Helen Berkun | Fashion Photographer, Stylist, Blogger, Mama
Helen Berkun is a creative director, photographer, fashion stylist, and influencer currently residing in Chicago. she has run the gamut from editorial and advertising photography to celebrity styling and commercial print.
The Nordstrom anniversary sale always comes at the height of summer and it’s like Christmas in July for shopping junkies like myself. Amazing products and clothing go on sale that is NEVER on sale…like Paige and Tom Ford. Dying…
So here are some of my fav picks from this year’s sale. Hopefully, you find some amazing steals too before it’s all sold out and we’re back to full price everything.
Up first- shoes! Duh
As you all know I am obsessed with shoes and can never have enough of them.
I love denim with special details like piping down the sides or a boyfriend cut. Not to mention, everyone’s legs look a little longer with a dark wash high rise boot cut and a pair of heels, killer every time.
This year was my hubby’s 40th Birthday and as always, it’s such a struggle to find him the perfect gift. The man loves motorcycles and boats, so what’s a girl to do? Well, he threw me a bone and said he really wanted a “MAN CAVE” a personal space besides the garages that he can work in and have his man friends hang in!
Easy, peasy, lemon squeezie! This girl is always up for a design challenge. I knew I wanted this space to be dark, masculine and worldly. I also have always wanted a space with pops of emeralds. I found these gorgeous emerald drapes and designed the space around that pop of color.
This room, prior to the re-design, was a sun room that I had built a closet in and made it into our nannies bedroom suite. It’s on the first floor and was great while we had her living with us. We have since become nanny-free and the room became a useless playroom, storage, and basically a mess! It was the perfect space to create this ‘MAN CAVE’ and give the house a little face lift!
CLICK THROUGH TO SEE THESE BEFORE IMAGES
I used all Benjamin Moore Paint, I love the AURA line and highly recommend it. It’s the top tier line and can be quite pricey but worth every penny as it looks like velvet and doesn’t fade the same way other paint can. The color in hubbys office is ONYX. The rest of my home, for those inquiring, is CHANTILLY LACE, dining room is DIOR GRAY, our bedroom is BOLD BLUE, Natan’s room DARK ROYAL BLUE and Kalista’s room is SAN ANTONIO GRAY. All are from the Benjamin Moore Aura line. As you can see, I’m not really afraid of color and you shouldn’t be either!
If you purchase a wood desk and place it in the middle of a room, I highly recommend these in-expensive Desk Grommets. Drill a hole in the desk, then rewire your electrical to the middle of the room, right under the desk. There is nothing sexy about cords. Keep that office sleek!
The bathroom was also a challenge. We weren’t ready to demo it and build a new one, so check out here, how a simple coat of paint and some upgrades in fixtures can change an entire room.
So there you have it friends. A little at-home re-design project that only took a few weeks to complete. It wasn’t major but it sure looks like it is! I also put together a complete shopping guide with items purchased online!
Last week I hosted a very intimate and adorable WINO night for a few of my girlfriends. It was the perfect thing to do on a Thursday night, to unwind, catch up and sample some of the niche boutique-y wines.
The Chicago Lounge owned by Winestyr was the perfect way to get introduced to their wine club. Yep! We have an actual wine cub right here in the Windy City! The lounge itself is simply adorable and perfect for girls nights, friends nights and has these adorable little nooks for date nights! I was sold!
We got to try all of their different wines over hors d’oeuvres… my favorite was definitely the Pinot Noir. I also loved hearing all about where the wines came from and all the lovely personal stories of the vineyards and their owners. It’s so rare that you get to know the people that actually make your wines. Most wines are mass produced and I just loved the stories that went along with each sip.
This may sounds crazy… I know! But the following day we weren’t even hungover…makes you wonder what gets put into the wines that do deliver next day regrets.
Most of the wineries Winestyr works with, produce 1,000 – 10,000 cases per year so they are very niche wines that you can’t find on a grocery store shelf. All the wines are impossible to find elsewhere and that makes them that much more special.
