Chicago Life and Style.

Your Home. Your Life. Your Style

Month: March, 2010

Scrappers to the rescue!

A friend was recently in town and told me about how he was saved from having to help move a 40 year old freezer out of a basement. Turns out the scrappers came to the rescue. Now, I assumed this was the name of a company or service provider.  In fact, he was referring to the people you can regularly see trolling the alleys looking for something valuable to haul off, restore, or sell for scrap.  It never occurred to me that these individuals are actually entrepreneurs taking advantage of a market niche. Well, I stand corrected, and my view of the world has once again been expanded and appropriately adjusted to hold one less bias.

My friend has used scrappers in the past and so have many of his friends. On this particular occasion, a friend in the city passed by a local scrapper in his neighborhood, stopped him and explained the predicament.   The very next morning, that scrapper brought his crew all the way out to Skokie and hauled the behemoth freezer up from the basement and took it away. FOR FREE. I’m still a little shocked by the ease with which it happened. What a hidden treasure.  Now, many people (myself included since I live alone) may hesitate to ask strangers to come into our homes to perform such a task. However, I wouldn’t hesitate at all to call up all my friends and say–“Hey, Ive got this huge job I need done and I don’t need you to help. All I need is for you to come and hang out with me while I have someone else take care of it!” Your friends will be happy to help knowing there will be no actual work involved and you should feel safe with the crowd around you.

How to find these industrious fellows? Now that the weather is getting warmer, just hang out on your back porch (if you have one) and wave one down when they pass by your house on their way down the alley. According to my friend, every one he has met has been friendly and willing to share their phone numbers for easy access the next time you need something hauled away.

FLEUROTICA–this Friday!!

Fleurotica, the amazing fashion show to support the Garfield Park Conservatory is this Friday, did you get your tickets yet??  This isn’t just any fashion show, all the clothes and hats etc. are made from flowers and plants!  It’s very, very cool.  In addition to the fashion show there are a lot of other beautiful sights and fun activities that make this event a don’t-miss.

In the spirit of full disclosure–yes, I am on the event committee. 🙂  But that doesn’t change the fact that you will enjoy this event! I only got on the committee because I never miss an event at the conservatory.  And, its a great cause. I talk about the conservatory quite a bit and the reason is that it really provides such a unique and wonderful experience for the whole family every day of the year. It’s been around since 1908 and is an extraordinary feat of architecture and landscape design. A trip to the conservatory is truly rejuvenating in the harsh Chicago winters and the outdoor gardens are stunning in the summer–like a trip to the countryside right in the middle of the city!

I would love to see you at this wonderful event but even if you can’t make it, come visit some time!

Purchase tickets online or call Katherine Schultz at 773-638-1766 x.28.  Tell them Perri sent you and you’ll get a special deal!

Things to do next week/weekend in Wicker Park area

Sound of Silent Film Festival

Accessible Contemporary Music’s Sound of Silent Film Festival features modern silent films screened to live music, composed especially for the film by Chicago composers. Enjoy the performance Wednesday March 17 at 7:30pm at the Chopin Theater (1543 W. Division), tickets: $15, $10 online. Call (773) 334-3650 for more.

Pritzker School Play: The Wiz

The Wiz, will be produced featuring Pritzker School students from Kindergarten through 8th grade. Come on and ease on down the road. Thursday and Friday nights, March 18, 19 at 7pm and Saturday, March 20 at 2pm. All Seats $5. Tickets can be purchased online at or at the door (2009 W. Schiller St).

Losing the living room

Below is a great article from my newsletter about the death of the formal living room. I can’t say I’m sad to see it go.  What I do miss is the formal dining room.  I tend to make a mess when I cook and I also LOVE setting a fancy table. Even if you serve something simple, if the table is dressed up it feels elegant and when it’s in a separate room, you can’t see the mess I made preparing it (or unpacking it from take-out boxes!). I’m all for casual, useable spaces but I am always a little sad to see new construction without a dining room–assuming there is room of course.  Many of us only have room for one dining area and I think that’s fine–as long as its suited to do double duty as a formal dining room as well.  While you can easily entertain in a great room or family room, it’s not nearly as pleasant to serve Thanksgiving dinner at a table in the kitchen.

As demographics change, these changes are reflected in requested floor plans.  New lifestyles are dictating living spaces that are compatible with today’s families and individuals.

When Country Home magazine built a show house at the World Financial Center based on an informal reader survey, it had no living room at all. According to the architect, it just did not appear on anybody’s wish list. In its place was a double-height medieval ‘great hall,’ which ran the length of the house with a family room/kitchen and gathering place at the rear. Builders confirm that there is a trend. Customers are telling them that they don’t want living rooms. ‘My parents never used it and I don’t use it,’ they say.

When it comes time to renovate, the family room is again the winner. Kermit Baker, an economist at Harvard University’s Joint Center For Housing Studies, said, ‘It just makes sense that the family room would grow at the expense of the more formal living room. Most of the renovations in the last 10 to 15 years have been generated by baby boomers making more livable space for their growing families. The last thing they need is more formal space. They need space for playing around.’

The living room in America was a 19th-century invention evolving from a parlor reserved for ‘at home’ receptions, into a large, gracious space meant for the entire family to enjoy. After World War II, parents found they needed to put some distance between themselves and their children, so the rec room was born, tucked away in the basement where play activities didn’t interfere with life in the rest of the house. A precedent was established. The family room was fun but the living room, neat and perfect, was serious.

The biggest blow to the living room’s sense of purpose came when the family room was combined with the kitchen and named the great room or gathering room by builders. The movement started in the ’70s and really took hold in the ’80s.

Now, changing lifestyles and technology are bringing about another reconfiguration of living space in homes. According to the 1990 census, half the households in America consist of married couples without children, while one-quarter of the population lives alone. The traditional floor plan has given way to rooms that fit the needs of two-career couples, empty nesters and extended families.

Defenders of the formal living room say that reports of its death are premature. After all, where are you going to entertain the in-laws when they come to visit?

Copyright PropertySource Network 2010


I sort of feel like I should have my Big Hair going as I write about something called Swap-O-Rama.  However, it’s actually a super trendy idea.  This is an event that’s clearly geared towards those gifted in sewing or related fields but it’s a fantastic idea far beyond fashion.

The concept is to take something “old” that you own and swap it for something new-to-you that was someone else’s “old”.  Everyone gets something new, everyone is recycling, and we are all honoring the value of what we once cherished and invested in. Perhaps it’s a bit of a stretch but I like the concept.

As for this actual event, its March 20-21 at Chicago Waldorf School, 1300 W Loyola Ave, Chicago. Check out the website for more details.  This is a great opportunity not only for fashionistas and designers but also artists, theater groups and anyone wanting to change their style without spending a fortune. A little known trick–it is relatively inexpensive to have something tailored.  You can look like a million bucks and make that inexpensive outfit look fancy schmancy for a fraction of the cost of a designer label.  The truth is, most people notice how the clothes fit, not who made them.

What the heck, this is a great alternative to window shopping AND an excuse to clean out your closet. Its Spring, start fresh!