“How do you want to live?“
The LightBox

“We want an inside/outside space with a new kitchen & place to gather”

We believe architecture can help almost any space to welcome light and nature. Architecture should be restorative, move us away from our screens and provide a place to invite and experience the beauty of the seasons.

A couple purchased a narrow, attached, masonry row house in Chicago's Grand Boulevard–an area known for its rapid conversion from an open field into a dense, beautiful, upper-middle-class neighborhood in the 1880s. New, luxurious amenities coincided with the Columbian Exposition, yet the row house was crudely divided into apartments during the Great Depression. Fast forward to the 2010s. A contractor restored the building’s single occupancy status, but the the rear of the house no longer had any light and air, not to mention the “backyard” was a gravel-and-dirt pad.

Our clients’ request: create an indoor/outdoor space for a new kitchen and a comfortable place to gather that would feature light, color and materials, that would reflect a sense of family, community and mindfulness.

Our contractor brought a refined level of detail to the project and made it better. We collaborated with him to design a steel tube post and sleeve that is hidden in the wall. Quartzite benches are siliconed to a steel tube frame that slide into a larger steel tube sleeve into the posts hidden in the wall. The owners could remove the benches to clean or paint behind them. We were honored to work with these clients and for maintaining their design focus to a beautiful finish. 

This was–and is– a unique situation. Only 2 or 3% of today’s contractors could have accurately built the post and sleeve. Our result was well-crafted and beautiful because of clear communcation and consistent alignment among the clients, the architect and the contractor. #lincolnparkhouseaddition #oldtownhouseaddition #wickerparkhouseaddition #goldcoasthouseaddition #hydeparkaddition #modernaddition #remodelista #dwell

Published: Archipendium and Gizmodo and the American Institute of Architects

Photographer: Gregory Scott

“How do you want to live?“
Updating an apartment in a classic modernist highrise overlooking Lake Michigan

“We want to update a shag rug covered diamond-in-the-rough into the warm, relaxing and rejuvinating space it is”

We asked our landlord to remove the dingy carpeting and install hardware floors from the 2 bedroom apartment we rented in the gorgeous lantern-like 23 story modernist high rise on Lake Michigan. The landlord installed inexpensive bamboo hardwood floors. We hired my trusted painter and transformed the walls from a dismal greige to a pasty white called mortar made by Sherwin Williams. Modern furniture, family heirlooms and recently acquired pieces, fill out the generous open plan living space in this modernist 1953 National Landmark. A standout piece is my partner's grandfather's lounge chair and ottoman from his mountain room in his house on Saddleback Mountain in Arizona. (He is credited for inventing the applause sign for radio soap operas in the 1930s.) They are paired with a low, black-painted-oak Phoenix table acquired from the architecture firm Gensler's Chicago lobby. An inexpensive new blue wool rug from Macy’s defines the the sitting area. A piece of 1990s vintage graffiti on an IKEA art rail provides the background for the lounge chair and ottoman. The Franco Albini designed table, purchased from Circa Modern in Wicker Park, anchors the dining area. We needed dining room chairs that could match the Albini table’s elegance beauty and my partner and we encountered some beautiful Saarinen dining room chairs at a house sale, but, at $900 per chair, the asking price was too high. We felt that the Saarinen chairs were the most comfortable dining room chairs we had ever sat in. We discovered six, year-old chairs for sale on craigslist in New York City for half the price of the ones at the house sale in Chicago. We made a hotel reservation and jumped into my partner's SUV to drive the 12 hours to buy them. We stayed at the Highline Hotel, drank Intelligentsia coffee, went to Friday gallery night in Chelsea and spent the next day at the Guggenheim. We met the seller–a lawyer–on Sunday on 101st Street near Columbia University and bought the 6 chairs. They have the same gorgeous Rivington red fabric as the ones in Whitney Museum restaurant. The lawyer had originally purchased them for his Brooklyn office in February 2020 which the pandemic closed a month later. We returned to Chicago and put up a Laura Letinsky photograph we affectionately called “Martha Stewart’s Dead Picnic” and a painting of the Arizona night sky by the artist Lew Davis, a family friend of my partner’s as backdrops and catalysts for dinner conversation. #dwell #chicagomodernarchitect #remodelista #apartmentherapy #chicagoapartmentherapy #chicagomoderninteriordesign #chicagomoderninteriors #chicagomodernarchitecture 

Photographer: Michael Lipman

How do you want to live?
Midcentury Modern on a Ravine

“I want to remake a 1949 midcentury modern house for today’s lifestyles.”

This residential job presented some challenges. The lot on a ravine was pan-handle shaped with no front zoning yard  and the client purchased it before understanding the zoning implications.

We encourage our clients to spend a small amount of time and money to create a zoning analysis before moving forward with a large purchase. The client’s plan unexpectedly went from a large 2 story addition to trying to make the most of the existing envelope in some creative ways. That’s where we went to work. Because the house backed up to the lot on the north side, we created a new living/dining open plan concept with a large new, clerestory light that brought a warm glow deep into the interior. We gutted the house and designed a new structure to eliminate many walls. Existing walls were filled with spray foam insulation to make the envelope as energy efficient as possible. We expanded the footprint with a sympathetic addition to create a new living/dining/kitchen space focused on the patio and the ravine garden. The wood siding and the horizontal rails of the new windows bring a freshness and timelessness that will serve the new home owners well into the future. #remodelista #dwell

“How do you want to live?“
Victorian House Refresh

“I want to cook in my kitchen while being able to see and speak with my dinner party guests.”

The thirty-seven-and-half foot-wide lot hung loosely on the elderly, dilapidated skinny wood frame house like a suit meant for a much younger man.  Drafts blew easily through the blue asbestos shingles and the ill-fitting vinyl windows. The front porch hung precariously off the the house. So we went to work...

“The addition has to look like it was always there,” said the client. Thus, the addition had to be seamless. “I want to be able to cook and talk to my dinner guests and cook.” We needed to create a visual and link bewteen the kitchen and dining rooms that did not exist before. “I would like a fireplace and a wrap-around porch.” We designed a new fireplace with a sawtooth brick detail similar to the new detail outside. Bookcases sport a surround-reveal detail that is one of our favorites. The color above the fireplace fades into a deep indigo as the light recedes. Many house guests look at elevation and ask, “What work did you have done?” Everything you see is new except for the trim which was salvaged. Little do they know that there is a steel post hidden in the left column and that the new space is far larger and richer in materials, layers and color. The dining room table now runs perpendicular to the kitchen.

Bon appétit!

Published: Archipendium

Photographer: Gregory Scott

“How do you want to live and work?”
Humboldt Park Studio Home

“I need a black box studio to make my art and a place to call home.”

Humboldt Park Live/Work Art studio for Artist Gregory Scott builds 2/3 scale sets of museum interiors in his studio for his plugin art pieces. “I need as large a space as possible for my pieces and I also need a place to relax and entertain.” So we went to work... 

We found an empty double lot on Kedzie Avenue: 50 by 153 feet. We advised our client on how to purchase it and moved forward with our friend in Scotland Graeme Ogg on the schematic design. This design has a black box space on the ground floor for his wonderfully playful sets and a lawn, living space and front yard above on the rooftop. It’s a piano nobile scheme for the 21st Century.