House TalkN is a fun lookiloo at houses, houses, houses. It will answer pressing questions like, "When folks build a McMansion on a small lot, what are they compensating for?" or "Was the real estate agent drunk when they staged this house?" or "Why don't the Smiths' ever leave their drapes open when I am on a harmless walk-by?"

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Voted "Best Coffee Table Book of the Season" By HouseTalkN!

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An Urbana House Crawl...

Name these locations!  GO!

This landmark is a clue to the neighborhood...
Here you go, Urbana.  I did a "Run Route Special" of Champaign houses I stalk admire.  Now, here is the Urbana sister neighborhood - the sister 'hood, if you will.
Who can name these house locations?  Winner gets a tour of my laundry room!
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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Breezeway Horrors- The "Before" Shots!

The ban was lifted on Julie's breezeway yesterday, so I grabbed my camera and zipped the few blocks to her house! (Click here for backstory)
As you can see, this is a great space with big time potential!

Pay no attention to the STUFF- focus on the windows, the barrel vaulted ceiling and think Pottery Barn on an IKEA budget!

(Click here for Julie's version)
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Sunday, June 26, 2011

It's All In The Details, Baby!

It is a blessing in disguise that I will not be able to attend this open house.  
 You may recall that in awkward situations, I get "situational tourettes".
Well, the same thing happens when I visit these kind of open houses.  I become so overjoyed to see such a beautiful old house renovatation that I start blurting out classy things like:
"Are you freaking kidding me with that wowzadoodle sink?"
"Get a lookiloo at that hardwood!"
And, then my words start to run together in one long, hillbilly sentence.
So, here is a much better description from the selling agent:
"-This elegant Victorian style home is being restored to its original beauty! This one-of-a-kind home was built in 1895 and still retains the character and charm of that era. Features includes a grand two-story foyer, coffered ceilings, a built-in china cabinet and plenty of original hardwood throughout. The home has over 5,219 square feet of finished living space, including a completely renovated gourmet kitchen with beautiful quality finishes that include granite countertops, and a center island."

For more information, click here.
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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Bed and Breakfast Project?

Something's Gotta Give House
Unbeknownst to my sisters, we are going to run a bed and breakfast when we retire.  I have a few years to work out the details, but thought I might start obsessing now.
Remember the house in the movie "Somethings Gotta Give"? (Click here for Hooked On Houses inside scoop and more pictures!)  That is the vision I have for our bed and breakfast.  I'll pretend to let my sisters have a say, but as usual, I will boss encourage them to see my perspective.
I was reminded of this little fantasy when I saw this house for sale.  A Victorian always makes for a lovely b and b!  What say - any takers?  Call your own sisters and make an offer today!
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Friday, June 24, 2011

Linky Party?

I am a blog rookie, so hang with me.  There is a thing called a "linky party"....I have been to a "drinky party", but this is my first "linky party"!  (A blogger will host a link party and other bloggers all submit a post to share - think "potluck for bloggers")
I have wanted to try this but have been talking myself in and out of it for a month!  "I'll do it next time" or "What if no one likes me my post?" or "What if ...what if...what if".
This is a summer of making myself try new things!
-Create a blog, check!
What the tarnation is a LINKY PARTY?
-Add a widdle color to my white, white, white decor- check!
-Shower exercise before noon, check!
-Participate in a "linky party", as of 9am today- CHECK!

Check out all the fun links at the party- My Romantic Home
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Bring Me A Cocktail, Stewart!

One little image from tumblr had me in full fantasy mode!  I imagined a sweet, elderly man named Stewart bringing me a great book, a cocktail and a dozen chocolate chip cookies, and maybe a pie chaser.
I could lounge around on this bed, eating and drinking myself into oblivion!
I would ban words like "Carbohydrates" and "Spanx" and "Just Do It". (unless that could be modified to "Just Eat It")
 I would proudly read People magazine.
I would wear a jaunty little pajama set with matching slippers - all day long.
I would wear a pink satan turban.
Would that be soooo wrong?
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Attention Locals! Yard Sale on Healey!

Laurie Gorham is holding another popular sale this weekend!
You'll find antiques, collectibles, furniture, kitchen items, baskets,
 and lots more!

