HomesPlus

June 2010 Archives

Images of a Dream Home

If the look of your home has got you down, perhaps what you need is some inspiration to perk things up.  In this economy, it's a lucky few who have the cash on hand for a total remodel, so it's a good thing that inspiration is free - and you can find it at Dream Home at the Merchandise Mart. 

Check out some of the rooms in this year's Dream Home.

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Finding Home - the hidden neighborhood of Lakeshore East

Why live in Lakeshore East:

Lakeshore East is truly a 21st century neighborhood. This hidden gem is in the heart of it all, nestled between Michigan Avenue, Lakeshore Drive and Millennium Park. It offers a six-acre park, kids' playground and access to virtually all Chicago has to offer. Whether you're looking to rent or buy, searching for a townhouse, penthouse, or condo, Lakeshore East has something for everyone.

Fun fun facts about Lakeshore East:

  1. Aqua, one of the high rises in the neighborhood, was designed by Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects to look like water is running down the sides. The whole neighborhood has a nautical theme, largely due to its close proximity to Lake Michigan.
  2. This neighborhood's history isn't as glamorous as the buildings and park it now houses. The area was once occupied by abandoned railroad land. What a change!
  3. Former United States Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson, recently purchased a condo in the neighborhood at 340 on the Park.

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Chicago Neighborhood Tour: Wrigleyville

Why live in Wrigleyville:

Wrigleyville isn't just for Cubs fans (although they love it too).  This neighborhood has a lot to offer from dining, to nightlife, to shopping, and of course, baseball. Centered around Wrigley Field, it's easily accesible by the red line. Though the neighborhood is a hot spot for young professionals, many families call it home as well. In this baseball-crazed town, game days are a festival for visitors and residents alike!

Fun Facts about Wrigleyville:

  1. Wrigley Field, lovingly refered to by many Cubbies as "The Friendly Confines," is one of the oldest major league baseball parks still in use, second only to Boston's Fenway Park.
  2. If you find yourself hungry for a "cheezebuga" head on over to Wrigleyville and pay your dues. The Billy Goat Tavern was originally located here. Its owner, Billy Sianis, is believed to be the man who placed a curse on the cubs. It also gained fame due to the Saturday Night Live skit.
  3. Didn't get tickets to the game? No problem! Rooftop bleachers are a unique and popular way to watch the cubs in action. There are sixteen buildings in Wrigleyville that offer rooftop seating.

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Inside R. Kelly's Former Home

Okay, last week we teased you with the pictures, but just in case you missed it over the weekend - here's a tour of 1010 W George Street, aka R. Kelly's former home. 

 

 

 

This house is way cooler than R. Kelly

If you watch the show this weekend (WHEN!  I mean, WHEN you watch the show this weekend...) you'll see our tour of 1010 W George Street in Lincoln Park.  This home is pretty impressive.  Until 2002 it belonged to R. Kelly, which I promise is the least cool thing about it.  In fact, I would venture to say that it impresses despite that little factoid.  But that's just me.

According to Dennis Rodkin of Chicago Magazine, while the current owner pretty much gutted the place to renovate, she did retain the lower level "Colorado Room" (now referred to as the "Knotty Pine Spa Room") which is allegedly where the tape was made that lead to his 2002 child pornography charges.

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Chicago Celebrity Real Estate

This weekend we're touring a home that used to belong to R. Kelly and yesterday we learned that Vince Vaughn's mom just listed her Lake Forest home, which got us thinking that in the last few years, there has been a lot of celebrity real estate activity around Chicago.  From pro athletes to politicians to homes that have themselves starred in movies - here's a recap of some big-name real estate listings from the last few years...

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Vince Vaughn's mother lists her Lake Forest home

According to Chicago Magazine's Dennis Rodkin, Vince Vaughn's mom has listed her Lake Forest home for $2.395 million.  This weekend, interested buyers can check it out first hand at an open house scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

Read more about the home in Deal Estate: The Blog.

Chicago Neighborhood Tour: Pilsen

Why live in Pilsen:

Pilsen is southwest of Chicago's loop, an up-and-coming neighborhood known for restaurants such as Nightwood and drink destinations like Simone's on 18th. Colorful murals cover the walls of Pilsen, evidence of both the art and hispanic community. Its great location and affordable homes make Pilsen an ideal spot for anyone wanting to be close to it all!

