Being a writer, DIY project aficionado and an avid Instagrammer, I am constantly on the hunt for inspiration. Living in the middle of the third-largest city in the country, surrounded by concrete, sometimes makes it difficult to get creative. And if you’re like me, working in a concrete jungle that’s just as as busy as you, finding a calm and peaceful place to think can be a challenge.
My husband and I visited the beach recently and decided to give our dining room chairs a makeover because of it. I remember sitting with him on Foster Beach, on an absolutely beautiful day, and thinking about the ways we could give some things in our home a sort of face lift. The beautiful view of the lake served as inspiration for the deep blue color we painted our chairs, and the room is much more inviting than it was before. Yet, you can’t always capture the beach setting in your home.
There are dozens of spaces in Chicago that inspire peace and creativity—here are a few I recommend.
Garfield Park Conservatory
Walking into the Garfield Park Conservatory is like walking into the most beautiful forest…where you can avoid the snow and rain. The conservatory provides a place to look and learn about beautiful plants, and breathe in some clean air. With different rooms to explore, it is easy to find inspiration for your next project, especially if your project involves replanting a succulent. Check out the bench by the Koi Pond for a peaceful place to think, as well as the desert room for some unusual looking plants.
The Garfield Park Conservatory is free and is located off the Conservatory-Central Park Drive Green Line Stop on the CTA at 300 N. Central Park Ave.
Museum of Contemporary Art
The Museum of Contemporary Art has both unique temporary and permanent exhibits that are sure to inspire even the least creative of people. With colors and shapes in so many different forms, it is easy to imagine all the possibilities of a project. Enjoy a glass of wine in the café and pick a quiet area in front of one of their 2,500 works.
In the summertime, the MCA puts on an event called “Tuesdays on the Terrace” where you can not only enjoy the wonderful works of art but also listen to great music on their beautiful patio. Tickets to the museum are $12 and free for Illinois residents on Tuesdays.
The Museum of Contemporary Art is located at 220 E. Chicago Ave.
The University of Chicago
While I could never get into the University of Chicago, I am able to walk around it. The architecture alone is enough to inspire the design for your next project, but the campus is full of courtyards as well to have a place to think peacefully.
The buildings around campus have styles ranging from gothic to contemporary and legendary names attached to them such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Rafael Viñoly. The University of Chicago campus is accessible by CTA via the #6 bus or the #2 Express.
The University of Chicago is located at 5801 S. Ellis Ave.
As stated above, being near water is a great source of inspiration, and there are plenty of places to visit in Chicago. Oak Street Beach is one I recommend to newcomers because not only is it centrally located but also the beauty of the city is located on one end, and the vastness of the lake is at the other end. There is really something great about the juxtaposition of city and nature within feet of each other.
Another great spot along the lakefront is Promontory Point, one of the furthermost spots south of the city where you can see the perfect skyline view. One of my favorite features is the fire pits available for small campfires. Promontory Point is located in Hyde Park right on Lake Shore Drive.
So if you are starting a rehab on some old furniture, starting an urban garden, or working on another creative project—there are plenty of places in Chicago to draw inspiration from and make your project unique!