Colleague Spotlight: Summer Thornton

“Do at least one thing your mother wouldn’t.” This is decorating advice from interior designer Summer Thornton, and I couldn’t love it more! I’m so pleased to feature Summer on the blog this week—she’s renowned for her bold use of color and pattern, and her stunning work is featured regularly in House Beautiful, Traditional Home, Lonny, and many others. Lately I’m feeling especially inspired by her use of incredible statement light fixtures! Though Summer works on projects nationwide, we are so lucky to have her based not only out of Chicago, but Lincoln Park specifically.

Please share a little about your design philosophy.
My philosophy is really centered around the belief that every home should reflect the homeowner's unique personality. So while I have my own personal aesthetic, much of what I do is centered around creating the mood that the client wants to live in. I want people to live in homes that feel like them - where their soul is on the walls and reflected in the furniture. Every project we work on looks totally unique to that particular client - some are modern, some are traditional, some colorful - that's what makes them so personal. With that said, I do generally find that clients come to us when they're looking for interiors that feel fresh & timeless, oftentimes with color and pattern, and definitely a dash of whimsy.

What are your favorite of-the-moment trends?
I honestly don't really like to follow trends. Once something is a trend, it has lost its timelessness and its specialness. Instead of trends, I typically try to look for what's timeless but still feels fresh, and oftentimes I do that by incorporating pieces from a variety of eras. We'll mix art deco, mid-century, and contemporary pieces together to create a look that is curated and timeless but still feels current. Sure we might mix in a few trendy accessories here and there, but they shouldn't be the backbone of any design.  

What are your predictions for the next big trends we’ll see?
I think there will be a big resurgence for wallpaper over the next 5-10 years. People were afraid of it, fearing it would feel heavy and old, but I use it quite regularly and it always feels fresh. I think we'll also see a shift away from the overuse of beige/grey and more people comfortable using color & pattern.

What are your go-to classic design favorites?
You can't go wrong with classic Karl Springer, Jansen, or Milo Baughman furnishings. 

What are your favorite local shops for furniture and decor?
It's hard to pick just a few - last year we bought from more than 2000 different vendors worldwide, but here in Chicago I love Redefined Decor on Grand for accessories and vintage art; Jayson Home for furnishings & some imported flea market finds; and Asrai Garden for fresh floral bouquets. 

Do you have any tricks for making rooms look bigger/more open?
You know what surprises most people? The more you layer a home, the bigger it feels. It causes the eye to move around and draws attention to various things, which makes the room feel more complete. When rooms are sparsely furnished or empty, they oftentimes look really small.  

What is your favorite Chicago neighborhood, and why?
I live in Lincoln Park, our design firm office is in Lincoln Park on Armitage Avenue, and my kids go to school in Lincoln Park so it'd be hard for it not to be my favorite! But truly, it is perfect for my family. I've got a 5-year-old daughter and almost 1-year-old son, so we have regular trips to Oz Park, Sweet Mandy B's, and we don't feel bad bringing our kids with us to some of the restaurants. It's a great place to raise a family. But don't get me wrong - I also love a night out with my husband going to Gold Coast or the West Loop for drinks & dinner, without the kids! 

What types of services do you offer?
We are a full service design firm. Most often clients hire us to do comprehensive designs, in many cases including construction documentation, finish selections, and of course furnishings, art, and more. We've done everything from ground-up new construction builds, gut-remodels, and pure furnishings/decorating projects.

My Favorite Spots for Valentine's Day Dinner

Chicago has so many outstanding restaurants, but some are particularly wonderful for a romantic dinner date. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I thought I’d share some of the spots John and I love for that special night out, as well as one we’re excited to try for the first time! 

Les Nomades:

Les Nomades has been a favorite of ours over the years, and you simply can’t beat the space. This legendary restaurant has occupied a turn-of-the-century brownstone in Streeterville for decades, and we love the intimate setting. The service is incredible, and they pair their classic French food with a particularly interesting wine list. We always finish with one of their gorgeous soufflés—you can’t go wrong with a reservation here.  

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Gibsons Bar and Steakhouse:

If you’re looking for buzz and excitement, Gibsons is always a fabulous time. They’ve got everything from steak to seafood—we like to start with oysters on the half shell—and they’re famous for their variety of mile high desserts, so save room! Gibsons’ excellent food and energy has made it a place we frequent often—it’s a great place to take your date. 

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Margeaux Brasserie:

For Valentine’s Day this year, John and I are excited to try Margeaux Brasserie at the Waldorf Astoria, which opened just last summer. Along with Petit Margeaux, this is Chef Michael Mina’s first foray into the Chicago culinary scene, and it’s in such a wonderfully luxurious setting. We’re looking forward to tasting their traditional brasserie fare, including some beautiful French cheeses. We've even heard there’s a roving Champagne cart!