 

Fun Facts about Pilsen:

1. It has the largest Hispanic population in Chicago.

2. Pilsen gets its name from its Czechoslovakian roots.

3. A growing term for some living in Pilsen is "Muppies," or "Mexican urban professionals."   

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New ComEd Smart Meters Manage Energy Use

Worried that this summer is going to cost you in energy bills?  ComEd has just rolled out a pilot program to help you with that in the future - or if you're in one of the test communities, you could start seeing benefits now.

Starting today, ComEd customers in nine Chicago-area communities will be able to more closely monitor their energy use using the new smart meter.  Once the digital smart meter is installed, customers can track their energy use online so that they can better manage their use.  The smart meter passes information along to the site every 30-minutes so that customers can get an updated look at how much energy they're using throughout the day. 

The new meters will allow customers to not only track their use, but also to compare it against their neighbors' use...
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Lakefront Living - Inside a Vintage Lakeview Condo

This weekend on HomesPlus we're checking out a vintage lakefront condo in Lakeview.  It was built in 1916, but there's nothing old about it.  The condo has killer views and stunning visual features everywhere you look.  Catch the full tour this weekend on the show, but here's a sneak peek!  The condo is on the market for $1.65 million.

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Staging your home to sell

If your home is on the market then you've probably been told by your listing agent or a well-meaning friend that you need to stage your home.  This can mean different things to different people.  But for the most part, staging just means that you need to get your home in its best shape so that potential buyers can see themselves in the home.  I recently got to team up with professional stager, Julea Joseph on one of her staging projects.  She taught me a few secrets to making it easy for the seller to get his/her home staged in just a couple hours.  You just have to have the right people helping you out. 

 

 

 

Today's Groupon will keep your home looking fresh...

First of all, let me begin by saying that if you're not familiar with Groupon, now's the time to get aquainted.  Daily deals in your email, usually for half or more off of a service, meal or class - if you like, you buy; if not, you delete.  I'm a huge fan. 

So, when I saw today's Groupon, I got a little excited.  Today's deal is for a floral design class at Epoch Floral on Hubbard.  (A $175 value, available for $80)  For anyone who likes to keep fresh flowers in their home but doesn't have the cash to keep a florist on retainer, today's $80 deal is a great investment.  Flowers freshen up any home; a pop of color on the kitchen counter, a small bouquet in the powder room - these are the touches that people notice, not to mention the little touches that can make us feel a little more warmly toward our own homes.  But flowers can be expensive, especially if you're replacing them every week.... 

 

 

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What you get for $1.89 million in Bucktown

Check out our most recent home tour - a single family home in Bucktown that used to be a family hardware store.  It's been renovated and is now on the market for $1.89 million

 

 

And you thought Chicago apartments were small...

The second you find yourself complaining about the minimal square footage of a Chicago apartment or condo, just remember that your place is a palace compared to what you might have if you lived in Hong Kong.  In a city of 7 million people, space in Hong Kong is hard to come by.  That's why this architect designed his 330 square foot apartment to be the ultimate convertible home.  With moving walls and rooms that disappear or turn into other rooms, this is definitely a one-of-a-kind piece of real estate!

 

 

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Style File: Make a statement with lighting

Forget the lighting fixtures that came with your house, they may get the job done, but I'm guessing they don't reflect your style.  Updating your lighting with something special is actually pretty easy and doesn't have to cost more than you can afford.  In addition to second-hand stores and garage sales, you can find inexpensive chandeliers, wall sconces and lamps at pretty much all of the home stores. 

There are no rules to choosing your lighting fixtures, there are just a few things you need to remember...

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Stop killing plants.

I am very, very happy to report that the flowers I planted in my window boxes one month ago are, in fact still alive.  This alone is a major feat when you've got thumbs as brown as mine, but not only have I not killed them; they're actually flourishing!  I hesitate to even put this out there because I'm sure I've just jinxed myself, but hey, small victories make me happy.

If you're struggling to keep your plant life alive like I usually do, then you might benefit from a class at the Chicago Botanic Garden.  They offer classes all summer to teach things like pruning, putting together container gardens and more.  They even have classes for kids. 

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Chicago Suburban Tour: Oak Park

Why live in Oak Park:

Oak Park has everything ranging from Victorian style houses to more contemporary condos. A sort of "urban suburb," Oak Park's movie theaters, churches, libraries, and school are all easily accesible. Retail, dining and recreation contribute to the town's charm, making Oak Park an ideal spot for your next home!

