Designing Tomorrow: Discover the 5 Key Trends That Will Transform Interiors in 2024

Modern wooden bathroom in white and beige tones with freestanding bathtub and bamboo wall.

As we move towards the future, the world of interior design is undergoing a remarkable transformation. In the quest for innovative and inspiring spaces, designers are embracing new concepts and ideas that go beyond mere aesthetics. In this article, we will explore five key trends that are set to revolutionize interiors in 2024. From sustainable and eco-friendly spaces to the integration of technology and the resurgence of nature-inspired designs, these trends will shape the way we live, work, and interact with our surroundings. Join us on this journey as we uncover the exciting possibilities that lie ahead and discover how these trends will redefine the concept of interior design in the near future.

The Importance of Keeping Up with Design Trends

Welcome to the future! Interior design is constantly evolving, and staying ahead of the trends is crucial for creating spaces that are not only visually appealing but also functional and future-proof. In this article, we’ll explore five key trends that are set to transform interiors in 2024. So buckle up and get ready to be inspired!

Trend 1: Sustainable and Eco-friendly Spaces

In an era where climate change is at the forefront of our concerns, sustainability is no longer a buzzword but a necessity. Designing eco-friendly spaces is not only better for the planet but also enhances the well-being of its occupants. Incorporating sustainable materials like reclaimed wood, recycled glass, and organic fabrics is a fantastic way to reduce our ecological footprint while adding a unique touch to our interiors. Pairing these materials with energy-efficient lighting and appliances ensures that style and sustainability go hand in hand. And let’s not forget about recycling and upcycling! Giving new life to old furniture and decor items not only saves money but also adds a delightful touch of creativity to your space.

Trend 2: Technology Integration and Smart Homes

Welcome to the age of smart homes! With technology becoming an integral part of our daily lives, it’s only natural that it finds its way into our interiors. From voice-activated assistants to automated lighting systems, the possibilities are endless. Embracing technology in interior design means finding ways to seamlessly integrate gadgets and devices into our spaces without sacrificing style. Imagine waking up to the perfect lighting and temperature, all controlled through your smartphone. Creating connected and automated living spaces not only adds convenience but also a touch of futuristic charm that is sure to impress your friends.

Trend 3: Biophilic Design and Nature-inspired Interiors

Who says you can’t have nature at your doorstep? Biophilic design, which emphasizes the connection between humans and nature, is set to take the interior design world by storm. Bringing the outdoors inside through the use of plants, natural light, and organic textures creates a calming and rejuvenating environment. Imagine a living room filled with lush greenery and a wall of windows that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Incorporating natural elements and materials such as wood, stone, and water features brings a sense of tranquility to your space. Not only does biophilic design look stunning, but it also has proven benefits on our well-being, reducing stress and increasing productivity.

So there you have it, a glimpse into the future of interior design! By embracing sustainable practices, integrating technology, and bringing nature indoors, you’ll be well on your way to creating spaces that are not only visually stunning but also environmentally conscious and future-proof. Get ready to design tomorrow today!

Trend 4: Flexibility and Multifunctionality in Furniture and Layouts

In the fast-paced world we live in, our needs and preferences can change in an instant. That’s why adaptable furniture is becoming a key trend in interior design. Whether it’s a sofa that can transform into a bed or a dining table that can extend to accommodate more guests, these pieces are designed to evolve with us. No more feeling stuck with furniture that no longer suits our lifestyle!

Space-saving Solutions for Small Living Areas

Living in compact spaces has become increasingly common, and interior design is adapting to these challenges. Space-saving solutions are now a top priority, with furniture designed to make the most of every inch. From folding tables and chairs to wall-mounted storage units, these clever designs help maximize living areas without sacrificing style or functionality.

Multi-purpose Rooms and Transformable Designs

Gone are the days of dedicating each room to a specific function. The trend of multi-purpose rooms and transformable designs is gaining momentum. Imagine a home office that can easily convert into a guest bedroom or a living room that can transform into a home theater. These versatile spaces allow us to make the most of our living areas, adapting to our changing needs and maximizing the functionality of each room.

Trend 5: Minimalism and Simplicity in Design

In a world that can often feel overwhelming, there is a growing desire for simplicity and clarity. Minimalism is making a comeback in interior design, with clean lines and clutter-free spaces taking center stage. By embracing simplicity, we create a calming and peaceful environment that allows us to focus on what truly matters.

Utilizing Neutral Color Palettes and Simple Patterns

When it comes to minimalist design, less is more. Neutral color palettes, such as whites, grays, and earth tones, create a serene and timeless atmosphere. Simple patterns, if used sparingly, can add depth and interest without overpowering the space. The key is to strike a balance between simplicity and visual appeal.

Maximizing Functionality with Minimalist Design Principles

Minimalist design is not just about aesthetics; it’s about functionality too. By focusing on essential elements and eliminating unnecessary clutter, we can maximize the functionality of our spaces. Every piece serves a purpose, and every corner is utilized efficiently. It’s a design philosophy that promotes both practicality and beauty.

Conclusion: Embracing the Future of Interior Design

As interior design continues to evolve, it’s important for us to embrace these trends and adapt to the changing landscape. Flexibility, multifunctionality, minimalism, and simplicity are all key factors in creating spaces that cater to our fast-paced lives. By designing with these principles in mind, we can create homes that are not only stylish and practical but also reflect our ever-changing needs and desires. So let’s get ready to welcome the future of interior design with open arms!

