November 6th, 2018

In Our LivingRoom: Meet Christen Carter of Busy Beaver Buttons

Meet Christen Carter of Busy Beaver Button Company

Busy Beaver Button Company, a thriving small business, was looking to grow their space, open a museum, and stay close to their original location on Armitage in Logan Square. With the help of Annie Coleman, Managing Broker of LivingRoom Realty, they purchased the perfect empty building sitting on a double wide lot a few blocks west of their original location on Armitage.

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    Christen Carter
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    Building front before
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    Building Front
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    Before facing front
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    Button Co facing back
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    Button Co Interior
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    After facing front


We asked them a few questions about their journey to expanding their headquarters.

LivingRoom Realty (LRR): Tell us about yourself?

Christen Carter (CC): I am a small business owner – Busy Beaver Button Co., and co-curator of the Button Museum. Right now, my life is mostly around buttons since I’m also working on a book about cultural history told through buttons.

I do love fixing up old buildings that need love and kinda like having property – it’s part of my retirement plan. I also like decorating and nesting into places, this has become a hobby of mine.

LRR: Tell us about your property?

CC: It’s a double-wide storefront with two apartments above. When I bought the building, it was just a blighted shell that suffered a couple of fires. But the beautiful yellow brick and personality were there! Plus, it has “good bones” as they say. The location is 3407 W Armitage, just west of Kimball. There’s also a big backyard and 3 car garage.

LRR: What were the deciding factors when choosing your area and property?

CC: We knew that we needed a place to expand, since I’m hoping this will be a 10+ year place for my company, Busy Beaver Button Co. And the big back yard will let us build out when we need to. It’s also walking distance from my house and close to the homes of many people who work here. And only a block away from our old location, so we wouldn’t lose any employees because of the distance. Being only a block away was very handy during construction – we could meet a tradesperson on a dime, since it took 2 minutes to walk from our previous location. 

The two apartments above help pay the mortgage and give us a cheaper property tax rate, those two things really help! Plus, for security sake, it’s nice that people are here during the day and at night, too.

I feel connected to Logan Square having lived and worked here since 2004, so I wanted to stay nearby. Plus, I remember when this building had two separate fires, the building was empty for years and it needed some serious love.

LRR: What’s your favorite thing about your property?

CC: The feel is just so nice. It’s pretty spacious and can display the Button Museum and accommodate the visitors. My brother, Joel found all this beautiful salvaged doors and interior windows, people can hardly believe that this place was a burned shell before we got it. You can really tell in all the details that a lot of love and consideration was put into it – this is mostly because of my brother!

LRR: What would you tell someone who is embarking on the buying process for your type of building?

CC: I always tell people to expect the project to cost at least 50% more than quoted by a GC and also about twice as long. The city can take awhile and things always come up. 

We had to re-zone but that was the easiest thing – we had a good lawyer. That’s the other big thing – the professionals that you work with must honestly respect you and what you’re doing – trust is key. Some of the people we worked with were great, but some really made our lives more difficult than it needed to be. I learned a lot and now have developed what a “trusted partner” is, this helps us recognize red flags to change course. Have a good idea of what’s important to you in terms of property characteristics, but also keep an open mind about what’s going to work realistically, and be honest about your lifestyle needs. Obviously, finding the right agent is also crucial!

LRR: Tell us about any improvements you made or plan to make and why?

CC: I’d love to expand out the back to make more space for the button production. I also want to fix up the garage, not exciting, but we ran out of money with everything being over budget. Hopefully all of this within the next 3 years!

Thanks to Christen and Busy Beaver Button Co.  for letting LRR into their living room! Visit Busy Beaver Button Co. where you can order custom button, magnets and more. Do you have a button fan on your gift list? Consider picking up the Button Box  which contains one hundred colorful postcards featuring over three hundred buttons from the collection of the Busy Beaver Button Museum.

