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High Minded

A rooftop garden in Wicker Park is a home (ever so slightly) away from home

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Rooftop patio and view
Simple but surprising touches—a zebra-skin rug, a table runner made from antique saris—complement the view without competing with it. Photo Gallery »

SIZE 1,000 sq. ft.
TYPE Rooftop deck
LOCATION Wicker Park

The shops and restaurants within walking distance helped, as did the livable floor plan. But Jill and Michael Maremont really fell in love with their Wicker Park condo after climbing a flight of stairs from the kitchen to the rooftop deck.

“When we saw the deck, it was like, ‘Where do we sign?’” says Jill, an interior designer who is director of sales and marketing for Susan Fredman Design Group in Chicago. “I knew it had a lot of potential.”

She had a grand vision for the deck: an outdoor condo, of sorts, with separate spaces for cooking, dining, gardening, and simply enjoying the skyline view. The look would be clean, eclectic, contemporary—lots of colorful plants, but low and simple, so as to not compete with the view. She had the right idea to break the 1,000-square-foot deck into separate areas, says Roger Boike, a garden designer who worked at Susan Fredman’s At Home With Nature and Jill’s collaborator on the project, noting that the space is unusually large for a city condo rooftop.

They approached the project, which took about two months and $17,000 to complete, using “contemporary” as a design theme. Due to the third-floor location, construction itself was no picnic, requiring a crane to hoist large, heavy building materials and decorative touches.

Construction crews began by getting rid of the lava rock that covered one end of the space, then built a foundation to raise that part of the deck and topped it with squares of New York bluestone slate and pea gravel. Crews also constructed oxidized iron boxes to hide the air-conditioning units, an item high on Jill’s wish list. No simple covers, these tops double as herb planters and are a match for the tall herb and flower containers placed around the periphery of the deck.

The heavy metal planters and their crane ride to the roof added considerable cost to the project, but Jill refused to look for a lighter alternative. “Roger showed them to me, and I fell in love with them,” she says.


Photograph: Eric Hausman


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