Lately, we’d been hearing a buzz around the customizable sofa retailer Interior Define, so we were definitely intrigued (and super excited) when they sent us a personal invite to their newest home base and Guideshop here in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago! We were welcomed to their storefront by ID founder Rob Royer and were given the freedom to ask twenty (or in our case, more like forty) questions, test the sofas, feel the fabrics and ogle over brassy legs.
Right away, their message was clear; they want to provide you with modern, timeless designs that easily fit into any decor and at a price point that most retailers wish they could match. Upon entering the store, you’re greeted by their most popular styles, and easy to follow instructions on creating your perfect sofa are displayed right on the wall. Operating as an online shop as well, each piece is made to order to your specifications, and we were shocked to learn that they can cater to your exact needs – down to the inch!
Even with your specific needs in size, fabric and choice of leg, we learned that your design decisions don’t exponentially increase the overall cost of your sofa. Rather, Interior Define works closely with their manufacturers to cut the middle man and offer you what you need within an affordable budget. At the same time and because we don’t all live in Chicago, it’s not taken lightly that a couch is still an investment, and so they firmly stand by a 365 day return policy. I asked Rob if they’ve had any returns in the 1-year-plus that they’ve been in business, and it was refreshing to hear him admit they have had only a very small return percentage. When I asked why, he again let it be known that if the customer isn’t 100% happy, they’ll gladly take it back, no questions asked. (That said, they’ve had countless ecstatic customers, which comes as no surprise.)
While Scott and I hopped from seat to seat, we talked about which styles were our favorites and how we’d customize the size, color and legs. We were torn between Owens and Rose, which couldn’t possibly be more different, and it was during this time that I suddenly realized how much I needed a chaise in my life.
We couldn’t help but notice the dissected sofa cross section, showing that every chair and sofa is built to last – coils, elastic webbing and down fill are all a standard, not an upgrade.
Fabric is draped along most walls in the showroom, ranging in more traditional shades such as gravel, pewter, putty and the like, but for the color lovers, we noticed bright reds, deep blues and yellows. If you’re purchasing online, samples are sent right to your door, but it really felt like a treat to hold a blanket-sized swatch and feel the weight of the upholstery in our hands.
And the legs! Well, you might have seen that we were all heart-eyes over that leg wall. (That’s a thing, right?) Could you even handle a graphite couch with those tapered brass legs? #ournextcouch
Interior Define is an intimate team of only a dozen brainstormers and idea makers, and Rob invited us upstairs to see where they hangout and hold fabric swatches all day. Okay, they clearly do much more than that (in fact, every order receives a personal point of contact from order to delivery!), but that’s my own dreamy interpretation of their job. (Where do I apply?)
We tricked Rob into a photo before we said our goodbyes, thanking him many times over for the tour. We left feeling inspired by the creativity and excitement that he emulated, as it’s clearly a passion project that he’s doing very, very well.
And if you’re in the Chicago area, Interior Define is celebrating their newest storefront with an Open House this weekend, October 10th and 11th! There’ll be treats from local coffee brewers and chocolatiers, but of course the highlight will be finding your next sofa. You can find all the details of their celebration, including location and event schedule, right here.
But! The best part of our shop tour is being able to spread the love to you, too, and so together with Interior Define, we’ll be giving away a $500 online credit to shop for your favorite sofa!
• Visit Interior Define + join their email list for news and special offers
• Choose the Interior Define product you love the most
• Leave a comment on this post with a link to your favorite!
The giveaway is open to US readers only, and the $500 credit must be used in a single transaction toward their purchase before 12/31/15. The entrant must register their email address and the giveaway ends on Thursday, October 15th at 5pm CST. The winner will be announced within this post and contacted directly. Good luck and happy entering!
This post is in partnership with Interior Define. They are truly an amazing team and their spirit really shines through in their service. As always, thank you for supporting those that support us!
Do you feel like we’re always talking about dog food stations? You should, because we are!
After making Jack his personal set-up, we introduced Chunk to the family, and so we made a larger one, as any sane pet owner would do (right?). But when we recently added our sliding patio door to the kitchen, we no longer had the space for a straight-across, 3-bowl station, as was the original plan. This was actually quite the situation around our home, as we debated between two sizes of door – 5′ or 6′? The 5′ would allow for our pups to chow down at the station they had grown to love, because there would be enough wall space to the right of the door. The 6′, on the other hand, would eliminate too much of the wall, and we’d need to get creative with something new. Now, I’ll admit that it is absolutely batty to base the size of a doorway around the comfort of your dogs’ dining situation, but when you’re 8 months deep into a kitchen renovation, all reason starts to fly out the window (or should I say, door?).
Scott, sensible man that he is, insisted that we move forward with the 6′ door and encouraged us to think outside the box. He promised me that the dogs could still get Their Space in the new kitchen with, hmm, a corner station? And so the DIY corner station was born, taking up nothing more than the small wedge of space next to our 6′ door efficiently and effectively. As it turns out, all that worry was for nothing, as is typically the case. It’s super strong and works like a charm!
