May 9, 2019

Springtime in Chicago

By Charese David

It’s that time of year to have some fun! Chicago is the place to be as the weather gets warmer. There’s a new vibrance as outdoor patios and backyards come alive with laughter and revelry. It’s the time of year when the city hosts festivals, garden walks, farmer’s markets and summer picnics. I can feel the change in the air. Chicagoans know how to take full advantage of this season!

I love this season because of the beauty of urban gardens and flower planters. Flowers make me happy. And being outside in the colors of nature has been shown to help people relax. As I drive through neighborhoods and down Michigan Avenue, I’m in awe of the gorgeous landscaping around our city.

One of my favorite places to buy plants, herbs, flowers, shrubs and trees is Gethsemane Garden Center in Andersonville. They even have patio furniture and garden gifts. It’s so inspiring to walk though the rows of colors and smell the freshness of spring. I’ve always found the staff to be super knowledgeable for any garden project. See above for my recent video at Gethsemane. After a long winter, this is my retail therapy!

For more inspiration, here’s a story from our archives, Simple Steps to a Beautiful Urban Garden.

If you need gardening advice or reliable landscapers, call or text me at (312) 399-1271 or email at charese@menardjohnson.com.

Happy Spring!

Posted in Design Ideas
April 8, 2019

The Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field

Charese David in Wrigleyville talking about Wrigley Field and the Cubs.

Wrigley Field is a classic American baseball field and iconic to the Chicago landscape. Tourists, locals and baseball fans flock to Wrigleyville, which is part of the larger Lakeview neighborhood. As other cities moved ballparks to the suburbs, Wrigley remains unique as it is integrated seamlessly into a walkable neighborhood filled with restaurants, bars and music venues. 

 

Built in 1914, Wrigley Field is the nation’s second-oldest major league ballpark. It wasn’t until 1988 that lights were installed on the field for the first night game. Rich in legend and nostalgic to baseball fans, the game is played in natural grass, sun-soaked ivy covers the brick walls, most Cubs games are scheduled in the afternoon, the field has intimate surroundings that connects players and fans, and the ballpark is in a residential neighborhood. A great place to spend a warm afternoon!

 

Wrigleyville has always been much more than a neighborhood only for sports lovers. It has a wide range of events, ethnic cuisines and unique shops. With the development of the boutique Hotel Zachary, real estate price points are rising as the neighborhood lures people to live and play in the area.

 

After the Cubs won the World Series in 2016, there is even more buzz in Wrigleyville as new restaurants, bars and shopping have moved in. It is an entertainment hub with lots of family-friendly activities. Let’s face it, Wrigleyville is a happening place filled with fun things to do and a great destination for our city!

Posted in Chicago Events
March 7, 2019

Giving Everything She Can

Charese David

 

Article by Chicago Real Producers

Charese David came to Chicago in 1986 with no money and no job. She had just graduated from University of Michigan with a degree in communications and was ready to embrace the adventure of living in a new city. Failure was not an option.

 

With a talent for the arts—music, photography, design, and cooking—Charese immersed herself in video production for three years. She then joined a small video duplication company, where she stayed for sixteen years, helping it grow, as its director of sales, into a full-service duplication, distribution and fulfillment, media organization. 

 

As her company started to undergo several mergers and acquisitions, the company culture began to change. Although Charese loved her clients, her workplace became an unpleasant and unproductive place for her to work. She no longer loved working at the company, and knew it was time to move on. 

 

Initially, Charese felt that real estate was a career that would allow her to engage with clients for a longer period of time and to truly make a difference in their lives. She wanted to have a more personal experience and be able to guide people through an important transaction in their life. So, she obtained her license in 2005 and worked part time for a year before leaving her corporate job for good. 

 

Charese didn’t realize how prepared she was for real estate until she became a REALTOR®. She found she had already gained a lot of knowledge and experience in real estate by renting and owning several different properties herself throughout Chicago. In addition, she didn’t realize how much she’d be able to use her creative talents in photography and design to further help her clients. Real estate was really a perfect fit for Charese.

