One of our favorite parts about traveling for workshops is exploring and getting to finally meet all those places we’ve seen on Instagram, IRL. Just before we left for our Chicago workshop this past weekend, we called on the expertise of Laura Irion, a designer and blogger currently penning Avery Street Design Blog. Laura is a Chicago native (withholding a short stint in Southern California), so we knew she’d point us in the right direction while seeking out some of the city’s most Instagrammable places. Check out her recommendations below, and be sure to make it a point to stop by the next time you’re in Chicago!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your blog. I’m a design blogger, interior stylist, wife of 10 years to a sweet husband, and mom to three great kids…Did I just sound like a Wheel of Fortune contestant to anyone else?
My blog is called Avery Street Design Blog and I started it about a year ago, totally on a whim, as a place to journal the goings-on of our remodels and house projects… and to keep in touch with the design community while I was taking time off to stay home with my littles.
How long have you been blogging? Since January of 2014.
How long have you lived in Chicago? Other than a brief stint in San Diego as a newlywed, I’ve been in Chicago since I moved here as a kid in 1991.
What do you think your Instagram portrays about you? Oh boy, I’d love to know the answer to that question!
I hope it conveys that beauty is everywhere and there is joy to be found in small moments. …that design doesn’t have to be expensive, that I’m passionate about sharing work I believe in, that I’m just trying to figure out this mom and career thing like everyone else.
What is one word to describe your Instagram? Crap-shoot. Honestly, I try really hard to have a consistent aesthetic. But I feel like it ends up like my house…it only kinda flows, it’s a work in progress, and it’s all over the board, style-wise.
What’s your best advice for someone trying to brand their Instagram in a certain way? If you are really interested in branding your Instagram, my one best piece of advice is this: Think of it as a gallery. You are instantly judged on your last 3-to-6 posts, all at once. They each need to be beautiful photos, like seriously, magazine beautiful, and they all need to look good together.
But take that advice with a grain of salt. For one thing, it’s really hard. I’ve been trying to do that for a year now and it’s almost impossible to do perfectly.
And secondly, not everyone needs or wants a ‘branded’ Instagram account. Don’t feel the pressure to do that if you don’t have to… for most of us who aren’t brands and have the freedom to use it how we want, Instagram is the best when it’s fun and it’s you. Post what makes you happy.
What are your top five most Instagrammable spots in Chicago? OK, well first of all, I have a confession to make. I am suburban through and through, and sometimes I feel like getting into the city is about as easy as travelling to Texas or something. There is so much traffic, and where am I supposed to park?! I have found a small handful of Instagrammable spots so far, but building a truly great list of them is definitely a work in progress.
First I’ll tell you my current favorite locations, and then I’ll you who I’m watching to find more.
Residential Walking Tours
I absolutely love the historic row houses in Chicago’s neighborhoods, like the one above I snapped in Wrigleyville. Another great spot is the Gold Coast; I recently did this walking tour and found home after Instagrammable home there.
Salvage One is an architectural salvage shop that has three floors of lovely squares to shoot. Between the piles of antique doors, exposed brick, industrial windows, and piles of 1950’s appliances, I think I took a hundred photos when I was there.
The beach might seem like an obvious “duh” for a list like this, but it has to make the cut. Anytime sand meets water, my camera comes out. And while most of Instagram is saturated with sunny LA skies and tropical vacations, shooting Chicago’s beaches offers something unique. You can catch them on grey stormy days or even covered with snow, and it provides a totally different mood than you’ll normally see in a feed.
The Wicker Park neighborhood is brimming with cute shops and cafes. Specifically, I took an embarrassing amount of photos while eating breakfast at Carriage House. It’s got everything a good Instagram spot should: Wire cage lighting, open shelves, white walls, and a cute bathroom for the requisite mirror selfie.
The Art Institute
Like I said, I don’t get into the city nearly enough, and when it came time for me to start my bucket list of places to visit and photograph, I didn’t need to look any further than Kessara Dhana’s feed (@kessara). The above is her capture of the stairs at the Art Institute, and I am obsessed with seeing that staircase in real life thanks to her. From those snowy beaches I mentioned to the perfect marble-meets-latte shot, following her will give you all the rest of the Chicago inspiration you need.