Decorating Your Apartment For Halloween

Whether you are preparing for a Halloween party, trick or treaters or you just want to get into the Halloween spirit, don’t fear, having a plan can make sure your decorating efforts don’t turn into a nightmare!

First decide on a theme – cute Halloween, spooky skulls or zombies, zombies, zombies – whatever possess your designer instincts.

Now don’t moan and groan but it makes sense to create a basic plan around your apartment layout. Do you just want to focus on a window so your apartment gives off an eerie vibe to your neighbors or are you planning on putting a full-throtle haunt on?  Either way a plan will help youkeep from freaking out when you go to purchase your decorations or diy supplies.

Spooky colored lighting sets a chilling mood as well as creating creepy scenes in unexpected places.  Glow sticks and inexpensive string lights do wonders to set that spine chilling mood.

Don’t forget to use your ceiling for the unexpected fright – helium balloons can be easily transformed into ghostly guests lurking in unexpected places or a spider that drops from a door frame are a shriek inducing good time.

Finally, cobwebs, lots and lots of cobwebs – nothing is more unnerving then walking face first into a web.

Posted in 2014, Holiday | Tagged | Leave a comment

Beat Boring Beige With Pop of Color

Apartment decor can be pretty bland simply because we, as a property management company, need to appeal to a broad base of customers.  So painting walls is not about personal style but about not turning off potential tenants with vivid paint color choices.

So how can you, the tenant, add that pop of color to a bland sea of beige?

Here are some easy and affordable ways to introduce color into your home:

  • Paint a focal piece of furniture a vibrant color you love.
  • Add fun kitchen utensils to brighten up your kitchen countertop.
  • DIY your own glass vases in bold paint hues to display throughout your place.
  • Removable wallpaper. Pick a wall and have some fun.
  • Use white furniture or comforters as a base then layer color. Pillows, blankets, curtains, art, accessories and rugs – also very easy to switch “looks” when you’re ready for a change.
  • Flowers.  A great way to bring color and a little bit of the outdoors in!
  • Two brightly colored chairs in a favorite color can do the trick.
  • Go bold with your shower curtain to add that visual splash.
  • Art – play up color in the art you choose – then coordinate the colors of rug, accessories, etc.
  • Make your own art by covering large panels of foam core in fabric or wallpaper and then hang or just lean them up against the wall.  Instant wow.
Posted in 2014, Apartment Living, Design, | Tagged | 1 Comment

Oak Park’s Horrific History Comes To Life

Tale Of The Tombstones

There are plenty of grisly events that have made history. Pair gory history with the ever frightful month of October and you come up with the Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest’s Tale of the Tomb horrific historical (as well as interesting and fun) event.

Heading into it’s 23rd year, Tale of the Tomb is a cemetery walking tour that portrays historical events that have a darker spin to them.  This year’s theme focuses on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, America’s bloodiest conflict.  The tour begins at Forest Home Cemetery and will feature a variety of stories about the cemeteries Civil War spectral residents and, though not a resident, Abraham Lincoln may make a ghostly guest appearance as well to provide some presidential war insights.

Tale of the Tomb happens on Sunday, October 19 starting at 863 Des Plaines in Forest Park at the Forest Home Cemetery. Tours start at 1p.m. and go every 10 minutes with the last tour leaving at 2p.m.  Tickets are $15 or $10 for members of the Historical Society. You can either purchase tickets ahead of time through the Historical Society or they will also be available at the door on the day of the walk.

Posted in 2014, Fun, History of Oak Park, Holiday, Oak Park Happenings,, The Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest, Volunteerism | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Locked Out? What To Do.

Everyone, at one time or another, will find themselves locked out of their apartment. wants to help you game plan for when you do.


  1. Make an spare key.
  2. Give that key to a trusted (key word here) local (nearby only makes sense) friend, neighbor or family member – by taking the time to make and distribute an extra key you will be able to have access to that spare when you need it most or…
  3. Keep a spare key in a not so obvious place – between your cell phone and its’ case, for example. (Please do not hide a key under your welcome mat or you will most likely have “un-welcomed” guests sometime in your future.)
  4. Call OPA if you do not have or you can not get access to your spare key. Let OPA’s office or after hours answering service know your predicament. A company representative will contact you to work out the details of getting you back into your place.  Just as an fyi there is a lock-out service fee of $25.00 during normal business hours, $50.00 after hours, $75.oo on holidays.  (That’s why we want you to make yourself a spare key!)
  5. Have your i.d. on hand.  You will be asked for identification before being allowed access to your apartment for obvious security purposes.
  6. Save the following’s phone numbers onto your cell phone so you have immediate access to help when you need it. Call 708-622-9246 during normal business hours (M-F; 9-5) or after hours call the emergency service number, 708-237-6952 and our answering service will contact our on-call staff to help you.
Posted in 2014, Apartment Living,, Safety | Tagged | Leave a comment

Recycle, Recycle, Recycle

Taking care of our environment has been a hot topic since Woodsy Owl was asking people back in the early 70′s to “give a hoot, don’t pollute.”