1002 W. Healey
Champaign, IL
Friday and Saturday, 8-2
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Firepit Fiasco

I love firepits.  I love to be outside, drinking a brewsky, yelling at misbehaving children, listening to the children playing hide and seek,  around a firepit.
The problem is...we don't have a firepit.  Our kin in Indiana boast bonfires.  Our St. Louis kin offers a fancy firepit.  Our LA kin offer, well- smog.

We still have a Webber grill that requires CHARCOAL.  (Google it)  Suffice it to say, that we are often the last ones to be clinging to the tradition of a landline, a typewriter, a TV the size of Texas, hot rollers, tent camping (RV's and campers don't count as "camping"), the world's first minivan and a VCR.
Last weekend, we were sitting around the patio with friends when we decided to give "firepitting" a go --with a citronella candle.
You can imagine how this turned out.  A stinky black smoke rolled from guest to guest, choking out conversation and saturating the grilled burgers and hotdogs with a slight lemony taste!
On the upside, not a single mosquito bite was reported!
I do, however, need some new candles.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sad, Sad, Sunroom

Our sunroom had become "The Neglected Room."
With five thousand days of rain this spring, I began to resent my sunroom.  Instead of  "Singin' in the Rain", I was more like "Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain".
Today, I called in my "stagers" once again and we came up with two different looks.   I am generally a white, white and more white kind of gal, but I have been trying to add a widdle color to my life!  (White IS a color, btw, for all you white haters)




Special shells and rocks from trips...

So, which "After" do you like best?

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Karen's Plan of Attack!

Mudroom Makeover – Part 1
This week, after an impromptu PTA meeting, Kerry and I walked a couple of blocks down the street to our friend Julie's house to pick up Kerry's kiddos. While there, Kerry casually mentioned Julie's breezeway (the space that connects her garage to her house) and Julie's desire to give it a makeover. Since we were already there, well, we went in ninja style for a peek. Just when we thought we had escaped, unseen, Julie's husband popped up out of the bushes!  He exclaimed that when Julie found out, she would be "HORRIFIED!!"
And, she was! She even wrote about it on her blog here.
Her horror was in direct contrast to my excitement. All I could see was P‐O‐T‐E‐N‐T‐I‐A‐L. OMG'osh, this space could be FANTASTIC! The barrel vault ceiling...the multitude of windows ‐ FANTASTIC!!! I immediately knew that her Breezeway could be an amazing mudroom that will transform Julie and her family’s daily life. So, what to do when a family of four has little closet space but a multitude of every day gear that needs to be stored with ease and function while being aesthetically pleasing? AND do it on a budget??
IKEA – the land of creative (organizational) design at bargain basement prices!
A plan is in order....measure twice, road trip once... Especially when your closest IKEA is 2.5 hours away!! First, must figure out how Julie and her family would like this space to function. After a conversation on the phone, we determined that they would need space to store:
Shoes! Backpacks! Coats! Sports Equipment! (oh...the multitude of basketballs, baseballs, soccer balls!) Recycling
Some seating and...Ohhhhh...can you make it pretty, too??!?
With a budget of less than $500 and a Breezeway that measures 12’x7’, this is no easy feat...but I am confident that with creativity and a LOT of elbow grease that this space will be an amazing mudroom!
So, hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to IKEA we go – YIPPEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Meet Karen, Decorator Extraordinaire!

Last week, you heard about Julie's "Breezeway Horrors".  She's my journalist/blogger/fellow house luster friend.  (I promised I wouldn't call her journalist extraordinaire anymore...)
We are planning a series of posts as we give her breezeway/mudroom a makeover!
Today, our shared friend and decorator extraordinaire,  Karen, will lay out our plan of attack!
A true friend helps with the lookiloo...
Karen is much more sophisticated than I.  When I show up with a bandana on my head, Karen is sure to be fully coiffed.  When I say "Lookithere, at that curved ceilin",  Karen will compliment the "barrel vaulted detailing".  These things might lead you to have a misperception of Karen.
But, when I pour my beer into a wine goblet, Karen is the first to laugh.  If I only have $500 bucks for a 3000 square foot kitchen/sunroom/master spa addition, Karen is the only person who could make it happen.  When I was lifting her for the above lookiloo, she told me not to grab her @#!% which, of course, guaranteed a goosing!
So.. this should be fun!  I'll meet you for coffee right back here at 7am to share Karen's breezeway plan!
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Monday, June 20, 2011

A Treehouse For The Big Kids!

