Home Office Ideas

Photo of me by my lovely friend Amanda 

I have a ton of books.  Like, a TON.  In the photo above, what you don’t see is the top row of books on the super tall book shelf, another overflowing book shelf next to it, or the other two book exploding shelves across (you can see the side of one on the left of the picture).  Add to that a growing sample library, project files, and notebook collection.  My office, which is half library, half museum, is becoming just a tiny bit out of control.    Continue reading “Home Office Ideas”

Project Snapshots

I realize I don’t put a lot on this blog about the things I’m working on, and so I’d like to share some tidbits from a project I’m wrapping up.  A few months ago, I was contacted by a lovely family who purchased a second home in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood and needed their new empty condo completely furnished.  Sound like a dream?  I know… Continue reading “Project Snapshots”

Dining Room Rug

The other day, we made a quick jaunt out to Ikea (our favorite spontaneous weekend activity), and came back with more than we needed – as usual! Ikea is like Target for me – it doesn’t matter if I only need one thing, somehow I always end up in the check out line with a full cart!  (As AirBNB hosts we always have a need for something, plus MJ loves Swedish Fish..)

My absolute favorite section is the As-Is, where they put discounted merchandise that’s often perfectly good.  I’ve gotten lucky so many times, with so many different kinds of products.  We’ve found complete duvet sets that were previously on display, large picture frames for $4 because they changed the packaging and wanted to get rid of the old ones…. you get the picture.  This time, we came away with a sisal rug that I’d been eyeing!  I wanted to buy it anyway, but at 40% off how could I say no?


Continue reading “Dining Room Rug”

Home Maker

These last few weeks have been a strange mix of emotions.  I yo-yo back and forth between terror, acceptance, denial, anger, disbelief, and so on.  It has been so difficult for me to return to normal after the election and pick back up with a chippy attitude on social media and here on this blog.  It’s almost as if I suddenly feel that the things that used to interest me have lost a bit of value in recent weeks.  What difference am I making in the world by choosing someone else’s furniture for them on Pinterest?  What does my future as a luxury service provider look like if the economy tanks?

I know that is not the way to look at things.  I know that what I do matters – if not to everyone, it matters to the people who I do my work for.  Now more than ever, I think the idea of staying home is appealing to me – and it’s not just the colder temperatures.   And making this home of mine one that I am happy and comfortable in is increasingly important.  I can’t imagine I’m the only one.

For now, I will keep working, and do what I do as best as I am able.  I make my home the one I want to be in.  I help others create the backdrop to the stories of the lives they want to lead.  Whether it’s their first home, a second home, or an update, this is something that will always be important, no matter the state of the world outside.  To be at ease in a safe and comfortable space is a feeling that is sought after again and again.   I have been living in the same apartment for 4 years and constantly rearrange the items on my shelves, moving plants from one room to the next.  Every now and then something crashes to the ground and I start all over again.   My home is more than the rooms I inhabit.  It is a state of being, a reflection of both who I am and who I hope to become.


Bridging the Gap: From Potential to Possibility in Bridgeport

Over the next few weeks, I’ll probably be talking quite a bit about Bridgeport.  For anyone who is not from Chicago, or from here but not familiar with the neighborhood, it’s a South Side neighborhood, tucked away just south of Pilsen and Chinatown.  It’s close to downtown, the lake, and within walking distance of US Cellular field, home of the White Sox (woohoo…right?).  There’s a growing community of artists, a handful of cute (and delicious) neighborhood bars, restaurants, and coffee shops.   Can you tell I’ve given this spiel to my friends before?

