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Last month, I had the opportunity to head back to one of my favorite cities: Chicago!
You guys might remember that last fall, I was there for a concert and to visit some friends. Basically, going just to go. And it was gorgeous, especially seeing all the leaves change (seriously, if you missed that post, go check out how pretty it looks in the fall). Since I was born just a few hours away and still have family in Wisconsin, I’ve been to Chicago a number of times. But this time, things went a little differently: Delta® Faucet flew me up for a Day of Inspired Design, including a guided tour of the city and a private walkthrough of their new Delta showroom (well, me and a few new blog pals — so awesome to meet these talented folks!).
(left to right) Lauren from Bless’er House / Dabito from Old Brand New / Chelsea from Making Home Base/ Kris from Driven by Decor / Reichel from Copy Cat Chic /Julie from Julie Blanner / Me! / Jennifer & Kate from She She / John & Sherry from Young House Love /Kim & Scott from Yellow Brick Home / Jocelyn from Grandbaby Cakes / Kirsten from Simply Grove
Even though it was just an in and out trip for me (I still had dirt under my fingernails from planting hydrangeas as I boarded my flight, ha!), I am really glad I went. As many times as I’ve seen this wonderful city, I still don’t feel like I’ve seen it all. And to my surprise, the tour we went on was totally different than the sights I saw just a few months ago.
We went down by the water line, learned more interesting details about the city’s history (thanks to our very knowledgeable tour guide), and visited some really cool interiors (somehow, May was colder and windier than November??? What’s that about?).
Our day started at the LondonHouse Chicago. It was a little rainy and the wind caused a chill, but I luckily brought my winter coat (I swear I didn’t think I’d need it in May and was almost pissed at myself for stuffing my carry-on bag too much, but I am SO glad I lugged it with!). Even though it was cold, the rooftop’s decor was too good to miss.
Next, we hopped on a trolley and headed over to the new Delta showroom.
I don’t like getting up early, so I made a beeline for the coffee and breakfast while we got the lowdown about how much work goes into planning each of the beautiful Delta Faucet lines. I was seriously impressed at the level of detail; they take lots of inspiration from historical pictures and their own travel experiences (they take trips several times a year JUST to stay inspired as part of their job, how cool is that?*).
*I realized as I typed that sentence that I’m pretty much doing that with this trip to Chicago. My job is cool too (though maybe not as cool as theirs… if I find my way to Morocco at some point, I’ll let you know).
There was also a presentation by my pals John and Sherry (aka, the Young House Love superstars). I love it when I get to cross paths with blog friends when I travel! To be honest, it is really fun to admire these folks for their amazing work and to also call them friends (and darn it…my photo I took of their presentation somehow got ruined!). They are just as bubbly and personable as you’d imagine them to be, and they really put a lot of thought into the work they do (even as they claim that sometimes, they don’t quite know at the time how influential something as simple as water really does make an impact on how they redesign a room). But they were right; how we use water in our homes has a huge influence on design!
The creators of She She, a hand-painted wallpaper company, also gave us a presentation on how they got started and where they find inspiration. I hadn’t heard of them before this trip, but you should really check them out on Instagram. They are, like, a million times cooler than I could ever even pretend to be. Them:
I’d love to use their work in an upcoming secret project I’m planning (it’s still in the I’m-too-afraid-to-speak-its-name-until-I’m-literally-doing-it phase, so expect the next update on that in like a year). Time will tell on if we will have the ability to work together someday, but they definitely have a new fan!
Afterward, we walked around the showroom and started basically photographing everything. Trust me: if you go on tours with bloggers, it’s going to take twice as long to get somewhere. It was kind of the running joke that we would look over our shoulders with a knowing self-consciousness for taking so many pictures, being in the way (like we do when we’re out with friends… the awkward posing and staging and on and on), and then each of us going, nah, we get it. Take five photos of that faucet handle. We’ll wait.
Then, we loaded back into the trolley and hit up a few historical sites, like the Chicago Cultural Center. Swoon.
One of the things that I notice about older buildings is how people never forgot to decorate “the fifth wall” — the beautiful, detailed ceilings kept stealing my attention again and again. And the way the tile work glinted off the walls was like a jewelry box.
And more beautiful ceilings!
Interiors weren’t the only thing we were getting inspiration from, though. Chicago is known to have one of the best skylines because it sits so close to the water.
That shade of blue, tho ????…
Like I said… we took a lot of photos.
Next up: lunch! We went to Ēma where I got to meet the talented and (kinda) famous head chef (who also got super animated with his hand gestures and accidentally knocked over a glass while talking, which was just too funny and charming). The decor was so, so pretty… and again, the ceilings were crazy gorgeous!
We also made them make us get us extra plates of food… it was just all so good (Mediterranean small plates, YUM!).
After lunch and a few more fun experiences around the city, it was moodboard competition time.
Probably the funniest thing about this assignment is that I felt so lost. As most of you guys know, I have a general plan in mind when it comes to room design, but I also like the way it kind of organically comes together over time, and as I’m in the room I’m working on. I was the odd duck (pun intended?) on this competition, because all of the other bloggers in the room really came prepared. Everyone around me was a flourish of activity, whipping out fabric swatches (it never occurred to me to bring things from home), adding paint and other pretty labels, while mine…
Well, yeah. The gist of the rules was that we needed to use the photos we took while touring Chicago, print them out on our nifty little photo printers (that we got to take home = very cool), and use at least one sample of SheShe wallpapers in our design inspiration. And since the printer was made to use in tandem with my phone, I was limited to the photos I took with it (since I took lots of the pretty ones you see here with my DSLR). I basically went with the things I know I love: watery blues, black and white, modern lines, and just had fun cutting out shapes and finding common features from my pictures.
I promise, my bathroom will probably look nothing like my moodboard (except that Zura tub and shower trim… I can’t wait to have that in my bathroom!) , but failing this hard was still fun! I also took a brief video after we were done.
Even though days like these can be a blast, they can also really zap my energy by the end, so I was happy to get some down time before dinner.
And speaking of dinner…
Dinner at Soho House was a wonderful time. The winner of the moodboard contest was announced (it was a tie between Dabito from Old Brand New and Kim & Scott from Yellow Brick Home), and we once again had lots of delicious food.
Before long though, it was time to go back to the hotel and get ready for my flight back home. Thanks to Delta® Faucet (and Chicago) for such a good trip! Delta‘s involvement (not to mention, deadlines) has given me the push I needed to finally turn it into the bathroom I always pictured it could be. More on this DIY series is comin’ at ya next week!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Delta Brand. The opinions and text are all mine.