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colleague spotlight: jordana joseph

Today we're pleased to continue our new blog series, which highlights some of my favorite interior designers and architects in Chicago. For our second feature, I’m happy to introduce you to the talented Jordana Joseph!  

Please share a little about your design philosophy.
Design should be fun, challenging, brave, smart and slightly carefree—at least for the client. For me it is all of those things but also about reading the mind of my clients, so I can learn their tastes and attitudes, both for design and for their expectations of the process. What I would choose personally is not always appropriate for other spaces, so I like to be a chameleon—it keeps my job challenging and rewarding.

What are your favorite of-the-moment trends?
Blush is everywhere right now; it started on the runway a few years ago and filtered down to the sofas. And Maximalism—More is More, as long as it’s all well done.

What are your predictions for the next big trends we’ll see?
I see people getting a lot more daring in what they will have in their homes. I think the Monochromatic Days are finally over and cool boutique hotels are paving the way for inspiration. When people see well-designed spaces they start to understand that it is possible to incorporate some of that into their lives.

What are your go-to classic design favorites?
I love a perfectly comfortable sofa, great vintage furniture, courageous wallpaper, a well-planned kitchen, good flooring, and lots of opportunity for unique lighting.

What are your favorite local shops for furniture and decor?
Unfortunately a lot of the shops are closing, but luckily some of the best still remain and I love these stores as much for what they sell as who is selling it. These are my friends for years and they all have such a unique take on what they select: Pavilion Antiques, Jayson Home, Urban Artifacts on Lincoln, Sojourn in Michigan, Vern + Vera. I buy a lot at auction so I am hanging around Leslie Hindman Auctioneers and Wright quite often.

Do you have any tricks for making rooms look bigger/more open?
Design is always first and foremost about proportions of the room and the furniture that should go in it; this often is a designer’s greatest contribution to a project. If the scale is right, the room will look its best.

What is your favorite Chicago neighborhood, and why?
I love the older houses in Lincoln Park and the Gold Coast. There is nothing better to work with than an original vintage space.

What types of services do you offer?
We do everything from staging to total renovations and have been involved in ground up custom home building as well. I have the best clients and a really great team in my office so thankfully we have been able to tackle just about anything that comes our way! 

Success Story: Lois and Jim

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We are going to do a little something new with the Success Stories we feature on the site. I recently asked my very kind clients Lois and Jim a few questions about our time together, and put together a quick interview with their kind responses! I am constantly humbled by my incredible clients, thank you Lois and Jim!

How did you find Millie? 
I found Mille through an online search for “Best Chicago Realtors” to buy a condo. Millie stood out to me after reviewing her website, YouTube videos, testimonials and my phone discussion with her. 

What sets Millie apart from other brokers you’ve worked with in the past?
What sets Millie apart from others is her genuine concern for you as a client, her spot-on attention to detail, experience and knowledge, and her quick response to our questions and concerns. She is professional and very organized. 

What was your favorite part of working together?
Aside from the aforementioned qualities, she makes you feel like she is your friend--not just your agent. She is very genuine and sincerely wants you to find your perfect home and a good deal.

Did you use any of Millie's vendor recommendations (i.e. lawyer, stager, etc.)?
We used her recommendation for attorney and inspector, who were excellent.  We are in discussions with a painter and a designer, as well.  When you say “Millie referred me” you get quick, excellent response from very experienced, highly qualified and nice people. 

Would you recommend her to a friend, and if so, why?
I would definitely recommend Millie to anyone.  Because our permanent home is out of state, we relied heavily on her. I can’t imagine a better agent, and feel I very lucky to have found her.  

My predictions for real estate in 2018

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2017 was definitely a year for the books, but I am just as eager to get 2018 started! I've put together a list of my predictions for what the coming year will bring us in the world of Chicago real estate: 

