An occasionally updated chronicle of estate sales in the city and suburbs of Chicago.

"It's such a guilty pleasure..." Lynne Stiefel, Pioneer Press

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Melrose Park Chinese Garden, Part 1

This was the home of a woman who loved flowers. All kinds. The mysteries of the Orient. Pink and aqua, purple and yellow. Things with a bit of flash and pizazz. Or a lot.

This was the home of a woman who didn't believe in dialing things back.

Here's the kitchen. The appliances -- a cooktop and separate wall oven from the '50s or '60s -- were pink. The refrigerator was newer, but I'm willing to bet the original was also pink. On sunny mornings, I'm sure this room glowed.

This chair was in the kitchen, too. I don't think it lived there, but had been brought up from the basement for the sale.

Speaking of the basement, let's take a look.

The house was a split level. This is the first lower floor, and it held quite a few treasures.

I wish I had space for this, and a spare $250. It was in great shape and worth every penny.

This exuberant duo sat right across from the buffet. There's something very current about them right now. In the proper setting, they could be focal points and conversation starters.

Especially when paired with the matching lamp.

This is when the flowers caught my eye.

There were a lot of them. And all priced to move at $1.00.

I found this on one of the tables nearby. I can't decide if it's ugly, offensive, or both. The back said "Bowen Coolie (c)1963." The company is still around, and has since graduated to comic-book character figurines.

A second set of stairs led to the basement.

There was plenty of room down here, and a couple interesting finds. I found a good-sized wet bar at the far left end, with several stacks of books around it. Among them, Female Sexual Slavery by Kathleen Barry. Books tell a lot about the person who owned them. This one said quite a bit.

Also on the left, just behind the bar, was a second kitchen. It was the second home I'd seen with one today.

View #1. It had everything but a dishwasher.

View #2. Not in great shape, but not because it was used a lot. As a matter of fact, I was getting the impression the former owner wasn't much of a cook at all.

This looks like something you'd see on the set of a community theater production of Sweeney Todd, but had once been a pretty sharp wall oven. What's the deal with the second, downstairs kitchen? All I can guess is that people used to entertain a lot in their homes -- that would explain all the wet bars in homes built in the '50s and '60s -- and the second kitchen downstairs made those swank dinner and cocktail parties easier to host.

On to the second floor in part 2.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Melrose Park Bungalow with In-Law

There wasn't much left at this place when we arrived, but that didn't stop the guy who was running the sale from complaining about how badly things were going.

This bedroom was kind of sad. It had a very distinct, lived-in odor.

It emanated from here.

These were at the foot of the bed, and must be the world's most beautiful clothes hangers.

This glass-topped table was pretty cool, but would have been more tempting if the chairs hadn't been so worn and sagging.

This seemed an odd place to install an air conditioner, but I imagine it made washing dishes on a hot Summer day so much more refreshing.

The stairs to the basement were just to the left.

The basement had been converted into what Chicagoans call an "in-law" -- a separate, usually below-code apartment.

The kitchenette was pretty shabby, but it held a couple interesting finds.

For some reason, this struck me as a charming tableau.

This strange appliance was located across from the sink. It was in surprisingly good shape for its age.

Basically, it's a portable oven. Or fire-starter, depending on how well the electrical components have held up over the past 50 years. I wasn't interested in running the experiment. But it's nice that they kept the owner's manual with it, and the cover illustration certainly makes it look like a joy to use. It could be yours for $25.

Park Ridge Haunted House

A malevolent force assaulted me on the front stairs: an old, stale, dirty, musty smell. Something evil awaited.

Inside, trash and junk were strewn everywhere.

The kitchen looked as if a poltergeist had torn through the room.

Follow the musty smell down into the old, dark basement...

The sense of evil was strong down here.

Strange things appeared around every corner.

Ghostly forms floated through the room. I ran.

There's a creepy second floor? Let's explore it together. Hold my hand.

The upstairs was maze-like, filled with little rooms, with little nooks and crannies.

And all of them filled with junk.

I heard voices.

A woman crying.

What's that next to the old TV? A sign of some sort?

