Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Washington Street Holiday Market Revisited

The gift buying season has officially begun and anyone who spent Black Friday, Small Business Saturday or a beautiful Sunday that kicked off December in downtown Naperville had the Washington Street Holiday Market to jumpstart their holiday spirit.  Held at a temporarily empty building formerly occupied by Restoration Hardware, the 2nd annual Washington Street Holiday Market brought together downtown Naperville merchants, as well as independent artists, clothing and jewelry designers, furniture builders and people who just have a knack for salvaging the cool and creating one-of-a-kind must-haves. 

Last year when we came up with the idea for the holiday market, Mark and I started off small.  We used a space that was soon to be occupied by Alicia's Photography and had 12 vendors.  We called it {theNOOK} and crossed our fingers that if we built it, you all would come.  The feedback and success was so great, that we set our sights on a larger venue and invited in another hosting partner, Little Luxuries.  Luck was on our side and a space that was stunning on its own was sitting vacant, ready to have its beauty built upon.  We had to lose the name {theNOOK} because we were setting up next door to a Barnes and Nobles, so was born the Washington Street Holiday Market.  We opened Friday at 4pm with nearly 40 incredible vendors and a line that snaked around the block.  

The response was overwhelming and we'd like to thank you for allowing us the opportunity to showcase the talents of these incredibly hardworking and inspiring vendors.  We are humbled by your support and proud of the energy and excitement this market and your attendance brought to our downtown.  

Now, let's get to the good stuff!  Shots from inside the market!  

Plans are underway for another market next year, again brought to you by Mark (Room 363),  Sue (Little Luxuries), and Maria (me - whose only real purpose is to try and keep Mark from doing things like putting vendor checks in the washing machine).  We'll keep you posted on holiday market plans.

If we move the event off Washington Street, we'll probably need a new name.  Let us know if you have any creative suggestions - one that could be our forever name that would work anytime of year (Spring market maybe?).


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Announcing: Washington Street Holiday Market

If you see a man walking the streets of Downtown Naperville giving you a strange half wink don't be afraid, it's probably just Mark with glitter in his eyeball again.  It's that time of year where he spends his days in a tornado of glitter and twinkle lights turning his shop into an wonderland of holiday spirit.  Adding to the excitement this year are preparations for the 2nd annual holiday market, this year named Washington Street Holiday Market, hosted by Room 363 and Little Luxuries.

Washington Street Holiday Market brings together 40-plus vendors to provide shoppers a unique shopping experience immersed in the festive environment of Naperville's Hometown Holidays.  Join us for the grand opening kick-off, Friday, November 29 at 4pm for special eats, treats and a head start at snapping up one-of-a-kind finds.

Look for announcements coming soon on special classes and events happening at the market.

Event Sneak Peek:

Saturday, November 30, 4-6pm: Local musical artist and actress, Jeanne Arrigo, transforms herself into Mrs. Claus for story time and brings along her guitar for a holiday singalong. 

Alicia's Photography will have a beautiful set designed by Room 363 inside the market where families can memorialize the holidays with a picture with Santa.  Time slots are almost filled, so make sure you call soon!

We hope you'll join us for the fun!


Friday, September 27, 2013

Faux Painting Class and Grand Reopening Pictures!

Don't miss out on the opportunity for a fun night of learning and drinks!


Create a faux stone finish!

WHEN:  Wednesday, October 9 at 7pm

COST:  $65 (includes all materials)

LOCATION:  Room 363
232 S. Washington Street, Naperville, IL 60540

LEARN:  How to make your own chalk paint, prepare surface for adhesion, apply faux stone finish, and protect the finish for years to come!

Space is limited!  Reserve your spot by making 
payment at Room 363.  

On August 16, 2013, Room 363 celebrated their amazing first year in business with a grand reopening.  Mark shut down the shop for a day before the reopening in order to, for the lack of better words, turn the place upside down.  He sent everyone around him spiraling into a panic with the amount of work his vision entailed; but, in the end he succeeded in amazing everyone with what he accomplished.

