A Guide to the Best Vintage Home Goods Stores in Chicago and Beyond

Vintage home décor and furniture add so much depth and character to a home. Rather than filling up a space with all brand-new pieces, I love sourcing one-of-a-kind items from local and online vintage shops to balance out new pieces in our client projects.

One amazing resource for vintage shopping that’s developed over the last few years is Instagram. There are so many great vintage Instagram accounts to follow, whether you’re just starting out in the vintage world and trying to determine what styles you’re into, or you’re on the hunt for specific pieces to add to your home. You can find vintage clothing and gems too! Here’s a favorite account for vintage jewels.

Here, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite stores to shop for vintage home décor and furniture both online and locally in Chicago (and even a few in Michigan!). Happy hunting!

By Centered by Design

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Nursery Glider Makeover with Calico Reupholstery

Nursery Glider Makeover

Our lives have changed immensely since my last blog post! Luke, Willa and I are now a family of four, having welcomed our sweet son Jude into the world on July 19. We are tired but so filled with love. He’s an easy baby so far, sleeping well and eliciting lots of cooing over his full head of hair. Big sister is adapting and taking her new role very seriously, too! Check out a video of our first week together here.

Sweet baby Jude.

I’ve had lots of questions about Jude’s nursery. One project in particular, his nursery glider makeover is featured in this post. In true second-child fashion, we repurposed many items we already had, including his crib, artwork, rug and dresser. I also thought Facebook marketplace would be a great spot to find a used glider we could reupholster to look like new. I think two essentials in every nursery are a comfy glider and blackout window treatments!

I got lucky that our guest room was already painted blue (Solitude by Benjamin Moore), but it’s a good reminder that you don’t have to spend a fortune to design a nursery. Get creative, reuse what you own and even borrow from other rooms to create a special space!

Jude’s nursery, paint color Ben Moore – Solitude.

We worked with a fabulous company, Calico Corners, to re-imagine and reupholster a used glider I purchased on Facebook marketplace. See the before below! Calico has over 60 locations in the USA and makes upholstery projects easy with design services, custom furniture, window treatments & other home décor, all made with the best designer fabrics. The original glider had great bones and was only $150 bucks (originally retails for $1000). I knew I could make it something really special with Calico!

The BEFORE of our FB marketplace glider find!

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The Warwick Reno – A Classic Black & White Bathroom with Flair

black and white bathroom

This summer, I decided it was time to finally renovate the bathroom on the main floor of our Chicago bungalow — the only room in the house we hadn’t yet touched — while I was nine months pregnant. (After all, there’s nothing like an imminent birth to help you stay on schedule with renovation plans, right?) My vision was to create something classic, yet also fun and on a budget. Our plan is to sell this home in one to three years, so the bathroom update needed to be something that would be widely appealing and add resale value. A black and white color palette would satisfy all those requirements, but I knew I didn’t want it to be basic. Here’s how we laid the groundwork for the design approach to black and white in a unique way.

Black and White Bathroom Inspiration Photos

I turned to Pinterest to help me find inspiration and curate ideas for our black and white bathroom reno. Here are four favorites from which we ultimately pulled bits and pieces to come up with the perfect black and white bathroom design for our home.

Photo: Anne Catherine Scoffoni
From Devon and Devon

I love how this room incorporated a black border around the wall tile, which gives it a more defined and “finished” look. The chrome faucets are also a nice touch.

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How the Architecture of Your Home Should Inform Your Design

Your styles and tastes may change throughout your life, but the architecture of and era in which your home was built may greatly influence the design. Interior designers have the knowledge and experience to be able to remodel a home to feel true to its original architecture while breathing new life into the design. But to the untrained eye, you may not know where to start — especially if you’re wondering how to decorate old houses. Consider this your guide to letting the architecture of your home inform your design decisions.

First, Investigate

Before you buy anything or make any design choices, go on a fact-finding mission. Learn as much as you can about your home through the following tips:

Look up the year your house was built and the architect.

Take it a step further by researching what was going on in the world or the area at the time your home was built. See if you can connect with the architect and ask him or her for more information on the style and features of your home.

Walk through your home and observe every last detail.