As we conclude our exploration of the key trends that will transform interiors in 2024, it is clear that the future of interior design is incredibly promising. With a focus on sustainability, technology integration, biophilic design, flexibility, and minimalism, we are poised to create spaces that are not only visually appealing but also functional, environmentally conscious, and conducive to our well-being. By embracing these trends, we have the opportunity to shape a future where our living spaces are truly reflective of our values, needs, and aspirations. So let us embark on this design journey, embracing the exciting possibilities that await us in the realm of interior design.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Venturing Out for a Peek at the Sun!

Cheerful sun in sunglasses smiling, peeps out from behind the cloud and shows thumbs up

Grab your friends and/or family members to soak up some fun in the sun this weekend as February arrives with milder temps and the possibility of getting a peek at the sun as we venture out on another winter weekend!

I don’t know about you, but I often have no room for dessert after having a big meal, even though the desserts are the first thing I look at on the menu.  It just so happens that this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams will be hosting its annual Ice Cream for Breakfast Day at their neighborhood scoop shops.  This topsy-turviest day of the year encourages wearing pajamas while eating a big bowl or cone of ice cream first thing in the morning!  In addition, this year offers a new flavor, L’affogato special, a morning-only special ice cream cone, LTO merch, and more.  Finally, dessert comes first!

The 10th annual Cider Summit Chicago takes up residence this Saturday (2 p.m.-6 p.m.) at Navy Pier’s Aon Grand Ballroom (600 E. Grand Ave.) in the Streeterville neighborhood for the region’s largest cider tasting.  This event will feature more than 150 ciders, cider cocktails, and fruit spirits from over 40 producers locally, regionally, and internationally.  In addition, new this year, is an optional Cider-Cheese-Charcuterie Tasting from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. or you can just grab a bite to eat from the on-site food trucks.  And don’t forget to stop by the event store for some festival merch!

It’s back for another season!  The Ravenswood Makers Market returns this Saturday (1 p.m.-6 p.m.) to KOVAL Distillery (4241 N. Ravenswood Ave.) in the Ravenswood neighborhood.  Shop a wide variety of handmade goods from 25 local artisan makers offering items for purchase such as home décor, prints, paintings, jewelry, knit goods, and more, all while sipping on delicious cocktails.  Plus, this event is free!

Don’t miss out on this year’s four-legged fun and festivities at Mardi Paws! this Saturday (12 p.m.-3 p.m.) at Canine Crews (1616 N. Washtenaw Ave.) in the West Town neighborhood.  Activities include Mardi-Gras games for your fur babies to strut their stuff, a fun photo booth to capture memories with your fur babies, New Orleans themed food and drink, raffle and auction items up for grabs, and more.  Best part, all monies raised will go to the Wicker Park Dog Park rebuild!

For those starting to plan their upcoming wedding, the 5th annual West Loop Wedding Walk takes place this Sunday at 12 p.m.  Spend the afternoon visiting all the neighborhood’s unique and amazing venues that have been staged for this event while enjoying food, drinks, and goodies.  Plus, transportation between the venues is provided along with a swag bag for the first 150 attendees.  Afterwards, head on over to the afterparty hosted by Blue Water Kings at Fairlie (339 N. Bell Ave.) also in the West Loop!

Well Chicagoans, this is your last chance to open wide until next year as the 17th annual Chicago Restaurant Week wraps up this Sunday.  Don’t miss out on specially curated prix fixe menus from the various participating Chicagoland eateries at discounted prices!

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Neighborhood News: Lincoln Square’s Old Town School of Folk Music

Male musician playing banjo sitting in a chair

When you think of Chicago’s vast music history …jazz, blues, rock, pop …let’s not forget that the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Avenue, and 909 W. Armitage, has been serving world-class folk music for more than 60 years. 

The Beginning…a beat to remember 

The name ‘Old Town’ may refer to its founding rather than its current address, but the Old Town School of Folk Music was founded by folk musicians Frank Hamilton, Win Stracke, and Dawn Greening at 333 West North Avenue, offering guitar and banjo lessons in a communal teaching style and hosting performances by well-known folk musicians. 

Though she doesn’t have her own Wikipedia page, Greening was the one who planted the seedling that would grow into the Old Town School in her own living room, according to the Old Town website. Her son discussed his mother’s role on their website:

“Mother made people feel good—they called her the Mother of Old Town School, the Heart of Old Town School. She was a big woman with a big heart,” her son Lance remembered, in a blog on their website. “She said that the solution to the world’s problems is completely in love. If we can only get people to love each other, we’ll have no problems.” Although Dawn was not generally known as a musician herself, “she had a great appreciation for music,” Frank said. “She loved it….she had this ability to just draw in people.

Hamilton, who will turn 90 this year, taught guitar and banjo and served as unofficial dean. Several hundred prospective students, performers, and educators attended the first session, and famous singers and folklorists – without compensation – began performing during the Second Half. Among them were Pete Seeger, Odetta, Studs Terkel, Doc Watson, Mahalia Jackson, Bill Monroe, and The Weavers. Their website also mentions folk dancing and family sing-alongs. 

