Interior Design – By the Clan of The Cave Rat


I have a family member who is a production designer and is incredibly inspiring. Seeing some of her work really feels like you are experiencing a number of different worlds, and the detail she puts into each project is astonishing. When I got to my place, I realized your environment has a profound effect on your psyche, and the best way to make yourself feel at home is to design it to reflect the person you are. It takes great empathy to be able to connect to a character on such a deep level, which is what made her work so interesting to me. When I saw it I thought she could teach this! After living in Chicago for over a decade and deciding to call it home, I was determined to make this my world, so I took a stab at creating “my space”. When one is lost in many thoughts, they can make a big mess of their place. Knowing yourself and designing the place to reflect you may help to respect things from your life that bring you joy and you will find a natural tendency to be yourself.

The Use of Wallpaper

There are many productions that use wallpaper and I developed a whole new respect for it. I never liked wallpaper much, but if you can find a nice pattern and color, one wall as an accent is a great way to add depth and character. If you think that painting is not appropriate, then you shouldn’t have tried teaching me much much worse at such an early age!!!

Bathroom Vanity

This mosaic vanity DIY only cost $180 (including the waterfall faucet) and was a lot of fun. All you need is random mosaic tiles, mosaic powdered grout, glue, tile nippers, and a thirst for a weekend creative project. I didn’t record myself, but instructions can be viewed here. Hers is a bit more tedious design with smaller pieces. I wanted to be spontaneous with complementary colors and randomness.

I loved all women’s take on Carrie’s apartment article on Modsy. I used the ottomans and accent sofa color used in Carrie’s take to come up with my own version, including my love of all types of music, and to resemble some of the cultures I have experienced and come to love. I find books a way to travel, and I love sailing, so I made the book stoppers as antique ends of a sailboat, and they are all antique books I kept from my grandparents and parents. Road trips to all the national parks such as Zeon, Great Teton, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and more – have been quite an adventure. I went on rides through those on my own, so I got a retro car planter for a small cactus and a retro-style radio to tune in to FM to savor those memories. The pillows are there to remind you to dream and travel in your dreams. The painting is a Leonid Afremov painting.

I love his knife technique, his take on impressionism with bright colors, and his life story. I chose the triptych with a girl walking in the rain because, in Kenya, I was given the name “Wanjiku” and told it means “born with rain.” Actually, I just liked the painting because I thought it was very calming, and I want to run/walk/dance/believe in the rain… and Leonid is so gifted at catching the ambiance of rain in his paintings. But, I think
in my subconscious, I was still connected to that name. You know how some of those books about the power of your subconscious mind tell you how your paintings at home describe you, and you may not always be aware of it? I felt that AFTER I hung the painting up. I was also shocked how my colleagues in Kenya got me, and I love it when I invite friends over; they see me in the design of my apartment and also feel good about hanging around here. I want to start having tea parties and cook some Czech cuisine for them in the future. The lamp is a mesh lamp to remind me of our lights at Amazon Jungle or African Safari. The faux lambskin is to remind me of grandma’s room in Czechia. When I visited her, I always found it to be like a door to the Roman Empire.

When it came to the color choice, I wanted to keep it within the 60-30-10 color rule, including my guitars, djembe, and harp, but of course, I played around a bit to add to that. I’d say 60 would be the warm tones (yellow, orange, brown), 30 would be the cool blues, and 10 would be the patterns. I slightly altered the hue of blue to teal when I started designing the bedroom. The cool tone is the primary color, adding a bit of green to resemble the nature of blending trees with the blue sky. To alter the yellow, I changed it to gold to fill in the 10%.

My music corner is a depiction of a love of improvisation. My grandfather was an improvisation jazz musician, singer, and piano player. I thought he would even be with me when I would play my piano and look at the guitar-playing lamp – reminding me to keep going with the flow, and then the lightbulb will go off. I’ll perhaps even compose something one day or just jam along as I did with the musicians in Kenya Riruta Satellite.