I found this amazing treehouse on Material Girls site- LOVE IT!  Click here to see more!
This could be a win/win situation- "Manly Mondays" and "Girls Friday Fun Night".  The kiddos can have the rest of the week....maybe.
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Battle of the Breezeway!

This Pottery Barn image is our inspiration!
You might remember my friend, journalist extraordinaire, Julie.  For the record, Julie has asked that I replace "journalist extraordinaire" with "journalist/blogger".  Whatever, Modest Mary.  (Click here for backstory)
Julie and I have a long history of house adventures- from our own house hunting/buying/repairing/neglecting/decorating to our shared house lusts!
I have coveted her breezeway/mudroom for years!
Oh, to have a dedicated space for shoes, backpacks, hats, mittens, and for the space to be PURDY!
Julie, being a good sport, (our sports writer husbands will enjoy this kind of talk!)  is bravely including me and our shared friend, decorator extraordinaire, Karen, on her makeover adventure!
Read Julie's version of events here:  The Breezeway Horrors
"The Battle of the Breezeway" will be a summer series of the before, during and after of the transformation!
Tomorrow- meet designer/contractor/decorator/smartypants Karen.
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Sunday, June 19, 2011

"Dear House" Father's Day Edition

Mary's father

The blueprints to their future!

Home Sweet Home!

Dear House~

            Today is a very special day……..Father’s Day.  Little do you know how significant this day is when it comes to the fact that you were created with love and are now the special place for my husband Rob and I to raise our four boys.

 There was a Professor at the University of Illinois who taught a double Masters program of Business and Architecture.  He had had a full career by also teaching at Auburn, Miami of Ohio, and worked as the city manager in Flint, Michigan.  He made the choice to return to U of I till retirement.  He was head of the department several times and was known for being an expertise instructor in his field as well as an extremely wonderful man.  The best part of all of this, is that he was my Father.

When Rob and I first started dreaming about you, we had lots of visions of what type of house we would love to build.  We pictured a modern house with tons of windows and having a big yard to have lots of friends over for cookouts.  We wanted a place for family to feel comfortable with children running around and playing. Being able to have special dinners on holidays out of a big kitchen was very important to us so we could continue all the wonderful happy traditions that I grew up with.

My Father took this all in.  He began to design, and did not design just an ordinary house that you might find in an average normal subdivision, he created a gorgeous and amazing home.  What you may not also realize, is that he ended up helping almost everyday that we built you.  He met with carpenters and electricians, he would arrive early in the morning when parts of you were delivered, and he basically kept the long process of building you alive.  Rob and I remained so busy trying to keep our new plumbing company afloat, me working part time, and being pregnant with number two. My Father took your creation on full power and literally put his heart and soul into you for almost 2 years to help us get to the point where we could move in and start calling you our home.

After about 4 years, when we were up to three children and enjoying every minute living in your walls, my Father was diagnosed with Cancer at the age of 81.  After being sick for only 4 months, he lost his battle and moved on to what we believe is even a better place.  During his final months we talked a lot about how much fun he had building you, we would go over and over all the details that he specially organized to make you just right.  We laughed so many times at all the crazy headaches of things being ordered wrong, the first wood floor that was installed that we had to rip up, the fact that all the hardware on the kitchen cabinets in your kitchen are slightly uneven at the bottom, and how he hand screwed at least a dozen screws in each step of your stairway to make sure you would never squeak.

I realized right then and there, that you were not just my fancy new house, that you were a gift.  You were an actual gift of love that my Father had given to me and my family twelve years ago.  There is never a week that goes by that I don’t talk about some detail of you to my boys and remember all the memories of how you were created.  Every year when I put up our tall Christmas tree to fill your high ceilings, I think of my Father and I feel him around me.  He has given me your spaces to fill and to continue family traditions that meant so much to him. You are a very special house, and we all love you.  We will continue to maintain you and fill you with many fun times.  Please keep protecting us and hold my Father’s spirit between your walls with care.

Love, Mary
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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happy 1 Month, Bloggy Blog!

