MOVING COMPANY MOVE-TASTIC! Started in 2005 by Pete Horvath, Move-tastic! bills itself as “Chicago’s premier athletic moving force”—meaning that the bonded and insured service hires physically fit 20-somethings (Horvath competes regularly in triathlons) and prepares them for battle. The rigorous training pays off: The crew arrives on time, communicates clearly, and handles your stuff with care while literally running from house to truck. And the guys are so amiable that the experience is akin to having a bunch of friends do the job—really strong, competent, noncomplaining friends whom you don’t have to bribe with pizza and beer. An average two-bedroom apartment move ranges from $500 to $800; hourly rates with a two-hour minimum. 773-715-3227,

PLANT NURSERY URHAUSEN GREENHOUSES Pull off the quiet residential street in Lincolnwood into the driveway of Urhausen Greenhouses, and you might feel like a trespasser. This is a business? But keep going. Behind the house is a set of interconnected greenhouses, their vast interior one of the most heart-tuggingly lovely, peaceful, oxygen-rich environments you can imagine. (Those aren’t mirrors in the distance. The multiplicity is real—you’re seeing geraniums, thousands of them.) The Urhausen family has been at this since 1922, and loyal customers wouldn’t think of buying their hanging baskets, annuals, perennials, herbs, or vegetable plants anywhere else. 6973 N. East Prairie Rd., Lincolnwood; 847-675-1573,

Wallpaper from Urban Source

WALLPAPER URBAN SOURCE Wallpaper is back, and Urban Source has the best selection of the bold, large-scale patterns everyone is loving right now. The store is a paradise of choices, stocking more than 300 patterns of paper and vinyl wallcoverings from big-name and hard-to-find brands, as well as a fun selection from independent studios around the world that may produce just one or two patterns. We especially like that sample pieces are hung on the walls rather than displayed in books, which makes browsing a joyful, if somewhat exhausting, experience. Mercifully, interior designers are on hand for guidance. 1429 W. Chicago Ave.; 312-455-0505,

FURNITURE SAMPLE SALE DESIGN CENTER AT THE MERCHANDISE MART Now held just once a year on multiple floors of the Mart, the Design Center’s sample sale is the one to wait for if you’ve got money to burn on investment pieces—furniture, antiques, area rugs, fabrics, lighting, and accessories—and love the thrill of the chase. Showroom sample pieces from brands usually only available to the trade (for example, Holly Hunt and Henredon) can be had at discounts of up to 70 percent. This year’s sale is November 18 and 19. Need something sooner? Try the Sample Sale Suite (Suite 1563; 773-852-6184), the Mart’s year-round discount showroom. 800-677-6278,

LUXURY-BRAND CONSIGNMENT EDROP-OFF A vintage and luxury-brand consignment service, eDrop-Off has grown steadily through word of mouth since it launched in 2004, now selling an average of 1,000 pieces per week on eBay. The service’s founder, Corri McFadden, says individual items have sold for up to $25,000 and that her best-selling brands are Chanel, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and David Yurman. A fun perk for locals: Chicagoans can visit the Lincoln Park location to try on items before bidding. 2117 N. Halsted St., 1155 N. State St.; 773-525-7467,

WINDOW BOX DESIGNER ON THE LEDGE According to Joanne Greene, urban landscaper, every window box is an opportunity to tell a story. “The plantings need to mesh seamlessly with the home and the taste of the residents,” says Greene, who has studied landscaping in Amsterdam, Tokyo, and—that queen of lush flower plantings—the fashionable Knightsbridge area of London. The displays should also offer something pleasing to the eye in all four seasons. (If you need containers or boxes, she can provide those, too.) Greene says that small urban landscaping was “a niche waiting to be filled,” and she does it with panache. 312-560-5815,

WEDDING DRESS UPDATER THE DRESS DOCTOR Serving as the tailor for many of the designer bridal shops on Oak Street, this specialty outfit goes far beyond simple alterations. Its staff can utterly transform a beloved but outdated wedding gown, changing its cut, altering the style (such as removing sleeves), adding or removing decorative elements, or using pieces of an heirloom to create a new, modern dress. The staff also works on wedding veils and can make old veils look new or embellish them with lace or crystals. Known for its work in refitting designer couture, the shop does its sewing entirely by hand or using manual machines. 845 N. Michigan Ave.; 312-943-2828,

