesn’t necessarily look like clutter.

S: Teamwork! We have a pretty good “quick cleanup” regimen that we can knock out in 10 or 15 minutes if we’re both hustling. Kim wipes down counters and dusts surfaces, while I follow behind with our trusty Dyson Animal. We try to squeeze this in every-other day or so, and things stay pretty tidy.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do in Chicago and where do you just have to go out to eat?

K: It’s quite silly, but I still feel like a tourist in our own city – and I mean that in the best possible way. We’ve lived here for 5 years, and I’ve yet to be jaded. Show me the Bean, I’m happy. Take me shopping on the Magnificent Mile, I’m happy. A lunch break at Crown Fountain? Done. A nap in the Art Institute’s Sculpture Garden? I’m there. A drink atop the Hancock? Yes, please.

All major landmarks aside, perhaps my favorite thing to do in Chicago is dine al fresco in the summer. I’d always been a winter lover until we moved here, and I realized how beautiful summers can be! The neighborhoods come alive, bike season begins (because you couldn’t pay me to bike in the snow), the lake is bright blue and the beaches start beckoning. As for where I just have to eat? Belly Shack. Irazu. Big Star. Coast. Cozy Corner.

S: Kim spoke for both of us on a lot of her answers, but I’ll add Downtown Sound: New Music Mondays at the Pritzker Pavillion, The Garden Dirt Jumps, and any street festival with good live music. Adding to Kim’s food list, I’ll throw in John’s Pizzeria for thin crust, Pequod’s for deep dish (caramelized crust!), Revolution Brewing for great beer and classy pub grub, and Friendship for Chinese. Dang. I’m getting hungry!

Q: If you guys could buy one piece of furniture without any cost restrictions, what would it be?

K: Once upon a time, we fell in love with a navy leather wingback chair. And the tag said sold. It was at Crate & Barrel, and it was $800 (possibly not high enough to fall under the no cost restrictions, but more than we’d ever spend!). We talk about it, like, every day. And this was several years ago! Believe me when I tell you it was ahh-mazing. The soft blue leather, the classic shape, the nail head trim… So, if a large sum of money could get us that chair back from the sold dude, that’d be it.

S: Man, that blue wing-back haunts us to this day. Other than that missed opportunity, my dream furniture actually doesn’t even reside indoors. A fantastic work bench with a utility sink is all I’m after. That will, of course, requires a garage to house them in. Talk about avoiding the question.

K: Ooh, and anything from Jayson Home & Garden, the mecca of all that is good and holy in the home furnishings world. I’ll take one of everything.

Q: What are your favorite web sites and publications, and where do you get daily inspiration?

K: The only in-the-flesh magazine we subscribe to is/was ReadyMade. (R.I.P.) Although, if my Groupon kicks in (uh, hello?), we’ll be getting Chicago Home + Garden, which is basically house porn (and I love it!). Aside from those, I’m web-inspired daily by the big, bad blogo-world, and I would have to assume that a large portion of my thoughts, ideas, and sporadic need for change are a result of bloggie osmosis. Major hitters in my book are Besotted Brand, Centsational Girl, How About Orange, Our Humble A{Bowe}d, The Brick House, Young House Love… to name a few. Even if our style isn’t their style 100% of the time, their advice and tips are invaluable.

Other places for inspiration? Pinterest. Store catalog mailers (yes, really). Flea markets. Anthropologie store displays. Our kiddos (hey, I paint pets, so it’s totally valid). Our friends. And trolling the aisles at JoAnns (or any hobby & craft store) is practically a brain burst of ideas.

S: In addition to Kim’s list, I think we both tend to find inspiration and ideas in thinking outside the box. We like to challenge ourselves and each other by using industrial, vintage and antique pieces in ways they weren’t intended, rather than buying off the shelf.

Q: Have you two always loved color?

K: Yes! Omg, yes. My college day apartments have spanned every color of the rainbow – from pinks to periwinkles to school bus yellow. And apple green and blood red! Oh, and maybe you remember our former pumpkin bedroom? Although we’ve done some toning down on the walls around the casa, color will always win. (That kelly green entry is staying put.) I’m learning as I go, and with Scott’s more practical mind, we work together – and take chances.