Look for things such as moldings, original door or cabinet hardware, unique ceiling details, original tile, stained glass windows — anything that might be true to time period or the architect. For instance, if you bought a Frank Lloyd Wright home, you’d want to understand more about what influenced his design portfolio and why he made the choices he did with architecture.

old houses

Credit: Jessica Helgerson

Consider Hard Goods and Surfaces

Now that you’ve learned about your home’s history and details, why should you care? Well, using this information is the key to creating thoughtful design that will blend beautifully with your home’s architecture and roots. (That doesn’t mean everything in an old house has to look old, or vice versa, either.)

This is where you consider the hard goods — aka, the architecture of your home and more permanent aspects of your home. Do you want to add details that are reflective of the original details, such as intricate molding or a carved fireplace? Or do you prefer a more modern look with clean lines? Choices around tile, lighting, cabinetry and millwork all come into play here. Once you’ve determined your approach, ensure it’s consistent throughout your home to create good flow.

Ask Yourself These Questions

Will you paint the original trim? 

In my own home, a 1940s bungalow, I opted to paint a lot of the trim white, but left the original stained glass window trim as wood to honor the original character of the home. (See more of my home by checking out this post!)

Interior: Centered by Design

Will you do recessed or overhead lighting?

Personally, I don’t love to fill a historic home with can lights, and I only add overhead lighting sparingly and with great intention, because otherwise it might not feel true to the time period.

Will you choose details like color choices and tile patterns based on the era?

Looking at designs from the time period in which your home was built is a great place to start for inspiration. You certainly don’t have to do a checkerboard tile floor in your 1950s kitchen, but some modern homages to details like that will help your home feel cohesive.

A great example of incorporating true-to-the-era hard goods is this home we worked on in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood. Built in 1891 across from a church, it was once used as a rectory. To keep with the history of the property, we bought a vintage church door to use as a primary bedroom door, alongside exposed brick. Then we incorporated more modern furnishings to avoid feeling stale.

Interior: Centered by Design

Jessica Helgerson, an interior designer based in Portland, Oregon, is a pro at amplifying the original beauty of a space and making everything feel like it “fits.” Her perspective on design is informed by a respect for historical architecture coupled with an appreciation of playfulness and brightness of modern design. (Follow her on Instagram for loads of inspiration.)

Credit: Jessica Helgerson

Choose Your Soft Goods or Furnishings

Soft goods are the furnishings you’ll add to your home, and there are a few ways to approach these. There’s no right or wrong choice here — it’s really up to your style and tastes.

The spectrum of choices ranges from making a “time capsule” to juxtaposing modern with old. For instance, you may choose to:

  1. Pick items that feel as if you’re in the original era of your home.
  2. Include just a few of these older items mixed with newer pieces.
  3. Go for a complete juxtaposition with modern furnishings in an old home, or home with detailed architecture and moldings.
  4. There is no right or wrong way to decorate old houses, but I prefer a mix of old and new furniture forms and architectural details. A consultation with an interior designer can help you determine where to begin and what might look better as old vs. new details.

In Claire’s Own Home

In my own bungalow, we paid homage to the era in which it was built by introducing some Hollywood Regency, Art Deco shapes and finishes. This included diamond motifs throughout, including brass sconces with a diamond backplate. Keeping the original black-and-white entry tile, and mimicking the kitchen in the same color palette. And we also honored the original architecture of the home by recreating some of the arched passageways into other areas of the home that only had small openings or doors. You can see here how we recreated an arch into the kitchen that was not there before.


What questions do you have about how the architecture of your home should inform your design? Is your style more inline with the era of your home, or do you prefer a juxtaposition of styles? Tell us in the comment below or get in touch to tell us how Centered by Design can help with your next design project.

Centered City Guide: Santa Barbara

June 23, 2021 City Guides 0 Comments

It has been a long time since we have done a city guide on the blog! Check out past city guides here if you are planning some post-vaccine fun summer travel. Doesn’t it feel so good to be out and about again? I think for many of us, our neighborhoods became our entire world for a year. As an interior designer, I believe our surroundings impact us greatly, and looking at the same places again and again for a year has definitely had an impact on my creative energy. Luke and I decided to take a babymoon to Santa Barbara and I came back rejuvenated and full of fresh inspiration! 