 

However, starting from scratch in a new industry after a sixteen-year career at one company was no easy feat. It was 2006, and the economy was on the brink of recession; she’d have to fight her way through it. “It was one of the best educations I could have ever had. I was able to overcome the challenges by providing great service to my clients, and by really being a full-service broker. Real estate takes a great deal of work and perseverance,” she says.

 

As a full-service broker, Charese does everything she can for her clients. She goes to every inspection, showing, and closing, and she doesn’t rely on anyone else. She also consults with clients about their renovation ideas, painting selections, and overall design of their homes. She has worked with many developers on various projects and has provided design for new construction, as well as for multi-units and condominiums.

 

“Real estate, for me, is not just about making money: it’s about helping people realize a dream and being there to help with the discovery. Being a part of my clients’ happiness and seeing them radiate with joy after we close is so rewarding. And I’ve been so enriched by the friendships I’ve made,” says Charese.

 

Friends and family are everything to Charese. She loves entertaining and cooking for people at her home while drinking good wine. “I guess I just like sharing with friends and family, whether it’s creating pizzas in my pizza oven or having a sit down dinner—it’s really a huge part of who I am,” says Charese.

 

Charese is passionate about music, and she loves animals. Coming home to her dog, Delilah, makes her smile every day. Charese donates to a number of organizations, but she donates to Paws and the William Ferrris Chorale regularly.

 

One of Charese’s favorite quotes is by Estée Lauder: “When I thought I couldn’t go on, I forced myself to keep going. My success is based on persistence, not luck.”

 

Published in Chicago Real Producers, December 2018

Feb. 6, 2019

Chicago Spring 2019 Real Estate Market

With the spring market right around the corner, what's going on in Chicago real estate? One thing is for sure, it's unpredictable. Some predictions are showing opportunity, while others are seeing a slow down. Unless you have a trusted real estate broker as a resource, it can be confusing as you map out your 2019 real estate goals.  

In this video, Charese David shares what she is seeing in the Chicago right now. And yet, this can be a different story tomorrow. To get a pulse on the latest real estate market from an experienced, reliable broker, call or text Charese at (312) 399-1271 or email her at charese@menardjohnson.com.

 

Related Articles:

Tips for Home Buyers

What's Your Home Really Worth?

How to Prepare to Sell Your Home 

Why Hire a Real Estate Broker?

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Real Estate Broker

Jan. 9, 2019

Refresh Your Home, Refresh Your Mind

Hamilton Home
By Charese David

Simple changes in home decor can make a big difference in the way a room feels. It can lift the mood, energize the body, and improve the overall feeling of well-being. Clearing a space can also help to focus the mind. And starting with small changes may lead to motivation to tackle bigger projects.

 

Here are some tips to get you started:

 

Curb Appeal: This is the first impression of your home. Make sure the front entrance is neat and clean. In any season, keep up with regular yard maintenance. Landscape lighting can add beauty and drama, especially when you’re entertaining guests. Flower boxes and planters near entryways or on windowsills create softness and color. It’s also fun to dress up these areas with seasonal foliage to celebrate each holiday.

 

Interior Lighting: The brighter your home, the better. Use bulbs that emit soft light instead of CFLs, which can take five minutes to warm up and can give off a harsh, white light. Soft light bulbs illuminate immediately and have a warm impact on the eyes. Lighting is sensory driven—it affects the mood. 

 

Adding new light fixtures can change the look of a room, and is an economical way to update your home. As winter approaches and the days grow shorter, new light bulbs in ceiling lights and floor lamps help to brighten rooms, too.

 

Natural Scents: Plants can neutralize the air in your home. Fresh-cut flowers can delight and enliven the senses. The innate connection that we have to nature has proven that plants often have a relaxing effect on us and can help to improve our health and well-being. And infusing fragrance into a room using flowers, diffusers, or candles can change the overall feeling of a space. 

 

Walls and Floors: If your artwork has been hanging in the same place for so long that you no longer see it, move pieces around. This can provide an entirely different feel to a room. On neutral-colored walls, an easy way to add a design touch is to add a pop of color and certain styles of framed artwork. 

 

Here’s another idea: use carpet tiles instead of a floor rug. Mix and match the colored tiles to create playful patterns. Change the patterns occasionally for a different look.