  • Trump's new tax plan: I think the new tax plan may slow our market in the beginning of 2018 while people digest the news, but ultimately it will have little impact on the market this year. From a real estate perspective, I will be closely watching these aspects of the plan: 
    • Mortgage Interest Deduction: The limit on deductible mortgage debt has been reduced to $750,000 for new loans taken out after 12/14/17.  Interest remains deductible on second homes, but subject to the $1M/ $750K limits.
    • State and Local Property Taxes: The final bill allows an itemized deduction of up to $10,000 for the total of state and local property taxes and income or sales taxes.
    • Capital Gains Tax: No change here, but important to note that homeowners must live in their home two out of the past five years to qualify for capital gains exclusion.
  • First-time buyers: We will continue to see a large pool of first time buyers in the 25-34 age group enter the Chicago market this year. 
  • Spring market: It will start early again this year!
  • Interest rates: Will remain low for 2018, in the 4-4.5% range.
  • New construction: We will continue to see an increase in new condos and single family homes although they will primarily be delivered in the $750k plus range.
  • Supply and demand: 2018 will be very similar to 2017 in terms of supply and demand:
    • Price: The median price of attached homes on the North Side of Chicago has increased roughly 3.5% each year for the past two years. 
    • Supply: There is currently a three month supply of inventory on the market with attached housing on the market, and a seven month supply of detached homes.   
  • Area of opportunity: The amount of home sales under $500K have been steadily decreasing over the past two years, while the number of home sales over $500K and $1M have been increasing.  This presents an opportunity for move-up buyers who can sell their current home high and purchase a new home at the lower end of the price range. 

Colleague spotlight: Casagrande Architects

I am so fortunate to know many incredible vendors in the real estate space, especially interior designers and architects. So today we are starting a fun new series on the site, highlighting my talented friends and their businesses. Today I am pleased to introduce you to Philip Casagrande of Casagrande Architects!

Please share a little about your design philosophy.
Architectural design must respect that there are practicalities to creating great buildings, like  client needs, building codes, zoning regulations, budgets, the laws of gravity, and too many other factors to mention everything in one sentence.  Balancing those facts, we endeavor to design great looking buildings that one can live in and flow through with a sense of ease and pleasure. Before that can happen, the process of designing must be worked through.  If the process is enjoyable, it will be reflected in the end result!  We don’t do cookie-cutter design, since the circumstances surrounding the practical aspects are never the same on any two projects.

Can you share a few photos from a recent favorite project?
The interior photo is a loft-style open plan from a 3-flat conversion to single family (shot as a panorama) – note that the separate formal living and dining room have been eliminated – read more about this exciting trend below.  The façade is a rendering of a new single family house, which is in the Mid-North Landmark neighborhood of Lincoln Park; I’m really excited about this project, and it will be the only new house on the block!

What are your favorite of-the-moment trends?
We have noticed lately people are willing to give up formal living and dining rooms in favor of more informal spaces within which to live.  We’ve worked on a few houses where the main living space is wide open without any separate formal living space at all.  When I take people in to see them, their eyes light up!  I also love the freestanding bathtubs that have become the focal point in master bathrooms.

What are your predictions for the next big trends we’ll see?
Heightened interest in constructing high performance homes will definitely accelerate. With the current administration’s lack of concern with pursuing renewable energy resources as well as a backward approach to keeping our air and water clean, I’m hopeful the trend will be to make up for this by incorporating solar and geothermal heating and cooling systems. 

Battery technology will need to improve to make solar more practical (fortunately Elon Musk’s Tesla is advancing rapidly on it) and charging stations for plug in cars are becoming a standard feature in our garages.  LED lighting is a big energy saver, and I predict these bulbs will become more sophisticated with better dimming and color rendition in the future.  In terms of architectural design, we will see more clean lines and very simple sophistication reminiscent of Art Deco, though even more toned down, what I might call “classique”.

What are your go-to classic design favorites?
For house exteriors, I love to look at historic American house styles that were adapted from our European roots. I also love the French styles in particular (French Second Empire, Norman, Châteauesque), as well as Italian styles (Italianate, Renaissance Revival), and English (Cotswold Cottage, Norman). 

And we love Art Deco, though there are very few historical house examples. We don’t like to copy any of these styles, and instead choose to draw on them for inspiration, then adapt and simplify them and incorporate elements of the past in new ways.  This is important because people want to feel connected to something stable and solid, so it conveys a sense of peace and continuity. At the same time people are interested in being part of the progress in a world which is constantly evolving and changing, and hopefully improving.

What are you favorite local shops for appliances and decor?
We regularly send our clients to shop for appliances at ABT, plumbing at Studio 41, who acquired our old favorite Clark & Barlow for hardware, and Materials Marketing has been our stand-by tile supplier (and design contributor) for many years.  The German Kitchen Center on Halsted is a newcomer that has a great showroom!  

Do you have any tricks for making rooms look bigger/more open?
Yes, there are ways to create a sense of width or length using optical illusions.  For example placing beams on a ceiling side-to-side, will make the space look wider.  Another trick is counter-intuitive: I like to design framed openings or divisions between spaces – the foreground creates a background which then visually recedes, and makes it appear like the room is more spacious.

