Chicago Archives – A Little Leopard
Chicago Archives – A Little Leopard

Chicago Archives – A Little Leopard

Chicago may be known for hot dogs, deep dish pizza and wind, but it’s actually a design lover’s paradise, too. From storied architecture (thanks, Mies van der Rohe!) to the massive Merchandise Mart, Chicago’s history is rich with good design. And it carries over to today — so whether you’re furnishing your first place in Lincoln Park or your dream home in Bucktown, here are five of the best Chicago home decor stores to hit up.


Think custom furniture is out of your price range? Think again. Megmade offers an incredible selection of vintage, refinished furniture, all right here in Chicago and all affordably. No, it’s not IKEA prices, but most pieces will run you less than $1000 — not a bad deal for something completely unique. Plus, you’ve probably seen some of her pieces in your favorite bloggers’ home tours, too! (Hint: there’s one right this way.)

Image: Wildly Spun

Gather Home & Lifestyle

Um, confession: I haven’t actually been here yet, but I totally 100% want to move in anyway. Lately, I have had the urge to completely revamp my own apartment and decor style. The neutral, bohemian, slightly-Scandinavian vibes of Gather Home & Lifestyle are pretty much exactly what I’m going for. Plus, it’s right smack in one of my favorite neighborhoods, Wicker Park. Check out A Gather Guide to Chicago for even more cool spots.

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago

Okay, Renegade Craft Fair isn’t technically a shop…but it is a fabulous way to spend your weekend and bursting with cool stuff to buy for your house, yourself and more. Bonus: there is a Renegade Summer Pop-Up happening this weekend! It’s June 25 + 26 at The Hideout. Bonus bonus: A Little Leopard favorite Katie Dean Jewelry will be there! (I will too, but that’s probably less of a bonus.)

Image: Time Out Chicago

The Brown Elephant (Lakeview)

The Brown Elephant is a thrift/resale store with multiple locations, but the Lakeview one is absolutely gorgeous. Like most thrift stores, there’s an element of “the thrill of the hunt” — you can find some genuine luxury goods here if you’re lucky! Or, if you’re me, you might just find a copy of one of Nora Ephron’s bookswith a handwritten note from the previous owner on the inside cover. They also accept donations (I’ve dropped off here before after a good Marie Kondo session) and all proceeds benefit The Howard Brown Health Center, which benefits the LGBTQ community in Chicago. All the more reason to head over there now, right? It’s perfect for Pride Month and you can feel good about shopping!

Image: Emily Henderson

Jayson Home

Finally, no list of the best Chicago home decor stores would be complete without Jayson Home. Yes, the furniture is on the higher end of the price spectrum…to say the least. But some of their accessories aren’t terrible, and there are definitely deals to be had at their Annual Warehouse Sale. Keep an eye out this fall!

What did I miss? I’m always looking for cool new Chicago home decor stores, so please leave your recommendations in the comments!

Is a Windy City visit in your future (Lollapalooza next month, maybe)? And are you the type of person who insists on staying only in the hippest of the hip hotels when you travel? Chicago may not have an Ace Hotel yet, but never fear. I’ve got you covered with these five cool Chicago hotels.

Image: Curbed Chicago

The Freehand

The Freehand is a combination hotel/hostel with both private and shared rooms, and it’s quite possibly the coolest hostel you’ll ever see. Located in the buzzy River North neighborhood, it has the added benefit of being home to one of my favorite bars in the city, The Broken Shaker. Grab coffee and breakfast from Cafe Integral in the lobby on your way out to explore the city.


ACME Hotel Company

Literally next door to the Freehand is the ACME Hotel Company, with another of my favorite bars, the Berkshire Room. You don’t need to be staying here to go downstairs and order a “Dealer’s Choice” for one of the best drinks you’ll ever have. But if you do stay here, expect trendy digs with high-tech amenities like free hotspots and fast wifi.


Chicago Athletic Association

A relative newcomer to the Chicago hotel scene, the Chicago Athletic Association is in a historic building overlooking Millennium Park. The rooms are a funky throwback with nods to the building’s history, but what really makes this place hip is the food and beverage program. There’s a Shake Shack downstairs, Cindy’s rooftop upstairs, and a couple of dining and drinking outlets from Land and Sea Dept. and master mixologist Paul McGee in between.