Looking into the details of how you design your home sets your mood and connection with yourself. I normally just throw stuff around and hardly tidy up; in childhood, I had posters of my favorite bands wherever there was space. Making this my space that I want to feel at home in and be grateful for makes me more excited to make my bed in the morning. I recommend it to anyone!! I absolutely loved the process of designing my own place. I wanted to thank all the interior and production designers for their inspiration and hard work that helped us connect with each other, most of all, my family! ❤

This place is also available on Airbnb for rent when I am traveling. The location is idyllic for those who like to keep themselves busy throughout the day and night and are interested in many cultural aspects of metropolitan cities, such as arts, music, cuisine, nature, entertainment, sports, etc. Some of the amenities in the building, as well as close by, include…

Amenities that are part of the property:

  • WiFi & Cable
  • two pools & tennis courts
  • rooftop grill area with views of the city and the lake
  • laundry
  • full kitchen with dishwasher, microwave, and electric stove
  • large flat screen TV with Prime subscription and all major news channels
  • feel free to checkout any books in the library, but return without damage
  • music corner is open for use, containing two acoustic guitars, one classical guitar, one electric guitar, piano, violin, djembe and lyre harp
  • Alexa operated lighting and sound system in bedroom/bathroom/living room
  • Alexa operated blackout blinds
  • soothing electric fireplace attached to TV stand
  • rainfall shower and hydromassage tub with Alexa in the bathroom
  • night time doorman
  • guest parking garage
  • bike room
  • package delivery up to the apartment door
  • maintenance available by appointment (or in emergency)

This one-bedroom condo with a full kitchen and three closets can be rented for $123/night or $2,300/month, all amenities included. Check out availability on Airbnb.

Close by venues and entertainment:

  • steps away from the lake and two of the main beaches in Chicago with volleyball nets and restaurants with tiky bars and live music
  • Chicago is very bike and dog friendly, with terrific trails around the lake
  • Navy Pier is a few minutes down South, you can catch fireworks each Saturday Night throughout the months of Summer
  • 1.5 miles away from sailboats and boating events/classes
  • steps away from upscale shopping & dining as well as live music & comedy entertainment such as the Second City or Porchlight Music Theatre right around the corner… Improv is something that is naturally associated to LA and NYC, but Chicago is the birthplace of Improv, well known for its comedy scene and voted as America’s funniest city year to year, being home to some of the most prominent personalities in the field, such as Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Chris Farley, Keegan-Michael Key, Amy Sedaris, Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell—to name a few, but there are also many local artists, musicians and play writers who have open exhibitions and performances throughout the year…
  • steps away from Lincoln Park, Zoo, and Botanic Garden, where you can also take outdoor yoga classes for free
  • stroll away from beautiful Old Town and other unique Chicago neighborhoods such as Logan Square, Chicago Loop, Lakeview, Wicker Park and River North… all very unique with their own crowd ranging from hip and artsy trend setters to LGBTQ communities, or families and young professionals… you can experiment with wide range of international cuisines and local as well as international breweries, local artist shows, concerts, and plays… or have a quiet dinner on one of the rooftops in the city with spectacular views of the river, modern architecture, and lake…
  • steps away from public transport
  • gym with basketball courts, classes, an indoor pool, and a spa is around the corner
  • 10-minute walk to the city center
  • within a two-mile radius, you can find Millenium and Grand Park with Buckingham Fountain, Bean and natural public lawn for a Summer picnic you can plan during the classical or jazz live music festival at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion or join in during the Latin dance festival
  • within a two-mile radius, you can also find Field Museum, Art Institute
  • within the same two-mile radius is also THE oldest planetarium in the US, also one of the best – Adler Planetarium, and one of the largest aquariums in the world – Shedd Aquarium. I take regular walks there to say hi to the dolphins and belugas or watch the sky at the planetarium. They are right next to each other, so you can do both 🙂
  • Gold Coast is right in the middle of two major Chicago sport arenas, both within a stroll away – the Cubs in Lakeview up North, and the BlackHawks hockey as well as Chicago Bulls basketball at the United Center going South direction
  • Chicago is known for its architecture, and Gold Coast is no exception, full of its own contributions, with historic mansions that have stood the test of time, until more modern architecture done by the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright was added, as well as some of the most recent tall skyscrapers such as The One Chicago East Tower… walking through the neighborhood can almost feel like walking through many different centuries in human history

About Gold Coast

Read about this lively and charming neighborhood here –

Since I got into this and spent all the money on designing my space, I am started to do interior design as a hobby, currently working as a freelance interior designer on Task Rabbit until I build a larger portfolio. I start my work by giving a questionnaire and interviewing you about your style (favorite artworks, music, designs etc.) and to get to know who you are and what you enjoy in life. It gives me a sense of how to use and design your space to match and represent YOU. Feel free to reach out if you’d like my help!