 

Shelf and Table Displays: If you have an overstuffed bookshelf, take time to go through and thin it out. Give the books you no longer use a second life by donating them. Display meaningful objects in cleared spaces to make the shelf more interesting—an eclectic style statement can turn into a fun conversation with guests. Toss old magazines to freshen up a coffee table. And when arranging objects on a table or mantelpiece, place three objects of subtly different sizes in a small cluster for a carefully curated design look. 

 

Accessories: An easy way to create a new feel in a room is by switching out the pillows or throws you currently have on your furniture. Colorful pillows will brighten living rooms and bedrooms. With a dark sofa, you can bring in light-colored accent pillows for dramatic effect. 

 

Look at your kitchen with fresh eyes, too: move small, countertop appliances and counter displays to new areas. Store items you don’t use often. Simply changing out kitchen and bath towels can make you feel good. Add seasonal accents around your home to make it more festive. 

 

Clean and Declutter: Decluttering spaces can declutter your mind and create new energy. Clean out closets by donating old clothes and shoes. Remove items from rooms that are collecting dust. Clear desktop spaces and clean out junk drawers. Check under your kitchen and bathroom sinks and toss toxic cleaning chemicals, old beauty products, and items you no longer use. Organize your medicine cabinet and throw out expired vitamins, supplements, and pills. Look for expired products in your refrigerator and cupboards, too. Go through your garage and basement to get rid of old paint, caulk, plaster, remodeling supplies, or other products that are dried out or broken.

 

Fresh Paint: Paint has an emotional impact that can evoke feelings of comfort. Rooms with light and neutral colors can appear larger. Metallic accent colors and mirrors will help brighten a room. An accent wall adorned with dark paint or elegantly patterned wallpaper is a great way to bring in color without overwhelming the room. 

 

If you have questions or comments, please contact me at (312) 399-1271 or charese@menardjohnson.com.

 

Posted in Design Ideas
Dec. 6, 2018

Simple Ways to Give Back

 

The Joy of Giving Back
By Charese David

 

Giving Back this Holiday Season

 

As we enter the holiday season, it’s the perfect time to focus on gratitude and giving. Choosing to do something good during this time can be the start of a wonderful tradition for yourself or your family. It can also refocus your attention onto something that feels good and alleviate some of the stress of the season. And there are many ways to give back that don’t require a lot of planning. 

 

Little Acts of Kindness

 

When we think of giving back, it’s often to strangers for some cause. How about looking to family and friends? This time of year can be stressful, so simply reaching out to see how a friend is doing can go a long way. If someone is overworked, volunteer to babysit or walk the dog. Shovel your neighbor’s sidewalk. Volunteer to drive a friend to the airport or pick them up. Cook a meal for your sister’s family. Host a movie night and chill with friends. Read a book to kids or an elderly relative. Listen closely in conversation and you’ll hear exactly what those around you need at this time. 

 

Pay it Forward

 

Another simple, yet clever way to give back is to pay it forward. Get the drink or lunch of the person behind you at the coffee shop. Pay the toll of the car after you. Hand out $5 dollar gift cards to people you interact with such as your bank teller, cashier and coffee barista. Leave a thank you note in your mailbox for the carrier. Add extra tip for the server when you’re out at a restaurant.

 

Drop off pencils, craft supplies or books at your local school. Instead of food donations, find out if your local food back needs other items, like shampoo, soap, feminine hygiene products, toothpaste, and toilet paper. Find a place in your community where you can donate blood. Bring cookies to a local nursing home. Donate your used magazines to someone who is housebound. 

 

Spend time at your local library helping someone with their resume. Send out holiday cards to deployed military members. Get your kids to donate toys or sports gear they no longer use. Volunteer at your local animal shelter. 

 

Smile, hold doors open for others and wish them ‘Happy Holidays’ when out shopping. Say ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ to strangers. Paying it forward doesn’t have to be monetary. Just a smile, will brighten someone’s day and they in turn, will carry that smile to the next person. 

 

Find an Organization that Inspires You

 

There is so much you can do at any time of the year. It can be volunteering time and/or money. The most important thing is that it resonates with your heart. if you’re unsure of where to start, here are some websites that offer opportunities to make a difference in your community. 