So here’s how the club works! You pick one of two options based on what you like, mixed red and white or all reds. Pick if you want 3 bottles or 6 per shipment and how regularly you would like them shipped, once a month, every other month or quarterly. In this curated box, you get 3 or 6 high end and delish bottles, a Winestyr wine tote bag, tasting notes and a members-only wine corkscrew. The best part of these deliveries? You can pause, change or cancel your shipment. They’re all about customer service. Click here for more info!
I gotta say, this might be my favorite hosting hack. The box of six ensures that no matter who comes for dinner or what I am cooking I always have the perfect pairing! If you try it out leave me a comment and tell me what you thought!
Fathers Day is just around the corner… this Sunday, on June 16th to be exact. I’m sure many of you are in a crunch to find those perfect Father’s Day gifts. The dads in our lives that do so much, but honestly are notoriously tough to buy for. You can never go wrong with something techy, a little lux or crazy useful. Tracking down that perfect present is always the hardest part so I’ve pulled together some amazing Father’s Day gift ideas that leave the cheesy for the dad jokes.
We spend so much time honoring mamas and yes, even though we are queen bees, it’s nice to always remember the incredible fathers out there. I’m so lucky to have Mr. HUBBY aka COOL GUYS DAD by my side. He’s the most incredible hands on father I’ve ever met. He’s caring, loving, way more patient then me and our kids simply adore him!
I really love everything on this guide. Heck, there are a few things I would even stab, like the watch and the phone mount. Hope you enjoy and Happy shopping!
AAAAAH!!! My kids just finished school and today has been insane. You know how it is, you have to constantly be planning something or your kids literally end up sitting on their electronic “digital babysitter’ devices all summer long.
As you know our family is super active and I love my kids to be immersed in culture and experiences. I figured I needed to make a schedule of fun things to do this summer not only for me, but to share with you.
We are big theatre people! This weekend is the perfect ‘family day’ to hit up the incredible production of Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical . On Sunday, June 9th at 1pm. I’ll be there with K and there will be a complimentary pre-show experience with plenty of activities for kids, including a very special meet and greet with Matilda and a ready by a cast member from Roald Dahl’s beloved novel. Use code FAMILY online or at the box office for a discounted Family 4-Pack of tickets. I hope to see you there this Sunday! If not, Matilda will also be playing through June 23rd.
Ginza Holiday Festival – This is a Japanese Street Fest by the Midwest Buddhist temple in Old Town. This fun event is for children ages 4 and up and is FREE for kids, only $5 for adults.
Flores y Cafe – Need an insta moment with your littles? Check out the Freehand Hotel for a blooming pop up with Flowers For Dreams at Café Integral. Purchase flowers from their truck knowing that every bouquet benefits an incredible local charity, plus imagine a food truck in florals!
Chicago Botanic Garden – we love this place! I come here with kiddos all the time to picnic, walk around, learn about vegetation. July 5th – 7th there will be an art fest in the gardens filled with live music, food and 95 different artists. See you there!
MCA – I am a big art advocate as I went to art school and have been a creative my entire life. Museum Days start in the fall but for now, why not get your kiddos and an art pad and create, create, create. The museum always has fun exhibits perfect for kids and their clever modern brains!
Millenium Park – hosts a bunch of events in the summer daily. You can check out the schedule HERE and the best part, they are all FREE.
WNDR Museum – We are so lucky to have this gem in Chicago! Get creative, start to wonder and check out this magical place. I can’t wait to take my kiddos there next week and explore.
A Kid Market – This is super cool. It’s literally a market for kids, by kids. Let’s support these little entrepreneurs and creators. Sponsored by Antique Taco! Can’t wait to check it out.
VOLTA – I can’t complete this write up without mentioning my favorite circus of all time. We love Cirque du Soleil and they are HERE! I’m taking my kiddos next week and can’t wait to see what the show has up it’s sleeve this year.
Ever since I can remember I’ve always LOVED Birthdays! Sure, growing up it was probably for the presents and attention. Yet as I get older, it’s so meaningful to have another year orbiting our beautiful sun!
Last year I really wanted to do a big Birthday Bash at Marchesa’s Parisian Apartment. Remember my photo shoot there? Well, unfortunately, life happened and we had some family CANCER fun to attend to so celebrating really wasn’t on the agenda.