Today is HouseTalkN's one month birthday!  I am having a total blast.  Considering that no homeowners have issued a restraining order, I would call it a successful month!
Thanks for HouseTalkN with me!  Here's to ya!
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A Little Girl's Bedroom Makeover

Where did my sweet girlies room go?

You might remember that I enlisted my "stagers" aka my daughters to help fancify my dining room table.

Well, I have unleashed the beast.

My 8 year old's room has always been lovely.  She had so many antiques that my Mister dubbed her room the "Mary Todd Lincoln Room".

She and I have always seen eye to eye on these things.  Neat and Tidy, check.  Beds made and drawers in order, check.  Desk cleared, check.  Closet color coded, check.  OCD, check!

The day after the dining room staging, she proudly led me to her room.  She had "given it a makeover", she boasted.

Shut the front door.  Back the truck up.  What the tarnation?

Trophies, a basketball hoop and baseball hats adorned her previously oh so lovely space!

We are a sporty family.  Love the sports, can't get enough sports.  We play them, watch them, argue about them and my Mister writes about them.

We DO NOT decorate with them.

When I saw the pride in her eyes, I knew I was morally obliged to "oooh" and "aaaw" at her big reveal.
Here are the before and afters:

Check out the link par-taaay at:

Weekend Bloggy Reading
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Friday, June 17, 2011

Real Estate Sampler

I mentioned before that I judge a house on it's "party potential" and this one covers all the bases!  So, BUY this house, and invite me to your House Warming Party!
Click here for info:  FOR SALE!
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My Name is Kerry and I am Neat Freak.

Yesterday, my "friend" and journalist extraordinaire, Julie, ratted me out on her blog post.  (Her payback to be blogged at a later date)
It's true.  I admit it.  I am a neat freak.  That's right.  Big, flamin' neat freak, loud and proud about it!
My friend, Audrey asked me "But HOW do you put it into practice?"  Well, now that the cat is out of the bag, here you go.  My big tip is to have a place for EVERYTHING and make it purdy.
My "Mister" loves to mix these items up and wait for my shriek!

Coffee station, aaah.

Our key catchall is in an old phone cubby.

Drop your coins here, please.

May I take a message?

Quickie numbers, art and a REAL calendar!
( Full Disclosure - We all have a place to let things slide.  Mine is my laundry table - a mound of unmatched socks awaits me now.  Too ashamed to take a picture of that. )

Link Par-taay at:
Organize with Sandy

Organize and Decorate Everything
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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Blogging Etiquette!

One of the reasons that I love Sarah at "A Beach Cottage" is her willingness to share her secrets to success.
And, in an effort to gain my mother's readership, I knew words like "etiquette" would grab her attention!
I had to share some of Sarah's tips:

"8. Get Friendly with the Blogger…Chat ‘em up Baby

OK, bottom line here, all bloggers want comments…it doesn’t matter if you have 7,000 people visiting your blog a day or 7, everyone loves a comment…it let’s them know someone is out there and reading and what they are doing is being noticed….so you’ve found your niche blogger who you’d just about die if they featured your lil’ old blog
well how about you chat up that blogger?…yeah…you leave them a comment on posts…you let them know about you…every day when 7,000 people are visiting but perhaps oh about 30 or so are commenting and your name, Sarah from Vintage Dresser keeps popping up regularly, that blogger will notice you…sure her stats will say that lots and lots are visiting but Sarah from Vintage Dresser is actually interacting here…hmmm…and then a few months later guess who pops up in her inbox, a nice little friendly email from Sarah from Vintage Dresser…oh yeah, I know that girl, I’ll open this email and see what it’s all about, might be of interest….
However, be very careful here….DO NOT try to use their blogs as your personal advertising space, their Facebook page to promote yourself repeatedly, or blast them on Twitter with you and your blog….it is very transparent, and you can spot it a mile off!  I know the ones that I have got who do that to me all the time….mostly I leave it and don’t block them, but other bloggers I have heard hit the block button pretty quickly….yeah your key blogger may well have thousands of friends or likes on Facebook and you think hmmm that’s a pretty good place to advertise my business, I’ll just keep leaving loads of comments on there…nah, not good..every now and then a new one pops up on mine leaving me a heap of comments with their brand or blog overly promoted in the name tag or in the comment…or someone, totally unknown to me will tag me in their photo of their business products…yeah..don’t do that….not cool."
Thank you, Beach Cottage
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