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Tour This $3 Million Ike Colburn House in Lake Forest

The 6,000-square-footer sits on 1.5 acres and is only a quarter mile from the city’s downtown.

A summer’s evening shot of the estate on Green Bay Road near downtown Lake Forest.   Photo: Courtesy of Berkshire Hathaway KoenigRubloff

Price: $3 million

It can be a little perplexing to walk through an Ike Colburn home. The midcentury modernist architect did some dazzling work with simple boxes on large wooded lots, but he also tipped his hat to aesthetically pleasing elements from classical European architecture. Often designing for wealthy clients, including several in Lake Forest, Colburn combined interior gardens, arches, pillars, and marble in his works. This marriage is less awkward than one would think, and it meshes very well at a Green Bay Road work from 1968, on the market for $2,999,000. A later owner brought in another architect to expand the floor plan, accentuate the classical detailing, and reassign rooms. 

The 6,000-square-foot four-bedroom home is hidden in brush with horizontal lines and a uniform brick façade. The front entry puts on a show, however, with floor-to-ceiling glass and heavy wooden double doors. The utilitarian look of the low brick structure, not far from industrial shed, is actually a strategy to block noise from busy Green Bay Road. “The only thing we hear inside are the bells from St. Mary’s across the street,” says owner Lori Flint, who with husband Tom are downsizing within the area.

Colburn was known for his directional windows set high, almost as skylights. Also referred to as clerestory windows, the four standing straight above the dining room are each 8’ x 8’ and capture the sun in every position as well as the moon and treetops. Peering through these panes gives a fascinating sample of the outside world. A low hanging ceiling grid boxes up these windows and compels your gaze upward for a potent observatory-like experience.

Prior to the renovation and expansion, the dining room was an interior garden; the master suite a maid’s and laundry room; the family room a master suite; and the breakfast room a formal dining room. The kitchen was much smaller in the original plans; it’s now practically commercial scale. A glass-walled Florida room was also tacked onto the back, which serves as the Flints’ billiards room. This space gives a good survey of 1.5 acres of outdoor facilities—a large yard with tall trees; two patio nooks, one with a fountain and lily pond and one for grilling; and the sculptural in-ground pool with an outdoor kitchen and wet bar.

The family room has its own wet bar and a custom stone fireplace flanked by built-in shelving and seating. The fireplace cuts through the wall to the living room. When entertaining, the Flints and their children used to self-segregate on either side of the fireplace. A similar arrangement comes into play with bedrooms. Three of them, plus two full baths, are isolated in their own wing. The master suite claims the far corner of the house and really feels like a retreat with his and hers bathrooms and walk-in closets (hers thirty-six feet long with five skylights and an island), a fireplace, and a bluestone patio. Sliding glass doors throughout the house provide numerous access points and the kind of inside-outside circulation that makes for great summer parties.

Flint and her listing agent Jean Anderson of Berkshire Hathaway KoenigRubloff (co-listing with Honore Frumentino) agree that the property is likely to attract a buyer from the city, in part for its architectural allure but also because downtown Lake Forest and the Metra station are a quarter-mile walk. Anderson says the Lake Forest luxury market is climbing out of the doldrums, mentioning three sales over $3 million in the last few months and a David Adler home that will soon list a block away at the corner of Green Bay and Deerpath Roads for $4.2 million. There are, of course, many $3 million homes on the market in affluent Lake Forest, one being another Ike Colburn near the lake, on and off the market since August 2012 with an asking price of $5.5 million.

Looking for an exhaustive study of Ike Colburn? The book I.W. Colburn: Emotion in Modern Architecture by Jay Pridmore, author of several books on architecture, will be out this fall with a major focus on the architect’s own home—a Lake Forest legend garnering international praise and demolished a decade ago.

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