 

Fun Facts about Oak Park:

1. Frank Lloyd Wright designed several buidlings and homes in the area, including the Mrs. Gale house, which recently sold for $965,000

2. Oak Park has a history of alcohol prohibition. It wasn't until 1973 that alcohol was allowed to be sold within the city's limits! 

3.  Oak Park is home to the birthplace of popular American writer, Ernest Hemingway.  

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Top 3 North Shore Estates

It's no secret that some of the most fabulous homes around Chicago can be found in the North Shore.  Not that there aren't some serious gems in other areas, but come on - there's just a huge concentration of wealth and acreage in the North Shore, it's hard to turn a corner without spotting a home that turns me green with envy.  And that is why we at HomesPlus find ourselves braving traffic on the Edens so often to check out the homes there.  It's been totally worth it.  But lucky for you, you don't even have to get in the car - here are our three favorite home tours from the North Shore!

 

 

Starting with #3...
 

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Biking and Buying: Searching for your new home on 2 wheels

I've always been a big believer that the best way to check out a new city is to lace up your running shoes and hit the pavement as soon as you get there.  Running through any area is bound to give you a better view of it than you could possibly get flying by it at 30 or more miles per hour in your car.  You may get a friendly hello from locals walking their dogs, peek inside neighborhood businesses as you pass and you'll get a much better view of the hard-to-reach-by-car areas like parks.  I take this approoach when I'm traveling to a new place, but now Chicagoland's Active Transportation Alliance is taking to the streets for a new form of home hunting - they're encouraging house-hunting by bike with two upcoming self-guided bike tour events that will take bikers on a route that includes open houses in different price ranges.

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Inside a Vintage Lakefront Condo

This morning we toured this vintage lakefront condo (on the market for $1.65 million - see the tour the weekend of 6/19) and while the home itself is quite old (circa 1915), what we saw was very, very 2010!  Here are a few teaser shots, but you'll have to tune into the show in a couple weeks to see the full tour!

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Chicago Lawn Care Tips

It's summer in Chicago and that means lawn maintenance has moved back into our weekly routines.

We spoke to the good folks at Spring Green Lawn Care for some tips on getting your grass to grow and look great this summer. And if you're currently trying to sell your home, these tips are extremely important. Remember - first impressions mean everything to a buyer!

 

 

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HomesPlus Behind the Scenes: Lakeshore East

This morning we spent some time in a neighborhood that I didn't even know existed - Lakeshore East.  It came on my radar a couple months ago when Dennis Rodkin named it as one of the great neighborhoods in Chicago in the April and I sat there scratching my head, thinking "where the heck is Lakeshore East??"  So, today I found out.  Long story short, it's a very small urban development smack dab in the middle of the city.  Good views, super cute park space and lots of different types of housing options.  See the tour in two weeks on HomesPlus, but here are some behind the scenes pics of our shoot.

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Chicago - Median Price Heat Map

What's the price of your home? I know, many of us don't want to know. But if you're looking to sell or buy, knowing the median price of homes sold in a specific area is important.

The Chicago Tribune has an interactive heat map to show you the current median home price in your neighborhood, village or city.

It's a great tool if you're trying to buy or sell a home.

Click here for more on the heat map.

Style File: Outdoor Family Room

The weather is warm and that means we're all moving life outside.  Cooking, eating, partying and even napping moves outdoors when things heat up here in Chicago, so your outdoor space needs to accomodate all of that.  Most people are moving toward the trend of having an outdoor living room - meaning your back patio, deck or yard has some (or in many cases, all) of the comforts you'd find inside your home.  And whether your space is small or goes on for acres, there are plenty of ways to bring the inside out this summer. 

Check out the gallery to see a few necessities to turn your outdoor space into just another room in your home!

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Playboy Condo

Just in case you missed the show this weekend, here's a look at the tour - a $2.9 million dollar condo inside the former Playboy Mansion on State Parkway.  The building itself is as beautiful as it ever was, with a private garden to boot!  (Yes, I just said "to boot.")

It's been decades since the mansion hosted some of the hottest celebrities of the era at Hef's wild parties, but today the mansion houses seven condos - one of which is currently on the market.  Take a look at the photo gallery and then keep reading for some history on the mansion and to check out the video tour.

 

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