Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Hi, everyone.

The news for today is ... drum roll please ... My writing space is FINISHED!!!! YAY!

As most of you know, I have been under construction for the past month. After eight years in my Chicago condo, I realized I desperately needed a writing space. Since condo living doesn't come with a plot of land to build on, condo owners are pretty much STUCK with the space they have ... but are they?

Yes, we are limited to the square footage, BUT space can be reconfigured. As an interior designer, I am well aware of this. And so, after going back and forth in my mind, I had decided to section off part of my oversized living room. When I bought this condo the main feature for me was to have an enormous living room. At the time I wanted to showcase a Parisian salon style decor. The expansive size and five windows overlooking Lincoln Park, North Pond, and downtown was the perfect space.

After three months I had created a stunning traditional 1920's room to match my vintage condo. It was perfect. I had booked several jobs from it, but as time went by and my business crashed in 2009, the pomp and majesty of the room wore thin. Who needed such a grand space, especially since I had to live of savings and the seldom job.

As I took up writing, the desire for an office grew more intense. I took up illustration again and needed a space that would function for my art. Paints are messy... who wants to ruin a hand-woven Persian rug... not me! That thing cost me the price of a new car! So, needless to say my space wasn't working for me anymore. I also got over fluffing the down sofa EVERY TIME someone sat on it. My formal days were coming to a close. It was/is time for more suitable space for my new lifestyle.

Two years ago, I ditched the overstuffed down sofa and chairs, and put the antique camel sofa in storage and replaced them with two low profile, clean lined, linen sofas. Very Modern... Took my Biedermeier knockoff drawing table out of storage and reconfigured my living room... I even bit the bullet and put a large screen TV over the fireplace ... something I SWORE I would never do. Had to keep the carpet though ... too huge to store. LOL. But still had to be careful with the paint... LOL.

For the past year I have been toying with the idea and dreaming of an office. Most people would just sell their place and buy another one... HA! Not with the real estate market the way it is. Yes, it is a GREAT buyers market, but try to sell... HA! again. I lot almost a $100,000 because of buying high and all the upgrades I put in. So I am totally stuck! And so are many others. That is why I decided to reconfigure.

I made up my mind and decided to GO FOR IT! I did a sketch and called a contractor I had worked with in the past. Hoping for a good quote, I was completely floored. "FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS! Just to throw up dry wall!" That wasn't even including materials OR the crown molding, which needed to be matched perfectly. Vintage living sports gorgeous details, but try matching them without paying a FORTUNE. I have nine inch PLASTER molding. "Who does plaster anymore? HELP! SOS!"

I escorted my FORMER contractor to the door and told him he was insane! It was time for Angie's List. I had never used them before but I had heard only good things about them. I joined and immediately contacted three contractors. Two called right away ...

The estimates were HALF of the smo I used to work with. Shop around guys! They are a LOT of overpriced contractors out there.

I decided on one. WITH the crown molding AND a closet I decided I had to have too, the bill with materials and two doors, one French, one heavy SOLID wood door, came to around $4000.00. Yes, the same as the other guy, BUT so much more. The crown molding alone was over a thousand. Remember I have two sides, two corners, and a jet out for the closet. This was no easy, put a few studs in the floor and voila a wall. I had pocked doors installed too plus ALL the thick baseboards and door moldings. Again... think vintage. LOTS of woodwork. Beautiful but costly and lots of work.

Now guys, this quote DID NOT INCLUDE painting. That would have been another $1500.00. Painters are INSANE here in Chicago. Thankfully painting is one of my talents ... I am BEYOND anal. I am more meticulous than ANY painter than I have ever encountered.

Okay... enough backstory... Here are the pics. It is amazing how just by putting up a wall it can change your whole space. It's a totally different condo now. AND  I finally have THE office. YAY! Let me know what you think...

Here are the befores, I want to give you a good sense of the remodel...