Posted in: Inspiration, News, Recent
October 15th, 2018

New Rental Listing: 3061 W Augusta Chicago IL 60622

Sunny, spacious and lovingly cared for 4 bedroom/2.1 bath single family home on double wide lot across the street from Humboldt Park.  Current owners extensively rehabbed the house preserving vintage charm, adding modern amenities, and thoughtful touches throughout. This home features a wide footprint, 10′ ceilings, hardwood floors, original stained glass, and a side yard with many windows facing it to let in nature and light.   The main level features a foyer, spacious living and dining room with views of the park, half bath, open floor plan modern kitchen and den area with high-end cabinets, quartz counters, and  professional appliances.  The 2nd floor has 4 generously sized bedrooms, including a master suite, and a second full bath. A mud room at the back of the house leads to a gardener’s dream yard with raised beds, fire pit, and perennials throughout.  The home has a full size garage and 1 car parking pad.  Conveniently located close to the Express Grand Bus and the Metra Stop at Artesian and Hubbard that takes you downtown in around 10 minutes!  Easy walk to wonderful restaurants and stores on California, Ascent Gym, and amazing location to all that Humboldt Park has to offer including tennis courts, swimming, running, park activities, and more.  Don’t miss your opportunity to live in this special home.  Smaller dogs considered.

Offered at $2,950 a month

Contact Sarah Frier at 773-860-3452 or Annie Coleman at 312-371-9293
for questions and to schedule a showing.
For more pictures visit our featured listings









Posted in: From the Listings
October 11th, 2018

Ash, Bone and Fire – Exhibition from artists Christopher Michael Hefner, Jessica Joslin, and Jared Joslin

Join us at LivingRoom Realty  Friday November 2, 7 pm – 10 pm for the opening of “Ash, Bone and Fire” an exhibition from artists, Christopher Michael HefnerJessica JoslinJared Joslin


Chris, Jessica and Jared are Chicago based “creeps” with their respective specialties being divination through charcoal, resurrection of the dead, and the capturing of spirits within oil. Halloween costumes are welcome at the opening, and appreciated!!!

SHOW DATES: November 2 – November 24, 2018. VIEWING HOURS: Saturdays 12-5 pm. To receive a collector’s preview, with images & prices before the opening, or schedule a visit during the show please email

Christopher Michael Hefner

Christopher Michael Hefner is a visual artist working predominantly in charcoal.  By employing some of the most elemental means for image-making, he addresses themes of Mortality, Desire and the mirage of Control.   Hefner has also directed two feature films, “THE POISONER” (2014) and “THE PINK HOTEL” (2010), and hosts a radio show on Lumpen Radio called NIGHT TIME WITH CHRIS HEFNER, which airs on Wednesday nights.

Jessica Joslin

The creatures that populate Jessica Joslin’s world are intricate fusions of bone, brass, antique hardware and other scavenged treasures. Infused with the Victorian era’s passion for natural history and arcane technology, these creatures reflect both the real and the imagined animal, the living and the dead. Through careful observation and intricate construction, they re-imagine the animal kingdom, bolt by bolt, beast by beast.
Inspired by the beauty of skeletal architecture, and a passion for assemblage sculpture, Jessica Joslin began building her menagerie of mechanical animals in 1992. A monograph of her work, “Strange Nature” was published in 2008, and her work has been featured in numerous books, magazines and exhibitions worldwide.

Jared Joslin

Jared Joslin is a figurative painter who has been devoted to his craft for over 30 years. His paintings are exquisitely realistic, with a mysterious, and slightly eerie quality. He is a clever storyteller, whose symbolic scenes are flooded with luscious colors and rich details, which can easily distract the viewer from darker undercurrents of each tale. Recurring fascinations are surreal circus themes, nostalgic glamorous portraiture, and opulent floral still lives creeping with hidden creatures. Timeless yet immediate, simultaneously mysterious and direct, his portraits and still lives seem to have been painted by the feverish hand of a lucid dreamer!  If open to receive, they welcome us into a world to dream.

Posted in: Events, Our Artists, Recent
October 4th, 2018

Home Ownership Outside the Box

How to Buy Property Cooperatively 

To Save Money and Build Community

Are you ready to own your own home, but concerned about rising real estate costs? Do you want to plan for the future or have a built in community by sharing your home with friends or family? Want to buy a commercial building and share resources? Are you interested in combining the financial, environmental, and/or community/social benefits of communal living with the security of property ownership?