This spring felt a little lighter in the health and family department and although I wasn’t going to do much, my incredible friends put this dream party of mine together and I couldn’t feel more high on life and more grateful. I really wanted an old school dance party. Sometimes all these sit down events and dinners can make a girl feel old. I also didn’t want to talk. As we get older, sometimes we simply talk too much! I wanted to feel free, young and careless. I wanted to celebrate the way we did back in the day. I wanted everyone to dance and celebrate each other. Music can be such a connector for people. As we age we often forget that. Sometimes Birthdays can be such an egotistical celebration. It’s about ME…ME…ME. My goal?! EVERYONE has to have a good time. This wasn’t a “ME” party, this is a “WE” party! After all, most of the people in these photos have been my friends for decades, and we all started out as club kids on the dance floor!
Thanks to DJ LOVEBONE who happens to be my friend and quite possibly the best DJ in the city, to spin the best 70’s + 80’s and 90’s. The original “CLUB” music! I loved every second of it and based on all your amazing DM’s from my isnta stories so did you. If you guys need a DJ! Look him up, he’s the best. If you need an event space, check out my Marchesa family. Jason and Kathryn know how to not only throw a party but the perfect experience and at the end of the day, that’s what life is all about!
With summer in full swing… well, sorta! Here in Chicago it’s been quite the bi-polar show. I did however want to do a little shopping guide of summer must haves. One thing is for sure, whether you are traveling, or local. Resort wear is the best wear. It’s fun to mix things up and to finally un-layer!
With all the sales going on, it’s also the BEST time to shop! So scroll through to see my SUMMER SHOPPING GUIDE of the best looks, trends, and style steals!
From belted swimsuits, parachute dresses, to animal prints, and groundbreaking florals. This summer, anything goes. Really… pretty much anything.
We are still embracing the 90’s vibes, mixing patterns and throwing in some must have key pieces. Chunky espadrille flats, embellished heels, woven belts and gingham.
I know I say this quite a bit but dammit… I’m lucky! Well, that’s entirely true. Yes, a lot of it has to do about being at the right place and at the right time. However knowing the right people, working my ass off and well, just freaking chasing my dreams is definitely the way to make things happen!
I was getting so many requests about doing an in person make-up tutorial. So I decided I was going to make it happen, not knowing if anyone would actually show up. I reached out to Winky Lux after going to their Chicago store opening, loving their products and knowing the space was a magical make-up playground I wanted to play in. In less then an hour we sold out and the rest as they say is… HISTORY!
It’s really quite a pinch me moment. I’m by no means a make-up artist. I came to America as a pre-teen immigrant, with no money for cool clothes. My old school parents being completely against me wearing any kind of make-up while all the other girls were playing with glosses and mascara. Frankly I was an Ugly Duckling nerd. I actually got teased and bullied constantly for my looks. So I would spend time alone, at home, playing with Wet-N-Wild make-up and well, trying to beautify myself the best way I knew how. Practice makes perfect, right?
It was actually then, that I realized how much clothes and make-up can transform a person. It was then that I started to play with characters and creating my own, so called editorials that lived in my head.
I have so many young impressionable followers living in this crazy digital world. Girls, boys, I was never cool. I didn’t always know how to do a lot of things, but I always knew what I wanted. I wanted to create what we now call content. I always wanted and loved fashion and beauty! Even though I was the farthest from the two.
Thank you to all of you for supporting me and allowing me to live my dreams. I encourage you all to do the same. Follow your heart, follow your gut and never stop hustling! You don’t live your dreams by dreaming, you make them happen!
You’d be surprised how often I hear: “You’re always so happy! Your life is perfect. You don’t seem like you worry about anything.” However that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m not a robot… I’m a human just like everyone else. With emotions, hardships, break downs.
Growing up and in general I had a very happy childhood but I certainly didn’t have a very easy life. I don’t know if I actually ever shared this, but I had a very rare blood disorder called ITP. In fact, the reason we are in the US is because they couldn’t cure me back in USSR and my parents brought me here, essentially to save my life.
During my childhood I was always in hospitals and was on very high doses of steroids and had to have blood transfusions every few weeks. Needless to say I didn’t have a ton of friends and resorted to creativity and art as my escape. I won’t bore you with my health scare details but after living with ITP for seven years I eventually went into remission at age 12. Thanks to my angel, my mama I didn’t have to have my spleen taken out and currently have all my organs in tact!