Circa... 2004-2010


As you can see... Lots of room and WASTED space.

Circa 2010-2012

Lighter walls, no window treatments, drawing table  and TV over the fireplace ... EEK! As nice as the new space was, I still had to keep all my projects stored. Not as functional as I wanted/needed.

As you can see some of the lovely vintage details... The crown and baseboards are at least nine inches.

Okay, I guess you waited long enough. Thank you for bearing with me ... Most people thought I was INSANE to even consider breaking this up but you will see why NOW...

Let's start with the Entry...

Here you get a peek of my gallery and kitchen... That was ANOTHER Hell...and another post. Lol. The French doors lead to the bedroom.

As you can see the new pocket French door that leads into my new office. The living room sports the two lines sofas facing each other. I had to pull the other carpet because it was WAY too big for the new living space. I decided to do very simple valances just to finish off the windows. This new space is casual, contemporary and has a homey feel. To the right is the entry. I hung fashion photos I was the makeup artist and stylist for in a cool sepia tone. So the living area has a more sophisticated vibe.

A closeup view. This carpet used to be in the bedroom but it works great here on a diagonal. The reflection in the mirror is the entry and bedroom.

I still kept the nineteenth century buffet (a family piece and truly beautiful) I also had to get a different coffee table. This oval one works great in the new space. I found it at a thrift store for a fraction of the a new one.

The nice surprise about this remodel the nine foot ceilings really show their height and the entry adds to the living room space. So now EVERY inch has a purpose. No wasted space now.

Okay, now for the REVEAL!

Upon sliding the new French door into its pocket, you step into my NEW OFFICE...

First you see my writing/drawing table.... A bookcase with my blogger pals books are featured along with several Harry Potter collectables. to the left a COMFY leather chair...

Toward the back wall a cool Louis XV knock off day bed. With all custom pillows. They took me ALL last week to make along with the window treatments. The coffee table is another nineteenth century family piece. 

Another view from the daybed... 

As you can see the fireplace is decorative and it looks amazing in its new space. Great to display books and art.

I'd also like to share a close up of my bookcase. I have my blogger friends close. You all mean the world to me.

Have a wonderful week everyone... Thank you for sharing in my joy and through my journey.


  1. I love, love, love it! Honestly, you did such a wonderful job with the space. :) Thank you for the tour!

  2. It looks amazing! I'm so glad you were able to make what you wanted!

  3. Michael, this was truly worth waiting for. No wonder you went through such angst during the renos. I love your style. I adore antiques, and this has a very antique feel, alongside the modern. Well done.Iam truly jealous of your writing space. Now you won't have any excuses not to knuckle down to your many writing projects.


  4. Your entire home is beautiful! I can certainly see why you didn't want to paint in the living room. And your new writing space is totally awesome. It's helps to have a space just for writing, and yours looks comfortable as well as functional and absolutely gorgeous!

  5. Your house looks gorgeous, Michael! :)

  6. I'm in love! Honestly, it's stunning.

    But what's awesome too is that all three samples of what the rooms have looked like could be any final version of a makeover. ;-) Usually the "before" is awful, lol! But I LOVE the finished product. Reminds me of the bed and breakfasts I stayed in in Nova Scotia or even Europe... so detailed and lovely!

  7. Wow, nice job, very elegant. I love it!

  8. What a very fun and interesting post, Michael! I learned a lot about you, and it was very sweet of you to show us such a personal side of you. Which is exactly why I love to visit your blog! And now I would love to visit you home lol. Wow! It is absolutely stunning.

  9. Wow...looks almost too nice to work in. =)

  10. Really beautiful! Honestly, I thought you were posting pictures of a Better Homes and Garden tour. Wait...has your house been feature in Southern Living?

    So nice of a place to write! Thanks for sharing with us:)

  11. wow, what a home!! it is looking in a magazine.