The formation and growth of the School, as Wikipedia tells it, coincided with the folk music boom of the 1960s and early 1970s. In Chicago, folk influence was scattered in Hyde Park (site of the Folk Festival), Oak Park (where Greening lived), and Old Town.

Boom Town, 1960’s and 70’s

The school  focused on offering instruction and performance, with many performing musicians acting as teachers and mentors. The School also proved a rich ground for collaboration. As Wikipedia sources tell it, the late 1960s were a peak of success as several musicians associated with the School rose to national prominence, including Roger McGuinn of The Byrds, Fred Holstein, John Prine, Steve Goodman, Bonnie Koloc, and Bob Gibson.

The late ’70s marked a decline in enrollment, concert attendance, and the beginning of a severe financial crisis that left the School on the brink of bankruptcy, according to their website. In 1982, the School’s staff and Board began a broad series of institutional changes that increased management effectiveness, placed a higher emphasis on fundraising, and expanded the scope of programming to include ethnic and traditional music from around the world.

Rebound 1990’s

With funds raised from a $10 million capital campaign, the School expanded its programs to the much larger Lincoln Avenue facility, and maintained its music education programs at the 909 W. Armitage building in Lincoln Park. The new Old Town School building was dedicated on September 18, 1998, with a concert byJoni Mitchell and Peter Yarrow.The new facility, according to their website, is “the finest in North America for the study and presentation of folk and traditional music forms, dramatically raised the School’s profile and garnered national praise and recognition.”

Today…Wiggleworms and more!

There’s a class for everyone at Old Town School, including banjo, dance, ukulele, voice, piano, and  ensembles.

Enrollment in Old Town School tuition programs averages close to 6,600 students per week, 2,700 of them children. The Lincoln Square and Lincoln Park facilities hold hundreds of classes and workshops in music, dance, and visual art for adults, children, and teens seven days per week, 48 weeks per year. Early childhood and middle school music programs thrive in suburban branches as well as in several community outreach programs throughout the city. The School presents performances by internationally known touring artists, the best of Chicago’s local artists, and its staff and students weekly. Most Wednesday nights feature free concerts through their popular World Music Wednesdays program

For babies and young children Wiggleworms classes are for kids, 12 months to 4 years, and caregivers together, setting the foundation for a lifelong love of music.

In-person classes are available in Lincoln Square, Lincoln Park, Pilsen, Evanston, Western Springs, and Glen Ellyn.

Event Saturday night 

On Saturday, February , folk legend Bonnie Koloc headlines a sold-out evening of legendary folk music with Rose Snyder, Steve Eisen, Andy May and Al Ehrich, along with special guest Mark Dvorak. Tickets do sometimes become available in the days before the show. Add yourself to their email notification list by clicking here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Restaurant Review: Logan Square’s Penumbra named “Most Romantic in the Nation” by Yelp

A young couple in love exchange gifts for Valentine's Day in a cafe

It’s a short two weeks before Valentine’s Day. Your partner is the best thing you’ve got in your world. You want to wine them, dine them…maybe even propose!

With near-perfect, 4.8/5 ratings on several review sites, consider Logan Square’s Penumbra Restaurant & Wine Bar, recently voted the #1 Most Romantic Restaurant in the nation by Yelp (via Business Insider.) 

What makes this Latin-inspired steakhouse and wine bar so special? It starts with the name. Penumbra, according to its website, is inspired by owner Rita Vargas’ experience living the first  part of her life in Ecuador. Having no electricity while very young, she used candles for light, thus creating a space of partial illumination =  PENUMBRA. The restaurant honors that heritage and provides an intimate experience for guests.

For starters, begin with their Charcuterie Board, filled with shareable local and imported cured meats and cheeses, Kalamata and green olives, and served with artisan bread. Scallops are seared in butter and served over roasted serrano avocado sauce, and  ‘dolloped’ with their house remoulade. Bocaditos is a quesadilla-style tomato basil tortilla, stuffed with cheese, scallions, parsley, coriander and hot pepper, with a ‘dollop’  of  homemade avocado crema.

Move forward to steakhouse royalty with their Ribeye, a 10-ounce Ribeye steak rubbed in cracked black pepper. Pork serves up two boneless pork tenderloins, seasoned with a hickory molasses dry rub, and topped with roasted garlic cream and cranberry chipotle sauces, served with roasted potatoes and grilled vegetables. Chicken is a succulent chicken breast topped, with their special herbed goat cheese cream, and sever with house salad and roasted potatoes. A Valentine/Special Occasion Surf & Turf pairs your choice of steak, combined with Lobster Tail or Shadow/Creole Jalapeno Shrimp, served with roasted potatoes and house salad. Salmon is pan-seared and smothered in the Chef’s special caper butter reduction, accompanied by roasted poblano potato puree and grilled asparagus.

As we have often said…save room for dessert. Especially if it’s their Penumbra Ice Cream, a homemade rum raisin ice cream topped with light caramel and chocolate drizzle. (I rarely see rum raisin anywhere anymore, so this is a special treat!) Or, opt for their Molten Brandy Truffle, a gooey flourless lava cake with infused chocolate Brandy truffle inside, and topped with a raspberry Grand Marnier sauce. This dish served 2-3 people, easily. 