What is your favorite Chicago neighborhood, and why?
There are so many under-appreciated neighborhoods in Chicago.  The easy answer is Lincoln Park because it has been really good to me, as have Lakeview and Graceland West, and then there’s Lincoln Square, Bucktown and Wicker Park, as well.  I’ve been to so many areas in the city working on buildings and looking at actual and possible projects: Pilsen, Bridgeport, Hyde Park, South Shore, Old Irving, Edgewater, Andersonville (I live in West Andersonville), Bowmanville, Rodgers Park, and even Englewood.  The potential of this city is phenomenal, and I’ve always cheered for the underdog, so rather than declare a favorite, can I just say I’d like to see the marginalized areas of the city revitalized, while somehow remaining affordable for its citizens--that part is a really important and difficult challenge!

What types of services do you offer?
We work mostly on residential projects of various sizes (whether single family or multi-unit) and small commercial projects, and have done new construction as well as renovations, many with additions. 

We offer complete architectural design services for exterior and interior construction, which includes structural, plumbing, electrical, and mechanical design work.  We also like to work on detailed architectural design of interiors, millwork drawings, stairs and railings, as well as exteriors, especially limestone and brick facades (front, back, and garage), ornamental iron fences and landscaping components. 

For projects which require Zoning Changes or Variations, we are very experienced with how to handle those kinds of tricky situations.  We also have offer complete construction management services (similar to general contracting), where we handle every aspect of a project, starting with design and seeing it through in construction on a daily basis until completion and occupancy. We find that this method of design-build leads to the best results, especially for our homeowner clients.

Buying and selling with clients that become friends

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Marc and I go way, way back. I absolutely love my clients who ultimately become friends--and Marc is one of my longest standing! We’ve been through a lot together too: selling the home he built in Lincoln Park, buying and selling a home in Wicker Park, and now ultimately renting back in Lincoln Park.

“Millie is a good, sweet person, and we get along so well. She’s basically the opposite of many of the other big producers,” Marc said. “Plus, she’s been at it so long that she knows Lincoln Park better than anyone. I trust her Lincoln Park advice more than anyone.”

For Marc, trust is the biggest factor to consider when it comes to which real estate broker to work with when buying or selling. When I asked him why he trusted me so much, he said: “We just get along so well! When I trust someone, they become a friend.” I feel the same way, Marc!

Marc also reports having a great experience with Joe Palmisano, the lawyer that I recommended he use for his deal. It’s so important to me that my clients full experience, beyond just working with my team, is as positive and productive as possible.

Here’s to many more years of friendship, and real estate deals, Marc!

New construction to watch

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There's not much that gets me more excited than new construction in the city of Chicago! I love watching a building from inception to delivery--new and beautiful homes for Chicagoans is such a big part of what makes our city flourish. Today I'm highlighting the two new construction buildings I am most excited about. 

445 W. Arlington:
Slated to be an intimate eight-unit structure with only two units per floor, I can only imagine the gorgeous open floor plans in store! Located in a prime East Lincoln Park location on quaint, tree-lined Arlington, the building is mere feet from the Lake and Park. Delivery is projected in late 2018 or the first quarter of 2019. 

360 W. Superior: 
This building is the newest glass and steel mid-rise in River North. Featuring a mix of two and three bed units, the two bed, two bath units will start at 1,700 square feet, and pricing will begin at $1.1M. The three beds will be 2,700 square feet and feature 2.1 bathrooms. These units will start at $2M. I am most excited to see the expansive glass rail balconies, and the sky deck with panoramic skyline views. Delivery is scheduled for January 2019, pending city approvals and permits. 

Stay tuned as these properties start to hit the market!

 

My top four destinations for seasonal gifts and decor

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I like to go all out for the holidays, whether it's decorating my home, or buying gifts for friends and loved ones. There really is no better excuse to spoil the ones you love! Over the years I've really narrowed my list of local shops to the best of the best, and today I've rounded up my favorites for you!

Gethsemane Garden Center: Have you been to this Andersonville garden center gem?! If you haven't, you are truly missing out. They do every season right at Gethsemane, but the way they celebrate the holiday season is truly a sight to behold. You can buy real and artificial Christmas trees, and the real trees are never stock piled, and typically cut within 48 hours of shipping! I also decorate with their garland, poinsettias, custom holiday wreaths and winter containers. On top of their fabulous inventory, the customer service is unparalleled. 

Sur La Table: This is where I head for anything tableware related--table cloths, dishes, napkins, candles, holiday-inspired serving pieces, the list goes on. I always shop here if I need a little gift inspiration for a hard-to-buy-for friend. 

Tiffany & Co.: A special destination to purchase the most memorable holiday gifts--everyone loves to receive that little blue box! I buy anything from jewelry to timeless table serving pieces.  