S: I’ve always enjoyed lively, colorful spaces, but didn’t really know how to use color properly, or how colors worked together until I met Kim. Her art training has given her a very keen eye, and I try to absorb the theories regarding why certain colors work together and others make your eyes bleed. But in the end, “It’s just paint, right?”

K: Aww.

We’ll be back with the, uh, more personal side soon. Until then – when it comes to this bitty home, did we get it all in? Or maybe you’ve just thought of another who’sa what’sa? Any other Chicago locals have a favorite place to wine and dine?

Chicago dog image via Etsy and Pritzker Pavillion image via Soul of America.

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  • Aww, Kim. Thanks so much for the shout out! I completely agree that the need to change is fueled by other projects you see. And, not every blog has to have your exact taste (I’m sure there are very few that are exactly as you would have), but the ideas and inspiration gained are unlimited. And, when I see DIY projects (like your welcome mat), the personalizing options are endless, so you can take the idea and run with it.

    We love your blog and your writing style. Seriously, I check your blog every day and I always love seeing what you’re up to. :) Please keep up the good work!ReplyCancel

  • Tabatha6.22.11 - 10:57 AM

    Hi, I’m a long-time lurker but I thought I’d say hi and give you a good old Dayton represent, haha. :) I grew up in Beavercreek by Wright State (so I know your hometown well, as another free spirit) and we live in the city limits how, working on our own rehab project. My family’s originally from Chicago, and we’re hoping to get back there ourselves.

    Just wanted to send some Greene County love your way. :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.22.11 - 11:22 AM

      Tabatha, nice to meet you! Please eat a few scoops of Young’s Dairy ice cream for me this summer!ReplyCancel

  • Cait @ Hernando House6.22.11 - 3:49 PM

    LOVE posts like this! :) And I realized I never finished commenting on your Turning Two post! Eek.ReplyCancel

  • Monique6.22.11 - 6:20 PM

    I just subscribed to your site about a week or so ago and I enjoyed reading this post. The color in your house is great! So nice to read about people who are not afraid of color. By the way, what breed dog do you have? Your dog is sooo cute. Love how you capture the pup with some of the cutest expressions.ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.22.11 - 6:25 PM

      Hi Monique – welcome! Thank you, we think our pup is pretty cute, too :) Jack is a Pit Bull mix with Irish Setter. He definitely got the Pittie looks but we see the Setter in him every day with his floppy ears and skinny waist!ReplyCancel

  • Miss B.6.22.11 - 8:25 PM

    Kim + Scott, I am bowled over to be mentioned on your lovely blog. In fact so much so that I had to double check that I wasn’t reading it wrong and checked the link to see if it was so. Wow, thank you! I too have the Dyson connected to my arm with two pups and one that basically sheds a new dog each day (Bella the world’s naughtiest Frenchie). Thank you again!

    Miss B.ReplyCancel

  • Kim6.22.11 - 9:20 PM

    Dearest Miss B,

    Aww, now we’re the ones that are flattered that you’ve seen our blog!

    Btw, Bella might be naughty, but that face makes up for it!ReplyCancel

  • ktmade6.23.11 - 8:43 AM

    I adore that print above the bed – the “i’ve always known it was you” one. So sweet.ReplyCancel

  • CourtneyOutLoud6.24.11 - 9:00 PM

    Shut the front door! I was born in Dayton and grew up in Greenville! I still have family in the area from Columbus to Piqua. I wonder if we have any mutual friends! Such a small world — and it makes me love the site that much more knowing the Ohio connection.ReplyCancel

  • Kim6.24.11 - 10:36 PM

    Oh my goodness! That is awesome! I love finding out when fellow bloggers are from the Dayton area! I played hockey in Columbus, grew up in Dayton (Yellow Springs, specifically – but went to school in Dayton), and now reside in the Windy City. Fun, fun!ReplyCancel

  • […] And maybe something above the door. I love how Kim and Scott of Yellow Brick House puts art right above their doors, like so: […]ReplyCancel

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