But don’t just take my word for it! One Google reviewer wrote,

“The perfect place for a romantic date. We asked to sit at a booth table and it was the most perfect and intimate setting you could find. Everything we ordered was amazing. We ordered cold cuts and this paired with drinks was perfect. Highly recommended.”

Another wrote:  

“The best restaurant in Chicago!! Everything taste amazing!! Had the creole jalapeño shrimp beyond flavorful!! The steak and lobster are amazing! The lobster is the best I’ve ever had! Must try it’s a hidden gem & the service is phenomenal! Very romantic vibes! Will be returning again next time we are in Chicago!”

Penumbra Restaurant & Wine Bar is located at 3309 W. Fullerton. Their hours are Wednesday & Thursday, 5pm–10pm, Friday & Saturday, 5pm–11pm, and Sunday, 5pm–9pm. They are closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Although walk-ins are welcome, reservations are highly recommended for Friday and Saturday evenings. For parties of 5 or more, please contact the restaurant for availability. For reservations, click here

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Let’s make house cleaning less overwhelming

A very distraught man trying to clean the kitchen with a mop on his head

I’m sure many of us have keeping the house clean as one of our goals this coming year. You see homes on TV or online with not a thing out of place and feel inspired. But do people really live like that?

There is no end to guides showing the proper way to do household chores and how often we should do them. However, much of this advice is subjective. Some cleaning tasks are strictly necessary, yet some can be a matter of personal preference. There are many practical ways to reduce the burden of housework!  

Recognize that most chores are superficial. The list of chores that pose a serious health risk if done poorly is fairly short. We need to reduce the spread of germs and pathogens on surfaces in frequently used places like kitchens or bathrooms. But you aren’t going to catch the flu from a dusty shelf! Of course, if you have mold or dust allergies you may need to be a little more diligent and invest in air purifiers with HEPA filters, but not much will happen to most of us if a few dust bunnies are floating around in the corner. 

Remember that over-cleaning can be bad too. There is even evidence that overly sterile environments don’t let the immune system properly develop. There are good bacteria that we need in our gut to help us tolerate allergens. 

Put the whole cleaning thing into perspective. In the 1960’s Women’s magazines were full of articles on the correct way to wax a floor and dust knickknacks. But as more women entered the workforce some cleaning standards were relaxed and nothing catastrophic happened. That tells us much of what was being done in the past is not strictly necessary! 

Make peace with yourself and be a little forgiving. Women do unfortunately share most of the burden and feel the pressure of being judged. We need to understand cleaning standards are more relaxed now and learn to be kinder to others and ourselves.

Break up tasks and distribute labor fairly in the house. Call on kids, especially teenagers, to do their part. Make a plan to keep cleaning as easy and efficient as possible.Here are a few ways to streamline chores:

Cut down on laundry. Many clothes can be worn several times before laundering. Hang clothes as soon as dried to avoid ironing. Towels can go 3-4 showers if hung up to dry. 

Take off your shoes. Keep the floor clean by removing shoes as you enter. Keep a pair of house shoes to wear if you need support like I do. 

Spot clean. Do this especially for floors to avoid mopping till necessary. Swiffer mops are easy too as they don’t need a bucket or water. 

Meal plan. For mealtime keep easy meals on a rotation that use minimal pans like a pot of soup, casseroles or sheet pan suppers. 

Keep dish washing simple. Pre-rinsing dishes that are going into a dishwasher is not necessary. If you hand wash let them air dry, it’s more sanitary anyway. 

Manage toys. Teach the kids to have a toy pickup time before play is done for the day. But realize those toys are just coming all out again tomorrow so it’s not the end of the world. Fewer toys are good too. Studies have found that especially toddlers who have fewer toys are encouraged to play more creatively and focus more. 

Experiment. Try waiting a little longer to do certain tasks and see if you really notice the difference. Think of how often a space is used. If you have a basement bathroom that’s used infrequently, it might not be necessary to clean weekly. You may find dusting every two weeks has little difference over weekly dusting.

Not one cleaning schedule will work for everyone, so don’t try to chase an ideal that’s impossible! It is liberating to be more in control over what needs to be done. 

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago

Unlocking the Secrets: How to Spot a Lucrative Investment Property

Silver house key with house keychain on pink background

Introduction to Lucrative Investment Properties

Investing in real estate can be a rewarding endeavor, offering the potential for long-term financial growth and stability. However, not all investment properties are created equal, and distinguishing the truly lucrative opportunities from the rest requires careful analysis and understanding of key factors. In this article, we will delve into the secrets of spotting a lucrative investment property. We will explore the importance of conducting thorough market research, analyzing property location and potential, evaluating financial viability and return on investment, assessing property condition and potential repairs, understanding rental demand and income potential, negotiating the best purchase price, and ultimately, maximizing investment returns. By following these guidelines, you will equip yourself with the knowledge and tools needed to make informed investment decisions and unlock the secrets to success in the world of real estate investment.

1. Introduction to Lucrative Investment Properties

Investing in real estate can be a smart financial move, but not all properties are created equal. If you’re looking to make a lucrative investment, it’s important to know how to spot the right property. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of unlocking the secrets to finding a lucrative investment property.

Understanding the Basics of Investment Properties

Before we dive into the details, let’s start with the basics. An investment property is a real estate property that is purchased with the intention of generating income or appreciating in value over time. This could be a residential property that you rent out to tenants or a commercial property that you lease to businesses.

