Nooks & Crannies, Cabin Fever Edition

Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.

Inspired Home

959 Main St., Ste. 2, Antioch, (224) 788-5085,

Christine Talaber’s home decor and gift shop is filled with items that attract the eye. The shop specializes in unique items including home decor, accent pieces, custom pottery, organic soap and embroidered towels. The interior has wood-style floors and an earthy feel that’s part bohemian, part industrial chic.

“If you see a pitcher or platter you like in our shop and say, ‘I love that style but it doesn’t go with my home,’ we suggest you bring in paint swatches and we send the swatches to our pottery artist,” says Talaber.

She also carries organic soaps made in Carmel, Ind., and candles from Himalayan Trading Co. The latter features candles inside beautiful vessels made of glass, wood or metal. Customers can buy a refill kit and keep using the vessel as a candle jar. 

Talaber makes an effort to get to know customers, and she’ll go so far as to customize items so they better suit someone’s style.

“I’ve gotten great compliments like, ‘I could just take a glass of wine and curl up in that corner over there and read a book,’” says Talaber. “I want people to picture this item in their home it in a way that brings them peace and joy.”

Hours: Wed.-Sat. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Blissful Blooms

55 S. Lake St., Aurora, (630) 881-3030,

During nursing school, Maria Cermeno wanted a side job that was “no stress,” so she landed work at a flower shop. When she finally realized nursing wasn’t her dream job, Cermeno asked herself, “What do I do now?”

The answer was easy enough, given her three years of floral work and a growing passion. She had a few soft starts and then, last August, opened her own floral shop on the second floor of Warehouse 55, an antique store in downtown Aurora.

Cermeno’s store offers a variety of floral arrangements including fresh flowers, dried flower bouquets and plants. Cermeno starts by having a conversation with the customer about what they want. She asks questions like, “What is the occasion?” and “What color palette are you looking for?” After putting the arrangement together, she sends a photo to her customer so they know exactly what they will receive.

Cermeno believes flowers are a way of connecting with people and sharing art. The shop supplies many a wedding or special event and often hosts private events for photographers. Given that weddings are much smaller these days, Cermeno finds more brides turn to flowers for a special touch.

“A lot of times with smaller spaces, you need to emphasize them more with flowers and make the event more memorable.”

 Hours: Mon., Wed.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun. to 4 p.m.

Fat Cat Custom Guitars

57 Douglas Ave., Elgin, (847) 888-0000,

The story behind Fat Cat Custom Guitars & Repair is as unique as the store itself.

“My wife and I were trying to come up with a name for the business and one of our cats walked by,” owner Scott Bond says with a laugh. “She is a fat cat, so I just said, ‘Let’s name the place Fat Cat.’ It’s catchy and it works.”

Since 2004, Bond’s Fat Cat has specialized in electric guitars, namely those he repairs, builds from scratch or customizes for each player. The store sells custom, hand-built electric guitars, parts and accessories including necessities like strings and picks. Occasionally, there are select used guitars available. Bond also offers set-ups, electronics replacement, general repairs and fretwork.

“We have custom-made guitars and parts that local musicians can’t find anywhere else,” says Bond, who has worked on guitars professionally for almost two decades.

A guitarist for more than 30 years, Bond has even recorded an album at Abbey Road Studios in London.

He does only curbside service by appointment, which can be booked on his website.

Hours may vary, so call ahead.