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Loft and Found - page 2

"We tried to do things that would fit in with the building and endure well," says Gray. "I was always thinking, "How can we do this so it won't look dated in ten years, or 50 years?" Using the two-story entryway as a dividing point, Gray and the Schoonvelds split the second floor--the home's main living space--into a public side (living room, open kitchen, and guest room suite) and private side (the family bedrooms and bathrooms).
loft interior the loft playroom
The central living space--with open living room, dining room, and kitchen?works well for everything from fundraising cocktail parties to kid-friendly get-togethers. The benches under the windows were made from the building?s original ceiling beams.
The lower level of the building includes a spacious art studio

In the living room, the seating area drops down two steps for a contemporary take on the conversation pit. The television and stereo sit inside the wood frame of the building's original elevator. A dining table--surrounded by chairs salvaged from a school where Shawna once taught--bridges the gap between living room and kitchen.

the loft kitchen
Natural light floods the kitchen, thanks in part to windows that look out onto the two-story foyer

The kitchen was a truly custom production, with cabinets and counters designed to the couple's specifications and made by a woodworker in southern Illinois. For their countertops they chose Wisconsin limestone. 'They have the nice, chunky look of concrete, but are a natural material," says Eric. Suspended over the large island is what the Schoonvelds call "The Element," a massive yellow panel with recessed lights that hangs from the ceiling on steel cables; the Schoonvelds dreamed it up after spotting a similar structure at Kopi Café in Andersonville.

"One of the problems with high ceilings is that the space can look too cavernous," says Eric. "We're in the middle of a giant room, but you've got this space that feels warm. It's our equivalent of the breakfast nook."

The master bedroom is hidden behind what Eric refers to as the "James Bond door," a disguised entry that lies flush with the wall. "I always wanted to have a hidden room," he says. "This was a chance to have some fun."

Shawna painted the room in deep taupe stripes. "I chose horizontal because they seemed conducive to relaxation," she says. The bed--custom-built after a design they spotted at a local boutique--was made of oak stained dark brown, coordinating with the sliding wood closet doors. In the spa-like master bath, old beams from the building add a rustic twist to the modern vessel sinks.

The hidden bedroom door isn,t this home's only surprise. The ground floor houses offices and studio space, some of which the Schoonvelds rent out, a massive indoor garage, a workshop that Eric uses for his motorcycles, and Shawna's painting studio, which doubles as a party room and gallery. In back, visitors discover a secret garden--a brick-walled yard in space that had formerly been the factory floor. Workmen ripped off the roof (leaving only the original metal support beams), trucked in dirt and topsoil, and transformed the original chimney into an outdoor fireplace. A second-floor deck overlooks the garden and a green roof over one of the yard's two patios. Solar panels provide most of the home's hot water and some of the heating.

"Everything here has some connection to our life," says Eric, who describes the home as a labor of love. Architect Gray says, "The best projects have very little to do with stylistic issues. The best clients respond well to the process. Eric and Shawna very much went with the flow." And there is perhaps no better testament to their collaboration than Gray's ultimate assessment of their relationship: "They remain dear friends.'.

backyard the loft deck

The second-story deck overlooks a plant-covered green roof. A solar heating system provides most of the home?s hot water and some of its winter heating. The lower level of the building includes a brick-walled yard (left); an old chimney has been turned into an outdoor fireplace.

For information on resources, see Buyer's Guide.

Loft and Found - page 1

Loft and Found - page 2
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