Skippy Protesting Creative Block


There’s this thing called creative block, and it is very real. Artists can be very introspective and get stuck in their heads. My cat Skippy likes to protest when the canvas is blank for too long, but I also wonder if she’s just been traumatized by my last seizure at home. There can be a number of ideas in your noodle, but apparently, this strange mental clusterfuck is necessary in order to get started, and sometimes it makes us act aloof. Pollock is a great example of creative block. From my experience in college, this is not uncommon. It is indeed painful, but for whatever reason we love it. Skippy has a hard time understanding but got used to it. I think Louis Wain would love this. This reading is usually my go-to when I experience something similar, kinda like I have during the past couple of months.

If you like reading, Julia Cameron’s new book The Listening Path explores “creative unblocking”.

All my love to fellow artists who can relate ❤

Christmas at Marco Island


When I lived in Florida, I missed home, because of the four seasons and winter sports it offered, but experiencing Christmas there was also very magical. Floridians are very keen on decorating, whether it is a palm tree or a house, there are lights everywhere and a lot of retirees go out fast walking with Santa’s hat on, sometimes smiling with white teeth, even brighter with their well-maintained tan… or they do water aerobics in a pool. For young people, Christmas in Orlando’s Disneyland is an experience of a lifetime. I spent my first Christmas day in Florida when I was 15. After joining a candlelight show choir in Orlando’s Disneyland and still daydreaming about it after, I went to the pool and suntanned and then watched dolphins at the beach – something completely foreign to me at the time. My mother brought me to Florida, knowing I was completely in love with dolphins, and even though public transport sucked and there was never any piazza in the cities, Florida had its own magic, in addition to ONE of my favorite species on the planet.

The tree in May 🙂

Now when I am in Chicago I love traveling to Florida for the holidays and getting the best of both worlds. One of the traditions we started was building the Christmas trees from thousands of shells we would collect. The tree gets bigger by the year and we began getting help from other residents of our building. It makes the Christmas season all the better when celebrating with the community, and Floridians LOVE a creative project. At night we light the tree with candles and those who take Christmas evening walks on the beach hang around the tree for a while, taking pictures and/or adding shells. It was actually started by my mom, and I chipped in, then my stepdad challenged us to take it up a notch. I remember the biggest Christmas tree I ever saw was in Germany when I was 10 and we visited friends in Marktredwitz. I loved it there among the picturesque town and Christmas markets, Christmas spirit, and I could swear the snowman was bigger than the one in the Guinness book of records, but I got to see it, and was inspired to build a big tree on the beach, made of shells! Hobbes was hoping it would make Calvin’s day 🙂

My “stab” at Body art


I dared to try tattoo design and had fun designing these two. As a kid, I was fascinated with fireflies. I always thought of them as means of direction in nature. By nature, we all have our own light, but sometimes that light is dimmed if we allow negative forces from our surroundings to influence our psyche and fireflies remind us to turn the light on in dark times. The semicolon shape of the firefly’s body represents mental health. When facing mental health disability, one’s sense of direction can spin out of control, like a never-ending cycle. By observation of fireflies during girl scout camps, I noticed that sometimes fireflies themselves wander around in circles, but at a gracious pace with peaceful energy. I constantly wanted to be able to decode their luminescence and twinkle (like morse code). This made me want to edit the tattoo to have a morse code pattern around the lighthouse, but haven’t decided if I wanted it to say SOS or something else. I figured “seek” or “aspire” would be the right word, representing an urge I’d always have just when I was about to enable myself to get out of the vicious cycle of overthinking. Also, it would represent my need when I’d follow fireflies deep into the woods as if I’d be looking for my Patronus. Morse code can save your life when lost without means of communication or direction. With that said, another reason I brought this association to the meaning of my tattoo is that when looking for the right support group, you need to make sure they understand not only your light but also your twinkle. In the Czech Republic, one imaginary character would be a firefly in a form of a human, kind of like a fairy. In the Czech language, we would call them “bludicka”, meaning a mythical creature always on a quest, lost, and seeking light in the darkness, not necessarily aware of their own light. To me, it is very psychological and I love JK Rowling’s further elaboration of this with the symbolic application of Patronus and Dementors.

