A Well-Schooled Home in Lake View
For a closer look at the condo, launch the photo gallery »
List Price: $2.39 million
The Property: Andy Bowyer, the president of the homebuilder Middlefork Capital, recalls setting out to build a new house a few doors south of Lake View’s Blaine Elementary School. “In my mind,” he says, “we were designing for a family.” Believing it was important to get four bedrooms together on the second floor, he applied to the alderman for variances that allow for a full 20.5-foot interior on a standard 25-foot lot by reducing the side yard requirements.
Done. But then the problem was that side windows would be opening onto an unusually tight view of the neighboring homes’ sidewalls. The solution: smaller windows raised above eye level—Bowyer and his agent, Elizabeth Ballis, refer to them as transom windows—that bring lots of natural light into the dining room, kitchen, and other spaces while obscuring the adjacent brick walls. Light also spills into the home from a skylight above a handsome staircase, as well as from conventional windows on the front and back of the house.
Bowyer made other design choices that lend the home a gracious character, including the façade with its mansard roof and the dining room’s pilasters and ceiling beams that give it a hint of formal enclosure—even though it’s actually a space that flows openly from the living room. As you will see in the video, the house has a series of outdoor spaces, including a pretty courtyard with a fountain off the kitchen and a large rooftop terrace adjacent to a sunlit top-floor family room. (The terrace wasn’t finished when we shot the video, but it will have a “living roof” installation to green it up.)
Bowyer builds homes speculatively, and he is careful to ladle in the details, both aesthetic and practical, that should catch a buyer’s eye. Here they include concealed split doors that can be closed to separate the bathing and dressing part of the master suite from the bedroom, and, in the kitchen, a china case built into the cabinetry (it looks like a piece of antique furniture but is fixed in place). The kitchen also incorporates a silver-tile backsplash, a barrel-vaulted ceiling, and a desk that can be tucked out of sight in its own cabinet. Bowyer’s attention to the details extends out the front door to the sidewalk, which has a snow-melting heat underlay that will come in handy next winter.
Price Points: Back in January, when Bowyer’s company had sold its first home, I wrote that he was pursuing a strategy of buying distressed homes and passing the savings along to the buyers of the replacement homes he would build on the sites. On this property, the seller was facing foreclosure, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds, and had had one sale contract fall through. Bowyer came in at $518,000—lower than that failed contract, but I can’t determine by how much.