Why Investing in Real Estate Can Be Lucrative

So, why should you consider investing in real estate? Well, there are several reasons. First, real estate has historically been a stable and reliable investment, with property values generally increasing over time. Second, rental properties can provide a steady stream of passive income, allowing you to earn money while you sleep. Finally, real estate investments offer tax advantages and the potential for long-term appreciation, making them a popular choice among savvy investors.

2. Conducting Thorough Market Research

Now that you understand the basics, let’s delve into the first step in finding a lucrative investment property: conducting thorough market research.

Identifying Promising Real Estate Markets

The first thing you need to do is identify promising real estate markets. Look for areas with strong economic growth, job opportunities, and a growing population. These factors contribute to increased demand for housing, which can drive up property values and rental prices.

Analyzing Market Trends and Growth Potential

Next, analyze market trends and growth potential. Look at historical data to determine if property values in the area have been steadily increasing. Additionally, consider any future developments or infrastructure projects that may impact property values positively.

Examining Supply and Demand Factors

Lastly, examine supply and demand factors. Are there more properties available for sale or rent than there are buyers or tenants? If so, it could indicate a saturated market and lower rental yields. Conversely, a market with high demand and limited supply may present better investment opportunities.

3. Analyzing Property Location and Potential

Once you’ve identified a promising market, it’s time to analyze the location and potential of specific properties.

Evaluating Neighborhood Characteristics

Consider the characteristics of the neighborhood where the property is located. Is it a safe and desirable area? Are there good schools, parks, and amenities nearby? Properties in desirable neighborhoods tend to attract better tenants and have higher resale values.

Proximity to Key Amenities and Infrastructure

Evaluate the property’s proximity to key amenities and infrastructure. Is it close to public transportation, shopping centers, and employment hubs? Properties in convenient locations are more likely to attract tenants and have higher rental demand.

Assessing Future Development Plans

Lastly, assess any future development plans in the area. Are there upcoming projects that may enhance property values or improve the neighborhood? Keep an eye out for new infrastructure, commercial or residential developments, or revitalization projects that could positively impact your investment.

4. Evaluating Financial Viability and Return on Investment

Finally, it’s time to evaluate the financial viability and potential return on investment of the property.

Calculating Potential Return on Investment (ROI)

Calculate the potential return on investment (ROI) by considering factors like rental income, expenses, and potential appreciation. Look for properties with a high ROI, as this indicates a more lucrative investment.

Assessing Cash Flow and Rental Income Potential

Evaluate the property’s cash flow potential by analyzing rental income and expenses. Consider factors like vacancy rates, maintenance costs, property management fees, and taxes. Positive cash flow is essential for a successful investment.

Considering Appreciation and Tax Benefits

Lastly, consider the potential for property appreciation and tax benefits. Research historical property value trends in the area and consult with a tax professional to understand any tax incentives or deductions associated with the investment.

By following these steps and conducting thorough research, you can unlock the secrets to spotting a lucrative investment property. Remember, investing in real estate is a long-term game, so take your time, crunch the numbers, and choose wisely. Happy investing!

5. Assessing Property Condition and Potential Repairs

Conducting a Thorough Property Inspection

Before diving headfirst into purchasing an investment property, it’s crucial to conduct a thorough property inspection. This process involves scrutinizing every nook and cranny of the property to identify any existing issues or potential problems. Keep an eye out for things like structural damage, plumbing or electrical problems, or signs of water damage. By conducting a thorough inspection, you can avoid any unpleasant surprises down the line.

Identifying Potential Repair and Renovation Costs

Once you’ve completed the property inspection, it’s time to assess the potential repair and renovation costs. This means estimating the expenses associated with fixing any existing issues and making necessary improvements. Keep in mind that repairs and renovations can add up quickly, so it’s essential to budget wisely.

Weighing the Cost-Benefit of Repairs

After identifying potential repair and renovation costs, it’s important to weigh the cost-benefit of each investment. Consider the potential return on investment (ROI) for each repair or renovation you plan to undertake. Some repairs may significantly increase the property’s value and rental income, while others may not be worth the expense. Make informed decisions by carefully considering the cost-benefit ratio of each repair.

6. Understanding Rental Demand and Income Potential

Analyzing Local Rental Market Trends

To make an informed decision about an investment property, it’s vital to analyze the local rental market trends. Look into factors such as rental vacancy rates, rental prices, and rental demand in the area. Understanding these trends will provide you with insights on the potential income potential of the property.

Determining Optimal Rental Rates

Setting the optimal rental rate for your investment property is crucial for attracting tenants and maximizing your income potential. Research the current rental rates in the area and compare them to similar properties. Consider factors like location, amenities, and property condition when determining the rental rate. Finding the sweet spot will help you strike the balance between attracting tenants and generating a profitable rental income.

Assessing Tenant Demand and Vacancy Rates

Assessing tenant demand and vacancy rates is key to ensuring a steady stream of rental income. Look into the local area’s demographics, job market, and economic indicators to gauge the demand for rental properties. Additionally, research the vacancy rates in the area to get a sense of how quickly you can expect to find tenants and avoid long periods of property vacancy.

7. Negotiating the Best Purchase Price

Conducting Comparable Sales Analysis

To negotiate the best purchase price for your investment property, start by conducting a comparable sales analysis. Look at recent sales of similar properties in the area to determine their market value. Armed with this information, you can make an informed and competitive offer, ensuring you don’t overpay for the property.

