Polishing a Gold Coast Gem

WHOLE HOUSE OVER $500,000 Remodeler and architect: Orren Pickell Remodeling Group, Lincolnshire, Ill. When it came to recapturing the original interior character of this turn-of-the-century Chicago graystone, architect Jason DeBaker, discovered he could start with a blank slate. The exterior of the building, which the client intended to sell after remodeling, featured an architecturally signifi...

October 31, 2006

Painted millwork throughout the main floor contributes to a formal ambiance. The entry foyer features a limestone floor and a combination wood and wrought-iron staircase banister.  Photography by Linda Oyama Bryan Photography

WHOLE HOUSE OVER $500,000

Remodeler and architect: Orren Pickell Remodeling Group, Lincolnshire, Ill.

When it came to recapturing the original interior character of this turn-of-the-century Chicago graystone, architect Jason DeBaker, discovered he could start with a blank slate.

The exterior of the building, which the client intended to sell after remodeling, featured an architecturally significant and well-preserved façade. The interior of the four-level home, however, had been remodeled in the 1970s with most of its original detailing long since removed.

"The emphasis for this project was to bring the interior of the home back to the historic style and flavor that it deserved," says DeBaker, lead architect for Orren Pickell Remodeling Group, of Lincolnshire, Ill. "Initially we spent a lot of time on research and toured homes in the area that we knew were either original or had been restored."

The program the design/build firm defined for the renovation of the 8,000-square-foot residence maintained a classic interior style on the main floor, which would include formal living and dining rooms at the front and private family spaces such as the kitchen and family room at the rear. The team dedicated the second floor to the master retreat, which includes a fireplace, luxurious bath and private library as well as the bedroom. Three bedrooms, a play room and two full baths are included on the uppermost floor. The home's garden level features a guest suite, a glass-walled wine cellar and tasting area and a billiards room.

A skylight in the top-floor recreation room provides a unique view of the city.

"This was a unique situation for a remodel because it was not like working with a conventional homeowner who is living in the house," says DeBaker. Oren Pickell selected nearly all of the materials selections which were very upscale but deliberately neutral, DeBaker says.

Updating the home in terms of state-of-the-art wiring, accommodating contemporary plumbing fixtures, and adding low-voltage lighting were challenges, says DeBaker. They avoided breaking into walls wherever possible. For example, custom-designed cabinetry was used to conceal the brain boxes and high-tech components for the media center in the main-floor family room.

"Because this home was not designed for a specific client," says DeBaker "we deliberately tried not to over-customize it so that a buyer could bring their own flavor to it later on."

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