Windy City Dispatch

Oh hi! I’m Paige Wassel. WAS the Newsletter is your weekly dose of design inspiration, where ketchup on hot dogs is considered a crime.

We are back to thrifting in my hometown this week. Well kind of, I have lived in the city but originally from the burbs. Anywho, I am bringing you the very best of what the City of the Big Shoulders has to offer. BTW, no one from Chicago calls Chicago anything but Chicago, except when it’s -30 degrees with the windchill, and then “Chiberia” is acceptable. Anyway, onto the goods:

Also, please note that if it’s above 45 degrees, people will be wearing shorts when they’re out thrifting or otherwise, so try not to look surprised.


For the next few weeks, I’ve partnered with to highlight real estate listings I love in various cities. While some may call it the Second City, I’m featuring Chicago first.

I’m putting today’s homes in the “aspirational” category. These places are likely out of most people’s budget, so we’re looking at them today for design inspo. But what’s so great about Chicago is that people can actually afford to buy. Regular people can and do make the American dream happen every day here, which is exactly what I did back in 2016.

First up, let’s check out this place in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.

Best part up front—you’re literally across the street from the free Lincoln Park Zoo, so close that you’ll probably hear the lions roar. You won’t even have to leave home to experience the Air and Water Show, the Marathon, or the holiday Zoo Lights.

So the location is top-notch, obvi. What I really love is the vibe and feel of this place. The design job on the shelves is exquisite. The kitchen is a chef’s dream, plus there’s a Willy Wonka-style glass elevator. No notes. Wait, no, the best part is the outdoor area. The black and white tiling is so unique and it’s echoed in the multiple outdoor places this house has. You could get a lot less for a lot more in other cities.

Next up, here’s a place in Buena Park.

This is a legit Frank Lloyd Wright-feeling mansion spread across six city lots. Six! It’s a huge house where a big family could live. It would give you everything you’d want from the ‘burbs, yet it’s still within the city borders and a block from the lake. While the architecture is something different than I might choose, it’s still spectacular as it was designed by George Maher at the turn of the century. The kitchen is interesting as it feels like this is a place where you’d have a chef (especially judging from all the Mauviel pans).

I love the sunroom and I am living for all the fireplaces, especially in the bedrooms. I appreciate the detailing in the molding and how they left the wood alone. Yes, the bathtub is bananas, but I’m not mad at it. And the stained glass? UNBELIEV! — this old man I purchase fabric from in DTLA always says “UNBELIEV” so now this is part of my daily vocabulary.

If you’re looking for heart of the city, check out this place in Old Town.

There’s a lot to love here, particularly because it’s walkable to everything. There’s an intensity to the interior that I am really into, especially all that mahogany. While the house is classic and traditional, the kitchen is still fresh.

The outdoor space is key (especially with such proximity to everything in the city). My parents have a similar outdoor area and they use it all the time. Plus, what’s more Chicago than ivy-covered brick walls? The wallpaper here is bold and the home is brimming with personality. Plus, there’s a private entrance for a nanny or guest suite, which… hey, why not?

Last, let’s see what this home in Lakeview has to offer.

Again, here’s another free-standing place in the city, which is amazing in terms of space and privacy. Plus it’s right by Belmont Harbor if you have a boat. (You should get a boat or suck up to anyone you meet that has one.) I love how they preserved so much detail in this home and I hope a rich person doesn’t buy this and raze everything. Chicago has truly incredible architecture, and if you come here, do an architecture tour. (The locals take them, too—they’re that good.. I have gone multiple times and would go again.)

The leaded glass, the pocket doors, the detailed molding—all of it’s so interesting and historical. While the kitchen is a little small, I like a cozy kitchen, especially when it’s well-appointed. Also, there’s a three-car garage and if you’ve ever driven around Lakeview, cursing about finding a space, that wouldn’t be a problem here. And really, they had me at “3500-bottle climate controlled wine cellar” beneath the coach house.

While I’m happy in L.A. right now, Chicago is always going to feel like home, especially since I do own here. While I will never move back into that place (it’s stained with memories of my past!!!), I do see myself moving back to the city so I can be around the people I love the most, my family <3

Also, if you come here, don’t put ketchup on your hotdog. It’s a thing.


Benjamin Moore: Mellowed Ivory

Finish: Any

Room Light Level: Any