Well, many Oak Parkers are children of the 70′s and have taken Woodsy’s slogan to heart because Oak Park believes in recycling.

Did you know that Americans now own, on average, 24 electronic devices per household? And don’t we all know how quickly the technology can become outdated as new, better, faster devices enter the market place (can you say iPhone?).  Well Oak Park is responding to the need to help residents by providing an environmentally sound way to recycle your old devices.

This weekend the Village of Oak Park is hosting an electronics recycling event at the Public Works Center at 201 South Boulevard from 9 a.m – 1 p.m.  This event is offered the last Saturday of every month from May through October.

Items that are accepted at the event are: computers, peripherals (peripherals are things like the mouse, keyboard, hard drives, flash drives, etc… I wasn’t sure what a peripheral was so I looked it up!), laptops, monitors, TVs, cell phones, rechargeable batteries, printers, fax machines, MP3 players, portable digital assistants, video game consoles, video cassette recorders, digital video disk players, zip drives, scanners and microwaves. All of the above electronics are banned from Illinois landfills because they are harmful to our environment.

This program is sponsored by the Illinois EPA, the West Cook County Solid Waste Agency and Vintage Tech Recyclers. For more information call Oak Park’s Public Works department at 708.358.5700 or email

So be like Woodsy and give a hoot.

Posted in 2014, Green Living, Oak Park Happenings, Oak Park Public Works,, Village of Oak Park | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

OPA Adds Instagram To Social Media Line-Up

We’ve all heard the old adage, a picture is worth a thousand words… pair that quote with new technology and bam, no wonder why Instagram has 150 million plus users who are uploading over 55 million pictures a day. OPA has to agree that this little app is hot.  And like with any other relevant social media OPA wants to keep up with the trends.

So what should take pictures of….. because we just didn’t want to be random.

OPA thought long and hard and this is what we came up with:

Well, for one, Oak Park has many, vibrant social activities that happen right in our own backyard.  Great restaurants, events like Oaktoberfest, concerts, theater, farmer’s markets, art’s district, shopping and more… makes living in Oak Park lively, downright fun and definitely picture-worthy.

Architecture, well that’s another no-brainer, with Frank Lloyd Wright having his home and studio right in the heart of Oak Park there is no doubt there are many amazing properties with details that don’t go into most buildings that are constructed now-a-days which will make for some unique shots.

History, Oak Park has that too and is proud of it’s heritage.  From the Village’s original settlers, the Kettlestrings to other notables like Ernest Heminway, Frank Lloyd Wright and current day celebs (yep, Betty White was born in Oak Park) there is a lot of history within Oak Park’s borders so we’ll try to somehow capture that on film.

Chicago.  Oak Park is only 10 miles from the heart of downtown Chicago and is easily accessible by the blue & green “L” lines, the Metra and the Eisenhower Expressway.  So more fun, excitement, museums, sports teams, concerts, food & festivals just a hop, skip and a jump away from Oak Park makes keeping photo tabs on Chicago happenings a must.

Who doesn’t like a renovation project?  Well, with over 40 plus vintage properties OPA is working hard to not only maintain our buildings but to make sure we are sensitive to the need to preserve what is so special about these multi-unit walk ups along with making sure tenants have the 21st century amenities that make for comfortable, modern day living. Hey, we all love a before and after pic, right?

#GiveBack – in other words OPA will be sharing pics of how we, as a company, are trying to make a difference in our community and hopefully that will build awareness of all the great causes that are right under our Oak Park noses.

So give us a follow on Instagram and see Oak Park through our lens!

Posted in 2014, Fun, History of Oak Park, Oak Park Charities, Oak Park Happenings,, Village of Oak Park, Volunteerism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Catholic Charities & WSSRA Receive OPA Support

Giving back to the community is an important part of the mission of  As a company that has been a fixture in Oak Park for over 28 years, owners Bill and Bob Planek feel strongly about making Oak Park a better place to call home and not just for our tenants.

In September, OPA will have sponsored and participated in both the Catholic Charities’ Brighter Futures Golf Outing and the Makin’ Tracks 5K Run/Walk. Over the last three years not only has OPA been a sponsor but we have also sponsored tenants who wanted to participate in the Makin’ Tracks 5k. This year a record 27 OPA participants will be at this Saturdays race.

So, since we really don’t want to make this about us we’ll let you know a little about the charities and the amazing things they do to help others.

The Brighter Futures Golf Outing is an annual event that benefits the Catholic Charities New Hope Housing Program in western Cook County. This program works to help transition families from “homelessness to self-sufficiency through subsidized rent, intensive case management, counseling, job development, personal financial education, and networking with local school districts to help children stay in school, all with remarkable success. Over 80% of families stay employed, in school and in stable housing. Catholic Charities’ New Hope Housing Program dramatically changes families’ lives, providing true “hope” for their futures.”