Soho House Chicago

Staying at Soho House is one of the few ways to swing access to all their amenities as a non-member…like the killer rooftop pool. Between that and the hip West Loop locale steps from some of Chicago’s hottest restaurants, what more do you need? Well, if you do need more, Soho House has it, from posh rooms to fabulous dining and a gym complete with boxing ring. The downstairs restaurants and spa are open to the public — The Allis is fabulous for both daytime coffee + tea and nighttime drinks while waiting for your table at Au Cheval. Try the avocado toast!

(Seriously….anyone out there want to sponsor my membership application? $1000 a year seems worth it for the rooftop pool alone, no?)

Image: Kinfolk

Longman & Eagle

Did you know this Logan Square hot spot restaurant and whiskey bar is also a tiny bed and breakfast? Well, now you do. Longman & Eagle is the perfect home base for exploring Chicago’s most hipster neighborhoods, like Logan Square itself and nearby Bucktown and Wicker Park. Heck, if it’s in Kinfolk, you know it’s hip.

Chicago is a great coffee city. Sure, Portland and Seattle might be more obvious about it, but we’ve got no shortage of places to get your caffeine fix. Of course, there’s the ubiquitous Starbucks on every block,  but if you’re craving something a little better, here are five of the best Chicago coffee shops.

Heritage Bicycles General Store + Heritage Outpost

Image: Warby Parker

I’ve written about my love of Heritage before, but here’s the gist: Stumptown brews, Southport grocery food, homemade lavender syrup year-round and a patio complete with airstream trailer. Oh, and bikes. Yes, it’s hipster heaven in Lakeview, but that’s exactly why I love it. Heritage has a second, coffee-only location in Uptown, with two more planned (a Fulton Market spot and one more in Uptown).

Heritage Bicycles General Store is located at 2959 N Lincoln Ave. in Lakeview; Heritage Outpost is located at 1325 W Wilson Ave. in Uptown

Dark Matter Coffee: The Mothership, Star Lounge + Osmium Coffee Bar

Image: Daily Coffee News

I enjoy a really, really good brewed coffee (via Chemex, French press or other means), but sometimes, you just want a latte. And the best latte I’ve ever tasted in probably my entire life belongs to Dark Matter Coffee and their agave latte. I’m not normally one for chocolate-coffee drinks, but the combination of agave, chocolate and cinnamon is pure caffeinated magic. I’m a fan of Osmium Coffee Bar, just past the Belmont red line, for sheer convenience, but hope to wander out to the Humboldt Park Mothership and Star Lounge locations one of these days.

Dark Matter Coffee is located at 738 N Western Ave. in Humboldt Park; Star Lounge Coffee Bar is located at 2521 W Chicago Ave. in Humboldt Park; Osmium Coffee Bar is located at 1117 W Belmont Ave. in Lakeview 

Bow Truss Coffee Roasters

Image: DNAinfo

There is a very well known local Chicago coffee shop practically outside my door, but I prefer to walk a few blocks south to the original Bow Truss location and roastery. (Is that the right word for the place where coffee beans are roasted…?) The people are nicer, the coffee is better and they’re a truly local shop. If you’re not a coffee fan, the chai there is absolutely amazing, too.

Bow Truss has a gazillion locations in Chicago (okay, seven) and one in Beverly Hills. I can personally vouch for the O.G. Lakeview spot and the Logan Square one.

Bow Truss has locations throughout Chicago, including 2934 N Broadway St. in Lakeview and 2631 N Kedzie Ave. in Logan Square

La Colombe

Image: Chicago Talks

I’m cheating a bit here as La Colombe is not technically Chicago-based. I believe they were started in Philadelphia, the city of Brotherly Love, Boy Meets World and draft lattes. Those draft lattes are the reason they make this list: an iced latte on tap that perfectly blends frothy milk and cold coffee. It’s so much better than your regular old iced latte, and no amount of blogging will do it justice. You just have to try for yourself.

La Colombe is located at 1552 N Damen Ave. in Wicker Park, 5158 N Clark St. in Andersonville, and 955 W Randolph St. in West Loop

The Wormhole Coffee

Image: The Wormhole

Come for the Delorean, stay for the honey bear latte. No, seriously, Wormhole Coffee has a Delorean in it, not to mention vintage Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. If that doesn’t convince you to give it a try, I’m not sure what will.

The Wormhole Coffee is located at 1462 N Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park 

Image: Art News

Between the amazing new contemporary collection added to the Art Institute of Chicago’s (they received their largest gift to-date – 44 works! – last year) and the pop art exhibits at MCA Chicago right now, it’s an excellent time to see art in Chicago. Seriously, folks, the Art Institute of Chicago now houses more Warhol, more Twombly, more Koons…my only complaint is that they moved my favorite Calder mobile to storage. Art girl problems, right? The MCA is always free, and the Art Institute is offering free weekdays to Illinois residents through Feb. 11.