Lighthouse is a representation of a support system – those who will stay with you and direct you the right way towards your healing and dreams. I believe that we all have our own place for our consciousness in the timeless universe, and it is a blessing if you find those who will help you sustain your light. I also love the lighthouse symbology because of my love of sailing, it reminds me of this concept every time I sail at night as well as reimagining my horizons.

I never really believed that astrology is real, but I was curious about it and found out I actually truly related to my moon sign. Whether astrology is real or not, I found it very interesting. My moon sign is Sagittarius – an adventure and freedom-seeking adrenaline junkie with an appreciation for different cultures and nature. Reaching out to those from different backgrounds, traditions and beliefs will help to create an open-minded support system that will help you get reconnected with your light by reminding you to be yourself. Saturn is the planet of hard work and destiny, and when it falls in Sagittarius in a natal chart, it often indicates that success will be delayed until you learn to buckle down and focus on what’s important and that is health first and foremost. One of the most important relationships you’ll have in your life is with yourself and making health your priority is essential to keeping that relationship a positive one, nevertheless staying connected to nature.

Not all those who wander are lost, but when and if they do get lost, finding and trusting a lighthouse in the middle of the storm strengthens its light’s compass. In addition, if you keep trusting in your own natural light, you will add to the strength of the lighthouse by sharing your stories of triumph, adventure, and survival. When running a marathon, your mind dies before your body. When facing a storm on a sailboat, hope dies before you do. I always felt as though mental health stigma added a thick cloud that would prevent the sailor to see the lighthouse. Lighthouse is a symbol of human presence and safety and transparent communication is necessary to make the light visible. Like rock climbing, sailing is a great teacher in creating a support system you can trust when lost, and usually friendships for life after sharing a rope with one another. The swallow is a symbol of a sailor. Like a swallow, a sailor travels the world but eventually returns. A collarbone is a typical place that sailors put this tattoo on after a certain amount of sailing experience. I also decided to add this tattoo despite being a beginner, because I get seizures and unconscious while I am seizing. My seizures are pseudoseizures. Seizures can temporarily erase the memory and make you experience mental time travel through vivid dreams and flashbacks. The last seizure I had was at home. I dislocated my collarbone as a result of the fall. This was to remind me to take it easy and focus on my health, hopefully making this spell one of my last ones. The picture of the lighthouse was taken during one of our sails at night here in Chicago 🙂

This one is in the back of my neck. If I did something silly, my father would do this pinch with his knuckle at the back of my neck and it made me laugh. I know there are parents out there who use some horrible forms of punishment without letting the child know about the “crime”, to the point that there are cases of child marriages and child sex slaves when they get sold by their own family. I find this absolutely horrific. In a way, I created this tattoo because I cannot stop thinking about those children. Cherishing your inner child innocence is so important, and these children are robbed of this at a very young age. I was lucky to have a loving family with an appreciation of nature and animals as means of direction and being alive. I was lucky I got to interact with animals nature and life through so many adventures that I would wish for these children to experience more than anything. As a child, I loved the movie Neverending Story and once recited the full movie to my dad, he was probably laughing in his mind. My dad’s dad, who was a veterinarian, would call me a golden girl, meaning a “bee”, because I was the only girl in the family of cousins. Therefore the tattoo. The symbol represents letting go of anyone who stabbed you in the back or any painful experience from the past. Throughout my life, I have experienced this, and many of us do. The bee represents a hardworking, important species that not only make honey but also makes sure that there is a sustainable growth cycle of flowers. The yellow dandelion represents my mother and me making honey from the flower when I was a child and the delphinium flowers are a symbol of rebirth, grace, and dignity. The tattoo is a message that if someone stabs you in the back, they need to realize that their assumptions about you can also be who they are themselves, that you can become even better from the lesson you learn through the experience and the stab will only backfire. It represents my wishes for justice that these children deserve. It also made me think of architecture and the mile-high structure proposed by Frank Lloyd in 1956. To me, the two lines opposite to each other represent a mirror of who you really are (kind of like in the Neverending story) and I always wondered the real reason why they never built the skyscraper, because apparently, it was possible. Everyone has their own interpretation of it, but sometimes I get reminded of nightmares I had as a child and how much I connected not only to Atreyu and Bastian but also the childlike empress. I think of it when I think of the children who have been trafficked.