The Makin’ Tracks 5k proceeds go to supporting the West Suburban Special Recreation Association (WSSRA) which offers a wide array of recreational programs at over 75 community locations at a cost that is similar to those charged for regular park district programing. Due to participants varying abilities special services and transportation needs are an important aspect to WSSRA programming. Since the WSSRA does not want their programming costs to prohibit anyone from participating they have set up scholarship funding for those in need.  This event supports those scholarships.

So, in the inspirational words of George Bernard Shaw:

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.  I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live.

Posted in 2014, Oak Park Charities, Oak Park Happenings,, Volunteerism | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hot Weather Tips 4 Your Pet

In honor of #HappyNationalDogDay, pet friendly wanted to ensure that our furry friends are fairing well now that we have finally hit the dog days of summer.

Here are some tips that will help your dog (and cat) stay cool during the heat.

  • Take your pet for walks in the early morning or late evening hours – avoid the heat of the day.
  • Keep your air-conditioning unit on.  If you are trying to conserve energy/money then turn the temperature to a moderate 76 -78 degrees.
  • Circulate the air with fans.  Turn on a ceiling or table fan to help cool your pet.
  • Close all shades/curtains on all windows that are not north facing to prevent the sun from heating up your apartment.
  • Keep plenty of cold water available for your pet.  A great trick is to cut the top of a large water bottle, freeze water overnight then pop the jumbo ice cube out in your pets bowl in the morning for cool drinking water all day long.
  • Purchase a kool collar for your pet. Fill with ice for outdoor use or freeze the Kool tube for inside, then place the collar around your pets neck to cool their body temperature during the heat of the day.
  • Shedding is a furry pets natural defenses in hot weather.  Make sure your pet is well groomed and also brush your pet regularly.
  • Never, never leave your pet inside a car in the summer.
  • Lastly, since Oak Park is so doggone close to Chicago you can always take your pet to the Montrose dog beach to cool off.

What to look for if your pet is overheated:

  • Excessive panting and/or drooling.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Increased heart and respiratory rate.
  • Glazed eyes.
  • Weakness, stupor or even collapse.

More serious symptoms include:

  • Seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Deep red or purple tongue.
  • Elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.

If any of the above extreme symptoms occur take your pet to a veterinarian immediately.

Posted in 2014, Apartment Living,, Pet Friendly Oak Park Apartments | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Tenant Responsibilities

Renting an apartment comes with more responsibilities then just the basics of paying your rent, security deposit and utilities once you sign your lease.

Being a responsible tenant means:

  1. Keeping your apartment clean and safe from hazards.
  2. Disposing of your garbage in a proper and timely way.
  3. Changing burnt out lightbulbs in your apartment – common areas are OPA’s responsibility but the bulbs that are in your apartment are yours.
  4. Changing the batteries in your smoke/carbon monoxide detectors – OPA checks the batteries as well as the device at the beginning of your lease but when that smoke detector gives off that annoying beep in the middle of the night letting you know the batteries are low the responsibility becomes yours.
  5. Using the electrical, plumbing, heating, air-conditioning, and any and other building systems, including elevators properly.  (For example, do not overload electrical outlets.)
  6. Fixing things that you break.
  7. Not damaging or defacing your apartment, or allowing anyone else to do so. (if any of the above happens refer to #6.)
  8. Notifying the landlord immediately when repairs are needed, even if you are responsible. strives for the best tenant/landlord relations so if you have further question please refer to our tenant handbook.  Still unsure?  Give us a call during regular business hours (9-5) at 708-622-9246 and we’d be happy to help.

Posted in 2014, Apartment Living, Maintenance,, lease | Tagged | Leave a comment

Renter’s Insurance 101

Unless you are rolling in the $$ and can afford to replace everything you own in the case of theft, fire or some other unpredictable disaster, you need renter’s insurance.

Sure, has insurance, but our insurance will only cover the structural damage to the building or specific apartment.  For example, if there is a fire in your kitchen OPA’s insurance will replace damaged appliances and cabinets but not cover your dishes, glasses or cookware.

Renter’s insurance covers the loss of personal items due to fire, smoke and water damage, theft, and vandalism. Liability coverage is also offered by some insurance agencies and will cover costs if a visitor were to injure themselves in your home.

Renter’s insurance will cost anywhere from $12 to $25 a month for a policy that provides at the minimum, $20,000 worth of coverage.  You may pay more or less depending on your neighborhood, the level of coverage you choose and the amount of your deductible.   Shop around for quotes from several insurance agencies in order to get the best deal.

You may not think that your possessions are that valuable, but just take a minute to tally up the cost of your furniture, t.v., laptop and clothing – the money needed to replace these items adds up fast.

Posted in 2014, Apartment Living, Money,, Renting an apartment | Tagged , | Leave a comment