Saturday, December 03, 2005

IKEA draws area shoppers north, but trendy boutiques beckon, too

If you love to feather your nest, consider flying north to Chicago.
Or better yet, take a van. You might need space to haul your goods home after a day at the new IKEA in Bolingbrook, Ill., or the Chicago area's myriad other home-furnishings options.

Of course, you can always outfit your abode with selections from Central Indiana stores. But the sheer volume and variety of choices make Chicago a shopping destination.

"Almost everyone I have ever met from the Midwest who is at all into furnishing their home comes to Chicago at some point to check out the furniture stores," says Jennifer Litwin, a Chicagoan and author of the book "Furniture Hot Spots: The Best Furniture Stores and Websites Coast to Coast" (The Lyons Press, 2005, $14.95).
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A good idea, a timeless design

n a consumer world of bountiful goods of more or less equal functionality, a well-designed item can stand out.

Karim Rashid recalls that when he knocked on dozens of U.S. corporate doors in the early 1990s, none bought his theories about the power of good design -- or his designs -- until '96. That's when he created a curvy translucent plastic wastebasket called the Garbo, for the firm Umbra.

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Making a good location even better


When you find a house for the right price in the right neighborhood, it can make financial sense to rearrange and add enough space for your comfort. A bungalow presents a certain cottage-like style, and doubling its size would likely throw it completely out of scale. If a second story is needed, add only a half-story to keep it all in balance.

This couple with two boys was quite happy with the location and general configuration of the bungalow they purchased. Their chief complaint, however, was the separation of rooms and general lack of storage.

This house had a rather small, attached single-car garage (A). Without access to the house, using the garage still meant walking outside to get inside. As a result, the homeowners used the garage not for a car, but as a holding place for items not used in the house.
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Get the hang of art

These tips help you show it off successfully

By Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub


You don't need a degree in interior design to recognize something is terribly wrong:

The museum-quality painting looks as if it's floating too far above the chest of drawers.

The trio of lithographs over the sofa are beautifully framed but get lost because they're too small.

And what is supposed to be a gallery wall looks more like jumble in a junk store.

We might know what we like in art, but we often don't know what to do with it. Astrid Newton Rush, an interior designer in Weston, Fla., and a member of the American Society of Interior Designers, offers some tips.
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Fashion world embraces simpler styles, larger sizes - for its books

The fashion world loves petite things, skinny things, colourful things - except when it comes to its books.

Among the season's fashion-themed, coffee-table, gift-worthy books the trends are plus-sized and black-white.

The mammoth Louis Vuitton (Abrams) by Paul-Gerard Pasols features a monogrammed leather handle on the cover, inviting readers to pull open the lid on the luxury brand's 151-year history.

The first image is a portrait of Louis Vuitton himself, a Frenchman born in a mountainous region in 1821, a man with a yearning for adventure that he eventually found in Paris. Many pages are devoted to explaining what life was like in France in the mid-19th century so readers will understand how special Vuitton's life story really is.

A more modern master of his craft is Manolo Blahnik. His shoes are status symbols. They're sex symbols. They're on the feet of every celebrity and socialite worth noting.
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Selling furniture to the stars

How I made it: Andrianna Shamaris, Furniture designer
CHILDHOOD was tough for Andrianna Shamaris. When she was three her mother died of cancer at the age of 36. A year later her father died, seemingly from a broken heart.

The orphaned Shamaris was brought up by an older aunt and uncle, and recalls being taunted and roughed up by children at school because she did not have parents.

When she finished secondary school in Stockwell, south London, there was no money to pay for further study, so Shamaris went travelling. Her first stop was Italy to learn Italian and work as an au pair for a year. Then she travelled to Australia for six months, where she worked in a shop that sold designer-label clothes in Sydney.
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Healing an ailing area

Remember the days when Decatur's Second Avenue Southeast bustled with shoppers, anxious to spend their money in retail stores?

Ralph Jones does. Even as he sinks more money into another downtown building, he is dejected that downtown Decatur lacks what retailers need: residents.