Before I tell you all of the wonderful places I’d recommend visiting in Santa Barbara, a quick plug for the concept of a babymoon. Luke and I realized we haven’t been away together from our first born, Willa, for more than a day in the entire three years she’s been on this earth. Taking time away, just us, is so important for our marriage and we want to make it a priority to do this more! It was a special time together as we wait in expectation of our second child, a little boy coming this summer.

Places to Stay

Palihouse Bar

We stayed at the most beautiful boutique hotel, Palihouse Santa Barbara. They have classified their unique aesthetic as “Vintage-Preppy Meets American-Riviera”, explaining, “Interiors reflect our penchant for mix-matched furnishings consisting of highly-curated new and vintage pieces and special unexpected touches throughout.” They put the perfect words to their vibe! I loved the abundant use of plaid and ticking-stripes and the consistent color palette throughout. I found inspiration around every corner. 

Palihouse Lobby

Even if you are not a designer, here’s my pitch for why it’s worth staying in a creatively-designed, beautiful hotel when possible. We all have creative potential inside of us and often, we just have trouble accessing it. Vacation offers the perfect recipe for that creativity to sprout again: ample time, limited distractions, and a change of scenery. I always feel most creative during vacation! If the places you stay and visit during vacation can help accelerate that creative outflow, I believe you will get more out of your time away. When I’m in that creative space, I can dream bigger about the future and imagine possibilities beyond my daily routines and burdens of everyday life. Isn’t that part of why you get away and take a break? Okay, soapbox moment over. 

Palihouse Bar

After our time in Santa Barbara, we also made a stop in Malibu. There, we stayed at Calamigos Guest Ranch and Beach Club. The define their style as “cozy ranch chic”. It had a much more neutral, relaxed vibe, but was equally beautiful. I think it’s a great place to stay with kids actually. They had lots of activities and it was up in the mountains, felt very much like a place to go with a group and hang out for the week!

Lobby at Calamigos

Places to Eat

We went to a bunch of cute, tasty places to eat during our trip. Here are a few of our favs!

Gjusta Goods – Restaurant and Shop

Things to Do

We mostly chose Santa Barbara for the beauty and nature! We spent a good amount of time enjoying the sunshine by the pool, walking along the beach, and taking hikes. Here are a few of the spots we visited, including a few from side trips to Malibu and Venice!

Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market

Douglas Family Preserve

Overall, we had a great trip! We were only there for five days, but feel like we got plenty of quality time, sightseeing, and relaxation in and were so excited to see our daughter when we returned. I don’t know when we will be able to have time like this again in the near future with baby #2 making an entrance very soon, so I am grateful we made it happen now.

How does anyone actually live in Santa Barbara? How would you possibly get any work done? The CA vibes were awesome and the weather was so good to us. Looking forward to a future visit, it was the perfect mix of nature and culture for us.

5 Ways to Visualize Your Design

How to Visualize Furniture in a Room

Ready to design or re-design a space in your home, such as your kitchen, family room, or master bedroom? Let the planning begin! But before you get started, it’s important to be able to see how all of the pieces will come together, including all your colors and textures, and how to visualize furniture in a room. As interior designers, we put all of these ideas into practice for our clients (see more reasons to hire an interior designer), but they’re all easy to implement yourself, too — well, except for No. 5. Read on for our top ideas on how to visualize your design.

1. Create a mood board.

Interior designers typically create mood boards in Adobe Photoshop, but you can easily use a program called Canva for an easier, free option (it even offers mood board templates). Start by finding images of the products you’re considering, and make sure they’re on a white background so you won’t have anything distracting on your board. The goal of creating a mood board is to get to the essence of your pieces you’re putting together and see how they’ll complement each other in a space.

When reviewing your mood board, consider questions such as, How do the visual weights of each piece look together? How do you feel about your color palette? This is the early stage in which you can determine whether you have too much of something, or if a piece or two feel too heavy, etc. The best part about mood boards is that you can keep changing and iterating until you achieve the look and feel you’re going for.

Don’t want to go digital? If you feel like grabbing some magazines or printing out images of the items you like and going to town with scissors, there’s no shame in doing an old-school mood board. No matter what mode you use to create your mood board, remember to keep a spreadsheet with links to every item you’re including so you won’t forget where something came from.

