Monthly Archives: September 2014

Small changes with big rewards

Fall is here and just as the trees are changing their look, it may be time to add some color to your home. We asked Michelle Polay of Polay Interiors in Elmhurst for some decorating tips. If you would rather leave the decorating to the experts, please contact Michelle by email at

ns_89410_20If you have a room that needs an upgrade, getting started is half the battle. Think about the space and consider how your family uses the room. Look at magazines for ideas, gather your favorite accent pieces and reflect on why you like them. Incorporate their color, style or materials while developing a cohesive theme.

Start with a new coat of paint or wallpaper using your accent color. If you want to keep a favorite piece of furniture, reupholster it for a whole new look while keeping your familiar friend. The current trend is to use warm colors like olive green, rusty orange, Mediterranean blue or deep aubergine. Gray remains the hottest neutral and can be used in paint, tiles, textiles, flooring and even leather.

Base your color choice on the amount of natural light  and consider what time of day you will be using the ns_89377_86room. In small spaces, don’t be afraid to use dark rich colors if the room has a lot of natural light. Use one large piece of furniture that takes up the entire wall. Fewer pieces of furniture will make the room feel larger. Mirrors and fresh flowers are excellent ways to bring the outside into a room that needs a little something extra. Use the same color on the floor and wall or wallpaper the ceiling to make the room feel larger. In a bigger room, pull the furniture towards the center to make it feel cozier.

Basements can be an excellent source of extra living space, but present unique decorating challenges. Due to limited and small windows, artificial lighting is your best friend. Add can lights, lamps, and chandeliers to brighten the area. Paint the walls with warm inviting tones and decorate with accent pieces using the entire wall from ceiling to floor.

kitchenKitchens are easily updated with a new coat of paint, freshly painted or stained cabinets with new hardware and some fresh new accent pieces on the walls. Add coordinating window treatments and if you are going all out, new counter tops and floors. A quick update and your kitchen will look brand new with a relatively small investment.

Decorating doesn’t need to be overwhelming or expensive. With a little thought, your home can be your family’s haven through the long cold winter.


Elmhurst’s First Neighborhood

Next in our exploration of Elmhurst subdivisions is a neighborhood so iconic, as far we can tell no one ever thought to name it. In fact, weun named map are dedicating two articles to this area so that we don’t miss any of the fascinating history.

Stretching from St. Charles Road on the North to the Prairie Path on the South and York Street to Spring Road, the estates first built there belonged to the most important founders of Elmhurst, including Thomas R. Bryan and his brother-in-law, Jedidiah H. Lathrop. Both men, along with Seth Wadhams their neighbor across the street, were responsible for planting the Elm trees that ultimately gave Elmhurst its name. Seth Wadhams’ home later became Wilder Mansion, which still stands today as a part of the Elmhurst Park District.

In the 1870s, both Bryan and Lathrop were involved in the diplomatic service and were friends with many politicians and other world leaders. Bryan was a close personal friend of Abraham Lincoln’s, serving as pallbearer at his funeral. With such high profiles, both men entertained a great many international guests, including King Edward VII, then the Prince of Wales, who visited while touring the United States.

Thomas Bryan Courtesy Elmhurst Historical Museum

Thomas Bryan

Thomas Bryan was also responsible for some big events outside of Elmhurst, including securing and organizing the 1893 World Fair in Chicago. Thomas Bryan and his wife, Jane Byrd Page, famously held a party for visiting World Fair dignitaries at their home, Byrd’s Nest, located at the southwest corner of St. Charles Road and York Street. Elmhurst’s other connection to the World Fair, Caroline Dupee Wade, was an artist who decorated the Illinois Building at the Columbian Exposition and provided artwork for the Palace of Fine Arts at the Fair.

The Great Fire of 1871 marked the beginning of an era of elegant socializing in Elmhurst for residents and wealthy refugees of Chicago, many of whom built their own estates on elm-shaded streets. By 1900, Elmhurst even had a Saddle Club. Every Saturday afternoon, 20 members of the club, with their guests, would gather near St. Charles Road and Mitchell Avenue to participate in races and other equestrian pursuits. After an afternoon of riding, one of the members would host a dinner dance. Known as Hagan Racetrack, the facility was later moved to Cicero and renamed Hawthorne Racetrack.