  12. Really good job at creating a cozy and elegant working space. No excuses for not getting some fantastic writing done now! (Is that a TV on your bookshelf?) I can just imagine you setting the room and angles while you are taking these! Anyways, I love what you have done and can't wait to spend the night when I visit in my new room...:)

  13. What a difference! Looks great, Michael. No wonder it took you months.

  14. It's beautiful. I'd like to lock myself away in that space for a writing marathon.

  15. House Beautiful. :)

  16. Michael, this is amazingly beautiful. I absolutely adore the French doors, the angle of the carpet, the gorgeous valances! I could go on and on. You truly have a gift. I can't believe you made the pillows and window treatments yourself. And I love how much natural light you have in your living space. You now answered my question about where in Chicago you live. I'm so glad you shared this renovation and redesign.

  17. What a beautiful place you have Michael! You're very talented...I love it.

  18. Your taste is impeccable. Incredible design. I can't say enough. It's literally, a work of art.

  19. Wow, I am so jealous, your writing space looks amazing! It's so chiq and classy. Perfect for getting some peace and quiet with a pen and paper.

  20. Love, love, love! I love the photos of the Before - reminds me of Peter Wimsey's flat! But the After is simply awesome. I've wanted a room with a daybed for sooo long, but it never works because I have way too many books. Where do you keep your books??? Love your writing desk. I need a desk and space exactly like this... Congratulations!

  21. Michael this is awesome. It still retains your personality. I think it a bonus that you sewed the pillows and valances yourself. All that personal touch makes the rooms even brighter.

    You completely amaze me Michael. Such beauty and practicality. I expect your illustrations will be even better now that you have such a creative space to work in.

    Well done Dude *high fives*


  22. Breathtaking! You did such an exquisite job, I wish I had thousands of people to recommend you to. I am astounded by your talent and your artistic eye. Thank you for the tour, sweetie. :)

  23. yep, I like the new look best, it has more straight lines which I prefer and some interesting oriental furniture pieces.
    The only thing me no likey is that red leather armchair... looks a bit harsh in the setting.

    And I love that little sofa without back near the window in the first old design.

  24. I love it!!! It looks so peaceful, I can imagine its relaxing just to sit in there!

  25. What a difference you've made with your space. Your work table is awesome and the whole area is truly relaxing! Great job Michael! Your efforts have truly paid off!

  26. It's beautiful! Having a designated writing space is really priceless. Congratulations!

  27. OH MY GOSH! Fabulous!!! The light and the decorative touches, the windows, the floors, the crown molding...*sigh* so beautiful.

    What a great space to find inspiration each day!!

  28. So pretty!!! But don't get tempted to turn the TV on while you're writing. LOL!! :)

  29. Michael, darling, you are gorgeous! And WOW back at you! What wonderful home you have. Look at that writing space, hello? Beautiful. I wish I had that desk and the daybed. Such great taste! I hope you get to enjoy many blissful hours at your beautiful writing desk. *deep envious sigh*

    Have a fabulous week!

  30. OMG! BB, it is GORGEOUS! Just absolutely gorgeous. Wow. I love the sofa, and your FLOORS are amazing--like the ones in your new office. And I really like the facade on your fireplace. BEAUTIFUL! Love it~ :o) <3

  31. How exciting to see this! What a massive project--you did an amazing job. I love that you sewed and painted things yourself (such talent). I really like the angled rug as well as the mirror to enlarge the visual space. Lovely white fireplace. Great floors too. And yay for thrift stores; you can definitely get bargains there. Congrats on being DONE and having an awesome living room and office!

  32. Lovely!

    I'm officially jealous. :P

  33. You did it!!! You were talking about this last summer at the zoo - and now you have it! It looks amazing, Michael. Your vision was spot on. And I love that you're able to so flawlessly work in your gorgeous family furnishings. I hope you had a ball working on this project - thanks for the tour, felt like I was right there with you leading me along. I'm telling you, HGTV neeeeeeds you...