List Price: $3,995,000
The Property: Going by his name alone, you might expect the architect Greg Tomb to create deadly spaces, but this speculative home he built on Magnolia Avenue in Lake View is alive with contemporary touches. Tomb started the project by buying two standard 25-foot-wide lots and selling off half of one to the neighbors. That left him with a lot 37 feet across, enough to really open up the house he had planned. And because the neighbors used their part of the second lot for garden space, there is ample breathing space between the two homes. Tomb took advantage there by creating a 20-foot wall of windows that brings in lots of “artist’s light,” the soft light you get from north-facing windows.

Throughout the six-bedroom house, Tomb kept everything crisply ordered, but employed sumptuous finishes and materials to alleviate any austere overtones. In the living room, some bathrooms, and the lower-level great room, panels of black horizontal tile appear to float in front of bamboo walls. A dramatic steel-and-bamboo staircase hangs in a bay that is lit in the day by that 20-foot window wall. The master bedroom doesn’t have the now-customary separate room for closets and dressing; instead, a block of cabinetry cordons off a dressing area, preserving the open, rectilinear plan of the place. There are just two places in the whole house where I spotted any curvature that breaks up the right angles: in the shimmery kitchen ceiling lined with stainless steel discs the size of pennies; and in the master bath, where the soaking tub is shamrock shaped. 

While Tomb filled the house with nice materials—using them repeatedly to achieve a serene, unified feeling—he was also meticulous about laying out the floor plan. The wide, open spaces of the main floor open up the vista, but at the same time break up into easily defined living, dining, kitchen, and family areas. They spill out to a sunny two-level terrace and down to the handsome lower level, complete with a snappy green bar in the great room. The smooth way all these spaces flow into one another “makes you want to throw a big party here,” Tomb’s agent, Janet Owen, said as we walked through the house last week. She then noted, with some regret, that later that day she would be throwing her husband’s 60th birthday party—somewhere else. 

Price Points: Just a few doors down the block is a more traditional-looking 15-room house built on a double (50-foot-wide) lot in 2004 that is on the market for $4.35 million. Its owners paid $4.13 million for it just last September. Also within a couple of blocks are listings priced at $3.1 million and $2,999,950 (reduced from $3,299,000). Both of those homes are on standard 25-foot lots.

Listing Agent: Janet Owen of Sudler Sotheby’s, 312-706-2382;