If so, LivingRoom Realty’s co-operative living Info sessions are for you! This new series of informal meet-ups is for anyone interested in learning more about how to successfully purchase, manage, and occupy co-operative real estate in Chicago. Join LivingRoom Realty brokers Annie Coleman & Susannah Ribstein, and co-op development consultant, Corrigan Nadon-Nichols, for this informative event. Join us for our first meet-up

Thursday Nov 1st from 6:30-8:30pm

 LivingRoom Realty 1530 W. Superior St.

Refreshments provided!

Please RSVP at

Posted in: Events, News, Recent
September 17th, 2018

In Our LivingRoom: Meet Aaron & Vincent from East Garfield Park

Meet Aaron and Vincent, two new homeowners with serious artistic vision. Aaron and Vincent recently purchased a three bedroom, two bathroom home in East Garfield Park with the help of Susannah Ribstein and Annie Coleman of LivingRoom Realty.

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Both are Chicago transplants who were captivated by the city and couldn’t imagine leaving now. Aaron is the Director for Operations for Dynamism, Inc., a Chicago-based technology distributor focused on 3D printers and scanners.

Vincent is the Art Director of a nonprofit that supports adult artists with disabilities: Arts of Life. He also runs LVL3, a gallery and online publication supporting creative talent from all around the world. They are also the parents of a beautiful cat, Rox and an impressively photogenic pitbull named Milo.

We asked them a few questions about their journey to homeownership.

LivingRoom Realty (LRR): So, what were the deciding factors when you were selecting a neighborhood and picking out a property?

Aaron & Vincent (A&V): One of our primary concerns was being close to work. We were both coming from super easy commutes and didn’t want to change that. We were lucky enough to find a place that’s almost directly in between both of our day jobs–our commutes are really only about five minutes. We also wanted to make sure that we would be able to access a grocery store, a gym, and our friends fairly easily. We did not want to go to the suburbs! 

LRR: Can you explain a bit more about that process?

A&V: Our initial goal was to buy a commercial building, start a business, and live above it. After months of trying and several business plan drafts later, the process for financing proved too difficult to secure the property we were initially after. We eventually began looking strictly at residential homes, but came across a lot of bleak looking properties that needed tons of work and were at the top of our price point. We actually overlooked this property at first, but are ultimately very happy with it.

LRR: What made you choose this particular home? What’s your favorite thing about the property?

V: I love having a finished basement. We can hang out down there, watch movies, and display our art collection. The basement also serves as a private guest space when friends and family need a place to stay. We also wanted a large closet and were able to turn a whole room into a closet here.

A: Natural light is super important to me, so the fact that the kitchen and our bedroom both get a lot of that was a big factor. Also, having a space to garden (we have an extra long lot) is huge. 

LRR: After going through it yourselves, what would you tell someone who is about to embark on the home buying process?

A&V:  Don’t rush into it; the right property will come about in time. It’s easy to get excited about a property or feel like there’s nothing out there worth your time, but it’s important to avoid settling on something you aren’t thoroughly excited about.

Have a good idea of what’s important to you in terms of property characteristics, but also keep an open mind about what’s going to work realistically, and be honest about your lifestyle and needs. Obviously, finding the right agent is also crucial!

LRR: How did you incorporate your own style into the home? Tell us about any improvements you’ve made or plan to make.

A: We honestly didn’t have to do much to the house since it had been renovated shortly before we bought it. The biggest things we did were paint the entire interior of the house ourselves and swap out all of the light fixtures to match our aesthetics better. 

If we could have done that over, we definitely would have hired professional painters as opposed to two people who could help us paint. That was really challenging.

V: We hope to add some curb appeal to the house and paint the exterior (at least the front) in the next few years.  We have lots of plans for the front and backyard. Aaron’s planning a pretty complex garden, and I’m looking for ways to host backyard gatherings by adding a projection screen, fire pit, barbeque, and outdoor furniture.

Thanks to Aaron & Vincent for letting LRR into their living room! 

Posted in: Recent
September 12th, 2018

More Air-Like Than Water by Marianne Fairbanks at LivingRoom Realty

Join us at LivingRoom Realty on Saturday, September 29th from 6 to 9 pm for the opening of Marianne Fairbank’s solo exhibition, “More Air-Like Than Water.”