Material Possessions: Material Possessions is my destination of choice for hostess gifts any time of year, but particularly around the holidays. They stock a great variety of different looks, from modern to traditional, so I know I will always find the perfect little something.  

I always have so much fun shaking up my usual home decor around the holidays--hopefully I've inspired you to do the same!

My take on Chicago's Amazon HQ2 sites

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I have been closely following Amazon’s search for a second headquarters--this is an exciting time for our city! As of right now, we are waiting for Amazon to narrow down their selection in early 2018--238 cities were hoping for consideration.

There are 10 sites in Chicago that fit Amazon’s requirements of 500,000 square feet of initial office space, and an additional 8 million square feet over a 10 year period. We also know that Amazon is looking for an affordable city, among many other factors (population, location, density, etc.).

The 10 sites are well-outlined in this recent Curbed Chicago article. My top contenders include:

Chicago Tribune River District Sites:
According to the Curbed Chicago article, “Located at the intersection of the neighborhoods of River North, River West, Goose Island, and Fulton River District, the Trib’s mega-project is a short walk from nearly all of the CTA’s major train lines and could include transportation improvements such as a new pedestrian bridge across the river and a transitway or shuttle route from Chicago’s big commuter rail stations. Despite calling for nearly two dozen structures, the plan sets aside a fair amount of open space and a riverwalk component.” To me this is the best location of the bunch.

The 78:
The public transportation options at this site would be the most diverse. “A major riverfront development opportunity also exists on the South Branch at a 62-acre parcel of vacant land controlled by developer Related Midwest. Anticipated to increase Chicago’s 77 recognized neighborhood areas by one, ‘The 78’ redevelopment plan will include a mix of residential, commercial, academic, civic, cultural, and recreational spaces master planned by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. A newly announced University of Illinois-led research facility known as the Discovery Partners Institute will help establish the site as a major public-private research hub,” according to Curbed Chicago.

Burnham Lakefront:
This site actually includes some city-owned land, so the $2.25 billion incentive package from the State of Illinois may increase if this site is chosen. According to Curbed Chicago, “This massive redevelopment opportunity for the former Michael Reese Hospital in the Bronzville neighborhood on Chicago’s Near South Side would provide Amazon with Lake Michigan views as well as to room grow. Controlled by a team consisting of Draper & Kramer, Farpoint Development, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, McLaurin Development Partners, and the Bronzeville Community Development Partnership, the Burnham Lakefront plan calls for 12 million square feet of mixed-use space.

With the projected average Amazon job salary in Chicago at about $100K, we would also see a huge boom in the residential market. At that salary range, Amazon employees would be looking for $500K+ homes. I am looking forward to keeping a close eye on the developments!

My predictions for the winter and spring markets

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Around this time of year, I hear the same two questions over and over. First people want to know how to prepare for the winter market, and then they want to know my predictions for the spring market. Of course I don't have a crystal ball, but since I live and breathe the market day in and day out, I do have a few predictions/recommendations to share: 

In real estate, winter is actually short!
For serious buyers and sellers, keep in mind that the winter market actually starts to pick up again right after the new year. For buyers this means doing your homework now so that you are ready to pounce on the right property, and for sellers this means don't wait on any last home projects.

Take advantage of the slower months
If you are thinking of selling next year, assess the condition of your unit now--this is also a great service to request of your broker. The best brokers are able to look at a property and recommend updates/changes that will maximize return. Many vendors consider the winter their slow period, so take advantage of their more open schedules, and maybe even a discount or two on service. 

Projections for spring
This past spring market was on fire! The double digit returns we experienced make me believe that the spring market this year will be as good as it was last year--if not even better! Plus, we haven't seen the spike in interest rates that everyone anticipated, which I also believe won't happen anytime soon. 

Success story: "Millie was truly a lifesaver!"

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I met Diane and her husband when they became interested in one of my listings. We quickly connected, and sure enough, Diane soon asked me if I would represent them as buyers of the property. I take the role of dual agent very seriously, and in this situation it turned out well for everyone. Says Diane: “Hiring Millie was the best decision we’ve ever made.” Plus, then I helped them sell their property too!

Diane’s purchase went extremely smoothly--we came to an agreement very quickly and easily with the sellers, and everyone was happy. From there, we moved onto getting their condo ready for the market. Says Diane: “Millie hooked us up with a great stager who presented the condo in the very best light. I never would have known where to start! This particular stager (Exit Stage Right), is wonderful because they do it all--use some of the homeowner’s existing pieces, move things around, and bring in replacements to make the home look its best.

