Friday Round-Up (April 3)


These are the things that got my attention this week!  I hope you had your coffee.

The Party Absurdum

Last Saturday former Open House stars Karl and Dawn hosted a fantastic little dinner party at their La Grange home.  The party sure was fun with delish-delight food and good company (including former Open House stars Janis, Maribeth and Greg).  Thanks Karl and Dawn.*

But enough with the fawning.

We’ll Miss You E.R. (Part One)

I just finished watching the final E.R., and my eyes are still moist, red and puffy.  Thursday nights will never be the same . . . but did you even know ER was still broadcast?  I didn’t either.  I can still remember watching the first episode; I was a college freshman, a young lad in a young lady’s apartment (a friend, no benefits outside normal friend stuff).  The wall-to-wall carpeting was beer-stained and gray, the furniture a coordinating calico-like pattern of gray, cream and mauve (ubiquitous in campus apartments despite its appearance).  Back then, the kitchen would have been described glowingly as “Euro.” I remember what my friend looked like, but I can’t remember her name.  At first I remembered her as Kristen, but no, Kristen was her best friend.  Might it be false, my entire memory of this episode? (episode. Get it?  HA!  Pardon the pun, but you gotta love ’em).  Help me Google of 2175 A.D.!  Help me remember!!!! (added excitement mine)

We’ll Miss You E.R. (Part Two)

Unfortunately for you I have more to say on this topic.  When E.R. debuted, I was nearly 19 (a man!) trying to figure out how to do laundry while wondering why anybody with even half a brain would risk casting two losers like George “Program Killer” Clooney whose best known series was Facts of Life and that skinny, nerdy guy from, well yea, “Revenge of the Nerds” in a big budget buzz show.  There was quite the debate about whether E.R. or Chicago Hope, both new medical dramas set in Chicago, would win the ratings war; E.R. won.

West Elm (the Prequel)

But since we’re talking about . . . uh . . . design emergencies?  No, but maybe . . . hit potential?  Yea, hit potential.  New York furniture collective Bungalow 5 unveiled their new website, and it’s got potential to be a big hit (i.e. hit potential).  I like their stuff, especially the colors.  West Elm seems to be following suit with similar pieces also available in a range of similar colors.  Coincidence?  Hmm . . .

West Elm I Reluctantly Embrace Thee (Part One)

Speaking of intellectual property thef  . . . our design inspirations, I hung out at Fine Diving in Chicago blogger Diana Durkes’ home recently (watch for her Open House soon) and was so wowed by her graphic zig-zag runner that I promptly plunked down a chunk of my rapidly diminishing cache of cash for the 8 x 10 version.


Fine Diving blogger Diana Durkes' entryway and zigzag rug

Guess where she bought it?  Yep, West Elm.  I’d like mashed potater’s with my crow please!  Dubious its low cost made me; I was afraid the quality would be poor or that the rug would be too graphic (i.e. loud), but it’s well-made and packs the perfect punch of interest.  In my living room, the new rug takes on a thirties deco-glam look.  Thanks Williams Sonoma family of brands!  I would like to make friends with you now.

West Elm I Reluctantly Embrace Thee (Part Deux)

And I know what you’re thinking; “What’s the deal man?  You make us buy vintage, but you get to buy new stuff!”  That’s true, but what’s also true (only not) is that a Pew Research Center study found that 56% of what I say is complete and total b.s.  Moving on, I’ve been generally impressed with West Elm’s catalog, although I’d stick to rugs, accessories and possibly lighting/upholstery if you know what’s good for you.

To find good furniture, visit your local vintage stores (check out my Chicago/Midwest vintage shopping guide if you’re at a loss about where to begin).  Special thanks to Diana for the idea and to former Open House star and college pal turned adult confidante Liz for driving the hour from Chicago to Oak Brook, buying it and delivering it for me.  And yes, it’s true that I drew the long straw when we decided to be friends.

Dancing at Bogie’s (This Title Will Remain Unexplained)

Liz and I first bonded over our unhealthy obsession with buying “stuff,” and we’re both using talk therapy (with each other) to help us recover.  Frankly she’s hopeless, a lost cause, but I was doing pretty well until this week when I went on a little buying bender; during a photo shoot at Agent Gallery owner Mariano Chavez’s amazing apartment, I wound up buying a big salvaged letter T (complete with bulbs that light up and which lighting designer Ted Harris is re-wiring and spiffing up as we speak).


Ted Harris - Furniture and Lighting designer and Tate's shrink

The Secret (WhatEVER!!!)