An adorable video featuring Hamish Bowles and Lena Dunham paying homage to years of famous Vogue poses and supermodels. Even if you don’t like Lena Dunham, it’s a gem. Also, I wish I were as good at posing as Hamish. (Shout out to Designlovefest for sharing it this week! Otherwise, I may have never even known this video existed.)


Image: At{Mine}

At{mine} is a new social network that is sort of a Pinterest-Instagram hybrid featuring shoppable photos of real interiors. Um, yes please. Signed up as soon as I discovered it thanks to French by Design. You can follow me here if you’re so inclined – profile is a work in progress at the moment!


Image: Urban Outfitters

Speaking of interiors, there are some seriously good deals in the apartment section of Urban Outfitter’s “Spring Forward” sale – like this, this and this. Oh, and these.


Image: ext.54

Starts next Friday – scoop up reservations if you can! I’ve booked STK and Frontera thus far, but am desperate to try Ada Street’s rock ‘n’ roll inspired menu this year.

I have a couple of friends with birthdays this month and next, which has got me thinking about places to celebrate in Chicago. Sure, yeah, the private dining room at Girl and the Goat would be great, but let’s be real – no one’s planning that far in advance.

(Although… my birthday’s in October. Think I should see if it’s available for that, just in case I’m feeling fancy and richer than I am now?)

So without further ado, here are five great restaurants for celebrating a Chicago birthday dinner:

Image: Dining Chicago

Dusek’s Board and Beer

This is where I originally wanted to go for my birthday last year. Pro tip: organize your birthday more than three days in advance, especially if it’s on a Saturday. Anyway, Dusek’s is in the uber-hip Pilsen neighborhood, and sister concept to Thalia Hall and Punch House. They’re all in the same building, and there’s even a great little cocktail bar inside Dusek’s, Tack Room. This means you can have your entire birthday experience in the same awesome spot – start at Tack Room, eat at Dusek’s, then end the night at Punch House. Heck, catch the show at Thalia Hall, depending on who’s playing. Sounds like a pretty great way to celebrate to me.

Image: The Chicago Chic

The Dawson

This is where we ended up for my birthday last year, and it’s one of my favorite spots in the city. The food is good, but you’re really here for the drinks and the atmosphere. The space sprawls over two levels and a patio – stay in the cozy downstairs, or venture outside to the patio if it’s warm out. When we were there, we ordered plate after plate of appetizers and lots of drinks. Every single cocktail I sampled was great, but I was particularly partial to the “Ghost Town Fizz,” an autumnal twist on a pisco sour. Because I love pisco sours. Doesn’t hurt when the manager stops by, finds out it’s your birthday, and surprises the table with a bottle of champagne, either.

So basically, yes, I love The Dawson and I think you will too.

Image: The Publican

The Publican

With its long communal table, The Publican is just begging to be the site of a birthday celebration. The menu is all about beer and pork, so vegetarians beware – but this is some of the best beer and pork you will ever taste. Plus, since it’s located in the heart of Fulton Market and borders the trendy West Loop, there are plenty of cool bars to pop into once you’ve stuffed yourself – like Fulton Market Kitchen, The Betty and more. (I love, love both of those bars. You really can’t go wrong at either.)

Image: Chicago Athletic Association


Winter birthday? No matter. Cindy’s – and its sweeping views of Millennium Park – is open for your enjoyment year-round. Bonus: the massive portions at this rooftop bar are meant for sharing. They even have giant cocktails that serve 20 people, with fun names like The Hesitant Elephant. I don’t know what’s in that, but I want to drink it. (Edit: apparently it’s a rye-based drink with coffee. Dark liquor is not usually my jam, but when you name it The Hesitant Elephant, I can make an exception.)

Image: Architectural Digest

Pump Room

Feelin’ fancy? The Pump Room, located in the Public Hotel, is a Chicago institution and a great place to celebrate a milestone birthday or event. The restaurant has been around since 1938 and if it’s good enough for the likes of Frank Sinatra and David Bowie, it’s good enough for you. Seriously, just check out the restaurant’s Wikipedia page – some seriously famous folks have dined here. Get there early so you can experience either the swanky Pump Room bar or cozy Library Bar before dinner.