For anyone who is familiar with Bridgeport already, well…. you know the deal.   It is what it is.   I’ve lived all over Chicago, moving from neighborhood to neighborhood for the last eight years.  When I moved to Bridgeport last year, I was anxious and sad to be leaving behind my perfect little bubble in Logan Square.   And when tasked with explaining what about this place is so different, I’m at a loss for words.  I feel that more than most neighborhoods I’m familiar with, the residents of Bridgeport seem to be disconnected – from each other, and from the rest of what’s going on out there in the city, in the world, in fashion.  Despite all of the cool stuff happening right here in front of everyone’s eyes, it’s like nobody is really inspired.  Anyway, to say the least, I’m underwhelmed.  There is so much potential here but things fall just a little bit short.

And that brings me to:  The Bridgeport Art Center.


My first time visiting the Bridgeport Art Center was about a year ago.  I was happy to discover that just a few blocks from my new apartment was an amazing art center, sitting on the river’s edge.  Local artists can live and work in the studios, and hang their art in the hallway galleries.  Visitors can enter and wander freely, and on the third Friday of every month , artists open their studios to allow visitors an intimate look at their artwork and work spaces.  The view of the skyline is unimpeded and beautiful, and an awesome event space on the fifth floor provides a great venue to host a special event.

The art center is located in the former Spiegel Catalog Warehouse building – it is a massive industrial warehouse building with endless brick walls punctuated with enormous windows.  The interior is gutted, and houses a sea of timber columns, and exposed beams run across the ceilings.  If you wander too far in (which is an easy task for a curious visitor a quiet Sunday afternoon) you’ll find some raw unfinished spaces.   The building is truly enormous, and the undertaking of turning the entire site to use is a huge one.

bpac int 2 bpac int


As a design student, getting the chance to see a space like this in a transitional state is like a gold mine for me.  I see it as a blank canvas.  The exposed brick, skyline views and high ceilings make for some really cool interior details that alot of people pay extra money for.  The tie in to a growing artist community (thanks to rising rent in Logan Square and Pilsen -Wicker Park isn’t even an option for artists living on a budget anymore) as well as a nod to the industrial history of the neighborhood creates the possibility for the Bridgeport Art Center to really thrive in the public eye as a go-to community center and symbol for what the neighborhood stands for.

But again, as I find is typical with this area, things fall short.   In some areas, the paper thin walls don’t even go all the way up to the ceiling.  Visitors are led from space to space by paper fliers taped to the doors and in the stairwells.  Aside from the art center, the building is home to several businesses, and there is no solid tie in to any of them, no sense of community or cohesive strategy to tie it all together.   In general, the details seem unfinished.  Everything is on the verge of being something great, but just not quite making it.  Even the sculpture garden out front suffers from proper use of the space.  How about some benches?  By not providing a place to sit, you guarantee that nobody will come and, well, sit.  Relax.  Read a book.  Take in the space and be inspired!

bpac arcade

Criticisms aside, I think that there is so much potential here.  I understand that the possibilities for what this could be are not endless, but instead most likely greatly limited by funding.   But I also think that by planning for and publicizing more attractive and integrated programming, enough interest could be generated, causing an influx of dollars toward the goal.  In my next post, I’ll share my vision for the space, so stay tuned!

Zoomscape: The Experience

ZoomScape 2 - Astorga

Pushing this model from a few weeks ago even further, I brought it into 3D Studio Max and put some materials on it and set up a daylight system to create shadows and reflections.  *Just a quick aside, the new 2014 version of Max has an amazing feature that allows you to populate the space you’ve created with a few simple clicks.  As you can see, they are three dimensional, create shadows, and you can choose whether you want them walking around, or interacting with others.  It is seriously amazing.  No more photoshopping architectural entourage images of people in outdated clothes!  Hooray! *

The point of this exercise was to give the model a human scale and a context.   How can it be experienced as an interior space?  This is interior design school, afterall.  What started out as an exercise in creating a field database, became an experiment with our perception of space, and now, in its final form, it is an experiential walk through.   By overlaying the model on different backgrounds (all stills from my film, coming up next) it took on a new context.  What was previously a sculptural object became a surreal spaceship, or mysterious tunnel, or whatever you want to see it as.  All of a sudden a thing to just observe became a space to experience.