Preparing a Strong Offer Strategy

Crafting a strong offer strategy is crucial when negotiating the purchase price. Consider factors such as the property’s condition, market value, and any potential repairs or renovations needed. Tailor your offer to the seller’s circumstances and motivations, and be prepared to negotiate and compromise when necessary.

Negotiating with Sellers to Achieve a Favorable Price

Negotiating with sellers can be a delicate dance, but don’t be afraid to assert yourself to achieve a favorable price. Be respectful, yet firm, and use your research and analysis to support your negotiating position. Remember, the goal is to find a win-win situation where both parties feel satisfied with the final price.

8. Conclusion: Taking Action and Maximizing Investment Returns

Developing a Solid Investment Plan

Now that you have unlocked the secrets to spotting a lucrative investment property, it’s time to develop a solid investment plan. Define your goals, timeline, and budget, and determine the strategies you will employ to maximize your returns. Having a clear plan in place will keep you focused and on track throughout the investment process.

Implementing Effective Property Management Strategies

Once you’ve acquired an investment property, implementing effective property management strategies is crucial for success. From tenant screening and lease management to property maintenance and rent collection, ensure you have robust systems in place to streamline operations and protect your investment.

Continuously Monitoring and Evaluating Investment Performance

Lastly, continuously monitor and evaluate the performance of your investment. Regularly review your financials, rental income, expenses, and any market changes to identify areas of improvement or potential risks. By staying proactive and adaptable, you can maximize your investment returns and make any necessary adjustments along the way. Remember, the investment journey is a marathon, not a sprint!

Conclusion: Taking Action and Maximizing Investment Returns

Investing in lucrative properties requires careful consideration and analysis, but the potential rewards are well worth the effort. By conducting thorough market research, evaluating property location and condition, assessing financial viability, understanding rental demand, and negotiating smartly, you can position yourself for success in the real estate market. Remember to continuously monitor and evaluate your investment performance and implement effective property management strategies. With a solid investment plan and a commitment to maximizing returns, you can unlock the secrets to spotting and profiting from lucrative investment properties. Start your journey today and watch your real estate portfolio flourish.

THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – The Thaw Continues!

melting snowman sittingh on a park bench

It’s time to bid farewell to January and its polarizing weather!  Hopefully, February will treat us better but until then here’s what’s happening this weekend as the thaw continues.

And you thought the polar vortex was cold!  Are you up for braving the icy waters of Lake Michigan for the 23rd annual Chicago Polar Bear Club Plunge this Saturday (11 a.m.-1 p.m.) at Oak Street Beach (1000 Lake Shore Dr.) in the Gold Coast neighborhood?  This frigid tradition challenges brave participants to plunge into Lake Michigan (costumes are encouraged) to raise money for local struggling families in need with 100% of all proceeds going directly to these families.  Afterwards, it’s time to dry off, change clothes, and head on over to the post-plunge party, if you’re not frozen solid!

Gentlemen, come join other revelers who eat meat with their hands at the 2024 Chicago Beefsteak this Saturday (7 p.m.-11 p.m.) at the DANK Haus German American Cultural Center (4740 N. Western Ave.) in the Lincoln Square neighborhood.  This 17th annual beef banquet offers attendees the opportunity to feast on all-you-can-eat steak, with your hands, while dressed in suits/blazers and ties!  Not to worry about your messy hands though since butcher aprons are provided.  In addition, live music and an open bar stocked with plenty of German beer are featured as well!

As the city continues to celebrate its award-winning culinary scene during Chicago Restaurant Week, City Cruises is joining in with a Premier Dinner Cruise on the Chicago River on Saturdays and Sundays through February 4th located at River Esplanade (455 N. Cityfront Plaza Dr.) on the Near North Side.  Besides offering their decadent menu of seasonal specialties, a new dish exclusive to Restaurant Week will also be served along with creative cocktails, and exceptional service at a reduced rate.  In addition, live DJ entertainment, and not to mention fabulous scenic views of the city’s skyline are all part of this two-hour adventure!

Need to have some good laughs after dealing with this past month?  You’re in luck, since Chicago is home to some of the best comedy around with the following Saturday events:

Chicago Comedy Hour (9 p.m.-10 p.m.) at the De Maat Studio Theater at Piper’s Alley (230 W. North Ave.) in the Old Town neighborhood hosts a comedy variety show featuring sketch, improv, and standup comedy from some of the best up and coming Chicago comedians!

Best of Annoyance Sketch (9:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m.) at The Annoyance Theatre (851 W. Belmont Ave.) in the Lakeview neighborhood showcases their best and funniest performers delivering brand-new content as well as new openers hot to the comedy scene!

This is Your Brain on Beer Comedy Show! (8 p.m.-10 p.m.) at Midwest Coast Brewing Co. (2137 N. Walnut St.) on the Near West Side where standup comedians do two sets:  a dry set and the other after having a few delicious brews.  Plus, the audience gets to choose the comedian whose skills were the best, after they have had a few brews themselves!

This Sunday brings us the NFL’s Conference Championship Games with the Baltimore Ravens hosting the Kansas City Chiefs at M&T Bank Stadium (3:00 p.m. ET) on CBS and the San Francisco 49ers hosting the Detroit Lions at Levi’s Stadium (6:30 p.m. ET) on FOX.  Finally, football fans across America will know who will be in the Super Bowl this year!  Is your team one of them?