Stop in to check out the new layout!  

Mark is working hard on his second year of bringing a holiday market to downtown Naperville.  This year's show will be much larger than last year's and we can't wait to fill you in on the details!  Stay tuned and until then, mark your calendars for November 29 - December 1 to join in the festivities.

Monday, July 29, 2013

One Year and Counting - Anniversary Party!

This time last year, there were rumors swirling around Naperville of a man, known for doing amazing things with old, dusty objects, who was opening a shop in the downtown area. Those in the know told tales of dilapidated dressers, mirrors, and tables revitalized with just a spray can and this man's ability to accessorize them into realizing their full potential.  Excitement mounted as signs went up at 232 S. Washington announcing the Grand Opening of Room 363, confirming this man was no urban legend.

Slowly the adorable yellow storefront on Washington transformed from something that looked deserted into a welcoming courtyard foretelling of great things to come inside. 

Finally, on August 16, 2012, the doors opened to the public for the first time and we were introduced to Mark Norkaitis and his lovely vision.  Customers piled in that first warm summer night, immediately falling in love with the uniqueness of his finds and ability to display them in creative ways.  We may not have known what that vintage farm object was used for exactly, but we knew we needed it and we'd trip our friend to get to it first.

Over the next 12 months, Mark threw every bit of energy and every waking minute he had into keeping his store special and a place that Naperville could be proud of.  The courtyard has been a constant rotation of seasonal displays and is, for many, a highlight to a trip downtown. 

To celebrate this year of building not only a business but lasting friendships, Mark is throwing a one year anniversary celebration.  The store will be closed Thursday, August 15 and will reopen Friday, August 16 at 5pm.  Come celebrate and enjoy the live music, food, drinks and special sales as he unveils a new look and introduces fall and Halloween decor.  

Mark your calendars!  I hope to see you there!


Monday, June 24, 2013

Dreamy Courtyard and a Graduation Party with Southern Charm

It's been a while since I've made a post for Room 363 because I'm just getting back from an amazing extended family vacation in beautiful Hawaii.  It was a welcome escape from the unpredictable Chicago weather this Spring.  I was welcomed back to Naperville by Mark's stunning courtyard that looks like the set for a magazine cover shoot.  Dreamy, right?

With Summer comes a flurry of high school graduation parties and one lucky University of Kentucky bound lady had Mark loading up his truck to look like the Beverly Hillbillies in order to assist in creating the southern themed party of her dreams.   

Mark is also helping me with decorating my work-in-progress master bedroom.  I live in an old home in the Historic District of Naperville, so we're short on closet space.  One of my requests was that I had a nightstand that would serve as more than an alarm clock and book of the week holder, but would potentially provide more clothing storage space.  During a trip to the mall, I made a panic purchase at Restoration Hardware placing an order for a nightstand.  After getting the stink eye and a stern lecture from Mark on frivolous purchases, I decided to cancel the order and trust the nightstand decision to him and his promise to find me something just as great at a third of the cost.

Not long after, I received this text from him, reminding me to trust him and the cost was under $100.  

Oh boy, we are NOT in Restoration anymore, Toto.  I must admit, I was a little scared.  I was pleasantly surprised, however, when he showed up on my doorstep with this beauty a few days later.  

It gives me the extra storage space I need while being a unique piece that gives my room character.  I'll share more pictures from my room when it's completely put together.  

The sun is actually shining now, so I'm off to enjoy this beautiful day.  I hope you're doing the same!


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Wedding Walk Pics, Mommy and Me Sessions and Mothers Day

The last post I made, Room 363's basement was flooded along with the rest of Naperville.  We're all dried up and those few very wet days feel like an eternity ago because so much has happened at the store since that week.  

The weekend after the flood, Downtown Naperville hosted their second annual Wedding Walk, where brides stroll through the stores getting ideas for their upcoming weddings.  Mark partners with Traci from Whimsy to style the most amazing weddings, so he turned his courtyard into a vintage-inspired wedding backdrop.  (Do yourself a favor and visit Traci's blog and look at the wedding pictures. The girl has some major magazine worthy talent.)

Andrew from Andrew's Garden in Naperville put together this beautiful flower arrangement. Where were all these talented people when I got married?

Immediately after the wedding walk, Mark transitioned his courtyard into a set for Alicia's Photography to shoot Mother's Day mini sessions.  Here's what the courtyard looks like now.

Isn't it stunning?  (I call dibs on the amazing pergola made from recyled vintage posts.  Mark probably won't let me have it because he'll be all like, "Where you going to put that" and I'll tell him and he'll say, "That's dumb, you can't have it."  I'll pout and he'll be unaffected.  Damn it.)  

The courtyard is so cozy now, Mark has to shoo away groups of teenagers congregating in the "living room" daily.  There was even a mysterious stiletto left behind.  Not sure we want to know how that got under the couch. 

Check out this amazing shot Alicia took in one of her Mommy and Me sessions. 

Mark also worked on a client's house last week.  I'm loving this trend of bringing the outside in with the outdoor bench.  It's perfect in this space. 

Because Mark doesn't have enough to keep him busy, he's also been making religious inspired jewelry for the store.  There are lots of great jewelry pieces in the store right now that would make great Mother's Day gifts.  

Just in time for Summer, more tops came in also.  Make sure you stock up for those upcoming beach vacations.

Mark's also been helping me with some small projects around my house.  Not because he has the time, but because my way of doing things annoys the crap out of him and he'd rather just do it himself, I think.  Works for me!  Yesterday I texted him that I was wrestling with my hanging baskets.  Next thing I know, as I'm sitting crisscross applesauce in a pile of dirt and ferns trying to pry apart metal chain with pliers and hoping I have some untapped kinetic ability to bend metal, he drives up shaking his head and completes the job for me.  

My sad, sad limp fern is pictured on the left while his happy, perky fern is displayed in the picture on the right.

When I pull up to my house, it's like I'm walking into a volumizing hair shampoo commercial.  My fern is the before example when the plant had sad, lifeless hair and Mark's is what you get after using the miracle shampoo that gives you big, sexy hair that smells good and is incredibly soft and manageable.  I think my fern needs a hat.

Make sure you stop in this weekend for Mother's Day.  From now until Sunday, if you show the e-mail Room 363 sent with a coupon, you'll get $10 off a $30 or more purchase.  If you didn't receive the e-mail, send Mark a note at and he'll add you.  

Enjoy your weekend!  


Friday, April 19, 2013

When it Rains, it Pours: Flooding, Sandbagging and Wedding Walk Excitement

The last post I made a couple weeks ago I wrote about chirping birds, shining sun and the joys of the impending Spring.  It was all rainbows and butterflies with extra sugar and a cherry on top.  I'm here to tell you, we've had none of that this week in Naperville.  We've had rain, a lot of rain, intense thunderstorms, snow, sleet, hail, and floods.  

Room 363 had 5 inches of water in the basement . . . which has dirt floors.  Maybe this flood and the mess in the basement will cure Mark of his habit of just opening the door and tossing things down the stairs?  Maybe?  Yes, Mark, I've seen you do that.  

Mark is currently waiting for the mud to turn back to dirt, but the store is still open!  He's like the post office, neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night . . .

Although . . . he will shut down to help his fellow business owners.  Mark and a crew of volunteers worked to sandbag shops and restaurants along the river for several hours last night.  As the city trucks dropped loads of sand in front of Sullivan's Steakhouse and Centennial Beach, volunteers grabbed shovels and began to fill sandbags. 

Those sandbags were then placed in front of businesses in danger of taking on water from the rising DuPage River, like these in front of Alicia's Photography.

