Inside the Chicago Architecture Foundation
Open Up, Chicago

The Chicago Architecture Foundation has an ambitious citywide DIY tour weekend coming up October 15–16, and it’s a great opportunity to gain rare access to more than 100 of the city’s most interesting historical and newly constructed residences, office buildings, retail and hospitality hotspots, cultural and holy hallows, and institutions of higher learning and social services. The sites selected for this inaugural Open House Chicago program (OHC2011) are clustered in five areas of the city: downtown, Bronzeville, Little Village, Garfield Park, and Rogers Park. Each of the five will have a hub location where you can pick up insider advice and info on the attractions, and there will be free trolleys to shuttle design- and architecture-loving butts around town. Hop off to see Studio Gang Architects’ progress in transforming this 1918 Hyde Park hotel (originally the Cooper-Carlton) into the artful Del Prado apartment building, and you’ll get to see a model unit and the dapper new dining room and dance hall. OHC is free, open to the public, and no reservations are necessary (but why not sign up anyway to get updates, last-minute announcements, and the chance to win some prizes?).

Inside Rosie O'Donnell's new Chicago home

Rosie’s Roost

It didn’t take Rosie O’Donnell long to find a place to park her Crocs and craft supplies since she came to Chicago to pinch-hit for Oprah—she recently closed on a five-bedroom McMansion at 1517 West Grace Street, in the Lake View neighborhood. The funny lady got the price down from $2.5 million to $2.25 million (she paid cash), including all the (rather blandly bourgeois, if you ask me, but I’m sure she’ll cutie-patootie the joint up post haste) furnishings and artwork. Features include 11-foot coffered ceilings, a home theater and sports bar, and a 2,000-square-foot roof deck. I’ve been a fan of Rosie since her mullet-headed stand-up comedy days, and am looking forward to seeing what The Rosie Show talk show is like when it premieres this Monday on the OWN network.

A print by Paul Dolan

Housing Project

To punch-up some of those sterile walls, Rosie might want to attend the Art of Home gala next Thursday night at the Zhou B Art Center in Bridgeport. More than 50 artists (including my talented amigo Paul Dolan, whose Commute 2 limited-edition silkscreen is pictured here) have donated works of art inspired by or reflecting the idea of “home.” A fitting theme, as the items will be auctioned-off with proceeds to benefit the Lakeside Community Development Corporation, a Rogers Park–based nonprofit that works to preserve affordable housing opportunities all over Chicago. Socialite blogger (and former Playboy Playmate) Candace Jordan is honorary chairperson, and the party goes from 6–9 p.m. Tickets are $150 if purchased in advance, $175 at the door.

John Penziol

Handy in Indy

I’ve been to Sue Salach’s fun Botanic Boutique events in LaPorte, Indiana a couple of times now, and always drove away with some sweet deals on rustic furniture and home accessories. Salach wrangles antiques and garden-goods dealers and crafters to plant their wares on the grounds of her storied Finley (now Keepsake) Farm, and donates a portion of sales to charity. For this weekend’s event, held on Friday and Saturday from 9–4 Chicago time, the barn sale will have some new varietals—a light and airy Princess Room filled with girlie gewgaws, expanded selling space in the former horse stables, and the combinative repurposed creations of local resident John Penziol, pictured here. Penziol, a web designer by trade, has fond childhood memories of riding shotgun in his gramp’s pick-up truck, salvaging discarded scrap metal and unwanted architectural elements from the streets to use as raw materials for furniture and sculpture. “He could make something out of anything,” Penziol told me, “and I have the same eye he had for seeing something differently from its intended use. I’m addicted to recycling old tools, bikes, and doors.” The sale is at 3855 West Johnson Road; call 219-325-9009 for more information. Indiana wants you; Lord, you should go back there.

A drawing from 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'

Good Things for Small Boxes

Want some tips on living large in a Lilliputian living room? The German joinery manufacturer Häfele is hosting a presentation by designer Mary Cook and CH+G editor Jan Parr designed to help you efficiently maximize space-challenged environs next Monday, October 10, from 5:30–7, in its Chicago showroom at 154 West Hubbard Street. There will be snacks, and it’s free, but space is limited. (If you’re dealing with this issue, I’m sure that’s not the first time you’ve heard that.) Register here.

'Design Sponge at Home' by Grace Bonney

Soak It Up

I’ve been a fan and follower of Grace Bonney’s blog Design Sponge pretty much since she started it in 2004, and I am going to get to some of the bookmarked inspirational home enhancement projects she espouses one of these days, I’m sure of it. Probably. In the meantime, she’s swinging through town on Tuesday, October 11, for a signing and party at Anthropologie’s new downtown shop located in Block 37 (108 North State Street) to celebrate the publication of her first book, Design Sponge at Home. The pre-party crafting workshop has already filled up, but you can stop by to toast the team and buy a copy of the book from 6:30–8:00 p.m.