 

Chicago Cares - https://www.chicagocares.org

 

One Good Deed Chicago - https://onegooddeedchicago.org

 

VolunteerMatch - https://www.volunteermatch.org

 

Hands On Suburban Chicago - https://www.handsonsuburbanchicago.org

 

 

Donating to a Cause

 

In the spirit of giving back, I’ve put together a list of organizations close to my heart. Ask your employer if they’re matching donations to causes. And if not, would they consider it?

Salvation Army - https://www.salvationarmy.org

Chicago Food Bank - https://www.chicagosfoodbank.org

Meals on Wheels Chicago - https://www.mealsonwheelschicago.org/volunteer/how-to-help/

Peace Hospice and Palliative Care - https://www.peacehospice.net

The Catholic Charities - https://www.catholiccharities.net

Mercy Home for Boys and Girls - https://www.mercyhome.org

Boys and Girls Clubs Chicago - https://bgcc.org

PAWS Chicago - http://www.pawschicago.org

Chicago Canine Resuce - https://chicagocaninerescue.org/volunteer/

The Anti-Cruelty Society - https://anticruelty.org

I find that when I put my attention on helping others, I receive much more in return. I hope that you receive what you desire. Wishing you a festive season filled with love, laughter and good eats. Happy holidays!

Nov. 6, 2018

Fall 2018 Real Estate Update

By Charese David

How is the Chicago real estate market changing? It's shifting from a seller's market to a buyer's market. 

Looking to buy a home?

Take your time. This is a big decision and not something you want to rush into. Get organized, do your prep work before you start the process. Meet with a mortgage broker to provide insight on interest rates and what you can afford. I can recommend a few good mortgage brokers, if you’re looking for one.

Interview real estate brokers. Check out broker reviews as this will provide good insight. Zillow and Yelp reviews are great to browse, along with references from past clients. Research their credentials to determine if they are a good fit for your home buying goals. This real estate professional should have a wide range of knowledge about the Chicago market. They will help you understand the nuances of the property values.

When buying a home, your real estate broker can share information about the history of the area, zoning restrictions (for fixer upers), local commerce and community events and media. They can tell you if an area is sleepy community or one that has a more social atmosphere. And even if you have your neighborhoods narrowed down, your broker may offer suggestions in alternate neighborhoods where you can get more bang for your buck and possibly a bigger return when you go to sell years down the road. 

Research the neighborhoods that you would like to live in. You can start by searching prices online to find properties that fit within your budget. Once you’ve narrowed down the area(s), spend time in the neighborhood(s) at various times of day. Hang out in coffee shops, wander the retail and grocery stores, eat lunch or dinner in the restaurants, grab a drink at a local pub and explore public transportation. 

Get a good sense of the type of people and establishments in the area. How safe is the neighborhood? Ask around, research online - real estate brokers are technically not allowed to discuss safety issues, making it important to get a feel for the community as a whole. 

If you have young children and you’d like to enroll them in school, check out the CPS (Chicago Public School) website for school rankings. Call the school and ask specific questions about the teachers, classroom size and community involvement. Go on a school tour so you can get a feel for how it operates. Then map boundaries so you know where to look for a home. 

Buying a home doesn’t need to be overwhelming if you’re working with the right broker. Real estate is my passion. I am dedicated to gathering knowledge and am committed to building client relationships. If you have questions or comments, please contact me at (312) 399-1271 or charese@menardjohnson.com.

Oct. 2, 2018

High Level of Service: My Commitment to Home Sellers

By Charese David

It’s always rewarding when I can help great clients like Jason and Liz Crews. They had a beautiful house in Roscoe Village that I helped them sell. During the initial inspection, we came across some major issues that needed to be resolved before the home could close. Meanwhile, they had moved out of state, so I had to step up and manage the whole process. Luckily, I have a huge network of professionals that I can call on to help in all real estate areas. Part of my speciality when working with clients is my personal service. I want my clients to know that I am with them every step of the way. The real estate process can be confusing if you’re not working with a professional broker to guide you. It is my commitment to clients that they have a clear understanding of what needs to happen and provide reliable referrals to make sure everything goes smoothly. In the end, we were able to resolve the problem and Jason and Liz walked away happy clients. 

 

Please contact me at (312) 399-1271 or charese@menardjohnson.com if you have questions.

