At Home with
You may be surprised to hear that Dana Oliff’s favorite room in her house is the bathroom. Normally we don’t start the home tours with the question of favorites. We typically prefer to warm you up with some fun anecdotes, a history of the homeowners search on the real estate market, maybe even a design tip or two. But we had to tell you right away that—out of all the beautiful, sun-kissed spots in Dana’s home—her favorite room is the bathroom. To be fair, she has a pretty compelling argument. “We have a steam shower,” she says, “which I use frequently and diffuse eucalyptus essential oil. We also have a large soaking tub and heated floors. It’s the perfect space to relax and unwind and reminds me of a luxury spa.”
Unlike the typical 3-unit walk-ups that dot Chicago’s historic Ukranian Village, Dana and her husband Lee found their place in a spacious, 6-unit corner lot building. Due to the unique size, their condo is large enough to accommodate a full 8-person dining table. “That was so important to me,” Dana says, “because I love entertaining.” An entertainers’ dream is exactly what Dana and Lee got. The west-facing balcony offers a picture-perfect view of the sunset, but also means it can get mighty hot in the summers. The couple found a quick and easy fix by installing a rod and sheer outdoor curtains. The curtains let the bright sunshine in without the rays getting too direct and hot. Dana loves how it turned out, adding “It feels like an outdoor living room!”
Dana and Lee met in 2013 working in the same office, and their love story bloomed like something out of Parks and Recreation. They would get lunch together, learning more about each other and slowly becoming inseparable. Their hobbies were tailor-made for a quarantined world, often spending evenings at home playing games or solving jigsaw puzzles. When Lee proposed in 2017, he did so with a custom puzzle depicting their latest trip to Italy. Right now, their favorite games include Sequence, Phase 10, and Catan.
Dana's Favorite Treat to Make in Her Kitchen
"I love making smoothie bowls! They are the perfect breakfast or midday pick-me-up and you get a full serving of fruits, vegetables, and protein. They are so fun to arrange and select toppings, not to mention delicious to eat!"
Other than the typical changes made to create their home like fresh paint and furniture, Dana learned that sometimes the simplest things might be missing when you close on a house. “I never noticed we didn’t have a silverware drawer when we moved in!” she says. At the time, there were only two oversized drawers for pots and pans—not exactly what you’d call a chef’s kitchen. Rather than totally rip out and re-do the existing setup, they opted to add a top-mounted drawer in one of the current cabinets, keeping any renovation work to nearly nonexistent.
As for their neighborhood, it was a no-brainer. Boasting all the fabulous restaurants up and down Chicago Avenue, Ukranian Village offers good vibes and good friends, creating a tight-knit community that still feels like its own oasis in the city. On any given night, Dana and Lee’s spots for mediterranean, Mexican, sushi, or even pub food are just steps from their front door. Dana also loves Yoga, and tried out many studios in the city through Class Pass. Some of her favorites are Zen Yoga Garage, Studio 3 and Core Power Yoga. Since Covid-19, Dana has been using the Peloton app and Obe Fitness to stream from home.
For a couple with family in different suburbs, Dana says “We can walk to everything on Division Street, and then hop on the Eisenhower to go west for my family, or the Kennedy to go north for Lee’s. It’s perfect.” Sunny days, cozy nights, access to family and friends, and a spa experience to round out the night. We think that’s pretty perfect, too.
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I want to pull out the fancy China! I want to dress up and have this elevated sense of luxury and elegance back. No more carryout dinners in sweatpants. A little black dress, an endless flow of Champagne, lots of good food and laughter all around.
Top Design Tips:
—Favorite Coffee Table Book - All in Good Taste, Kate Spade
—Bring energy back to your space with plants! "I love swinging by Sprout Home or Steve's Flower Market for a fresh floral arrangement."
—Diffuse Essential Oils! "They smell heavenly, have many therapeutic benefits, and help to create your ideal ambiance. Here is my current favorite scent."
—Favorite Designer to follow for inspo: @studiomcgee
Photography by Alina Tsvor
Text by Eric Grant