It should also remind you to be careful what you wish for. I view the moon shapes as means of protection and your shield when you come to the point where you have to face yourself and that there is always a way to begin again. There is also a message to watch out for thorns when given roses, therefore the bee is facing the one dropping from the ceiling… not to give in so easily. However strong the authority is, you have the right to ask questions and use them for creativity as a means of transforming that thorn into something wonderful. Also, to avoid this thorn the bee would have to fly below – meaning to always stay humble and observant in order to see things clearly. Then it is a maze… if you submit, hoping for a reward, you may face a wall… but, if you take the other way and explore the surroundings, you’ll find yourself at a place that will expand your horizons and show you what you are capable of. You may shock yourself.

It is the connection to my hand tattoo, one that stirs to the right to avoid Voldemort’s tattoo (snake stab) and to show that you cannot face negative forces without your friends and to be watchful of who your friends are. The two colors of the bee also show our dual nature as humans. I also designed this, because my father has had recent surgery and has been dealing with strokes for a while. I was present during one when I was about 10 and with him for the weekend (my parents are divorced). He woke up and wrote on a paper that he cannot talk. First I thought it was a game and laughed, asking what I need to do, but he shook his head, then wrote that he needs to go to a hospital. I was in shock and started crying, but took our dog and then walked my dad to his brother’s place. I’m glad he’s still around because I have not seen much of him in the past 20 years and wanted to spend more time with him (even if it’s just virtually). I always had this scare about his health as a child, maybe because he smoked a lot, and I tried to throw his cigarettes away, or because one day he came to pick me up from kindergarten with a black eye from some fight to protect a girl somewhere at a nightclub, or because he has a full beard and I couldn’t stand seeing Jesus on the cross when visiting any church, watching people drinking red wine as a symbol of his blood. Sometimes I felt like punching them in their noses, no matter what the Bible said. There weren’t many people with a full beard, and frankly, it made me feel better and safer when I saw it become a fashion in the tech community for the past few years. I equally loved my first stepdad, whom I had a nightmare about when I was five. He was falling down from a tall building (maybe it was the mile-high building). Sometimes I think I’ve had these scares because my mother is such a pistol, but about two months ago I also dreamt of outdated space ships running into building in Chicago, destroying the city, while I was being taken underground for investigation. Then I was taken out of my body and saw my underweight self giving my overweight self a face mask. I love talking to others about their crazy dreams and nightmares as well. Human minds are an interesting subject I have to admit. 😀

Art Escapades


Alps, Acrylic Paint

I did this when I moved to the states around 2000. I missed traveling to the Alps or Tatras during Summer, so I painted them. I tried going for Impressionism out of my admiration of Monet but realized that it may have been somewhere between Impressionism and Pointillism when I learned more about Seurat. In the states, I discovered the Colorado Rockies, North Carolina Smokies, and Grand Tetons, so got excited again… hoping to get to paint those lives 🙂

Figure Drawing, Chalk

This was an interesting experience when taking figure drawing in college, cca 2003. We could find models who were willing to go nude so we could learn how to draw a body. I felt a little bit like Michelangelo, Manet, or Gustav Klimt 

Our instructor was very adventurous, traveling around the world while teaching and creating site-specific art. She showed some examples of art from somewhere in Asia, where she used unconventional materials to create abstract installations in public natural scenes. Kind of like the whale sculpture made of plastic bottles and other trash to educate people about ocean pollution.

I have not found other drawings from the class, I think they may be in my parent’s attic, but this is an example from long ago. I am looking into figure-drawing art groups in Chicago, seems like there are a few. 

The 10-minute sketch at UNC Charlotte, 2002

During freshman year, in one of my first art classes, we were tasked to draw a quick sketch of what we saw. It was super fun!