Aug. 20, 2018

Chicago Residential Architecture Design

By Charese David

Chicago is well-known for its architecture with sleek skyscrapers and ornate buildings that lend to our magnificent skyline. The neighborhoods, too, are comprised of residential housing spanning over a century of design, layout and materials that are characteristic of our beautiful city. 

 

The “Great Chicago Fire” of Oct. 8, 1871, changed the laws requiring new buildings to be constructed of fireproof materials such as brick, stone, marble and limestone instead of wood. This shifted the architecture of our city. Although, with wood being less expensive than the fireproof materials, there were those who ignored the new laws. And what would Chicago look like if the fire never happened? 

 

As I’ve worked with clients over the years, both home buyers and sellers, I’ve been exposed to a lot of different architecture styles. In fact, architectural design is one of my passions. That’s why I decided to give you a brief historical context of Chicago residential architecture styles.

 

Worker Cottage

 

Worker Cottage

Source: Moss Design

 

Chicago was booming as the population tripled in size from 1880-1910 with the influx of European immigrants. Railroads fueled industrial growth, such as the meat packing industry, which provided jobs to these immigrants. Built as early as the 1830’s, these utilitarian homes were initially built of wood but more commonly brick after the fire of 1871. They are a long and narrow rectangular-shaped dwelling with a two or three-bay gabled facade. The cottages are one-and-a-half stories with two to three rooms and a raised basement. 

 

Links to more information:

http://www.pioneeramerica.org/past2011/past2011artmclennan.html

http://moss-design.com/worker-cottage/

https://blockclubchicago.org/2018/06/26/citys-disappearing-workers-cottages-honored-in-sculpture-coming-to-wicker-park/

 

 

Chicago Bungalow

 

Chicago Bungalow

Source: Chicago Bungalow Association

 

Built between 1910 and 1940, the bungalow circled Chicago’s center from the far north to the farthest south side neighborhoods, creating a Bungalow Belt. More than 80,000 bungalows still stand today and represent one-third of the city’s single-family housing style. As the first affordable home, this offered the working-class a residence with previously uncommon modern amenities such as central heating, electricity and modern plumbing. A bungalow is characterized by it’s one-and-a-half stories, slant-ceilinged attic, brick construction, street facing veranda, and full basement. They were constructed of limestone accents, dormered roof, concrete entry stairs and standardized fixtures. The roots of the bungalow come from the Arts and Crafts Movement and followed the philosophy that healthy living included a connection to the outdoors.

 

Links to more information: 

https://www.chicagobungalow.org/chicago-bungalow

http://moss-design.com/bungalows/

http://www.architecture.org/learn/resources/buildings-of-chicago/building/chicago-bungalow/

 

Greystone

Greystone

 

With the housing shortage after the Great Chicago Fire and the rise of the industrial era, density was a priority. The multi unit greystone buildings with apartment flats stacked on each other were a solution. Although some were built as single family homes. Constructed from around 1890-1930’s, these long narrow dwellings have a limestone facade, sourced from nearby quarries, and the sides and back are made of brick. They have a variety of ornamentation styles, from Gothic features to the most common a simplified Classical Revival. In a typical layout, the front porch opens to the living spaces with bay windows, bedrooms on one side and the kitchen in the rear. 

 

Links to more information:

http://moss-design.com/greystone/

http://www.architecture.org/news/happening-caf/the-tale-of-the-chicago-two-flat/

http://greystonepreservationllc.com/What_Is_a_Greystone.html

 

Courtyard Apartment Building

 

Courtyard Building

Source: Chicago Architecture Center

 

Similar to the greystone, the courtyard building was built in response to the shortage of housing after the fire. Built around 1910-1930, courtyard apartments were rarely taller than three stories due to fire code restrictions that made it more expensive to build higher. Residents share the front entry stairwell as well as the back porch stairs, connecting neighbors through vertical thoroughfares. Each back porch has a small, semi-private outdoor space. This design lends to cross ventilation and shared utilities. The U-shaped front offers green space, which provided an area for residents to interact and a space for children to play. This developed a sense of community. 