As time went on, the estates were subdivided into smaller lots. In 1914, Dr. Henry L. Lindlahr bought eight acres of the Lathrop estate on the south side of St. Charles Road between Cottage Hill and Prospect Avenues to use as a sanitarium. Advertisements claimed patients received Nature Cure treatments in a country-like atmosphere.

Lindlahrs Sanitarium

Lindlahrs Sanitarium

The Sanitarium specialized in homeopathic treatments including vegetarian diets, sunbaths, air baths, hydrotherapy and manipulation. A brochure stated outright: No Surgery, No Drugs, No Serums. The sanitarium operated until 1928, four years after Dr. Lindlahr died.

Enjoying a large campus, the property included an administration building, an annex with living quarters and treatment room, bungalows and a tent city in the summer. Exercise was an important component of the treatments and so the grounds also featured large wooded grounds for walking, tennis and basketball courts, lawn croquet, volleyball and exercise groups.

The homes in this subdivision currently range from $300,000 to over a million dollars. Some of the homes for sale today were built while Elmhurst was in its heyday and reflect the glory and majesty of the gilded age of Elmhurst. If you are interested in looking at homes in this or any of Elmhurst’s unique neighborhoods, call a knowledgeable realtor at LW Reedy.

Residents of this neighborhood are in the award winning Elmhurst School District 205 and would attend Hawthorne Elementary Grade School, Sandburg Middle School and York High School. Click here for more information on those schools, links to school reports and more.

All pictures were provided by the Elmhurst Historical Museum.

The Jetson House of the Future is Here Now

jetson houseNow most homeowners can live like the Jetsons with “smart homes,” the latest house trend that allows the homeowner to control everything from lighting, security, temperature and more with a touch on their iphone. It’s being referred to as the “internet of things” with technology that is surprisingly user friendly. While it was fun to watch George’s family use their gadgets, there were a few things they had to iron out before everything worked as seamlessly as it did on television.


HDE Screw-in Wireless Light Bulb

For most people, installing automated devices will take place after the house is built and should be done a little at a time. The simplest smart device is an extraordinary light bulb that can be controlled with any online device. No tools required, just screw the bulb in, load the app and turn the light on from across the room or across town. For more complicated devices, like a Nest Thermostat, you’ll need some basic skills, but the manufacturer says it can be installed by most people in under 30 minutes.

 If you are building your home, you might want to talk to your builder about incorporating the devices into your home right from the start. Make sure that your technician has a CEA-CompTIA certification which means he or she has experience working with any vendor’s networking system.

There are a few different systems and it is important to make sure any device you purchase is compatible with the system you choose if you want to integrate at some point. The ZigBee system is a global standard based on the standard set by the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for wireless personal networks. Any manufacturer can use the ZigBee system without paying a licensing fee, which may give them an advantage in the long run over other systems.

Nest Thermometer

Nest Thermometer

The up and coming system, Insteon, used by the Nest Thermostat, accesses both electrical and wireless networks.  All devices that receive the message will broadcast it throughout the network until the command is carried out. The more Insteon devices in your home, the stronger the signal.

There are many companies that provide protocols for electronics manufacturers to use in their devices, which may include thermostats, garage door openers, security cameras, and even smart appliances. Purchase a smart trash can and it will record your garbage and make a shopping list for you. Refrigerators create recipes based on the contents of your fridge and washers and dryers text you when your laundry is done. For more information on the home of the future, click here.

With all of these smart appliances in your home, you would soon need some sort of control center. There is a product called Revolv that allows all your appliances to work through one app in order to create a truly automated home. Smart houseRevolv currently works only with the I-phone and can direct Z-Wave, Insteon, and WiFi products.

And therein lies the next frontier in automated homes: settling on a standard automating system in order to make sure consumers aren’t buying systems that will soon go the way of Betamax or the VCR. It would be a shame to teach your home to behave just the way you want it to, and then need to train it all over again.