Unfortunately once we hit the market, Diane ran into some health issues, and I was asked to take over wherever possible. “It was a hard time, but I knew Millie wouldn’t let anything fall through the cracks, which not all brokers can do. Millie was truly a lifesaver,” Diane says.

We ultimately sold their condo, and Diane and her husband are happily living in their new duplex down. When asked if she would recommend Millie to a friend, Diane said: “Absolutely! My youngest child just moved here from Baltimore, and she already knows who will help her find a home when the time is right!”

My take on three current home design trends

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The other week I participated as a panelist at an event hosted by Snaidero Kitchens + Design and ChicagoAgent. The discussion was focused on what is trending in residential home design, which is a topic I could talk and think about for days! Here are my biggest take aways:

People are investing in their home versus moving
I’ve seen this trend anecdotally pop up in the past year, so it was interesting to hear others echo the same. Post-recession, people’s outlooks have changed. Instead of uprooting and diving into the unknown of a new property, people are investing in updating or refreshing their home, particularly the kitchen. And the math makes sense--instead of, for example, moving from a $400K home to a $600K, invest $100K into your current property and come out $100K ahead! As a result, I anticipate an uptick in mid-market property values.

Incorporate the kitchen
As a result of the recent trend toward open concept floor plans, buyers are now looking for kitchens that feel like an extension of the rest of the living space. This means less white and marble kitchens (since white cabinetry and marble are less at home in other rooms), and more texture and light grain wood. Islands with an overhang for casual seating are also a huge draw, as are built-in coffee makers to brew premium coffee at home.

Invest in kitchen appliances
We are to the point when high end appliances have become the standard for most buyers. Even $400K properties on up should feature recognizable brands that buyers covet. Interestingly though, as much as buyers care about seeing high end appliances in the kitchen, they care less about appliance branding throughout the rest of the home--washer and dryer, bathrooms, etc.

One thing is for sure--it is hard to keep up with the trends in home design, and that’s one of the reasons I love real estate so much!

Success story: Making sure ann feels like "our only client"

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A retired managing director of The Private Bank, Ann was referred to me by an SVP there, who knew me from when I worked with the CEO. Ann told me she had researched a number of brokers, but that she hired me for both her home purchase and sale as a result of my experience and reputation, and because she really wanted someone who knows luxury high rises.

We started with finding Ann a new home in very limited areas of either the Gold Coast or Lincoln Park. “I felt like I was her only client,” Ann recalls of the experience. We looked at a number of properties over the course of one week, and within eight or nine days, we had found the property Ann loved. Before finalizing the deal, Ann wanted an estimate of the cost of the rehabs she wanted to make on the property. “Millie has a very in depth knowledge of renovating and gave me a good estimate of what it would cost, which was very helpful to me,” explains Ann.

From there we started the process of listing Ann’s home: “I felt like I was in very good hands. The team is responsive, and very good at setting forth options and sharing comparables,” Ann said. In fact, when asked what her favorite part of working together was, Ann said my team! I’m so glad she feels this way because I do think I have the best team in the business!

Ann also used a number of our referrals, including her excellent lawyer, Kimberly Palmisano, and great contractor, Walter Banas--who is handling the remodel of her new home. When asked if she would recommend our team, Ann says, “Absolutely, without hesitation.” Thank you, Ann!

Learn about your local school options from other parents

What a night! Our first ever local school parent panel event was definitely a night to remember. I decided to host the event after working for 30+ years with families looking for the same thing: the right neighborhood for their home, and the right school for their children. I thought, what better way to help educate these families than by introducing them to other families who have made it to the other side of these difficult decisions. I am grateful to be able to give back to the community in this way, and also so appreciative to all my friends who participated as panelists! I know I have smart friends, but I was truly blown away by the insightful and helpful information that each of our panelists shared.

On that note, I have compiled my favorite words of wisdom from each panelist to create a short guide for you.

(Alexander Graham) Bell Elementary | John Martin | Daughter in 3rd grade: "My wife, Stacey, and I love Bell Elementary for the simplest reason: our daughter loves to go to school and learn with a diverse group of children participating in three different programs (local, options, deaf). In addition, our community is very much centered around the school and education.”

Other notes:

  • Feeder public high schools are improving
  • Parent involvement is a very high priority

St. Josaphat School | Marc McDonald | Son in 8th grade, daughter in 5th grade, daughter in 2nd grade: "There are two main reasons why St. Josaphat is a special place. The first is their vision of developing a balanced student. The educational process fosters growth intellectually, spiritually, socially, emotionally, and physically. I find this to be a unique approach to student education. The goal is lofty, but the talented staff at St. Josaphat is making it happen. The second is the strong community built upon the unbridled efforts of the school families. Families invest their time, talent, and treasure, to make Saint Josaphat the best school it can be. The results are impressive."

