Grand Opening: von Z

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Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood will be welcoming a new gem at the end of this month – the delightfully chic von Z boutique. Brought to you by the talented designer behind Cotton Candy Couture, Jenna Zielbauer, and her husband Patrick Zielbauer, von Z will be supplying Chicagoans with highly sought after apparel, accessory, shoe and home labels. Need a sweet treat or a stylist consultation? Don’t worry they’ve got you covered.

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The grand opening is slated for June 27th and will feature a full day of celebratory surprises. RSVP to join the fun! Ali’s Collection will be doing a special trunk show at von Z for the opening. We look forward to seeing you there. To learn more about von Z, including the story behind the name, check out the website.

Want to learn more about Jenna? Check out our Behind the Scenes interview with her here.

Photos compliments of von Z.

Home Renovation Update: The Garage


Rome wasn’t built in a day, but our garage was (well, sort of). It certainly was impressive how quickly the frame and roof went up (within 10 hours!), but there are many other things you have to do before that can happen. Here are the steps we followed and what we learned along the way.

1. Research – There are many companies who just build garages in Chicagoland and I assume elsewhere as well. I believe in the merits of specialization, so I decided to explore this route first instead of adding it to the to-do list for our home contractors. I narrowed it down to three companies: Danley’s, Regency Garage and Chicagoland Garage Builders. All three were very knowledgeable and the quotes were within $400 of each other. We ended up going with Danley’s because they have the most experience, having built over 200,000 garages, but all three companies seemed like they would have been a solid choice.

2. Price – Since the garage market is very competitive, the prices ended up being much lower than I expected and all of the quotes came in between $7,100 and $7,500 for a basic two-car garage with a little extra room at the end for storage. These quotes only included the frame, vinyl siding, an electric door opener and basic electrical, a window, a side access door with lock and dead bolt, the permit and a hip roof (which is supposedly the most sturdy and cost-effective type of garage roof.) Our garage was already demoed so I’m sure there would have been additional charges for that as well. A new concrete slab and apron (the concrete segment that’s in front of the garage) will run you an additional $3,600 – $4,000 including demo. We went with basic white, but other color choices could result in extra fees. The side door was primed, but not painted so you should budget a little extra for painting as well.

3. Permits and reusing the slab – Permits for garages are usually processed pretty quickly, but our situation was a bit unique because we wanted to reuse our concrete slab. While the garage building companies all agreed that they could build on our slab, the city engineer didn’t approve it and the review of our slab added another week to the permit process. Danley’s handled the entire permit process for us.

4. Concrete slab – Ace5 Construction was contracted to complete the concrete slab and apron by Danley’s and they did a great job. The demo and pouring of the concrete takes about two days and then they have to let the concrete sit for about a week before building the frame. Evanston requires footings as well, so make sure that your contractor is aware of any special city code requirements.

5. The frame – They built the actual garage in one day. It’s really amazing how fast and efficient they were! The shingles and vinyl have a 25 year warranty and the labor is under warranty for 2 years as well.

6. Electrical – We are still waiting to have the electrical installed because we don’t have electricity running to the house at the moment, but it should be a quick afternoon job for this as well.

It is realistic to have a new garage complete within a month of starting the process and we owe a big thanks to Danley’s for making the experience as painless as possible.

You can find all of our home renovation posts here.

Home Remodel: Front Fence Before & After





As we await our permits for the inside remodel, we have started to spruce up the front yard a bit. While we still have quite a few things left to do (new concrete, treat and plant more grass, adjust some landscaping), it’s amazing what a difference new paint and some trimming can make! And a few more afters…..

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What we learned:

Fences are ridiculously expensive! It would have cost us nearly $4,500 to replace our front wood fence with a vinyl (no upkeep) fence. Our contractor was able to repair and paint the existing fence for about a fourth of that price.

We used a new type of outdoor paint for wood and concrete by Behr that’s available at Home Depot (about $150 for 5 gallons – the color is wood chip).  If you are replacing pieces of a wood fence you can’t use stain because the new wood pieces will still look dramatically different from the old pieces. Also, if the wood isn’t in perfect condition, white paint will call out the chips and nicks more than a darker opaque paint like the one we used. The only drawback we have noticed so far, is that the darker paint shows bird poop. We will probably have to repaint the fence every three to four years.

If you are looking for a lower maintenance wood option you might want to consider Copperwood. It’s a treated wood that is resistant to rot and termites for up to 25 years. While it seems like a great option from a maintenance and cost perspective, we didn’t love the color progression. It starts out with a greenish tinge and then changes to a copper tone and finally a gray. While it may last a long time it still looks worn after a few years. Still, many like the weathered look.

You can read more about our home remodel here.

Next up: The garage!

Local Designer Trunk Show

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We hope you can join Things to Cherish at this trunk show, featuring local designers and benefiting Girls on the Run. Another great reason to come? Wine will be served! Don’t forget to RSVP!

To get a behind the scenes look at Pyar & Co., check out our past interview with Paula Queen!