 

Links to more information:

http://moss-design.com/courtyard-apartment/

http://www.architecture.org/news/happening-caf/whats-with-that-odd-closet-what-chicagos-architectural-clues-reveal-about-how-we-lived/

 

 

American Foursquare

 

American Foursquare

Source: Curbed Chicago

 

Built between the 1890 and the mid 1930’s, the American Foursquare, with its straight-forward symmetrical design, square floor plan and roomy interior, stepped away from the ornate Victorian and Revival styles of the late 1800’s. It’s architectural roots are from the Prairie style and emphasized symmetry and restrained ornamentation. The two-and-a-half story home has an attic dormer centered in the front, a full basement and a low hipped room. Catalog companies, such as Sears and Roebucks, popularized this style by offering mail-order home designs. 

 

Links to more information:

http://www.antiquehomestyle.com/styles/foursquare.htm

http://www.oldhouseweb.com/architecture-and-design/american-foursquare-1890-1930.shtml

 

Two- and Three-flats

 

Two Flat

Source: Chicago Architecture Center

 

Chicago two- and three-flat apartment buildings make up a quarter of Chicago housing. Constructed between 1900 and 1920, they were built to ease the increased housing demand as immigrants flocked to the city to work at various industrial corporations. These dwellings offered denser housing and owners could earn extra income form renting out a unit. The facade of these buildings were wood, brick or stone. Interior details were typically representative of the Arts and Crafts style featuring ornate wooden moldings such as functional built-in hutches, cabinetry, bookshelves and pantries.

 

Links to more information:

https://www.wbez.org/shows/wbez-news/the-tale-of-the-two-flat/8a385f49-42d6-4cd1-8978-666181064d59

http://www.architecture.org/learn/resources/buildings-of-chicago/building/two-and-three-flats/

http://www.architecture.org/news/happening-caf/the-tale-of-the-chicago-two-flat/

 

The design firm ALSO has created illustrated prints of these historical homes that are available for saleIf you'd like to continue this conversation or have questions, comments or stories about your historic home, please contact me at (312) 399-1271 or charese@menardjohnson.com. I’d love to hear from you!

July 10, 2018

Urban Outdoor Design Inspiration

By Charese David

 

An outdoor area is one of the most important spaces in a home. With our shorter warm weather season, a lot of Chicago homeowners take full advantage of the outdoors. An inviting urban oasis for both relaxing and entertaining can feel like a retreat. This is also a key factor for those thinking of selling their home. 

 

Outdoor Design

From Elle Decor and Elle Decor

 

There is undeniable value in creating a  stress-free zone in our urban environment. Prepping your outdoor space with fresh staging ideas can help you sell your home faster and maybe even for a higher price. It draws people in and helps buyers see themselves enjoying the garden. It’s an extension of the living space. If the home or condo is small, it provides an expansive feel.

 

Urban Outdoor Design

From Apartment Therapy

 

Sprucing up your outdoor space can be as simple as reupholstering or buying cushions and pillows. Update old light fixtures with a fresh coat of paint. Add tea lights and candles, along with an outdoor rug to make the space cozy. Use neutral colors to draw attention to the natural green environment for a more calming feel. For privacy and to separate the space from the neighbors, add rattan blinds and hanging plants off the balcony. Strategically arrange inexpensive flowers and potted plants around the area.

 

Urban Outdoor Design

From Elle Decor and Elle Decor

 

For homes with a small backyard, use accent stones to create a relaxing retreat feel. Purchase tall thin bushes for privacy. Place bamboo lanterns along pathways or string bistro lights around the dining area to create a sophisticated evening atmosphere.

 

Urban Outdoor Design

From Apartment Therapy

 

The style of your home should seamlessly blend into the style of your outdoor space. If you’re on a budget, Home Goods offers inexpensive outdoor accessories. For a more modern vibe, check out West Elm, Room and Board and CB2. To design a traditional space, shop at stores like Arhaus, Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, Jayson Home and Walter E Smith.

 

Urban Outdoor Design

From Domino

 

Renting outdoor furniture for staging can be expensive, so if you work with me in selling your home, I will give staging advice using items that you already have. And if I do recommend purchasing something, I suggest cost-effective items within your budget that you can use in your next home. Please contact me at (312) 399-1271 or charese@menardjohnson.com if you have questions. Happy Summer!

Posted in Design Ideas