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List Price: $1.695 million
The Property: We talk about Chicago as a city of neighborhoods, but when you’re in the Lakewood-Balmoral neighborhood, it feels more like a village unto itself. The neighborhood was developed as an alternative to dirtier, denser neighborhoods south of here starting in the 1890s.
Today’s house wasn’t built until about 20 years on, during the Arts & Crafts era when there was a lot of attention being paid to craft details—seen on the handrails and beams of the home’s front porch, as well as some charming windows over the front door.
They’re just an introduction to the windows you find throughout the house, with a one third-two thirds pattern. There are divided panels above and a larger pane below in a fine Arts & Crafts style. In the living room, a bay of these windows has a wood bench running beneath them. Wood runs throughout the first floor, in flooring and detailed trim and built-ins.
The home’s interior looks very well preserved, but in fact, much of the detail had been damaged and has all been restored by sellers Bob and Bridget Markey in the past 14 years. An example is the living room fireplace: the original had been covered in lannon stone—a material that’s very wrong for a house like this—before the Markeys yanked it all out and created a new brick mantel that feels more suited to the era of the house.
Something similar happened in the dining room, where a set of ceiling beams had been removed. There were traces still visible, so new beams were put in their place, bringing back the original feeling of being surrounded by the wood of the ceiling, floor, and bench, and a view to the trees outside. More work was done to a ceiling in the adjacent room, a 1950s addition off the dining room kitchen that had a low, flat ceiling. They popped it up to create a contemporary take on the dining room’s beams.
Thanks to the addition, there’s a very nice flow from the formal living room through the dining room and kitchen into this informal family room. The flow was further enhanced when some family room windows were punched open to become French doors. A pretty courtyard stands at the bottom of a few steps from the family room, and there’s another refinement a few steps away: stairs were added from the porch as well. The result is a pleasant courtyard nestled between the porch and the garage, with a fountain at its center.
Back inside, a handsome wood staircase leads up to two floors of bedrooms. The third floor was not originally an attic but living space, so the quality of the stairs, the design of the windows, and other details carry all the way up. The upper two floors have five bedrooms in all, two on the third floor and on the second floor, three, including the master suite. The suite takes half the second floor. It has a nice vintage feeling, surrounded by wood trim and with intact pocket doors separating the sleeping room from a sitting room, where the fireplace is. There’s a historical feeling to the suite but it also has new amenities we want in a master: a large bathroom and two walk-in closets.
Down in the basement there’s a ton of space as well: storage space, a family room, a nicely outfitted laundry room and other spaces you can put to use in different ways.
But as far as spaces go, there may be nothing better than the 40-foot front porch on a lovely day.
Price Points: The sellers paid $575,000 for the 5,200-square-foot home in 1999, and undertook extensive renovations that, along with what I’ve already mentioned above, included completely redoing the kitchen and doubling the size of the basement. Their listing agent did not comment on the cost of the renovations. During their tenure, not only the home but the neighborhood has been upgraded. Already a very desirable place to live, Lakewood-Balmoral has benefitted in recent years from a new generation’s round of restorations and additions to the historical homes, as well as the improvement of dining and retail offerings both in Andersonville to the west and in other parts of Edgewater, to the east.