An Asian-themed table setting, surrounded by a garden
Walk With Me

I love a good home and/or garden walk, whether through insouciant artist-occupied interiors in Bucktown or the patrician stomping grounds of the well-to-do. Especially on a swell summer afternoon, and even more so when it’s self-guided (pick and choose what to see and for how long, and no need for awkward facial expressions to feign interest with longwinded docents). This Sunday, July 17 brings the 53rd Dearborn Garden Walk, a stately yet spirited stroll through 20-plus Near North Side backyards, from noon till 5 p.m. It’s always a fun time, with live classical and jazz music and designer-staged settings. (This year’s theme is Elizabeth Taylor, so watch out for cats on hot tin roofs, and mind all that broken glass and bile if there’s a Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? yard.) Neighborhood architectural walking tours, set for 1:30, 3:30, and 5, will point out celebrity homes, sites used in movies, and notable facades and unexpected architectural details. Tickets are $30 until Saturday, or if you’re on the fence about eyeing the fences, stop by the lobby of the Latin lower school and get day-of admission for $35.

The French Heritage collection at the Kenneth Ludwig Home Furnishings showroom

French Connections

Happy Bastille Day, mes amis—storm the day! There are some festive Franco events and deals going on this month that you might find revolutionary. Kenneth Ludwig Home Furnishings chose a fitting time to launch the French Heritage furniture collection at its showroom on the 15th floor of the Mart, and has guillotined prices of F.H. floor samples by at least 50 percent, and is taking 10 percent off new orders through July. (This iron bed was $2,085 and is now $950; not too miserables, huh?) Frenchman Jacques Wayser and his American fashion-model wife Henessey started French Heritage in Los Angeles in 1981, with the idea of making classically inspired high-end furniture using old-school techniques. Bedside Manor, also feeling the ooh-la-la, is offering 20 percent off all Yves Delorme bed, bath, and table linens at its four area locations and online (the luxe linen company was founded in 1845 and is as French as they come), and our friends at Oak Park’s CarefulPeach boutique are celebrating the occasion with a Bastille Day party this Saturday, July 16, 10–6. They will be reducing French fares by 15 percent, and serving Parisian delicacies and sparkling wine as live accordion music fills the air. Berets, baguettes, and poodles are optional.

An elaborately designed red Italian armchair, trimmed in gold

Vincent Lombardy

The Brianza district in the northern Italian region of Lombardy is home to more than 4,500 furniture makers, and you can give some of their wares the glad eye at an exhibition at the Merchandise Mart this month, through July 22. Fifteen companies, some going back to the mid-19th century, are bringing the Brianza bravura in a wide range of styles, from ornate, over-the-top chairs and sofas that look like they were excommunicated from the set of The Borgias (check out this plush perch from Fratelli Origgi) to playfully modern designs from the likes of Rinnova and MISS. The show is a joint presentation by the Midwest Italian American and the Brianza chambers of commerce, and is open to the public from 9–5, Monday through Friday in suite 567.

Plush dolls on display at Edgewater Arts Festival

Festivus for the Rest of Us

Summer street festivals in Chicago are no rare and special snowflakes—as soon as June hits the calendar, umbrellaed pineapple drinks, cheap-sunglass vendors, and maybe-shouldn’t-have-left-the garage bands hit the hoods every weekend, blocking off streets and herding the hoi polloi. But I think that’s great, and likely one of the reasons most Chicagoans would put on a top-ten list of why they enjoy this city. There are a few diverse al fresco diversions coming up this weekend that skew handmade (often juried) arts and crafts rather than sassy T-shirts and 1980s covers, in case you’re looking for a piece or two to bring sunny memories home year-round. (Be discerning though, I don’t need to see any creepy peek-a-boo dolls leaning against your porch or curly taffy-striped candles on the coffee table the next time I come over.) The Lincoln Park Arts and Music Festival boasts more than 80 artists; the Chinatown Summer Fair features traditional Chinese crafts and demos on Sunday, and the Edgewater Arts Festival (pictured) offers both juried and non-juried areas, and promotions from neighborhood businesses. Sign up for our sister enewsletter, Chicago Guide, to stay on top of them all. Metromix has a pretty tight list of the season’s street festivals here.

A colorful picnic basket from Ten Thousand Villages

Pretty Picnics

Yogi Bear snatched your pic-a-nic basket and you need a replacement? Want to be smarter than the average bear when it comes to planning Ravinia outings and backyard BBQs? Check out Ten Thousand Villages’ Perfect Garden Party event on Thursday, July 21, 7–9 p.m., at the Evanston location. There will be food samplings and demos using store products, such as this Bangladeshi tote woven from recycled snack bags and candy wrappers. All products at 10K are fair trade and made by hand, and 15 percent of purchases made during this event will go to the work of Global Alliance for Africa.

A customer browsing items at the Evanston Sidewalk Sale

Where the Sidewalks Vend

From the halls of Daley Plaza to the shores of Evanston, local businesses are taking it to the streets this month with organized summer sidewalk sales. On the north side of Evanston, the Central Street sale starts today and runs through Sunday, and features home deals from Notice, Stella, (pictured) and George Ritzlin Maps and Prints. Go west for the Hinsdale Sidewalk Sale Friday and Saturday, or try Glen Ellyn’s Main Street sale, spilling out next week, July 21-23. More than 50 small Lincoln Park shops and boutiques plan to participate in the Armitage-Halsted-Webster Sidewalk Sale on July 23­–24, and for Loop denizens, the fifth Chicago Sidewalk Sale takes over Daley Plaza next Tuesday and Wednesday from 9–3. (That one is fashion focused, with about 40 local designers showing men’s and women’s clothing, accessories, and jewelry—but I’ve also seen pillows, lampshades, and small vintage items.)