Second Homes & Gardens

Fifty savvy real estate agents have joined forces to put on a massive open house in Michigan’s Harbor Country, with over 100 on-the-market properties available for ogling this Saturday, April 25 from 12-4 p.m. (Michigan time). Every price range is available, from charming $100K cottages in Three Oaks to this $5 million lakeside manse in New Buffalo. Aprés house-hunting, there’s an after-party at the Round Barn Winery in Union Pier, 4-6 p.m. (Pick up an invite at any of the participating properties.) Harbor Country is sort of the Hamptons of Chicago, luring city dwellers with its dunes, farmers markets, antiquing opps, and all-around laidback vibe—just the thing for wannabe barefoot contessas and gentleman farmers. It’s close enough for impromptu weekend getaways, too, since you can fly there on the Skyway if you avoid rush hour.

North Shore Show-Off

Every other year since 1985, the Lake Forest chapter of Chicago’s Infant Welfare Society kicks it Gatsby-style with a top-drawer designer showhouse and, while I’ve not yet eyeballed this year’s offering, several style mavens have leaked that it’s a wow. The Lansdowne Estate in Lake Bluff, a 14,500-square-foot home on 22 lake-hugging acres, built in 1911 for the head of Rand McNally, has been transformed by 36 local interior and landscape designers including Oprah-vetted Walker Simmons, queens of drama Michael DelPiero and Kara Mann, Top Design victor Matt Lorenz, the ever-talented Frank Ponterio, and Marshall Erb, who took on the pool house shown here. The fun starts Saturday and runs through May 16, and tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door (although you have to park at the Lake Bluff Recreation Center and take a shuttle—no mere rambling up to this riparian residence).


Kitch Factor

If you’re prepping for a kitchen makeover, we’ve got a couple of April showers that you’ll want to taste test this weekend. Start on Saturday at the 23rd annual Parenthesis Kitchen Walk in Oak Park, which promises to amuse your bouche with ten freshly garnished kitchens done in the past year, then skip Sunday brunch and sample six more homes with kitted-out kitchens on the Elmhurst Kitchen Expedition house walk.

Orange Skin Contest

Nope, it’s not a tanning face-off between George Hamilton and Donatella Versace—it’s your opportunity to win one of three majorly modern pieces of furniture from the River North arbiter of high-style home design, Orange Skin. Sign up for their newsletter and you get a chance to answer some furniture trivia, and win something like this $1,090 Leaf lounge chair from Arper (if you know the three names of the designers and are the 109th person to submit an entry, that is—much more fun than tossing a business card in a fishbowl!).

Edgewater Events

The Edgewater Historical Society is hosting a talk by Thom Greene, of the historically sensitive Greene & Proppe interior and architectural design firm, at an opening-night reception for “Unbuilt Projects and Fantasy Designs”, his exhibit of sketches and renderings from 31 years of unrealized home projects in Andersonville/Edgewater (tomato/to-mah-toh?) on Friday, April 24 at 6:30. The coulda-woulda-shoulda show of sketches and photos will remain on view until June 6. The EHS is also having a mosaic workshop on Sunday, April 26 at noon, designed as an opportunity for artists and community members to contribute to the latest bricolage project—the program that transforms gritty Lake Shore Drive underpasses into sparkling works of art (see the amazing job they did on the north and south sides of the Bryn Mawr exit, for an example). Foster Avenue is the next makeover, and you can be a part of it if you reserve a spot by emailing Betty at