1989, Photoshop/Illustrator

This was done in 2002. I called it “1989” – the year communism ended in Czechia. This is me and my mother a few years before that. I was actually at the Velvet Revolution with my grandmother myself, but I used this picture because it was one of the very few days my biological parents were together. I thought the photo was an amazing capture of the moment, but my dad has always had a knack for visual arts. I also used it, because savoring such moments during political oppression was important and one of the best ways to survive communism. Perhaps that is what kept this memory alive for me, even though I was only a newborn. The silhouettes are people walking away from the communist flag and the three kites represent the Czech flag being set free.

Thangka Meditation, Ink and Paint

During my time in Kathmandu, I was introduced to Buddhist art. Thangka is a representation of the movements of both the spiritual and physical cosmos around the center – om – of the axis through geometric shapes symbolizing the different metaphysical states of the mind. I felt like I was avoiding getting devoured by the black hole of my psyche in the multidimensional plane of our consciousness. I once told a friend that the universe could be our consciousness and he thought I had no clue what I was talking about. Questioning is not a crime. I believe we are part of nature and energy and for nature, time doesn’t exist, then how would we measure our consciousness? We all have our own minds and worlds in them and I think multiverses of infinite dimensions are quite possible, why not?

It made me think of the language of aliens in the “Arrival” movie as a representation of auditory hallucinations, telepathy, or extrasensory awareness. I thought about it when I saw the patterns in the visuals of their language. Hearing is the last sense that goes away during the dying process (except for orgasm, since even dead bodies can have an orgasm). The memory of sound could be extremely impactful, one of the ways we remember moments throughout our lives. I know that for me (and probably a lot of others) certain sounds bring back a memory I didn’t think I had. Many of us (especially musicians) are incredibly sensitive to sound and remember it the most from all other aspects of our lives. Does it travel through the illusion of time with us? Aliens show patterns that could remind a person of their memory and their senses in response, perhaps using this to make the connection? Perhaps that is one goal of the Thangka meditation art – clear your mind from the sound and let go. Well, I refrained not to get too lost in my thoughts and try to feel the magic of the meditation. Maybe the activity is meant for you to discover what your biggest strength is. What other senses get awakened for those with hearing problems? Beethoven could still compose after he lost his hearing, just memory. Does it become a part of your soul, therefore part of your universe? Great exercise for the mind, but I have to say after a while all I could focus on was how much my ass hurt after sitting in the lotus position for full five hours. For me, meditation will take practice. The multidimensional plane could teach us to be open to new experiences. Needless to say, I was incredibly impressed by some of the mandala experts. They sit for days, weeks, or even months to produce truly astonishing work. If you ever venture out to Bhaktapur or Kathmandu, make sure to check this out!

Trophy Virgin Ambivalence

I did not do this masterpiece. I got this on my way from Cuba to the USA. I lost my passport on the plane (nothing new for me) and called the airline to recover it. I was lucky they found it but surprised that they sent it to me with this artwork. Well, it may be selfish of me, but I kept it. I thought it was interesting. I gave it the name “Trophy Virgin Ambivalence”, because of some of the women’s rights issues and what women have to do to protect themselves. My take on this drawing is that they have to be both the beauty and the beast to utilize their psyche through the wheel of mother nature’s wisdom while holding on to innocence that has been stolen for many at a very young age, right from the dust of the stars they came from. They had to learn some aspects of life at a younger age than others and had to grow up faster, therefore the wheel of mother nature’s wisdom. The sheep symbolize their fragile hearts and modesty that they’ve been trained to hide in order to show the pride required by society and possibly hide fear, especially in totalitarian circumstances. The mask is so prominent that they become ambivalent about the connection between their inner and ascendant personas. To me, it can be tragic, with the seriousness of sex trafficking and the like, and their destructive impact on one’s psyche. To hide one’s low self-esteem, they have to appear arrogant and careless.

I am not sure why one mask has clear eyes and one doesn’t, but that would be my question for the artist. Perhaps an ascendant persona is necessary to avoid being completely hypnotized by the gaslighting of our political systems or those with ill intentions, or simply to keep a shield protecting the layers of who we are.

If you know the artist, feel free to let him know I have his drawing if he is looking for it. Muchas gracias!

One of my favorite artists is Thomas Barbey. I was inspired to play around with arranging photos in a surreal setting. This was back in 2006.

This was a fun activity to do when volunteering with the Chicago March for Science Committee. Logos and signs for shirt designs.