Other notes:

  • Based his decision on conversations with other parents
  • Appreciates the integrated view of the student: spiritual, educational and social

Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School | Scott Schneider | Son in 1st grade: "The community at our school is really amazing and this includes the families and administration. Everyone is very close-knit and works together to create an exceptional academic and social environment."

Other notes:

  • The warmth of the school is one of its attributes that sticks out the most (he gave an example of whenchildren from the class will call sick classmates to wish them well)
  • Parental involvement is crucial to the success of a child and a school--neither will be successful without it

(Augustus H.) Burley School | Amy Shulman | Daughter in 6th grade: "I love how small the school is, and the high involvement by the parents and the teachers."

Other notes:

  • At least 50% of 8th graders were admitted to their #1 choice high school
  • Burley is a very small school (only about 55 children/grade) and the principal knows every student by name

British International School of Chicago | Neena Vlamis | Son in 8th grade, son in 5th grade: “British School’s curriculum allows my children to become open minded, out of the box thinkers, and holds the children to high standards.”

Other notes:

  • The school features an internationally-based curriculum that starts in nursery school
  • Standardized tests for the school remain consistent at their schools throughout the world

Latin School of Chicago | Keren Weiss | Son in 6th grade, daughter in 4th grade: "I love the sense of community amongst parents, faculty, and students. Everyone has a shared commitment to raising well-rounded, intellectually curious and responsible students."

Other notes:

  • There is definitely a focus on academics, but because most children are applying at age 3, there is more of an emphasis on the whole child--the mind-health component
  • Parental volunteering is an important part of the culture

Educational Consultant | Jane Herron: “The ‘right’ school for your child celebrates your child’s uniqueness, curiosities and excitement with discovery and exploration, in concert with your feelings of con dence, trust and connection to your child’s school.”

Other notes:

  • New considerations for parents when looking for a school include policies around safety and bullying--ask about these protocols at the schools you are considering

 



 

Tickets are going fast! Join us for our local school parent panel!

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OUR EVENT, YEARS IN THE MAKING, IS NOW JUST DAYS AWAY! TICKETS ARE GOING FAST, REGISTER TODAY!

After working with Chicago families to find the right neighborhood, home, and school for 20+ years, I am finally able to create a night dedicated to helping families navigate these big decisions! Please join us for a night of connection and conversation, led by a panel of the best experts on the subject--other parents! Our esteemed panelists represent many of the school options presented to Chicagoland parents: public, private, and parochial, and are here to help!

Panelists/Schools: 

We are thrilled to have Mary Dempsey, president of DePaul College Prep, moderate our discussion.

Jane Herron: Educational Consultant
John Martin: (Alexander Graham) Bell Elementary
Marc McDonald: St. Josaphat School
Hillary Schneider: Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School
Amy Shulman: (Augustus H.) Burley School
Neena Vlamis: British International School of Chicago, Lincoln Park
Keren Weiss: Latin School of Chicago

Event Details: 

Wed, September 27 at 6:30pm
DePaul Student Center, Room 120
2250 N Sheffield

Parking is available at the Sheffield Parking Garage located at 2331 N. Sheffield Ave.

Success story: Owen and Melissa move cross country with our help

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Recent clients Owen and Melissa found me via Zillow, when one of my listings populated in their results. I later found out that I was chosen as their broker after quite a bit of research on their part! “In the end we liked her the best because she listened to what we wanted--which not all Realtors do. Many push whatever is out there on you,” Owen recalls.

Because they were still living in California while looking for a home here in Chicago, I knew it was important to get a very good idea of their specific tastes, and exactly what they were looking for: “Millie took the time to get to know us, so the new ideas that she brought to the table were always helpful,” said Owen.

Owen and Melissa took about three to four trips here to Chicago to research properties, neighborhoods and schools, and I was very involved in the process along the way. Once they settled on the property they wanted to purchase, I made a few key referrals to help the process along: “We used Millie’s recommended lawyer, and he was very knowledgeable and responsive,” Owen said.

After about six months of research, and selling their California property, Owen recalls: “Buying was the easiest part of the whole deal!” You don’t hear that very often, and I am very glad he feels that way, especially working remotely on so much of this deal! “We love what we bought--love the location, and love the property,”  Owens said.

When asked if he would recommend our team, Owen said, “Absolutely. Millie is super professional, but what set her apart is that she isn’t the typical real estate agent. She wasn’t trying to sell a house. Her approach was to learn about us, and what we want and don’t want, and then go out and find what we were looking for. She put her time in, and we appreciate it.”

