List Price: $859,700
The Property: In 1999, when Charlie and Natalie Walsh bought this big brick house in Chicago’s Irving Park neighborhood, “almost nothing had been done to it since the 1950s,” Natalie says. Since buying the place, the Walshes have extensively remodeled and updated the house, always trying to stay true to its original design. The house was built in 1904, and the name of the original owner is lost. “You can tell it’s somebody who had money, refinement, and good taste in architecture,” Natalie says.
Having restored old houses here and in Maryland over the years, the Walshes savored the challenge of taking out rounded doorways, flimsy cabinets, and other 1950s “improvements.” They also did a lot of work behind the walls, such as installing new indoor climate systems and new support beams beneath the floors. The couple’s finest visible work is the kitchen, a pretty, mostly white room with a hefty, still-functioning old stove that had been in the house for decades. The kitchen adjoins a large, sunny breakfast room in a rear addition; that takes the pressure off the original formal dining room to act as today’s informal gathering-and-dining room. The Walshes use the old dining room as a second half of the living room.
They have also made good living space out of two attics: the one above the house and the one above the garage. The house’s third floor has a bedroom and a larger playroom, as well as a bathroom. (There are three original bedrooms and two baths on the second floor.) And above the three-car garage, which must have begun life as a stable or carriage barn, sits a huge room with unfinished aged wood and big skylights that the Walshes’ agent, Ron Goldstein, calls “the ultimate man cave.” The broad house stands on a very large lot for the city (175 feet by 50 feet, compared to the standard 125 feet by 25 feet) that allows for a sizable side yard. The front porch has a beadboard ceiling and leafy stone capitals on its brick columns, and there is a large and prolific organic garden out back. The Walshes say that, because the soil had been enriched for many years before they moved in—a tradition they have continued—the garden is extraordinarily fertile.
Price Points: Ready to downsize, the Walshes listed the house in mid-2008 for $1.199 million with a different agent. They relisted it in July with Ron Goldstein, who cut the price to $859,700.