SUPPLIES USED FOR UP TO 2’/SIDE STATION
2 – 1″ plywood project panels (2′ x 2’/each)
5-6 – 1 1/2″ x 5/8″ corner braces
Wall touch up paint
Oil based paint or exterior grade paint
Pencil + ruler
Bowl or protractor
Paint brush or small roller
Drill with 1/2″ hole saw bit
Sander / fine grit sandpaper
WHAT WE DID. The night before we started, we used construction adhesive to glue the two plywood project panels together. We wanted the edges to look extra thick and slightly modern, and we found this to be the most cost effective way to do so. We clamped them together overnight, although stacks of heavy books would also do the trick!
The next day, I measured and drew the layout of the station. In our case, each side would be 17″, (although the project panels would allow anything up to 24″), and we wanted the slimmest depth possible, coming in at 8″. I found that one of our bowls would ensure a snug fit for our dog dishes, and I evenly spaced out three circles – a dish for each pups’ food and one for water.
Scott first used a circular saw to cut out the L-shape of the station and then removed the plywood where the bowls would sit using a jigsaw. A 1/2″ hole saw bit allowed the jigsaw a place to start, and then he carefully circled the cuts:
The fresh cuts received a sanding, and then he spackled the exposed edges so they would look and feel as clean as possible. Everything was sanded once more before I moved on to paint!
The original intent was to paint the plywood with a high gloss oil based paint (as seen in the supplies photo above), but the first coat just would not dry due to a humid, rainy day. Not having the patience to wait overnight between coats, I caved and pulled out the same exterior grade white paint we used on our front porch, Valspar Aspire. It has held up through snowy winters and a rainy spring, so we were confident it’d do just fine against doggy dribbles! (The verdict one month later? So far, so good!)
While that dried, we got to work installing the corner braces to the wall. Each brace got one 30 lb. anchor (overkill, for sure!) and a drywall screw. The braces are 1 1/2″ tall, so the finished station covered them completely. However, for extra credit, you could always paint them the same color as the wall so any variations in the drywall would leave them imperceptible.
Underneath the station, we used one drywall screw per side to keep it from shifting around. Should we need to remove it completely to clean the wall, it would be little work to do so.
With the exception of the plywood panels and corner braces, we had most of the supplies on hand – paint, adhesive, anchors and spackle – making this a $25 project for us. Should you need to buy everything, you could spend upwards of $60 on the supplies, but of course a lot of those items (again, paint, adhesive, anchors and spackle) would get used for other projects down the line, too.
The dogs could care less, but we like to think this makes them extra happy (it does for us!)! Just as most couples have their favorite side of the bed, Jack and CC have always kept to their side of the food station. If that wasn’t adorable enough, they’ve always been sweet about taking their turns with the water bowl.
Now, let’s all cross our fingers that this will be the last time we need to discuss DIY food stations, am I right?
See how we DIYed food station one here and food station two right here!
A large part of our early dating days were dominated by curious conversations; we’d daydream about where we might live one day, what cities we wanted to explore together and how many pets is too many pets? We’re still figuring out the answer to that last one, but one thing we knew for sure was that we wanted to take road trips together, city hop and have little to no agenda. The ‘no agenda’ part of the equation isn’t always possible, but as we’ve found a way to force our wanderlust tendencies into reality, we’ve worked out and reined in unwelcome kinks on our road-tripping adventures – from the California Coast to the Pacific Northwest, and most recently, our cross country drive down Route 66.
When we hunkered down and became serious about nailing down the dates of our Route 66 trip, we had a difficult time finding any information on the best way to do so. Do we rent a car one way? Do we drive our car both ways? Do we buy a used car and sell it when we get to Los Angeles? As we began planning, it became clear that there was no right or wrong answer, but as we stumbled upon 66 forums and travel diaries, the logistics of making this 2,500+ mile trip felt confusing and, to be honest, somewhat dated. Because we wished we could have found a more helpful resource, we wanted to share how we got from Point A to Point B, in the hopes that it would encourage or inspire at least one person to embark on a similar journey! We came home exhausted, yes, but also recharged and brimming with ideas (maybe too much so? I’m exhausted all over again!). In any case, getting outside of our comfort zone is always energizing, and this trip reminded us of that.
SCHEDULING. Between our collective work schedules, we knew that there was only a two week window – max! – in which to make this work. With those weeks sandwiched between weekends and choosing to begin over Labor Day ensured that Scott would only need to request 9 days off of work, but it would still allow us a full 16 days of adventure! We printed a September calendar and began penciling in which days we’d hope to be in which city, and we simply Googled the drive times between each to make sure it was feasible. We overestimated the time frames as we’d be nixing main highways as much as possible, and we knew that to see everything we wanted, we’d need to drive one way and fly back in the end.
