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Husband-and-Wife Duo Takes on 122-Year-Old Oak Park Farmhouse

Broker Jonathan Self and designer Jessica Kelley Self brought their professional skills and personal taste to this suburban rehab.

Jonathan Self is a real estate broker, and his wife Jessica Kelley Self runs a remodeling and design firm, Haven Design Studio. But up until recently, the closest they got to working together was referring clients.

That changed when the two decided to tackle a passion project: renovating and selling a home.

“The house needed to speak to us in one way or another,” Jessica says of their search for the right property. “This house is very clearly a farmhouse that needed TLC—and when I say farmhouse I mean urban farmhouse—and it felt right.”

The 122-year-old Oak Park property checked all the couple’s boxes. It’s in an accessible area, just a six-minute walk from the L and 25-minute ride from the Loop, and its age gave it character. “Speaking as a broker, I see so many places that are cookie cutter, really formulaic,” Jonathan says. “We wanted to do something that wasn’t cookie cutter. It’s a 100-plus-year-old house and the bones—you just can’t find a structure like that anywhere.”

The Selfs closed on the house in August of last year for $412,000 and got to work (while keeping their day jobs). Jessica acted as a general contractor and design lead, though Jonathan got handy, too. “Let me put it this way: My foreman said he would hire him again,” Jessica says.

Through the rehab process, which wrapped in January, the couple followed one golden rule. “Every time we came to a fork in the road, our agreement was we’re going to err on the side of doing exactly what we would do in our own home,” Jonathan says.

The house was on the market for about a month earlier this spring and sold for $775,000.

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