Sue Moss and Dean’s Team Chicago

Neighborhood News: Pilsen-from Bohemian to Latino to Forbes ‘coolest neighborhood’

Pilsen Mexican Independence Day Parade with Aztec women dancing

“Pilsen might be the only place in the country where decades-old taquerias—Mexican restaurants specializing in tacos—line streets with Czech names, and vibrant public murals turn alleyways into exhibitions. South and west of Chicago proper, the neighborhood of Pilsen is geographically small but densely packed with vintage stores, Mexican restaurants, art galleries, record stores, young visitors, and families who have been in the area for generations.”

The Atlantic: Pilsen-An Explosion of Color in a Gray City

Today, the neighborhood Is bound, roughly, by South Damen Avenue and South Halsted Avenue to the west and east, and by 16th Street and West Cermak Road to the north and south. 

In the beginning…

With buildings that survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the Lower West Side’s Pilsen neighborhood was founded in 1878 by Czech immigrants, who named the district after Pilsen, the fourth largest city in Czechia. 

The population also included other ethnic groups from the Austro-Hungarian Empire including Slovaks, Slovenes, Croats and Austrians, as well as immigrants of Polish and Lithuanian heritage. Most were refugees from the toppled Austrian-Hungarian Empire. As a WTTW history said, many immigrants were Bohemian Freethinkers who created an extensive network of schools, athletic clubs (or sokols), benevolent societies, organized discussion groups, and forums for political debate. Freethinkers formed their own credit unions and savings and loan associations, providing the means for much of Pilsen’s earliest and grandest development projects. To this day, neo-Bohemian baroque architecture, marked by heavily-corniced, mixed-use structures, defines the neighborhood’s unique aesthetic.

There had been previous Bohemian settlements in Chicago, according to a study by the Czech & Slovak Genealogy Society of Illinois, but none had been able to reach the levels of self-sufficiency and cultural autonomy that Pilsen had. Pilsen would become the major Bohemian settlement, not only in Chicago, but in the entire United States, a position it maintained until the  granting of Czech independence after World War I. After that, immigration rapidly declined and second generation Bohemians moved to the suburbs.

 By 1960, according to WTTW, approximately 14 percent of Pilsen’s population was Mexican or of Mexican descent. Within a decade, they comprised the majority of Pilsen residents. 

Today: Vibrancy on every corner

As one TripAdvisor notes, Pilsen  emerged as a largely Latino community in the 1960s and 1970s. 

The first thing you’ll notice is the colorful street art, according to Choose Chicago. The buildings are covered in massive paintings and mosaics that pay homage to the neighborhood’s Hispanic roots. “Take a stroll around the neighborhood to soak it all in, particularly the 16th Street Murals,” they urge. 

As our TripAdvisor notes, Mario Castillo painted Peace or Metafisico in 1968, the first Mexican and anti-Vietnam War mural in Pilsen. Benito Juarez Community Academy, which opened in 1977, has a 94 percent Latino student body and once was the largest high school in Illinois with more than 5,000 students.

“Walk through the Pilsen neighborhood, see the street carts doling out tamales and paletas,” they said. “Marvel at the 16th Street murals, visit the National Museum of Mexican Art, Thalia Halland St. Procopius Church, take a break at Dusek’s Board & Beer or Simone’s or Kristoffer’s Café & Bakery or Panaderia Nuevo Leon or Punch House or La Vaca Margarita Bar or Pollo Express.

The neighborhood’s thriving arts scene has become known as the Chicago Arts District. This seven-block stretch is filled with artists lofts, studios, retail spaces, galleries, and more. Another must for art lovers is Pilsen Arts and Community House, a local gallery focused on community and accessibility.

Forbes’ Coolest Neighborhood, 2018

Forbes magazine named Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood one of the world’s 12 hippest destinations. Six years later, Pilsen is still cool.

According to a report by CBS News at the time, Forbes magazine said Pilsen earned this honor by  becoming “a nest of cutting-edge culture and art with its mix of restaurants, Mexican street scenes, and galleries.”

Event: Forget Valentine’s Day. Come to Yollo’s Anti-Vday hangout!

On Saturday, February 9, The National Museum of Mexican Art’s youth initiative, Yollocalli Arts Reach, presents the Anti-Valentine’s Day Party. Join the Museum for an evening of music, food, dancing, art and sexual health info and freebies. You can snap a pic with your bestie in the Polaroid photo booth, make yourself a bouquet or a bracelet, or get in the spirit and create your own valentine cards. The galleries will be open late for exploring. This event is free and for young people ages 25 and under. For more information and registration, click here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Restaurant Review: Farm Bar in the city? Just ask Lakeview and Ravenswood!

People hands toasting red wine and having fun out side cheering at winetasting experience

Chicago Restaurant Week (January 19-February 4) is an opportunity to taste the best of Chicago’s restaurants throughout the city, particularly those that may have been overlooked, given the number of awesome restaurants to choose from.

One such restaurant is the Farm Bar, with locations in Lakeview and Ravenswood. With near-perfect ratings on Google, their three course tasting menu,  prepared by Executive Chef, David Wakefield is a perfect excuse for your family to sample fresh farm-to-table meals close to home. 