No one wants to live downtown without a convenient retail presence, Jones said, but retailers are reluctant to invest in downtown shops without the revenue that would come from downtown residents. The downtown evacuation at 5 p.m. and weekends creates an enormous obstacle to retail success.
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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

How & Why To Have A Retail Furniture Store Sale

By Christopher Lynch
Daniel Lynch Sales Company

Retail and sales go hand in hand. You can't read the newspaper, watch TV, or listen to the radio without hearing about a sale somewhere. There are President's Day sales, seasonal sales, liquidation sales and promotional sales, just to name a few. While most people assume you have a sale to make money, there are several other reasons retailers have sales.

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Shameless Plug: Modern Furniture Sale at

Customers who purchase one of's select sofas will receive free furniture with your purchase. Limit of two (2) free items per customer. This is up to a $194 value. AND dont forget, with any purchase of $999 and up, we will deduct 10% off your total order. All orders are subject to approval. Please refer to our store policy for details.
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$430 a Square Foot, for Air? Only in New York Real Estate

The price of air has gone up in Manhattan.

It's now $430 a square foot.

Two New York City developers have agreed to pay a record-setting amount for "air rights" so they can build a 35-story apartment tower with views of Central Park from the high floors.

The brothers William L. and Arthur W. Zeckendorf are set to pay $430 per square foot - more than twice the going rate - for unused air rights over Christ Church and the Grolier Club at Park Avenue and East 60th Street. Christ Church will collect more than $30 million; Grolier will get about $7 million.
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Ikea publishes mag to back loyalty scheme

LONDON - Ikea is to launch a quarterly customer title next year as part of the UK rollout of its Ikea Family loyalty scheme.

The magazine, Ikea Family Live, will be the retailer's first in the UK since it dropped its lifestyle title, Room, last March.

The magazine is already being distributed in nine countries. It is produced by start-up publishing company August Media, which has been set up by former Cabal executives.

Unlike Room, which was priced £10 and sold in-store and in newsagents, Ikea Family Live will be given free to IKEA Family members.

At about 100 pages, Ikea Family Live aims to establish the retailer as an expert in furnishing and shows its products in real homes with other brands' products.

The Ikea Family format comprises a website and separate in-store area featuring non-furniture products such as luggage. Members of the loyalty programme receive a discount on products featured in this area.

If you have an opinion on this or any other issue raised on Brand Republic, join the debate in the Forum.
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Before you put any money in your crib, please check this out.

What's In
-Smaller square footage homes. After years of sprawl, new construction buyers want less space with better finishes.
-Quality kitchen cabinets. With the kitchen/great room the center of family living, buyers today are looking at furniture style cabinets.
-Bamboo wood floors. It could over-take maple as the favorite light-colored wood flooring in 2006.
-Wall space for flat screen TV's. Specify power and cable boxes close to locations where homebuyers want to place the latest in visual technology. The popular location for installation in new construction is over the fireplace.
-Multiple and high-powered phone lines. With modems, DSL, wi-fi moving into mainstream use, tech-savvy homebuyers want "wired" homes.
-Separate shower stalls and bathtubs in master bathrooms. The growing divide among "soakers" and "showerers" is increasing. Not having one of each in a master bath could squelch a purchase.
-Built-in home stereo systems are a must-have for many audiophiles. Wireless hasn't quite made the pre-wired audio system home obsolete, at least not in 2006.
-Balconies and decks wider than 3 feet. Homebuyers want usable outdoor space. Big enough for a bistro table and chairs and a couple of pots for container gardening.
-Guest parking. With the rise in condominiums, lofts and zero-lot line subdivisions, homebuyers want their guests to have a hassle-free experience when they arrive at their new home. Buy or lease an extra space for family or friends.
-Dog Parks. Dogs and homeownership go hand-in-hand. The new way to meet neighbors in the hood is to interact with them at the dog park. Before buying a home, check out the nearest one.
-Ranch or one level homes. The baby-boomers are discovering their utility in droves.
-Second Homes. The baby-boomers are also keeping this market segment strong. Demand for second homes was still on the upside in 2005, but if primary home demand weakens, the second home market will historically follow.
-Seller give-backs. With a more balanced market in most metro markets, requests by buyers to pay closing costs have increased, and some sellers are paying them.
-Carbon Monoxide detectors. Home inspectors red flag homes that have only smoke detectors. Inexpensive and life-saving, install one on every floor of a home before opening to homebuyers.

