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Lake Forest’s Norman Conquest

List Price: $7.95 million
The Property: When I first visited this Lake Forest house (in 2002, when it was only a year old), I could hardly take my eyes off the living room ceiling, a soaring masterpiece of beams, arches, and planking, all crafted from trees from the same Wisconsin grove. Recently I made a…

List Price: $7.95 million
The Property: When I first visited this Lake Forest house (in 2002, when it was only a year old), I could hardly take my eyes off the living room ceiling, a soaring masterpiece of beams, arches, and planking, all crafted from trees from the same Wisconsin grove. Recently I made a return visit, and that ceiling lived up to my memory of it as a marvel.

The rest of the house keeps to that same standard of superior construction and exquisite finishing, as you will see in the video. Set well back from the road behind a small apple orchard and a walled motor court, the home offers an impressive welcome. “You feel as you come down the serpentine drive that you [have arrived] in Normandy,” says Jeannie Emmert, the agent handling the sale—and indeed, the architecture of Normandy inspired the house’s design. The stucco façade has been rusticated to give the home an aged look, but without that ersatz antiquity that comes from bricks or stones carefully revealed by artificially cracked and peeling stucco.

Inside, the spaces are both large and embracing. The dining room pairs with the big living room, but its ceiling is a conventional ten feet high so that guests won’t think they are eating in a drafty old castle. The kitchen, too, is very large, but a homey nook with a fireplace and wing chairs helps keep the room from overwhelming. There are five bedrooms upstairs, as well as a guest apartment over the garage. The master bedroom has a large sitting room whose end wall opens to a close-up view of the living room’s beams (and of that room itself.)

A 10,599-square-foot house could be intimidating, but this one was laid out by its designer, Liederbach & Graham Architects, to feel like a family home. Behind the kitchen, the family room leads to a comfy screen porch with a fireplace, while a larger and more formal terrace sits off the living and dining rooms. Views from the upper floors take in the nearly four acres of grounds, as well as a wooded area to the south. And though the house may feel like a remote country lodge, downtown Lake Forest is a mere ten-minute walk away.

Price Points: The sellers, John and Peggy Lehman, are moving to Arizona. They initially put the house on the market in August 2009 at $8.595 million but have since reduced the asking price to $7.95 million. Emmert, their agent, says the person who recently bought a new but uncompleted neighboring house for $4.3 million is now spending about $4 million to finish it; and that another new home on the street will close in April at a price higher than the asking price on today’s home. Both houses have about the same square footage and lot size as today’s property.

Listing Agent: Jeannie Emmert of Coldwell Banker; 847-735-7635. For more information on the house, see her listing.

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