How to Visualize Furniture in a Room

2. Gather samples.

Visuals of each piece of the room you’re designing are helpful on a mood board, but they’re only one-dimensional. To truly get a feel for the textures, the scale, and the colors you’re working with, it’s smart to request physical samples or swatches so you can hold them in your hands and truly see how to visualize furniture in a room. For instance, you can request a fabric sample for a sofa you’re ordering, or a wood sample from a dining room table. Most retail companies will offer samples for bigger-ticket items. Even if you do have to pay a small price for them, it’s much cheaper than ordering the whole items and making a mistake when they don’t work together.

3. Experience your floor plan.

To help you picture the layout of the space you’re working on and learn how to visualize furniture in a room, try this interior designer trick: Use painter’s tape to tape out the dimensions of each piece you’re planning on putting in the room to get a sense of how they’re going to fit together. This is especially important to do for the larger pieces in the space.

4. Try your paint.

You always want to get a sample of the paint color you’re going to use, as one color can look different in every space it’s used. Some companies will offer a 12-by-12-inch square of a paint swatch you can use if you don’t want to actually test out a sample on your walls. If you’re going with wallpaper, request samples of that, too, to make sure it works in the room with the lighting you’ll have.

5. Order renderings.

If you want to take room design to the next level, you can hire a service to create a photo-realistic rendering of how your completed space will look. You’ll need to send them the items you want included, and they’ll be able to deliver a 3-D rendering of the theoretical finished product. This step is one the every day homeowner may not take, but renderings are a perk of working with an interior designer. Centered by Design creates renderings mostly for kitchen projects, as that’s such an important room in the home to design exactly right.

Are you interested in working with Centered by Design on your home design project? See our offerings here, including single room design, or drop us a note.

Today Show Features Willa’s Playroom!

I have long LOVED the Today Show! It was a thrill to see a photo of our very own daughter’s playroom used as an example of the reemergence of wallpapers popularity. You can watch the quick segment with Hoda and Jenna linked here!

Interior designer Elizabeth Mayhew shared her inspirations with Hoda and Jenna from her home to show off the latest trends in home design such as grandmillennial style, accent walls, floral wallpaper, mixing and matching styles and the emphasis on comfort.

You can read more about Willa’s playroom and the design process here: https://centeredbydesign.com/how-to-create-a-playroom-design-both-kids-and-parents-will-love/

And this post has some easy ideas to update your kid’s spaces: https://centeredbydesign.com/creative-design-ideas-for-kids-room-or-playroom/

I had a great time getting creative and being BOLD in this fun little room in our home. Spring year ’round!

playroom design playroom design

playroom design playroom design

5 Common Mistakes Homeowners Make with a Bathroom Reno

Thinking of doing a bathroom reno? Great idea! Not only can a bathroom reno make this essential space more functional and aesthetically pleasing, it will also add value to your home. (We renovated ours a few years ago — you can see our planning and inspiration here!) If you’re not working with an interior designer from the start, however, you may risk making some common mistakes with a bathroom reno. Here are five big things to avoid in a bathroom reno (and also check out our post on reasons to hire an interior designer to learn more about how we can help!).

bathroom reno 1

Credit Centered by Design

Mistake #1: Not having a clear floor plan for your bathroom reno.

It’s relatively simple to update your bathroom finishes and keep everything in the same location. But if you’re going to alter the location of anything, you need to consult with a contractor. They’ll help you ensure you’re able to move plumbing where you’d like to move it. If you want to convert from a tub to a shower (keeping it in the same place), it will probably be simple to do. Sometimes moving a toilet isn’t a big deal; other times, a home’s plumbing is stacked in a certain way, so moving toilet is very expensive. And if you want to completely flip a layout, that requires a conversation with both a contractor and a plumber. You want to take this step to ensure your new bathroom will be functional as well as pretty.

Credit April Tomlin Interiors

Another thing to think about when it comes to your floor plan, if you’re replacing a small shower or tub with a larger one, is the size of the water heater in your home. You may need to upgrade your water heater or even install larger pipes in your wall to enable proper water flow for a large tub or multi-head shower.

bathroom reno 2

Credit Centered by Design

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An Interior Designer’s Guide to Nursery Design, 2 Ways

nursery decorating

With our leader Claire expecting baby No. 2 later this year, we’re abuzz with talk about nursery decorating ideas these days. While designing a nursery can feel like an opportunity to go wild with a theme and all the furniture and baby accessories, there are a few common mistakes new parents often make when getting ready for nursery decorating.

