March 12, 2013

Open Up & The Chicago Tribune


A couple of months ago, during our renovation whirlwind, I was contacted by a writer, Elaine Markoutsas, who wanted to interview me about the choice to do open shelving in my kitchen and living with it.  We had a good chat about open shelves in the kitchen and about why I love it…  Things have been so busy that it totally slipped my mind & I was so surprised to see an email from my friend Debra this morning congratulating me on being mentioned in an article in the Chicago Tribune yesterday!
{The photo used in the Chicago Tribune of the kitchen in our last house… That’s Christian, who’s now 5!!}
I’m originally from the suburbs of Chicago (I moved to Virginia with my mom when I was four) and I have lots of family and friends there (most importantly, my Dad!! 🙂 so it’s really cool to have an article mentioning me in Chicago.
Open shelving in the kitchen is a concept I feel strongly about (not a joke, though it should be 😉 and I feel like it really changed my view and outlook on other rooms in a home too.  The notion of functional beauty is one that I’ve now taken all over my home (and clients’ homes) and just seems so natural to me.  There are things I’m okay hiding and things I like displaying, and I sort of draw the line here:
1)When things functionally make sense in a room and
2) When things have some aspect of beauty to them or can be displayed in a way that makes them beautiful
…that they may as well be exposed for me and others to see.
In our new (old) house, I’ve opened things up pretty much everywhere I can.  In a small hallway leading from the garage to the house, we’re in the process of creating a mini-mudroom out of a 4 foot wide coat closet.  We’ve removed the doors and taken down the closet rod.  We’re adding hooks for coats and bags, a shelf up top for baskets, and a storage bench.  We now see our “junk” every time we walk in the house, but it’s displayed in a way that looks as good as it can and it makes life more functional…  Now, my 3 year-old can hang his coat up by himself instead of needing us to hang it for him.  I COVET a mudroom like this:
{I looove these cubbies…  we don’t have enough space for any in our house.  Image from here.}

Ours will look more like this:

{Except without the pretty sunshine streaming in 😉 😉  Image from here. }

The same goes for our loft family room…  We’re in the process of lining the entire room with shelving for books, toys and randoms stuff.  I’ll leave the books exposed and then do baskets for the not-so-pretty stuff like toys and games.  Here’s the loft before we moved in:

Right now, the loft is a MESS…  It’s half-pinkish-beige from when we moved in and partly primed and exposed studs from where we tore out the paneling and desk you see in the pic.  I have BIG plans for this room and will be sharing soon. BUT the biggest feature in the room will be its open shelving.  I’m so excited to be able to be surrounded by our books (We’ve been living with them in the garage this whole time and I can’t even tell you how many times a week I want to grab a book to reference it or read it to the boys or whatever and I just can’t.  I am so excited to be able to have any book we need at our fingertips.)  Most of my books aren’t very pretty so I’ll be working on some creative ways of displaying them to make them look better.  (wish me luck 😉  I love a mix of vertical and horizontal stacks like in this picture:

{image from here}

In our dining room, I follow the same line of thinking and have more open shelving for serving ware and our nature finds.  I love the simple utilitarian stacks of dishes in this dining room below:

{image from here}

In my office, I display my fabrics, magazines and client binders on large open shelving.  Don’t get me wrong, I love cabinetry and hidden storage too- but- I reserve the cabinets and drawers in our house for the ugly stuff, trying to minimize it as much as possible,  and use open shelving for the useful pretties.

The concept of opening up and surrounding myself & my family in the things we use on a daily basis is one that fits the way we live.  We’re very casual people, and in this new house, my main goal- besides making it something I love to look at & be in- is making is incredibly functional and easy to live in.  Opening up our storage and seeing the stuff we have is so freeing.  It forces us to ditch the stuff we don’t love or use all the time and keeps us disciplined.  (And now I just need an empty room in my house to hide all the other stuff 😉

Anyway, I know it’s not for everyone…  what are your thoughts on opening up and exposing your stuff?

To read more about my thoughts and readers’ comments & experiences on open shelving, go HERE.

To read the Chicago Tribune article, Full Exposure, by Elaine Markoutsas, go HERE.

If you’d like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

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