A single-family Winnetka home

SIZE 4,300 square feet
TYPE Single-family
ARCHITECT William Scholtens

THE CHALLENGE Over the years, the house, built in 1922, had been expanded with a series of additions, resulting in a visually cluttered exterior and rooms on six different levels. A formal dining room and living room were rarely used; friends and family usually ended up gathering in the crowded, outdated kitchen. The layout didn’t work for modern family living.

THE SOLUTION Architect William Scholtens had a radical idea: Rather than simply expand the kitchen, he shifted it to the front of the house and gave it new prominence. Knocking down most of the interior walls on the first floor and adding windows and glass doors made the space feel expansive and turned the backyard pool into a focal point. “The house was disassociated from the yard,” says Scholtens. “I said, ‘Let’s engage with the outside.’ That led to some dramatic changes.” He also expanded an addition above the garage to create a luxurious master suite and put a bedroom and a bathroom in what had once been the attic.


Photograph: Nathan Kirkman

The house's front exterior, before and after

Shortening the long, sloping roof over the garage helped to streamline the exterior of the house while maintaining its character. Asphalt roofing was replaced with cedar shingles and the asphalt driveway with Unilock pavers, creating a lighter look overall. A bluestone walkway and a mahogany front door make for a welcoming entry.


Photograph: Nathan Kirkman


The dining room, before and after

A sunny palette brightens the relocated dining room, where traditional chairs and sparkly light fixtures are paired with a contemporary table and floor covering.


Photograph: Nathan Kirkman


The kitchen, before and after
The kitchen is where the living room used to be; now the wood-burning fireplace warms an area where family and visitors like to congregate. A pantry behind a wall with built-in appliances provides storage for china, glassware, and serving dishes.

The kitchen occupies the part of the house where the living room, complete with fireplace (now faced with honed pietra cardosa), used to be. “I wanted it to feel like a living space,” Scholtens says. An island topped with honed Calcutta marble fills the role of the traditional kitchen table. Flanking the stovetop area, storage garages with roll-down metal doors keep small appliances hidden (“When you contain the clutter, the room feels bigger”). Rift-sawn white oak with a gray-mocha finish, used here for some cabinetry, also shows up in the living room, entryway, and master bath.


Photograph: Nathan Kirkman


The living room area

The light-filled living room extends across the back of the house, opening onto a deck. Glass-paned pocket doors contribute to the airy mood.


Photograph: Nathan Kirkman

The pool area, before and after

“The homeowners said they loved their pool, but I barely noticed it on my first visit,” says Scholtens. Full-length glass doors now make the backyard visible and accessible. “This house doesn’t have a large footprint, but it seems much bigger,” he says. “It feels like an open, flowing space.”

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Photograph: Nathan Kirkman


Buy Guide

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Architect: William Scholtens, Elements Architectural Group, 205 Superior St., Oak Park, 312-363-8175, elementsarchitects.com. Interior design: Greg Jagmin Associates, 5533 N. Glenwood Ave., 312-316-0968, gregjagmin.com. General contractor: H/S Builders, 4300 Lincoln Ave., Rolling Meadows, 847-991-0123, hsbuilders.com. Landscaping: James Martin Associates, 59 E. U.S. Highway 45, Vernon Hills, 847-634-1660, jamesmartinassociates.com. Dining room: De Gournay wallpaper, Dessin Fournir, Merchandise Mart, 312-661-0640, dessinfournir.com. Leather-wrapped tabletop by Greg Jagmin atop vintage base from Todd Hase Furniture, New York, 212- 871-9075, toddhase.com. 1940s Italian chandelier, Architectural Artifacts, 4325 N. Ravenswood Ave., 773-348-0622, architecturalartifacts.com. Kitchen: Le Dome chair, Dan Marty at Maison au Naturel, Los Angeles, 310-657-1002; maison819.net. Custom-made Maison Jansen–inspired kitchen chairs, Greg Jagmin Associates. Cabinetry, Vesta, 1357 W. Concord Pl., 773-252-7300, vestachicago.com. Appliances, Abt, 1200 N. Milwaukee Ave., Glenview, 847-967-8830, abt.com. Stone slabs and tile, Stone Source, 414 N. Orleans St., 312-335-9900. Living room: Custom sofa, Greg Jagmin Associates. Hardwood floors, Carlisle Wide Plank Flooring, 445 N. Wells St., 312-464-0633, wideplankflooring.com.