BUDGET WEDDING VENUE BYRON COLBY BARN AT PRAIRIE CROSSING The phrase “budget wedding” can inspire the gnashing of teeth, particularly in the Chicago area, where even park district venues require that brides and grooms choose from an often expensive shortlist of caterers. For couples willing to go farther afield, the Byron Colby Barn is a beautiful and affordable site in Grayslake, located at Prairie Crossing, a planned conservation development. Rates for holding a ceremony and reception in the airy barn are $2,095 for Fridays and $2,495 for Saturdays, which includes five hours and tables and chairs for up to 180 guests. Prices of the recommended caterers on the venue’s list start at less than $20 per plate, but couples are free to bring in their own food and drinks. The gorgeous backdrops for photos—including a lake and horse pastures—are free. 1561 Jones Point Rd., Grayslake; 847-543-1202,

VINTAGE HOUSEWARES SECRET TREASURES When Dawn Okamoto opened Secret Treasures nearly 18 years ago, she wasn’t sure there was a market for fun, affordable vintage housewares. Since then, the masses have caught up with Okamoto’s taste. Her offerings include 1940s printed tablecloths, costume jewelry, Mad Men–style martini glasses, and pressed-glass cake stands. “These aren’t investment pieces, just collectibles that still function,” she says. Okamoto and her staff are passionate about changing it up seasonally: In the summer, there are watering cans and 48-star flags; in the winter, you can pick up tree ornaments like Grandma used to hang. 605 Dempster St., Evanston; 847-866-6889

GREEN CLEANING SERVICE AMERICAN MAIDS When Ilona Erst founded this Chicago-based housecleaning service six years ago, customers were only on the verge of requesting sustainable services. With a sizable head start on the competition, American Maids has since built up a loyal clientele for practices that include using Green Seal–certified products and natural cleaning solutions, such as hydrogen peroxide and vinegar instead of ammonia and bleach, as well as favoring microfiber cloths over disposables and e-mail receipts over paper. Rates vary based on the size and cleanliness of the home, and the service area runs throughout Chicago up to the North Shore and west to Oak Park. 877-501-6243,

ECO-FRIENDLY LAWN SERVICE LOGIC LAWN CARE Many people want totally organic lawn care. “But not everyone who desires it has an appropriate tolerance of weeds,” says Steve Neumann, the co-owner of Logic Lawn Care, which serves an area from Wrigleyville north to Highland Park and west to Park Ridge. If your tolerance is high, Logic can give you maintenance lawn service with no chemicals. Or it can design a hybrid program—using chemicals and organic products—to bring down the weed population so you can go green in a few years. Either way, the visit will be quiet, since the Evanston-based company uses only electric or battery-operated equipment (and propane mowers for large properties). “We never tornado through,” Neumann says. Other services include integrating clippings back into the yard, setting up a compost bin just for lawn waste, and dressing the topsoil. 847-421-6500,

PARTY SUPPLY STORE DOOLIN’S Doolin’s, besides being the best one-stop destination for party supplies, may also be the local store most often mistaken for an Irish pub. Which is funny considering it stocks everything you need for a party except the alcohol. The 50-year-old family business sells decorations for any theme and rents everything from tables and chairs to popcorn, bubble, and fog machines; it will also pick up and drop off heavy equipment. There are fancier party stores in town, but Doolin’s wins for full service. 511 N. Halsted St.; 312-243-9424,

MEN’S SHOES HABERDASH Last October, the men’s boutique Haberdash opened its second location in the Tree Studios building in River North. Which prompted us to notice that the store, in addition to its casual apparel for guys, stocks a terrific array of preppy and not-grotesquely-hip dress and weekend shoes that will get men from the office to the boat dock and back. The choices, from $100 to $350, include gentlemanly Grenson wingtips, sensible work options from Eastland, Keds and Sperry Top-Siders, and old-school sneakers, such as the Nike Air Vengeance. 1350 N. Wells St., 312-440-1300; 607 N. State St., 312-624-8551;

MAINTENANCE WAXING TRIM Hair removal is a time-consuming and expensive routine, which is why we like Trim for its efficiency and affordability. Specializing in women’s and men’s waxing, threading, and tweezing, the salon’s two locations make booking an appointment easy, and the strict no-double-dipping policy for germfree waxing confers peace of mind. Best of all, Trim’s brisk and expert service comes at reasonable prices: Eyebrow touchups start at $17. A basic bikini wax costs $25; a full Brazilian starts at $55. 2503 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-525-8746; 1629 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-276-8746;

CAT WHISPERER ADELE HUSTIS AT HIGGINS ANIMAL CLINIC Peeing outside the litter box is the top reason people get rid of their cats. Before taking drastic measures, consider talking to Adele Hustis, a self-taught animal behavior consultant. The treatment can begin with a phone session ($85). She recommends scrupulously cleaning the litter box, among other fixes just as easy and inexpensive. Of 800 cases over the years, Hustis says she has failed with only two or three. 1705 W. Belmont Ave.; 773-525-0472,


Photography: (Move-tastic!) Lisa Predko; (wallpaper) Courtesy of Ferm Living