The work presented in More Air-like than Water explores the deep meaning in geometry and abstraction as they relate to textile and graphic design vocabularies. Fairbanks approaches weaving, painting, photography and sculpture with a playfulness of process that destabilizes conventional value systems of hard and soft form-making while digging into more philosophical understandings of material vs. immaterial.

The viewer is asked to consider object as photo, photo as pattern, pattern as dimensional. Confronted simultaneously with macro and micro, foreground and background, the view is disoriented as they search for a focus. While the work fights for perceptual attention, it also encourages a deep engagement with our material world in the construction of philosophical belief systems and physical realities.

For more information about Marianne and her work or to schedule a showing, please visit her website.

Closing Tea: Saturday, October 27th from 1 to 4 pm at LivingRoom Realty.

Posted in: Recent
September 10th, 2018

New Listing! 3141 W Palmer Boulevard. Beautiful Home Across from Palmer Square Park in Logan

Come and see this 2 bedroom/2 bathroom condo with a welcoming open floor plan, located right on beautiful Palmer Square Park in Logan Square. Professionally-managed and well-maintained classic brick and terracotta courtyard building. Warm cherry hardwood floors and quality finishes throughout. Living room with cozy gas fireplace and thoughtful built-in shelving open onto a dining area overlooking the peaceful landscaped courtyard. Bathrooms have granite counters and marble tile, with a whirlpool tub and shower in the en-suite master bath. Large closets and hardwood floors continue in the bedrooms. Convenient in-unit laundry. A charming haven on one of Logan Square’s loveliest boulevards, with restaurants, parks, and public transportation right outside.

Offered at $300,000. Open House Saturday, September 15th, 2018 1 to 3 pm. Contact Susannah Ribstein at 708-207-6590 or for questions and showing requests.



Posted in: From the Listings, News, Recent
September 5th, 2018

New Listing: 7137 S. Luella! Gorgeous Home on Huge Lot in South Shore

This is a rare opportunity to own this stunning 5 bedroom/4.5 bathroom limestone Tudor on an expansive 100’x125′ lot in historic South Shore, blocks from the Lake. This home is a perfect combination of gracious vintage style with thoughtful modern updates. The welcoming foyer leads to a grand living room with marble fireplace, opposite a spacious dining room with original leaded glass windows. The eat-in kitchen is tastefully done with ample storage, granite, Viking & Bosch appliances. Updated entertainment room & brand-new full bath complete the ground floor. Two large en-suite bedrooms upstairs, one with a separate entrance. Master suite has a large bath with a tub. The original finished attic is perfect for a light-filled studio or rec room. Full semi-finished basement with gas fireplace is ready for your ideas. Professionally landscaped yard with patio and a 3-car garage with access for a roof deck. Just outside the front door: Metra, Lake Shore Drive, South Shore Cultural Center, Jackson Park, Obama Center site & more.

Offered at $485,000. Open House September 8th, 2018 from  12-2 pm & September 9th, 2018 from 1 to 3 pm. Contact Susannah Ribstein at 708-207-6590 or for questions and showing requests.

Posted in: From the Listings, News, Recent
September 4th, 2018

A Young Person’s Guide to Hot And Sour by Derek Erdman at LivingRoom Realty

Join us at LivingRoom Realty on Saturday, September 8th from 7-10pm for the opening of Derek Erdman’s A Young Person’s Guide to Hot & Sour. 

A series of paintings and objects about right and wrong.

For more information on Derek’s work, please visit his website.



Posted in: Recent
August 29th, 2018

Carnival of Amateurs, Closing Tea – Monday, September 3rd, 2018

Please join us at LivingRoom Realty for the last opportunity to see the Joshua Lantzy’s Carnival of Amateurs at the closing tea on Monday, September 3rd, from 12 – 6 PM. 

“It is in the very limitations of shadows that we learn…It is in the gap between the object and its representation that the image emerges, the gap we fill in” – William Kentridge

RSVP for this event on Facebook and for more information about Joshua Lantzy’s work, please visit his website.

Posted in: Recent