Why isn't this out front?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Lincolnwood Dream Home

The decor wasn't my taste, but everything else about this '60s Lincolnwood split-level made me fall in love.

Hey there, living room. I'm not really the type to rush things. But what do you say we ditch those stuffy Italianate reproductions and heavy drapes? I think we were made for each other.

Let's go down to the rumpus room and relax. We could watch a movie -- or two -- or just spend hours gazing at one another beneath the recessed lights.

Don't go anywhere. I'll put some Burt Bacharach records on the hi-fi and be right back.

Why don't I mix us a couple drinks while you slip into something more comfortable, like fresh barware and some cute Room & Board barstools?

Let's go upstairs to the bedroom, and get you out of those lamps and curtains. Shhh. I know it's been a long time. But I'll be good to you.

I want to wake up with you in the morning. We could take a shower together. I'd really like that.

What a coincidence. I love John Travolta, Donny Osmond, Robert Redford and Carol Burnett, too. See, I told you we belonged together.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Minnetonka Multi-Level

It was almost as if the house had been built with its back turned. Someone just passing by would have seen a two-car garage atop a small hill and not much else.

Even at the entryway, there was almost no hint of what was inside.

This room was just to the right. All I could learn about the former owners is that they'd raised a large family here, and that the father had been a general contractor. His work would certainly explain that line-up of woodworking tools. As well as a lot of other things I'd soon discover.

Up a few stairs on the left was the first of many bedrooms. It had a linoleum floor, which seemed odd, and its own bathroom with double sinks, which seemed extravagant. I haven't seen mirrored tiles like that since I was a kid. They kind of match the sinks.

I climbed the entryway stairs and saw this really cool lighting fixture. The picture doesn't do it justice. Each one of those trios of stylized exclamation points was a different color.

The stairs opened up onto a formal living room and dining area. It was much larger than it appears in the photo. Also brighter.

Here's the living room from the vantage point of the windows. I'm no fan of wallpaper, but this -- little country carriage scenes repeated infinitely across that great expanse -- kind of took my breath away. And those are wooden planters lining the floor of the walkway. You don't see those in homes this age any more. The new owners almost always tear them out. It's a pity, but keeping them does demand a certain amount of houseplants and the skill to keep them alive. Otherwise, all you've got are boxes of dirt.

The whole house was full of terrific details, like this custom-made radiator cover. Note the carpeting at the bottom that continues along the wall. That'll come up again.

These intercom/radios were in just about every room, providing push-button convenience to every member of the family. Also, possibly opportunities to spy.

Pink bathrooms must have really been popular once upon a time. (I happen to be the not-so proud owner of one myself.) This is a particularly fine example, shown with matching towel and Kleenex box.

In the future, all bathrooms will be equipped with exhaust fans, sun lamps, heat lamps, steam baths and dangerous numbers of electrical switches.

Remember that carpet running along the bottom of the radiator cover? It also ran along the bottoms of all the walls and doors. When the door was shut, it had a seamless look. Talk about attention to detail.

This is the lamp that hung above the dining area. I would have yanked it out of the ceiling and taken it with me if I'd been able to.

Right next door was the kitchen, and one of the home's best surprises.

That Radar Range®-looking thing at the top is actually command central for all the intercom/radios. Mom could call everyone to breakfast, lunch and dinner without having to leave the kitchen. Ever. She could spend all day there, cooking away. Except for those times when she was cleaning.

Just below the control panel was a built-in, fold-down turntable. Put on a record, and you could pump music throughout the house. (Storage for LPs was hidden in the lower one.) Wow. This whole place was beyond Brady.

Past the kitchen was an addition which must have served as another family-type room. It also had some great details.

I'm a sucker for a wet bar, and this room had one. Note the mini-fridge on the left, which saved you the trouble of walking an extra 10-15 steps into the kitchen.

Up above was this custom-made light fixture, with two different colors of Plexiglas. It's a pity it wasn't working, because I bet it would have looked great.

In the end, it didn't surprise me that the owner of this home had been a contractor. Judging from this house, I bet he was good at his job. It was evident he'd given a lot of thought to every room, putting everything he knew about building into creating a home that would make his family happy and comfortable. I think he wanted them to have best. I think they got it.
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