Read on for Centered by Design’s top tips for designing a nursery that’s both functional and aesthetically pleasing (because you’re going to be spending a lot of time in there!), and check out two recent nursery design boards we put together for a client.

Don’t overfurnish.

Nurseries are usually smaller rooms, so the last thing you want to do is cram them full of too much stuff — but it’s easy to do. Nursery furniture tends to be on the larger side, which means it fills up a room quickly. Instead, try to focus on just the key pieces, such as your crib, changing table, rocker or glider and maybe a lamp. Remember: Wherever you can streamline, do so. Get the essentials, then fill in around that.

Be creative with crib location.

We tend to want to place cribs in the center of a wall, but that doesn’t always work (depending on your nursery’s shape) — and it’s also not a hard-and-fast rule. When designing around an unusually shaped wall or room, you can make a crib work in other places by creating symmetry around it, through items such as window treatments and artwork.

Think outside the box.

Sure, sweet pastels and baby animals are adorable now, but if you’re looking to create a nursery that will age along with your child at least until pre-teen years, consider being more intentional with your design. For example, start with a pattern you really love and design around that — maybe it comes from a wallpaper, a fabric or even a crib sheet. And don’t forget, as an adult with a baby, you’re going to be the one spending time in the room (your baby won’t notice or care) — so be sure to make it a space you’re going to enjoy being in.

Focus on five key design elements.

When it comes to designing a nursery, try not to overthink it! The process should be exciting and fun as you eagerly anticipate your little one’s arrival. To keep it simple, the top five design elements you should consider for a nursery are: window treatments, paint, bedding, a rug (even if you already have carpet, use one!) and lighting (helps a room to feel more stylish and have more personality).

Overwhelmed by all the paint choices out there? Download the designer-tested Top 9 Colors for Kids’ Rooms for ideas.

Choose the right window treatments.

Window treatments are a big deal in nurseries for obvious reasons: Your baby needs to sleep (and so do you!). Here are a few types to consider:

  • Outside mount Roman shades
  • Inside mount Roman shades
  • Drapery
  • Cornice (an ornamental upholstered box that attaches above your curtains or shades)

No matter which type you decide on, you’re likely going to want to line your window treatments with blackout lining or fabric. If you want to really keep a room dark, outside mount Roman shades are a good option as they let in the least light leakage. Avoid lightweight fabrics for drapery, because blackout lining will add too much thickness to them and ruin the aesthetic.

To learn more about how to choose the right drapery and shades, download the Insider’s Guide to Decorating with Window Treatments.

Go for performance fabrics.

For furniture such as gliders and window seats, you want to be sure to choose a fabric that will withstand spills, messes, diaper explosions — you name it. We love performance fabrics, often pre-treated with Crypton or similar, like this collection from Schumacher, which are great for upholstering a bench seat.

Are you thinking of working with an interior designer to design your dream nursery? Contact us today to tell us more about your vision and how we can help bring it to life!

We Are Hiring

March 29, 2021 Interior Design 0 Comments

Interior Design Assistant & Marketing – Full Time Role

Email Resume, Cover Letter and Portfolio: info@centeredbydesign.com

2 years experience in the design industry preferred, looking for immediate start date:

    • Design
      • Support Lead Designer with furniture sourcing & material selection
      • Assist in ideation for client projects
      • Create client proposals in IVY (project management software)
  • Assist in creating design boards
  • Maintain design library
  • Assist on installations / photo shoots
  • AutoCAD or SketchUp drafting 
  • Photoshop/ Adobe suite for design boards / renderings 
  • Social Media Management 
  • Manage Tailwind/ Pinterest
  • Work with Claire on Newsletter
  • Project Management Assistance
    • Placing & Tracking Orders: support Project Manager with tracking
    • PO Management / IVY / Quickbooks
  • Assist with FFE schedules and receiver communications
    • Vendor Relationships & Library Management
    • Look for the latest and greatest in vendors
  • Set up new trade accounts
  • Keep library and office supplies refreshed monthly
    • General Office Management
    • Errands & Weekly garbage / recycling
    • Schedule monthly studio cleaning