For Chicago Restaurant Week, they’re celebrating in both neighborhoods with a three-course, Chef’s Choice dinner for $42.

As Open Table reminds us, Farm Bar is nestled in a tiny hole in the wall in the heart of Chicago,  paying homage to traditional Midwestern fare. Using ingredients only grown in Illinois and its surrounding states, Farm Bar prides itself on presenting guests with a quality taste of the Midwest, presenting guests with a simple seasonal menu that highlights dishes made from scratch and crops grown on operator TJ Callahan’s Wisconsin farm.  

At their Lakeview location, 1300 W. Wellington Avenue, and their recently opened Ravenswood location at 1970 W. Montrose Avenue, you and your family can indulge in Midwest-style comfort food, writ large. 

Wisconsin Cheese Curds are served with a kick as they pair Ellsworth, Wisconsin cheese curds with ketchup and a spicy curd sauce. French Onion Dip is made with flavorful crispy shallots, caramelized onions, and chives and served with Farm Bar’s homemade chips. 

Move on to their Beets Me Salad, withroasted red beets, orange vinaigrette, little gem lettuce, pine nut vinaigrette, shaved fennel, white bean hummus, fresh citrus, toasted pine nuts, and pomegranate molasses, or their Farm Green Salad with mixed greens, cucumbers, Heirloom cherry tomatoes, Farmers cheese, Old Bay croutons, and caramelized Brown Dog honey vinaigrette. An additional charge gets you an Amish Chicken Breast.

Both Lakeview and Ravenswood serve Farm Bar’s highly touted Classic Farm Bar Burger, made with Grass Fed beef, and served with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, cheddar cheese, and their ‘Secret Sauce,” (no telling!) on a butter bun. Grilled Cheese On Tomato Soup has smoked gouda, sharp cheddar, Texas toast, Chef David’s Homemade Tomato Soup, with chives. 

Entrees are a farm-to-table feast. Try their North Road Faroe Island Salmon, a pan-seared salmon, served with Brown Dog Farm honey-roasted carrots, parsnip puree, pickled watermelon radish and watercress salad. 

At their Ravenswood location,  you can enjoy their Rigatoni Bolognese, with beef, pancetta, veal, San Marzano tomato, rigatoni Pasta, Sarvecchio cheese, and basil. BDF Honey Brined Hen is a whole roasted chicken, with Carolina Gold Rice stuffing, haricot verts, and parsley Beurre Blanc.

For the kiddos, there’s a ‘Little Farmers’ menu to delight any picky palate! And don’t leave without dessert…their Apple Cobbler is one in a million, as are their variety of gelato flavors!

  “I recently visited Farm Bar with my cousin, and even without a reservation, our experience was fantastic! We decided to sit at the bar, where the bartender was incredibly attentive and made us feel right at home.

My cousin opted for the grilled cheese on tomato soup, and I went with the breaded pork chop. Both dishes were delicious, but the pork chop truly stole the show. Cooked to perfection, it left a lasting impression on my taste buds.

The lack of a reservation didn’t pose any issues; instead, it added to the spontaneous and welcoming atmosphere. Farm Bar is a hidden gem with friendly staff and mouthwatering food—I’ll definitely be back for that pork chop!”

For information and reservations about both locations, click here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Staying warm while using less energy

Sad broke poor person unable to pay electric bill suffering from cold in her own unheated home during winter

Much of the country has been in the grip of a severe cold snap. Even southern states have been much colder than usual. This unfortunately leads to power outages, especially in areas not used to severe cold. These weather emergencies can cause unprecedented surges, and utilities often will ask people to reduce their energy consumption during these times to lower stress on the grid. 

We can all do our part to reduce energy usage while still staying warm. We can even save a few dollars in the process! Here are a few ways to keep warm. 

Of course, it goes without saying: turn down the thermostat. Turn it down to the mid-sixties. 

Layer with warm clothes and use regular blankets. You might think to use heated blankets and space heaters, but these are power hungry devices and can actually use more power than your central heat, which mainly runs on gas. Use large appliances like dish and clothes washers and dryers on off peak hours. 

Stay upstairs as much as possible. Heated air expands and loses density. So, upstairs will be warmer as the air rises. 

Look for the highest R value (resistance to heat flow) materials. Fleece, wool and flannel have microscopic air pockets that are poor conductors of heat thereby raising their R value. 

Cover your most vulnerable areas. You need to insulate, especially the parts of your body that are cold sensitive. Your feet are one of these body parts. Use thick slippers that cover your entire feet, they are better than just socks. Your head and neck are another place to cover up. You might not naturally think of wearing a hood inside, but a hooded fleece sweatshirt will keep you feeling warmer and more comfortable. Your hands  are also nerve rich like your feet and a thin pair of gloves can help too.

Watch out for cold parts of the house. Exterior walls, windows and cold floors can be as warm as 70 degrees but your body at 98.6 degrees radiates heat to these cold surfaces, making you feel cold in the process. Stay away from these cold surfaces as much as possible. 

So, we can all do our best to conserve energy during these times when the stress on our energy grids is high. We usually think of these problems during summer heat spells, but we need to understand the exact same problems can occur in the winter too. Ee don’t want you to have a heart attack when you open your energy bills!

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago