Rachel Wray Thompson

Rachel is an Chicago-based architect and LEED Accredited Professional. When she's not designing homes, she enjoys spending her free time traveling, gardening, and playing with her french bulldog.
The 10 Best Cleaning Tools Every Home Should Have
Whether you're just getting started in a new space or looking to complete (or maybe upgrade) your cleaning kit, here's what you need.
Jun 21, 2023
Ideal Indoor Humidity Levels & How to Control Them at Home
Let's talk about what humidity levels you should keep in your home year round, and different techniques to do so.
Oct 26, 2022
Before & After: Anthropologie Inspired Dresser
Anthropologie’s Ordinal Dresser is one popular piece of furniture — so much that this is the second dresser makeover we’ve seen based off of it. The first one was a low, six-drawer version, but this one will have you thinking twice about which dresser is the original, and which is the knock-off. It’s hard to believe, but the above dresser was made to look nearly identical to the Ordinal, all for only $30!
Oct 15, 2022
How To Install a Dimmer Switch
Dimmer switches are great, not only do they provide opportunity for mood lighting and ambiance, but also save money due to reduced power usage. Almost all the lights in my home are on a dimmer switch, except for the bedrooms, where we’d actually like to have them the most.
Jul 18, 2020
Secret Spaces: Hidden Doors in Paneled Walls
As children, many of us are drawn into architecture by the idea of secret passageways and hidden spaces. In the real world, ‘secret’ passageways can easily be incorporated and actually help streamline a the design of a room. Hidden doors can be a big draw for grown ups too! Through the use of cleverly designed wall paneling, doors can be seamlessly integrated without anyone being the wiser.
Jul 17, 2020
How to Hire a Professional Housecleaner
Time is short, and cleaning isn’t fun. After a long week of work, and busy days with family, isn’t cleaning one of the last ways you want to spend your free time? If keeping a tidier home is one of your new year’s resolutions, consider hiring a professional cleaner. If you have the means to hire a professional, I definitely recommend it. My household started hiring out this service a few years ago.
Jul 15, 2020
Before & After: Under Stair Storage Redo
Like many other small space dwellers, we have almost no closet or storage space in my home. The tenants before us took the first step to maximize the dead space under the stairs by removing a partition wall to open up the area, and installed a drop down hatch under the stair. Unfortunately they didn’t install a railing and instead only those awkward, sharp rectangular boxes — after several falls down the stairs it was painfully obvious something needed to change!
Jul 15, 2020
Before & After Roundup: Refinished Wood Furniture Projects
While applying a new coat of paint can be a quick and easy way to make over a piece of furniture, refinishing a quality wooden piece is often worth the added time and patience. And it’s often not too hard — a little light sanding and a few simple restoring products is often all it takes to breathe new life into old pieces, and bring out the beautiful grain of wooden furniture.1. A Revamped Kitchen Table, from Door Sixteen2. An Old Dresser, Apartment Therapy3.
Jul 15, 2020
Idea Exchange: What’s Your Christmas Present Opening Tradition?
Growing up, I had a pretty well defined gift opening tradition: go see a movie Christmas Eve (to pass the time for my sister and I anxiously waiting for Christmas Day), then open one gift when we returned home that night. Then, Christmas morning, we’d wake up, sort our gifts, and then each take turns to open one gift at a time while the others watched.
Mar 11, 2020
The Ultimate Guide to Making Any Rental More Energy Efficient
Think that because you don’t own, you have no control over your home’s energy use? Not true! Here’s our ultimate guide; full of links to quick, easy and yes, even inexpensive, ways to reduce your carbon footprint and lower your bills (your landlord will thank you!). Most of these changes are likely to pay for themselves in energy savings over the duration of your rental.
Mar 11, 2020
Before &amp After: A Mid-C Modern Bathroom
Designer Gina De Pasquale renovated this Las Vegas residence that needed a little updating throughout. Her work is most impressive in the bathroom where she did a great a job of mixing high and low pieces, all while staying true to the mid-century aesthetic.
Mar 11, 2020
10 Green Housewarming Gifts
image:60cbe11a3f63c01299a1254e5c9ad707ebb24f9b w:540 s:"fit" class_name:"mt-image-center" show_pin_button:"true" show_image_credits:"true" Furnishing and decorating a new home can be a lot of work. Whether you know newlyweds, new homeowners, or simply a new roomate, we’ve compiled a great list of unique green gifts to make a new house feel like home.TOP ROW1 Custom Return Address Stamp, $35-85 from Primele (Etsy): The perfect way to celebrate a new address.
Dec 4, 2019
Zip-A-Way: Removable Window Sealant
Just the other day we were starting to think about winterizing our home for the season, when we got a great tip from one of our favorite home improvement gurus, Lou Manfredini. Lou suggested that as an alternative to covering drafty windows with plastic, caulk them with a temporary and removable sealant such as Zip-A-Way.
May 8, 2019
The Best Interior Paints are Low-VOC and Inexpensive
A lot has changed with paints—even in the last year more paint companies have changed their formulas from high-VOC to low-VOC and even to no-VOC. And they’re probably not the big name eco-friendly paints you’ve heard about. Leave it Consumer Reports to put all the paints to the test, and find out their results after the jump.
May 8, 2019
8 Tips to Organizing a Drying Rack
A Totally Overloaded Drying RackAfter doing loads of laundry, sometimes the last thing we feel like doing is hanging up our wet clothes to dry. Yes, it’s mostly that we’re being lazy, but there’s also an art to doing it well so that the clothes dry quickly and with as few wrinkles as possible.
May 7, 2019
Before & After: An Amazing Victorian Remodel
A New York couple hit the jackpot when they found this gorgeous 1887 Queen Anne for sale — only $46,000! It had amazing bones, including a completely octagonal room on each of its three stories. But there was a catch — it was condemed — and the bank loan would only work if the couple agreed to complete any major structural fixes and get the plumbing and electrical up to code within six months!The couple’s story is truly inspirational.
May 6, 2019
Keep Your Pets Happy Without a Yard
Whether you’re a renter or city dweller, living with a yard can come at a premium. The absence of a yard can also seemingly make life for your pet unpleasant, but after six years I can attest that not only can living without a yard be fine, but even fun! For the past six years my husband and I have lived in Chicago — a city notorious for its lack of yard space. But for each of those years, we’ve lived with a cat, and most recently added a dog to our family.
May 6, 2019
Before & After: A White Washed Kitchen
Here’s a great example of how paint and new cabinet hardware can easily and inexpensively upgrade a kitchen. The family over at Keeping It Cozy made over their kitchen with these upgrades, and a few other finishing touches to make the space look bright and brand new — with a budget of only $1000!
May 5, 2019
Before & After: Dresser Makeunder
Most of the time when we feature a furniture makeover, it’s been transformed by applying something new to the surface — paint, fabric, paneling, etc. But designer William Dohman shows us that a really impressive project is when a vintage piece has been restored to its former glory.Architect William Dohman, the designer behind Oh Dier, restored this classic mid-century Lane dresser by removing the multiple layers of paint and weird tape that mysteriously stuck to most of the edges.
May 5, 2019
Before & After: A Moroccan Pattern Stenciled Bathroom
This relatively plain bathroom got a major face lift with something that looks as good as wallpaper, but is actually impeccably painted, DIYed stencil handiwork. While that has a huge impact on the space, there are a few other east improvements that A Pumpkin and a Princess implemented that helped transform the room — can you spot them?Crystal from A Pumpkin and a Priness set out to makeover her guest bathroom, all on her own.
May 5, 2019
Before & After: Coffee Table Turned Tufted Ottoman
Brooke, from the home décor blog Inside-Out Design, started with this run-of-the-mill old coffee table, and with some ingenuity and a lot of handiwork, she and her husband transformed it into a one-of-a-kind hand-tufted ottoman.Brooke used West Elm’s Ikat Print by the Yard fabric as inspiration for completely transforming the coffee table.
May 5, 2019
Rethink the Stink: 5 Odor Removing Products No Home Should Be Without
As nice as it would be to always keep a perfectly clean, perfectly smelling house — the truth is, bad odors happen. Whether it’s smelly upholstery from a great thrift store find, a pet’s potty training accident, or a party that needs a massive cleanup, funky smell are an unavoidable part of everyday life. With that in mind, here are the 5 products we’d recommend always having in the house to combat and remove odors. 1.
May 4, 2019
Before & After: 15 Creative Kitchen Renovations
There’s a big misconception in the renovating and real estate world that kitchen remodeling needs to be flashy and expensive to be good. That’s simply not true! We’ve found that with a little creativity, some reuse, a new coat of paint — and sometimes not even that much work, kitchen renovations can be not only eco-friendly, but also inexpensive. Here are our 15 best before and after kitchen posts of the year!
Apr 7, 2019
Tell Us: What’s the Most You’ve Ever Spent on a Lamp?
The floor lamp is a great multi-purpose furnishing that is useful when overhead lighting is lacking or you need a bit of brightness for a detailed task, and on top of that, it’s an easy statement home accessory. Dramatic modern floor lamps like the one above can cost up to $3000 and more — but is it worth it? Two of my favorite floor lamps are the Signal floor lamp by Jieldé and the Arco Lamp designed by the Castiglioni brothers.
May 29, 2014
Organization Motivation: 101+ Tips, Ideas & Inspirations to Get You Going
Don’t give up! Getting organized is an ongoing process. Even when you’ve made good progress, there often is still an area of the house that you’re struggling with. Mine continues to be my home office/guest bedroom/storage room. Maybe yours is the mail, laundry, or kitchen cabinets?
Apr 4, 2014
Will You Ever Adjust to City Noise?
In a city like Chicago, with long, cold months where the windows are constantly closed, it’s easy to to forget there’s even noise to be heard. But now that we’ve gotten a taste of spring and opened the windows, I’m reminded that city noise in the summer — sirens, car alarms, trains, construction, people — is a different story. Will we ever adjust? For me, the answer is yes. After 10 years, I’ve adjusted to city noise.
Mar 12, 2014
Bathroom Trend: A Tub Inside The Shower
This past year multiple clients requested something for their bath that I had never heard of before: putting the tub inside of the shower. And by this, they meant they want one glass-enclosed ‘wet room’ for bathing and showering. This configuration has an airy spa-like feel and look, and takes up less space than designing separate tub and showering areas. Often, for smaller spaces, clients have to choose between a tub or a shower.
Feb 12, 2014
Gift Giving Etiquette: Do You Ship Directly to the Recipient When Shopping Online?
With Hanukkah and Thanksgiving occurring this week, holiday shopping is in full swing. While Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days, Cyber Monday seems to be much more convenient — you don’t even need to leave the house, and you can ship directly to your recipient. With friends and family spread across the country, it almost seems most convenient to do all your gift shopping online. But there may be some pros and cons to this approach.
Nov 27, 2013
Break the Ice: 5 Favorite Party Games
Whether you’re hanging out with friends, or hosting family for an extended amount of time, there’s nothing like a good old fashioned party game to keep the holidays fun. Games are a great social activity to help avoid conversation lulls, congregating around the TV or eyes glued to smartphones. From classics to Kickstarter-funded newbies, here are a few of our current favorite party games. Charades: A classic game that doesn’t require any cards, boards or game pieces.
Nov 20, 2013
The 7 Elements of a Perfect Mudroom
image:c1db9d4c82d874703d39fb5da343de49a302ad25 w:540 s:"fit" class_name:"mt-image-center" show_pin_button:"true" show_image_credits:"true" Unlike a front entry, seen by all and used by guests, the mudroom is usually a home’s secondary entrance. It’s one of those rooms that many older homes don’t have, and many of us pine for. It’s a hardworking space — even the tiniest of mudrooms is helpful for keeping the house clean and organized and the family efficient.
Sep 11, 2013
Simply Stunning: Steel Windows & Doors
If you’ve been noticing a trend of steel windows and doors showing up in some of your favorite images, you’re not alone. These industrial modern beauties are moving outside of factories and into our homes. The strong steel provides for narrow mullions, huge expanses of glass, and lots of light, and works in both modern and traditional architecture.
Aug 26, 2013
The Best “Grown Up” Futons
image:415c2e7e33ce9d98b1087d352c8378b162311b6e w:540 s:"fit" class_name:"mt-image-center" show_pin_button:"true" show_image_credits:"true" Growing up, the only type of couches my family owned were futons. I thought they were the coolest — you could change the covers, they expanded for sleepovers, and they seemed much more modern than an overstuffed sofa. Nowadays futons are more often associated with dorm rooms than cool furniture.
May 15, 2013
DIY the $50 IKEA VITTSJÖ: 5 Colorful Hacks
For years IKEA’s EXPEDIT has been a ubiquitous storage solution for homes everywhere. But recently the Swedish furnishing giant’s VITTSJÖ has been showing up more and more on my design radar. It doesn’t scream IKEA, and you’d never guess the system starts as low as under $50. The black metal and glass shelving system has a nice industrial quality on its own, but it seems to really shine when it’s given a bright coat of paint.
Feb 13, 2013
5 Ideas for Old Greeting Cards
I love giving and recieving cards, and putting them on display for a bit. But then there’s always the struggle of what to do with them: keep or toss? This past year my husband and I found ourselves with a heap of greeting cards that we just couldn’t bear to part with. But we also don’t know what to do with them in our small home with scant storage space.
Dec 5, 2012
The Renter’s Toolkit: 15 Must Have Essentials
During the first year of living in my first ‘real’ apartment, my now-husband’s family asked what they could get me for my birthday. I responded by asking for a power drill. While I think they thought it was a strange request, they obliged, and ten years later it’s still one of my most used tools. Just because you don’t own your home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have your own toolkit for repairs and improvement.
Aug 29, 2012
Before & After: Urban Outfitters Inspired Nightstands
Meagan, of the blog Craft Habit, recently acquired a pair of hand-me-down Ikea nightstands, but really had her heart set on the GiGi nightstand from Urban Outfitters that, at $150 a piece, was out of her price range. So, set on having more minty fresh goods in her house, she transformed the IKEA pieces into such a good match, we’d be hard-pressed to decide which version we like better.
Jul 9, 2012