Gallery-like space in Bucktown townhouse
A catwalk leads to a gallery-like space; engineered-hardwood floors with an ebony finish contrast crisply with the white walls. The large photo is by Shirin Neshat. See more photos in the gallery below.


Restraint in abundance. Translate that into Latin and you’ve got the makings of a corporate crest for Studio Dwell. You’ll never see a home by that architectural firm decked out with eyebrow windows and crenelated turrets. “A lot of architects try to get too many elements into their projects,” says Mark Peters, the firm’s founder. “We try to distill things down for a more elegant result.”

The homeowners were already ardent admirers of the Studio Dwell aesthetic when they got the opportunity to purchase the empty lot next door to their oh-so-ordinary developer townhouse in Bucktown. The gut renovation that followed was the very model of restraint—starting with the building’s footprint. The double lot would have easily justified a house two or three times the size of this 5,500-square-foot residence, but, says the wife, “it’s just the two of us. We didn’t need to take up all the space.”

Delighted with his expansive urban canvas, Peters reworked the existing layout and added an extension to create an L-shaped structure; the street façade hides an interior courtyard, terrace, and lawn. He then raised the roof and blew out the interior of the old house to create a clean-lined minimalist dream, delicately anchored at its core by a glass-walled staircase below two skylights. “The stairwell allows daylight to penetrate all the way through the house,” Peters says. “And all the rooms spin off it. Shared light is a big theme of ours.”

Peters says he visualized the residence as a rock formation with bands of color cutting across its face. But rather than quartz and shale, horizontal layers of shadow and light make up the bands. The result is visually startling both inside and out, something that delights Peters. “I want people to react to our buildings on an emotional level,” he says. “I don’t ever want someone to drive by and just say, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s nice.’”


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See more photos in the gallery below.

1. At the front door, glass and masonry are juxtaposed with stained walnut. 2. The street-facing side of the house forms the bottom leg of the home’s new L shape; the right half hides a courtyard. Planes of light and color on the façade bring to mind paintings by Mondrian. 3. A cedar slat canopy over the terrace atop the garage offers privacy and shade. 4. “We got the idea for this pool off the family room when we vacationed at a place where each suite had its own plunge pool,” says the wife. Staggered cedar platforms function both as steps down to the garden as well as seats. A cedar screen blocks the view of the alley. Studio Dwell also created a 2,900-square-foot green roof, where the couple grow vegetables. “I wouldn’t be surprised if chickens were in our future,” says the husband.

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Photography: Bob Coscarelli
Styling by: Diane Ewing



Buy Guide

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Architecture: Mark Peters, Studio Dwell Architects, 1732 W. Hubbard St., 312-666-4601, Landscape design: Julie deLeon, Chicago Specialty Gardens, 688 N. Milwaukee Ave., 312-243-7140, Floors throughout: Engineered plank hardwood with ebony finish. Sitting room/loft: Petrie chair and ottoman, Crate & Barrel, 646 N. Michigan Ave., 312-787-5900, Vases painted orange by homeowner, Z Gallerie, 938 W. North Ave., 312-475-9809, Donna Karan vase, Neiman Marcus, 737 N. Michigan Ave., 312-642-5900, Leaf pillow, Designer’s Linen Source, Merchandise Mart, 312-755-0626. Large photo, from Women of Allah series, Shirin Neshat. Small photos on bookcase, Thought Book, Hideta Nagai, Abelardo Morell. Kitchen: Copat USA cabinetry, 3002 Commercial Ave., Northbrook, 847-509-1994, Countertop, stainless steel, Silestone, Orange glasses, Bloomingdale’s, 600 N. Wabash Ave., 312-324-7500, White pitchers, Jonathan Adler, 676 N. Wabash Ave., 312-274-9920, White bowl, Elements, 741 N. Wells St., 877-642-6574, Black vase in sitting room behind kitchen, Ligne Roset. Womb chair, Living room: Townsend sectional and Cole chair, Room & Board, 55 E. Ohio St., 312-222-0970, Globe smoked vase, Ligne Roset, 440 N. Wells St., 312-222-9300, Orange pillow, Designer’s Linen Source. Letters pillow, Maharam DWR pillow, Design Within Reach, 10 E. Ohio St., 312-280-4677, Dining room: Darjeeling table and Victoria Ghost chairs, CB2, 800 W. North Ave., 312-787-8329, Silver bowls, Neiman Marcus. Flower Power chandelier, Brand Van Egmond, Lightology, 215 W. Chicago Ave., 312-944-1000, Guest bedroom: Platform bed and City Slicker side tables, CB2. Glass lamps, Vintage Pine, 904 W. Blackhawk St., 312-943-9303, Dedalo chandelier, Lightology. Pillow shams and cashmere throw, Pratesi, 67 E. Oak St., 312-943-8422, Front pillow, Kenneth Ludwig, Merchandise Mart, 312-467-0530, Orange book, Elements. Paintings, Kris Cahill. Master bedroom: Quiltino bedding and cashmere blanket, Pratesi. Framed cloud photo, Michael Bryant. Entry: Fig tree and planter, Jayson Home, 1885 N. Clybourn Ave., 773-248-8180, Terrace: Laguna Collection couches and chairs, Soleil lounge chair, Room & Board. Etra table and bench, AllModern, Dining chairs, CB2. Lanterns on dining table, Kenneth Ludwig. On cocktail table: bowl, Elements; hurricane, Kenneth Ludwig.  Pillow, Designer’s Linen Source. Grasses in zinc planter, Jayson Home. Planters, City Escape, 3022 W. Lake St., 773-638-2000,