What's Out
-The real estate bubble. It's a correction with a soft decline in prices.
-Ebony-stained hardwood floors. You're better off tearing it out than trying to sand the ebony out to refinish.
-Single-rod closets. Buyers want the most storage in the least amount of space. Organizers accomplish this.
-Dark rooms with small windows. Natural light can over-rule a lot of other problems in a home.
-Wallpaper. Buyers never have the same taste as decorators. Take it down (carefully) and paint.
-Builder grade light fixtures and interior fixtures used outside. The right fixtures say quality to buyers.
-Mid-century awnings on exterior windows and doors. Buyers want to let the sun shine in.
-Mirrored backsplash's in kitchens and everywhere else. Mirrored walls and ceilings say 1980's hedonism.
-Commitment (strong, bold trendy) colors. They look great in magazines, but as one buyer said to me "I don't live in a magazine".
-Gas grills that need their own tank. Buyers prefer the gas piped from the house so they don't have to replace tanks.
-Dropped ceilings. It might have updated a bungalow in the 1950's, but buyers want as much vertical space as possible.
-Flipping. Increasing inventories of unsold homes is increasing, signaling weakening demand by all buyers. If you are holding properties to flip, prepare to place them on market after the holidays.

On the way out.
-Stainless steel appliances. Word-of-mouth says the cleaning requirements aren't for everyone.
-Laminate flooring that looks like hardwood. Not only can buyers tell it's not wood, the noise it makes with high-heel shoes is the deal killer during property showings.
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The Bottom Line: Millions help downtown Scottsdale bloom

Scottsdale is doing some number crunching to add up all of the investment that is occurring in the southern part of the city.
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From January 2003 to August 2005, the city says $1.4 billion will be pumped into downtown through the construction or renovation of hotels, condominiums and retail and office development.

More than 2,000 lofts and condos will be built in the area and there are several highprofile boutique hotels on tap. An $82 million remodel of the Hotel Valley Ho, with its 194 hotel rooms and 36 condos is set to open next month, said Dave Roderique, Scottsdale economic vitality director. The $80 million W Hotel with its 255 hotel rooms and 25 condos is expected to open in late 2007. Across the street from it, owners are ready to construct the Hacienda Resort, a $6.5 million, 54 room hotel.

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For less than 1,000 Square Footers!!! - The room planners: how to get more from your dining room

Paula and Phil Robinson, an interior design team, offer space-saving solutions, architectural advice and style tips. This week: how to get more from your dining room.

Paula suggests

Abandon the staid formality of the dining room set - but don't go to the extreme and lose the art of dining. Have a fabulous table that multi-tasks: inviting and inspiring at meal times, but practical and adaptable to other purposes between meals.

The table: Avoid the classic large, smooth rectangular table with matching chairs. The look is reminiscent of a boardroom and not conducive to good digestion! Choose a table with character and interest. Old wood always has warmth and charm, French walnut in particular. For a contemporary look, consider interesting combinations: glass and stone, steel and leather. Drop leaf, gate leg, and tables with removable leaves are ideal if you don't entertain regularly while round tables make for relaxed dining and are easier on the eye. Narrow rectangular tables (around 85cm wide) are more intimate than wider ones - but still practical.
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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Love shag carpets and green felt Lounge Chairs?

If you are in between, or you really dont know, take the Style Quiz!

Style that's all over the California map

By turns cool, hot, reserved, raucous, muted and irreverent, the sampling of West Coast graphic design on view in "Grown in California" may be bound by the exhibition's state-of-origin theme, but stylistically, the work wanders all over the map.

An understated wine bottle label designed by Napa-based CF Napa for Joseph Phelps Vineyards looks as if it could have been handcrafted in the 19th century. Seemingly residing on a different planet is Stardust Studios, part of the L.A. area's booming motion graphics community, which produced a music video for the rock band Incubus by splicing performance footage with shots of Adolph Hitler sprouting wings and morphing into a blood-thirsty eagle.
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Super Cool Reactive Cubes

"The Reactive Cube is an acrylic cube filled with water and light. It was designed to transform digital images into apparently physical objects. A 2D image is projected through a mass of water mixed with a specially formulated emulsion of oil."
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Twice the space for half the price! (Windows not included.)

