BEFORE & AFTER: Three Home Makeovers by Designer Claire Staszak

A living room redesign can be stressful — but not in the hands of Chicago-based interior designer Claire Staszak, whose work has been featured in Elle Décor, Rue Magazine, and Domino. A former yoga and meditation instructor, Staszak gently guides her clients through the process of creating a home that feels like a true sanctuary. It’s no wonder that she’s given her firm the name Centered by Design. BEFORE & AFTER: Three Home Makeovers by Designer Claire Staszak

HOW TO: Choose a Sofa for an Instagram-Famous Dog

“Ella Bean looked like an ugly gremlin when I first saw her,” says Hilary Sloan—a surprising start for a dog who has since become famous for her cute (and chic) looks. Ella Bean’s life began as a rescue from a puppy mill, but thanks to Sloan’s love and a bespoke wardrobe of tiny designer clothes, she’s become an Instagram phenomenon with 110k followers. We chatted with Sloan to learn more about how she’s created her dog- and fashionista-friendly home.

HOW TO: Choose a Sofa for an Instagram-Famous Dog

GET TO KNOW: Artist Nate Otto

Nate Otto’s artwork is steeped in his city. Often covered in buildings, it’s been described as “Chicago style.” Asked why, Otto skips the “no ketchup” jokes and suggests it might have to do with the buildings, or maybe it’s the accessibility. “I think my work doesn’t require a lot of explanation to be enjoyed and Chicago is a no-nonsense city,” he says. Whatever the reason, when it came time to select an artist to paint a mural at our Chicago Guideshop location, Otto was a natural choice. We sat down to learn more about all those little buildings and what inspires them. GET TO KNOW: Artist Nate Otto

HOW TO: Create a Baby- (and Pet-) Friendly Home

Megan Carroll Kulick, a Chicago-based freelance writer, was mom to a new black Labrador puppy named Gus, four months pregnant with her first child, and house-hunting in the spring of 2015. So she knew that whichever home she and her husband, Aaron, decided on would have to be baby and dog friendly. Which ruled out quite a few listings—like vertical town homes with lots of stairs, tiny one-bedroom apartments and lots in not-so-safe neighborhoods. Luckily, she found real estate agent Scott Newman, who, in turn, suggested the spacious converted loft unit in the heart of desirable Lincoln Park the couple ended up moving into and falling in love with—just in time to welcome daughter Lily, now 20 months old. Megan talks us through her home selection process, interior design approach aided by Nicole Radford Oehler of Radford Design, and some tips and tricks for any expectant (child or dog) parents out there.

HOW TO: Create a Baby- (and Pet-) Friendly Home


WeWork isn’t a coworking space; it’s a platform for creators. What’s the difference? As part of a WeWork membership, these creators enjoy much more than just a place to do business. For one, WeWork organizes regular events, such as networking nights for women in tech, improv performances, and new media summits. WeWork  also invests time and energy to ensure the design of  each location promotes the growth of a creative community. How do they achieve this?


THE HOT SEAT: Celeb Photographer Maria Ponce Berre

Maria Ponce Berre has photographed actor Joe Manganiello, musician Common, mogul Martha Stewart and actress Sophia Bush, among others. But the wife to husband Trey Berre and mother to daughters Fiona, 4, and Alessandra, 2, is still as chill and approachable today as she was growing up in a culturally rich Mexican-American household on the north suburban shore of Chicago. Her artistic inclinations weren’t revealed to her until her early 20s, but she made up for lost time by landing killer internships and assistant gigs in New York City and Chicago with some very respected names in the photography world. Maria opens up about family, fashion and furniture (including the custom Henry sectional sofa she designed for her home). THE HOT SEAT: Celeb Photographer Maria Ponce Berre

SOFA SIGHTING: Ma’am Collective’s Eclectic Apartment

Marcie Blanco of Ma’am Collective

When decorating a model unit for a developer client, interior designer Marcie Blanco thinks about something you might not expect: vanilla ice cream. “Renters look at so many places when they’re apartment-hunting. Everything can start to blend together,” she explains. “My goal is to design a space that is universally appealing, but doesn’t feel like just another bowl of vanilla ice cream.”

Marcie, who formed
Ma’am Design Collective with partner Amanda Mason in 2014, got her start working with developers on large real estate complexes, so she’s an expert on the topic. Her recent work on the model unit at Centrum in Wicker Park is proof: the space is simultaneously approachable and memorable.

To achieve this, Marcie introduced a lot of contrast into the living room. She chose the 
Interior Define Maxwell sofa in a creamy, neutral shade called Linen, and juxtaposed it against black leather poufs from Wayfair and an ebony coffee table by Industry West. Marcie also contrasted textures, pairing the smooth leather poufs with a patterned, medium-pile rug and three-dimensional plant artwork. The result is a modern yet inviting space that feels right at home amongst surrounding Wicker Park’s stylish shops and restaurants. SOFA SIGHTING: Ma’am Collective’s Eclectic Apartment