While at Ted’s, I spotted the exact light fixture I’ve been seeking for my slow but sure-to-be-soon-completed second bedroom redesign.  If you’re wondering if I bought it, the answer is no, but  I did buy a duplicate he had in storage.  Thanks Ted.  I thought the Secret, which cloyingly has a .TV web address, was opium for the Mrs., but you made me a believer.

The Rabbit Hole

I guess I’ve always sort of believed in the Secret though.  It has to work or else why would have it been a secret for so long?  You can’t argue with deductive reasoning and sound logic.  Despite my feeling that they’re a bunch of charlatans, it’s because of the Secret that I bought a small home accessory designed by the incredibly talented comic book illustrator Chris Ware for the terrific Chicago Comics.  Ware’s comic strips are quiet and intelligent with a pervasive sense of ennui (at best).  To use a phrase one such as myself would never use in life but who would use it when writing in a doomed effort to appear intellectual, effete even, Ware’s work is “hauntingly” beautiful.  So in an effort to attract the right energy to meet him, I logically concluded that buying the statue he designed would give me the most bang for my buck.  If you don’t stop mocking me, you’re going to get it. Long story short (no?), I bought the statue, ripped the package open and watched in horror as the statue flew out and hit the floor.  The result?


An ever sadder little statue.  It’s kind of Hitchcockian isn’t it?  What could this portend?  I think I know, and that conclusion makes me all kinds of sad (as my college roommate would have said in the southern accent he had mysteriously acquired (ala Madonna) despite growing up in Illinois).

Blind Item

This power couple just returned from a much-needed vacation looking like kitties after a canary roast!  Apparently the sexy dynamic duo (there’s a clue there keen readers!) happened upon the find of a lifetime!

Axis of Evelyn

Being tired and not feeling like coming up with a transition, I hear former Strange Closets Open House star and Axis of Evelyn founder Evelyn Daightman is having a big sale of her vintage designer clothing this Saturday.  319 Albany.  It’s from 12 – 4.  Evelyn’s just about the kindest gal anybody could ever know, and she has an extensive collection of garments.

Juicy Gossip Around Town

Which unbelievably talented furniture designer will soon be offering his wares through Michael Del Piero’s excellent Bucktown boutique?  Could it be John Barnett of JBD Design?  John’s imbues his designs with a whimsical motion that makes them look like they’re going to start dancing.  Congratulations John and Michael on your new routine.


A beautiful John Barnett designed dining table and credenza

East Elm Appreciation (Part One)

Believe it or not, John lives right down the (Elm) street from former Open House star Matthew (of the now classic When Matthew Met Craig), and the neighbors know each other well.

East Elm Appreciation (Part Two) (Note:  Nate Berkus is referenced in this post.  I KNOW!!!)

Congratulations to Matthew as well; the healthcare exec sold his place, which formerly belonged to Oprah’s favorite designer Nate Berkus, after only eight days on the market.  Now it’s partner Craig’s turn to sell (I photographed his spectacular Lincoln Park loft last Wednesday afternoon).  I’d consider making an offer on the space, but it’s located directly across the street from Jayson Home and Garden, and I want to avoid bankrupcy if at all possible.

A Year, A Year, A Year (Yea, Yea, Yea) PLUS!  I like this Jayson pillow (a lot):


Speaking of Jayson (just go with it, almost done), the Spring European Flea Market is coming up, the one-year anniversary of my love affair with them.  Last year at this time I’d just started Strange Closets, so I  just kind of snuck around taking pictures and doing whatever it took (baby) to avoid detection.  When I posted the story, P.R. goddess Abbe M. sent me a nice thank you email and helped to coordinate my interview with Caroline Scheeler (who’s also a keeper).

That’s it for this week.  Stay bold rad ones!


Jayson Home brings it

* See, I didn’t even mention that I got locked in the bathroom and had to escape through the window.  Good thing you don’t live in the Hancock Center.

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5 Responses to “Friday Round-Up (April 3)”

  1. a very Nice Picture of Ted-The-rePurposer, Tate::
    you made him appear quite comfortable in front of the lens.

  2. You forgot to mention the sad passing of Haus in Andersonville. But, there is this weekend left to shop and I hear that they are having a closing party tonight at the store with good discounts. I sent my husband over yesterday to buy one of the antlered bronze skulls that I had my eye on for a few months – hooray!

  3. Randy, that’s an older photo from last year; I was running really late and not gotten very much sleep, so I was not operating at 100%. Ted was relaxed despite my being behind the camera (he’s a natural), but I appreciate your kind words.

  4. Hi, Tate, good choice of a rug for your LR. It’ll work with the space much better than your previous floorwrap. Please take a photo for us and post it here. Many thanks!