MONEY SAVERS. We realized that by signing up with AAA, we’d be able to save hundreds of dollars on a one-way cross country car rental. Although the car was still the largest expense, we enjoyed ‘Skeeter’ (lovingly dubbed by Scott), our little Mazda 2. In some cases, mentioning AAA while checking into hotels lowered nightly rates, and by the end of the trip, our membership paid for itself ten-fold (twenty-fold, maybe?). We didn’t pre-book our hotels (with the exception of The Saguaro in Palm Springs), but if you’re comfortable enough to wing it, we also found great rates by comparison shopping between these money saving apps as we arrived in each new city: Hotel Tonight, and of course, Priceline and Trip Advisor.
PACKING. When it came time to pack, we had to remind ourselves that we’d be flying back home – and no one hates checking a bag more than we do. (The wait! The crushed souvenirs! The exploding shampoo!) We each had one small carry-on suitcase and a backpack each – our Bellbrook bag for Scott and our tiny Baggu for me. We’ve already had friends and readers reach out with questions on our packing priorities (which is simultaneously funny and sweet), so for those interested, here’s what we did:
- While the Bellbrook contained our camera gear and laptop, the Baggu held our smaller items: car phone chargers, headphones (for the flight home), a mobile hotspot, an e-reader and travel sized toiletries.
- We knew we’d only need 2 weeks worth of toothpaste, hair goos and the like, and so we spent less than $10 on travel-sized products that we’d be able to toss before boarding the plane.
- We didn’t pack fancy. Aside from one tank dress and pair of heels (for good measure; I can’t speak for Scott, you know?), we stuck to tees, a single pair of jeans and a couple of shorts. Because we stayed with my cousin in Oklahoma City, we washed one small load less than a week in, but all in all, we had 10 days worth of clothes. Some items didn’t get worn at all!
- We filled one grocery-sized bag with road snacks, knowing that whatever didn’t get consumed could stay with our friend, Kalli, in Los Angeles. Of course we packed wine for me and gin for Scott, so we could always end our day with a night cap!
- If during our adventure we found something that needed to come home with us, we promised each other that – unless it was, say, a marble table or something equally large and heavy (which, of course, happened too many times to count) – we would buy it. We did end up with a handful of vintage books, bags of coffee and a new throw blanket, but we stuffed it all in a shipping box on our last day in LA, and we mailed it home.
STAYING (LITERALLY) ON TRACK. Route 66 was replaced in some areas by main thoroughfares, but often times, a frontage road would run parallel. The route winds in and out of towns – large and small – between Chicago and Los Angeles, and in most cases, these roads are unmarked. To make sure we stayed on track, we downloaded the Road Trip 66 app, and we could not have done the trip without it! While there are some improvements that could be made to the app itself, as long as you stayed on the red line, you were on 66. There have been a handful of alignments to the route over the last several decades, but every option was given while also marking roadside attractions along the way:
We also picked up the EZ66 Guide For Travelers, which while being extremely thorough, was an amusing read! The author of the book is clearly passionate about Route 66, and in reading the page-by-page play-by-play, you could really get a feel for his personality. At one point, he went so far as to give out his home’s cross streets in Oklahoma. In his words: I work at home, so visitors are welcome anytime! This is followed by his cell phone number, which is so endearing, I almost can’t even. Although there was a bit of a learning curve to the book, once we got the hang of it, it made a great companion to the Road Trip 66 app.
ENTERTAINMENT. We logged almost 60 hours of car time, between stopping on a whim, driving late into the evenings and making sure we stayed on the most scenic of paths. Although we spent a surprising amount of time riding in silence and taking in the sights, we did make sure to load up on entertainment for all the in-betweens. For fun, we packed up a handful of our old unmarked college-day CDs and laughed as we listened to the music that had us cringing, laughing or saying, oh, man, this brings me BACK! In addition, we downloaded hours of podcasts, with some favorites being: WTF with Marc Maron, Girl on Guy, Here’s the Thing, Mortified and of course, The Lively Show by our dear friend Jess (miss you, girl!).
THE RULES… OR LACK OF RULES, REALLY. If one of us wanted to stop – whether it was to snap a photo, stretch our legs or grab a bite, we stopped. The whole idea behind this trip was to see and explore things we wouldn’t normally see or explore, and so, at some points, we’d be stopping every 30 minutes! Did this set us back at times? Absolutely! Was it worth it? Absolutely.
BY THE NUMBERS. Here’s how it all shook out:
• Miles driven = 2,767
• Days traveled = 16
• # of states visited = 8
• Gallons of gas = 90
• Average cost of gas/gallon = $2.69
• Shortest stretch in the car = 3 hours (Tulsa to OKC)
• Longest stretch in the car = 10 hours (OKC to Santa Fe!)
• Photos taken = 1,350
• Coffees consumed = 2/day x 2 of us x 16 days = 64 (ouch)
• # of signs with our pets’ initials = 3 (CC + J + M)
• # of times we cheated and hopped on the highway =
2, er, 3 (Hunger was typically to blame.)
Once again, thank you for all of your suggestions along the way. We ate well, we saw beautiful things, and we had our fill of boozy goodness, and we owe some of our favorite stops to you. We sincerely hope you enjoyed following along (we loved having you!), and we encourage you to chime in with any of your own travel tips, too!
PS… See part I, part II and part III of our Route 66 journey!
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