In my late twenties and early thirties I went through a pretty brutal divorce and was left a single mom with a four week old N. My divorce took longer than my marriage and I already had K when it was finalized.
I’ve had a lot of money, flown on private jets, and I’ve also had $.37 in the bank account, dumpster dived, declared bankruptcy and slept on peoples couches with a newborn. I moved back home with my parents at the age 30. I didn’t find my real, true love until I was already a mother and was going through a divorce.
In the last four years it seems like everyone in my family has been affected by cancer. Pancreatic, skin, breast, cervical and Acute Leukemia to be exact. It hasn’t been an easy ride, and we’re still living in it!
So here are my five “KEEP YOURSELF SANE + HAPPY” tricks!
WORK OUT – It may seem simple enough but so many people don’t do it. Working out releases endorphins and it’s the only time you and your thoughts can be together in a “healthy” way! With YouTube at your fingertips there should’t be a reason why you can’t do a workout. You don’t have to pay to have a great work out! Waking up just an hour early, or not taking a lunch and getting a work out in, or going to bed just a little bit later, will help you stay sane + happy! No excuses!!!
THERAPY – I’ve done a lot of therapy in my years and I’m a true believer that therapy is not just for depressed people. It is for all people. Mental health is so important and sometimes going to talk to a non-biased person is all you need to help you deal. I’m also a big advocate for therapy even when everything is going great and you’re happy. It’s a good check-in system!
NATURE – A lot of my followers live in the city and I remember living in the concrete jungle and I myself was feeling down. Have you ever heard the term “GROUNDING”? Grounding refers to contact with the Earth’s surface electrons by walking barefoot outside or sitting, working, or sleeping indoors connected to conductive systems, that transfer the energy from the ground into the body. Deepak Chopra is a huge advocate of this and I remember him speaking about grounding at the last conference I attended. My mom and grandma were always telling me to ground myself and walk around barefoot, or lay in the grass. It really does help you get your mood back in order. It’s your way to re-connect with the Earth, a process us humans were created to do.
INSTAGRAM – Delete people form your feed that simply don’t make you feel good. If that’s me, delete me! I mean it. Instagram should inspired you, uplift you and excite you. If you have feelings of comparison, need a certain validation, “LIKES” or get angry and get FOMO, delete those accounts. They don’t serve you and they don’t bring you happiness. You shouldn’t have to keep up with the Joneses you should be the Joneses!
READ A BOOK OR WATCH A FILM – It’s crazy that two of my “HAPPY” tricks are non social media related and I in fact make a living working in social media. However, stop scrolling. Escape not in other peoples life but in a good film or a good book. Believe me… it’s a much easier and better escape! Put perimeters on your phone just like you do with kids and have all social media shut off. When was the last time you read a magazine, a book or watched an amazing film?
That’s it folks! These are my five keys to happiness! I also leave you with this beautiful and old fact…
Finally, the time has come where I write about this magical gem called Anna Maria Island. We’ve been coming here for the past eight years and what originally started as a mere accident has become our family tradition.
We technically found this little island on a whim. Eight years ago all our friends were headed out to Sarasota for Spring Break. We, the procrastinators, looked last minute and by that time either everything decent was booked or completely insane in the price department. So… hubby, the boater and fisherman that he is, researched and found Anna Maria Island. I protested at first, I’ve never heard of this place before and none of our family or friends had ever come here. However, upon arrival I was in LOVE! The most beautiful light, water as clear as Turks and Caicos and the whitest powdered sand in all America!
So many of you have messaged me and asked about where to stay, what to do, where to eat. For a while I honestly tried to keep Anna Maria Island as my little secret. When we first started coming here, I’m not exaggerating where I tell you… we had the beaches to ourselves. There were barely any people here and it was kind our little secret escape! However, eight years later and I’m ready to share everything.
I figured I can’t go back all eight years and bombard you with these family pix… but how could I not share the gorgeous photos I take on the island with the most beautiful light. Click through these galleries to get a better glimpse of this magical island!