Hiding in Plain Sight, in Kenwood
List Price: $1.95 million
The Property: On a Kenwood block of very substantial historic homes is one relative youngster that, on the street side at least, tries to fade from view. Three decades ago, the architect James Nagle designed the house to pick up some of the neighbors’ classic details—a brick façade, a large arch over the door—but made sure that the newcomer didn’t compete for attention. Out back, however, Nagle opened up, combining glass and stucco to create a more boldly modern feeling.
Those two very different faces of the house enclose a crisply modern interior filled with eye-catching curves and natural light. The home has the feel of a beach house, and as it turns out, the couple for whom Nagle designed the house—the University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein and his wife, Eileen—later tapped the architect to work for them again, on a lakeside house in Michigan.
A serpentine wall cuts through the house. It serves a functional purpose: On both levels it divides the formal rooms from secondary spaces, such as closets and bathrooms. But it does so much more on a visual level, breaking up the flatness of the front façade with a pronounced shimmy.
The central living area in the house is a two-story main room that opens onto the gigantic back yard and has more intimate living and dining spaces on its two flanks; the master bedroom, kitchen, and family room are also on this level. Upstairs, four bedrooms (one with a fireplace) and a large piano-shaped balcony fill out the profile. Because the house is slender, all the rooms except the family room look onto the gorgeous, gigantic back yard.
Gigantic is not an overstatement. The lot is 90 feet wide and 300 deep (standard for the city is 25 by 125); the backyard stretches from a small copse of trees planted near the house out to a vast lawn, bigger than any back yard I’ve seen in the city. Now that their children are grown, the Epsteins are looking to downsize, according to their agent, Amy Gelman.
Price Points: The Epsteins initially listed the house in May for $2.2 million, but a few weeks ago cut the price to the present $1.95 million. A buyer will most likely invest an additional amount in updating the kitchen and three-plus baths, all of which are perfectly usable but retain their original 1980 looks. The kitchen, smallish by today’s standards, has a handy expansion option right next door: a large covered terrace beneath the second-story balcony.
Listing Agent: Amy Gelman of MetroPro Realty, 773-667-1000 or email@example.com