Welcome to Chicago, Owen and Melissa, we are glad you’re here, and it was a pleasure working with you!

 

Best of: my top 7 favorite Chicago high rises

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There are so many incredible high rises in this city, and the list just keeps getting longer! I’m not sure if our city is special, but to me we have some of the most elite, unique, beautiful and luxurious high rises out there. Today I’ve compiled my “best of” list for you!

1) Best amenities: The Pinnacle (4 E Huron)

The amenities list for The Pinnacle does not disappoint whether you are interested in exercise for yourself (they have a gorgeous indoor pool), or for your four legged friend--their dog run on the 7th floor is beautiful enough that I might want to run there myself! The property also features a beautiful outdoor lounge area two gyms (one aerobic and one for weightlifting), and a theater room. Also important to note that this properties is one of the few downtown that offers gorgeous terraces.

Best views: 
2) City views: 340 E Randolph

340 E Randolph also happens to be the city’s first ecologically-friendly tower, built in 2008. On top of that, the views of the city are top notch, and there is an underground connection to downtown.

3) Lake views: The Carlyle (1040 Lakeshore Dr)

The panoramic Lake views from this building (directly across from Oak St Beach) are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen, period!

4) Best location: 4 E Elm + 55 E Erie

From either of these buildings you are a stone’s throw from all of the city’s best attractions: shopping, the Lake, restaurants, Division St Farmer’s Market, Rush St, Oak St, and the bike paths along the Lake.

5) Best neighborhood feel: 2450 N Lakeview (where I also happen to have a listing!)

This lush little enclave of east Lincoln Park is built around the close proximity of the Park, Zoo, bike trails, nature conservatory, and all the shops and restaurants along Clark.

6) Best unit layouts: 1211 S Prairie

I love the open feeling of the split floorplans within this building, and that the majority of the kitchens feature a separate breakfast area. The master baths are also uniquely spacious, with double bowl vanities and separate shower, tub and commode.

7) Best for dogs: The Ronsley (676 N Kingsbury)

I love this building’s proximity to the Ohio St Dog Park and the dog-focused food truck that always parks nearby!

Do you have a favorite high rise I didn’t feature? Email me and let’s talk!

 

Parent Panel: How to find the right school for your family - tickets available now!

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Complimentary tickets are now available for our inaugural Millie's Meetup: a night devoted to helping you find the right school for your child and family.

We will help you navigate these difficult decisions through conversation, cocktails and a panel of the best experts on the subject--other parents! After years or working with young families to find the right home and school setup, I decided it was time to figure out a way to uncomplicate this stressful time--even just a little bit!

Panelists/Schools: 

We are thrilled to have Mary Dempsey, president of DePaul College Prep, moderate our discussion.

Jane Herron: Educational Consultant
John Martin: (Alexander Graham) Bell Elementary
Marc McDonald: St. Josaphat School
Hillary Schneider: Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School
Amy Shulman: (Augustus H.) Burley School
Neena Vlamis: British International School of Chicago, Lincoln Park
Keren Weiss: Latin School of Chicago

Event Details: 

Wed, September 27 at 6:30pm
DePaul Student Center, Room 120
2250 N Sheffield

Parking is available t the Sheffield Parking Garage located at 2331 N. Sheffield Ave.

Success story: Kevin finds a seasoned pro

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I first met Kevin back in 2006 through events at DePaul. Kevin was the Associate Vice President of Development, and my husband John is on the Board of Trustees. I don’t hold it against Kevin that he’s bought and sold a few properties in the time since we first met since everything turned out well in the end!

This was the first time Kevin worked with a team, and I could tell he had a little trepidation about that. From my perspective, my team is a huge part of my success, and contribute so much to each transaction. Plus, I’m always there for my clients every step of the way. “As I honed in on what I was looking for, Millie was there, already starting to put together ner negotiation strategy together,” Kevin said.

When Kevin decided which property he would like to buy, I came to him with what I believed was a fair starting point, and we went from there: “It became clear very early on that Millie is a real seasoned professional. She was a strong negotiator with a real sense of moving the deal forward. I always tell my friends: hiring a broker is like hiring any other professional, you want the best in the business. With Millie, I felt like I was working with the best in the business,” Kevin recalls.

Once we had a signed contract, my extended team quickly jumped into action for Kevin. “A lot of times, real estate attorneys will kill deals. That wasn’t the case at all with Joe. He was a true master,” Kevin said. I also referred Kevin a painter that he ended up hiring as well.

Working with Kevin was an absolute pleasure, and I am looking forward to working with the friends he has already sent my way!