Monthly Archives: June 2009

Sweet sorrow

Parting, that is. But just for a little bit. I’m heading to the Land of 10,000 Lakes (aka Minnesota — did you know that it is the northernmost of the continental United States?) and, gasp, won’t be able to write to you!

So until Tuesday, I’ll leave you with this very cool find from Etsy.com.

This deer head is 18 inches tall and wide and 14 inches deep. It's $375 at Ruby's Lounge on etsy.com.

This deer head is 18 inches tall and wide and 14 inches deep. It's $375 at Ruby's Lounge on etsy.com.

Seems fitting that as I travel to woodsy parts that I’m drawn to animal-head trophies. But not ones that once had blood coursing through them. Oh, no! These are artful, happy ones made from resin deer heads and beautifully papered by Jennifer Khoshbin of San Antonio, Texas.

There are all sorts of lovely patterned papers to choose from! And even a Big Bad Wolf lurking amid the deer.

Go ahead and bag one at Ruby’s Lounge on etsy.com Have a great weekend! Write me while I’m gone!

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What’s inside this Highland Park home where birds always greet you and billiard balls bloom among greenery?

 knock crispell welcome
Knock, knock . . .
Who’s there? Collage artist Linda Summerfield Crispell and Gar Crispell and their beauteous offspring, the lovely Lulu (her nom de Web), and her delightful bro, Deke (ditto on the alias). Oh, and I must not forget their ever-obedient Mssr. Buddy.

knock crispell exterior

Putting on a stoic front:  The Crispells’ ivory-colored home with red-brick chimney of a spine and neat, black shutters tell only part of the story that unfolds inside. That part of the story is about strong foundations and handsome and serene backdrops to a colorful life filled with rich tales, creativity, collections (yes, the collections which, more than the house’s face, drew me to this house) and a lot of love.
Please read more…

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Galleria: Deborah Reinhart / Design Odyssey

Debi Reinhart of Design Odyssey

Debi Reinhart of Design Odyssey

We are living, as Deborah Reinhart, owner of Design Odyssey, Ltd.,  puts it, in the RE moment.

A time for redesigning, rediscovering, recycling, renewing, renovating, retrofitting, reinventing, rebranding, rehabbing, reorienting, redefining.

I couldn’t agree more. You, too, I’m sure.

galleria reinhart2

New project: The criteria for this Lake Shore Drive condo was to showcase the Indian roots of this international couple with two maturing college-age daughters

Authenticity: “Antiques were used extensively to provide comfort –visual and physical — for the family and their international guests,” Deb says.
(Wait, there’s more … click here)

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Why, what’s that in her living room?

Actress Denise Vasi

Actress Denise Vasi

When I was the editor of the House & Homes section of the Chicago Tribune, I had the nicest chat with Denise Vasi, who plays Randi Morgan on ABC’s “All My Children” and appears in a yet-to-be-released film starring Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel called “When in Rome.” She was sweet and sensitive. She told me all about her great Weimaraner named Blu. And she stopped me cold with two things she told me about her New York apartment: One was something she did not have in her bedroom; the other was something she did have in her living room. You’ll have to click here to read the interview as it appeared in the Chicago Tribune.

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More ways to save

There are a couple new listings on the Sales + Events page. If you’re in the market for bedroom accessories or architectural elements and furniture from Mexico, you’ll want to check them out.

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Knock, knock: A Viking ship sails by the Kennedy

I was so lucky today to meet Susan Thomsen when I knocked at the ivy-draped home just west of the Kennedy. The one the retired Whitney Young High art teacher shares with her husband, Finn. She waltzed me right in and started showing me around their home and studio.

knock honore frontdoor

Both of them are artists and seem to see beauty and potential in just about everything (and everyone) around them.
Take a peek first at my slideshow. Then we’ll talk some more . . .

 

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So what’s to know about this Viking ship of a home just west of the Kennedy?
Knock, knock . . .

Who’s there? Finn and Susan Thomsen (and sometimes their visiting grandchildren; when I visited, it was Jake Madigan)

 

Finn sculpted wood to adorn the bathroom door, expanded the bathroom and lined the shower with salvaged teak wood he got from Bob Sirott.

Finn sculpted wood to adorn the bathroom door, expanded the bathroom and lined the shower with salvaged teak wood he got from Bob Sirott.

The back story: Finn Thomsen had sailed around the world 17½ times over 14 years with the Danish Merchant Marines (he joined when he was 14; “school wasn’t really for me,” he says) before anchoring in Chicago. It would be several more years before he would marry Susan and move into this “little cottage” of a house (Susan) filled with “possibilities” (Finn).

"Man with a Porpoise" by Julian Harr, a birthday gift for Finn from Susan.

"Man with a Porpoise" by Julian Harr, a birthday gift for Finn from Susan.

Over the years, the couple, both artists – Finn doing mostly sculpture and Susan teaching at Whitney Young High School – also filled it up with photographs, art and furniture made by Finn, turtle skulls and a revolving door of visitors.

knock honore kitchen

So what else is inside? The kitchen is what greets you when you first enter the Thomsens’ home. There, deep-hued wood that could probably tell as many tales as the Thomsens dresses the floor. A long, thin table holds court and swirly metal, wood-topped stools line up on its either side. Finn made them all. The table in 1973 (he didn’t have to pause to whip off the year). The stools from remnants of countertops and culverts used in a restaurant he helped decorate. Soto Estella was its name.

This, I call, the magic trunk. I love its colors and promise of surprise.

This, I call, the magic trunk. I love its colors and promise of surprise.

Everywhere you turn, your eye is nabbed by something that sparks questions. A mannequin. Doll heads. Six-foot-tall sculptures. A wasp nest (a wedding present from Susan’s mother. Finn and Susan each got one of their own).

A young Finn, feathers and turtle skulls.

A young Finn, feathers and turtle skulls.

But when you pass a spot for a second time, you realize there are other curiosities you missed before. While examining a lovely sculpture that looked like it might have roots in Oaxaca (but actually was made by their niece), I finally realized that table it was sitting on was a street floodlight. Something Finn “sorta found.” OK, let’s just move on here.

 

The end of our Viking tale.

The end of our Viking tale.

Parting shot: When I finally walked out of the Thomsens’ home, I walked around the end of the house to get a closer look at the large piece of art that adorned the exterior wall and that made me want to knock in the first place. The spools, the dragon’s head. Ah, a Viking ship. Of course. Finn was born in Denmark, near Copenhagen. And he’d sailed the world many times over. Yup, just as the inside matched the outside, the outside matched Finn.  

 

 

 

 

 

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When one Marley is not enough

Author John Grogan and Gracie

Author John Grogan and Gracie

Shortly before the Jennifer Aniston/Owen Wilson movie “Marley & Me” opened in theaters last December, I caught up with “Marley” author (and master) John Grogan

He was just moving into a new home in Pennsylvania and their newest pup, Woodson, was channeling Marley. (Read: Taking a wrong turn and running down to the basement, mistaking it for his restroom.)

Nonetheless, John was gracious and told me in a phone interview for the Chicago Tribune all about antique tools and reupholstered sofas. Want to know who has the eye for furniture reincarnation in the Grogan household? Click here.

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