It was backbreaking, intense work for hours.  Filling bags, loading dollies or the backs of pick-up trucks and delivering the bags to the doors of businesses as the water rose in front of our eyes.  It was scary, oddly fun and sometimes emotional for those in danger of losing even a small part of what they've worked so hard to create.  

It's funny because I hear sometimes how Naperville is too commercialized, there's not enough "mom and pop" shops, but at times like these you realize there are still lot of small business owners downtown who aren't part of massive corporations that can easily foot the bill in case of an emergency.  Business owners without flood insurance who would feel this hit to their bottom line.  

The volunteers were an eclectic group of management and staff from the larger businesses like Apple and Sullivan's Steak House, mixed in with small business owners like Alicia (Alicia's Photography), Mark (Room 363), Oriana (Casa by Charleston) and Neda (Sugar Monkey Cupcakes), Anne and Joe (Bows and Babes), North Central College students, friends and passerby's just jumping in to help - all working together to cover any area that had even a remote possibility of taking on water. 

Earlier this week I had read about a South African philosophy called Unbuntu.  I'm sure I'm going to butcher the translation, but it roughly means:  I am because we are.  Watching these people work together made me think about this philosophy and how it applies to our special downtown.  The businesses are successful because of the individual roles each one plays in their collective environment, one no more important than the other.   I remember at one point thinking, these are the types of business owners we want in our downtown.  People who see downtown as a whole, who are caring and conscientious of their neighbors, who finish sandbagging their shop, but continue to work to help the others.  This is what community is all about and it was eye-opening and comforting to witness the strength in ours.  The sunshine may not have been in the sky yesterday, but I definitely went home with it in my heart.

I stole this next picture from a friend, and Alicia will probably strangle me.  This photo was taken at the end of the night when the work was completed.  Even after a full day of worry, keeping tabs on water levels and weather conditions, moving things to high ground and hard work, they still ended the night with giant smiles and laughter.  

Thank you, as a person who loves my downtown, to all the Marks and Alicias out there for your passion and willingness to roll up your sleeves and work hard.  

So, flood waters behind us, tomorrow is an exciting day at Room 363.  I can hardly wait to see what Mark has planned for Naperville's Wedding Walk tomorrow, Saturday, April 20 from 10-5pm.  A list of all the businesses who are participating and the deals or displays they'll have can be found here. No, not there. HERE.  

When I left the store today, Mark was still working on the wedding display in his courtyard and I don't want to give anything away, BUT it involved some really cool vintage pillars and piping.  I'll make sure to share some pictures of the final product in the next blog for those of you who don't live close enough to visit.

If you're a bride-to-be, stop in to see the beauty Mark creates when he partners with his friend Traci from Whimsy.

These are some of the things you'll see in the shop tomorrow.

The vanity in the picture on the right is stunning in person. 

Here's a few more snapshots from around Room 363.  Notice the new vintage fireplace, belt bracelets, lots of birds and nests, cows and other fun accessories to keep your space light-hearted and cheery. 

I must also draw your attention to the water fountain, which brings a nice ambiance to the store with it's loud trickle.  When Mark first posted the fountain on his Facebook page, it looked like this:

I walked into the store Wednesday and noticed the fountain cozied in next to the sofa and nesting tables.  Upon closer inspection, I realized it now has fish in it.  I'm starting to suspect that Mark is on a mission to own at least one of every animal.  My money is on his next purchase being a goat.  I will not be shocked if I walk in to find he's set up a goat milking area using some cool vintage goat cage (is that thing?) he's tracked down set up in some dark corner of the shop.  He may want to consider buying farmland soon.  

By the way, for those brides stopping in during the wedding walk, your fiance told us he'd really like a cool t-shirt from the men's room.  They're a nice breathable cotton that will work well no matter what resort town you jet off to for your honeymoon.   (That was actually false marketing, I have no idea what the fabric is - I'm sure they are extremely breathable -they're cool though and that's all that really matters, right?.)

Stay dry, safe and even if your wedding has long since past, like me, please still visit this weekend to join in on the fun!