Interior view of the Santos home
The rawness of the space was part of what attracted the Santoses to it. See more photos in our gallery below.


SIZE  2800 square feet
TYPE  Condominium
LOCATION  Lake View 

Two and a half years ago, Lisa and Joel Santos had given up on their dream of buying and renovating, in Lisa’s words, a “sort of nondescript-from-the-outside, wonder-what-it’s-like-inside building in Lake View.

Everything they saw was either priced too high, as if in expectation of a multiunit condo conversion, or in such bad shape that a teardown would have been necessary, recalls Lisa, who owns Southport Grocery and Cafe, and hoped to live near her business. She and her husband were ready to throw in the towel and convert their existing two-flat into a house—they had blueprints in hand. And then one day, driving along the Ravenswood train tracks, they saw a for-sale sign on just the kind of building they’d been hoping for—a defunct 100-year-old electrical switching station.

“We looked at each other and just knew,” Lisa says.

As it turned out, the sign they saw was not for the whole building but for one of the two condos inside—a huge space with a private entrance, three bedrooms, three baths, and a nice side yard. The space had been developed by the husband-and-wife architect team of Ann Temple and Ken Schroeder, who run a company called Beauxbo Properties. Preservationists at heart, the two approach conversions of old industrial spaces with a light touch and an eye on keeping costs sane.


Photography: Alec Hemer
Styling: Lindsey Parker 



Overhead view of the Santoses living room
With 25-foot ceilings and lots of concrete, this space could easily have felt cold,
but the homeowners’ eclectic style and comfortable seating make it inviting.


 In what would become the Santoses’ future home, team Beauxbo had left the glazed-brick walls (the kind you see in subway stations and that nowadays cost a fortune to make, according to Schroeder), along with random nails stuck into them, and only lightly sanded the chipping paint on the ceiling beams. They’d installed an HVAC system, poured a new concrete floor, and put in an Ikea kitchen.

An upstairs loft area that may have once housed machinery had become home to three bedrooms—two of them behind simple Douglas-fir-and-glass sliding doors—and two bathrooms outfitted with Ikea and Home Depot products. The steel staircase is original, and so are the splotches of yellow paint along the edge of the balcony. With 2,800 square feet to work with, there had been enough room for the developers to create a study and a third bathroom downstairs.

“I love the openness,” Lisa says. “I love that it has a story. And I love that we were able to move in and just be, without having to change much of anything.” (The couple did install an additional row of cabinets behind the kitchen island.) With brick walls and concrete floors, she doesn’t have to worry about anything getting ruined, crucial for a couple who entertain often, even hosting slumber parties for the Southport Grocery staff. The Santoses have filled the space with mid-century-modern and contemporary furnishings, including splurging on a sharp L-shaped sofa from Ligne Roset. Several walls still need art, but they’re not rushing into anything.

“It’s a journey,” Lisa says. “We only want to buy things that really inspire us.”

NEXT: Buy Guide »

Photography: Alec Hemer
Styling: Lindsey Parker


Buy Guide

ABOUT OUR SOURCES We attempt to provide as much information as possible about the products and professionals involved in designing the homes we show in our pages. Items not sourced here are probably not available for sale; they might be antiques or part of an owner’s personal collection. When an item or product line is widely available, we may not list a specific store for it. If you have a question about our sources, please write to us at

Architecture: Ken Schroeder, SMNG-A Architects, 312-829-3355, Furniture: Sectional sofa, Ligne Roset, 440 N. Wells St., 312-222-9300, White leather sofa, Design Within Reach, 10 E. Ohio St., 312-280-4677, Credenza, Calligaris, EuroFurniture, 2145 W. Grand Ave., 312-243-1955, Arc floor lamp, George Kovacs, Crest Lighting, 3300 N. Sheffield Ave., 773-525-8000, Dining table, 1970s, Ravenswood Antique Mart, 4727 N. Damen Ave., 773-271-3700. Eames molded plywood dining chairs, Design Within Reach.