When Darren Orlando stopped in at the open house for a Charlton Street triplex in September, he first thought, No way. After all, he was trying to find a place that would live up to the bright, airy Tribeca loft he’d just sold. This property was dark, its kitchen “pieced together,” to put it mildly. Worse, the living room was on the undesirable ground floor, and its lowest level—two floors down—had six-foot ceilings, barely tall enough for Orlando to walk through without knocking himself out cold. Still, within weeks, he bought it for $1.73 million.

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Downtown building will house gallery and family

The fact that the bottom floor of the circa 1889, three-story building downtown was "just perfect" for an art gallery was the deal clincher for Tara and Jim Bryant, a physician couple who had been considering buying a downtown loft for a couple of years.

The Bryants' plan was to find a space with enough room to lease a portion of it to friend Keith Miller, who owns Hawthorn Gallery in Mountain Brook. Along with Tom Carruthers of Carruthers Real Estate Co., the trio visited the 12,000-square-foot building in early September, ostensibly to get ideas about what could be done to renovate a historic building.

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Questioning the Origin of Artwork

In the domestic art market, individual collectors prefer paintings or sculptures to more contemporary art forms such as video and installation artworks.

Gim Hong-sok, an artist internationally known mostly for experimental installation artworks, seems determined to chase away such prejudiced attitudes.

Gim is currently holding his solo exhibition at a commercial gallery in southern Seoul, not a large museum or an alternate space which means that his 20 new works, including 12 photographs, four videos, and four objects, are not for just display but for sale.
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Monday, November 28, 2005

In Miami Beach, Parties, Boldface Names and, Yes, Some Art

THE most sought after invitation at Art Basel Miami Beach, the four-day annual art fair spinoff from Basel, Switzerland, that began in Miami Beach in 2002, has always been the lavish garden party at the Key Biscayne estate of Rosa de la Cruz, the Cuban-born art collector, and her husband, Carlos, chairman of Eagle Brands. Held the Tuesday night before the fair opens, it's where prominent art world figures have sipped champagne overlooking the ocean and viewed the couple's museum-quality contemporary art collection. But last December, after more then 2,000 people showed up to a dinner for 700 people, a few so unruly that they had to be escorted out by security people, Ms. de la Cruz, pulled the plug on her celebration.

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Urban pioneers transform downtown L.A.

Pedro Galindo moved into the Higgins Building four years ago, part of the first wave of urban adventurers who set roots in the fledging loft district north of Skid Row.

Back then, the 24-year-old substitute teacher recalls, the converted early 20th Century office tower had a definite vibe.

"The coolest people were here. There were rooftop parties and barbecues," he said. "It was a very social building. You would have parties every weekend."

That began to change two years ago, when the Higgins converted from apartments to condos, with units now selling for up to $700,000.

The new crop of resident-owners, who include Galindo and his sister, Natalia, who bought the unit they were renting, hired a concierge to provide "enhanced security" for the building. The new owners brought in a valet to park their cars at a nearby lot. Galindo said the social scene took a hit, too, as the building seemed to become more insular.

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Market beginning to shift for Minneapolis Uptown condo developers

Downtown Minneapolis has won the bulk of the attention as a hotbed of residential condo development. Now the Uptown neighborhood is a fast-emerging market for condo developers, but as competition intensifies and the market shifts, many are wondering about the depth of the market.

Stuart Ackerberg, president of the Minneapolis-based Ackerberg Group, has two developments in the works that will bring more than 200 units of new housing to Uptown - an unnamed, mixed-use development with 165 condo units and Lumen on Lagoon, a 44-unit project at Lagoon and Emerson avenues.

"We see Uptown as really different than downtown, just given the inherent amenities that are already existing in and around Uptown. It's truly an urban community. For someone that truly wants urban living, Uptown is the best option," Ackerberg said. "In Uptown, there's been very few new housing options available for a long, long time."
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