List Price: $1.95 million
The Property: A cocktail of genres, this house has a harsh 1970s exterior, an interior rich in Victorian ornamentation, and an atrium that could have been borrowed from a Spanish-style home. And while distinctly urban, the place has a big yard worthy of a residence in the suburbs.

On the outside, the somewhat forbidding countenance reflects the home’s construction in the late 1970s, when its neighborhood—the Buena Park section of Uptown—was very troubled. But inside, the house opens up to offer a warm welcome. The atrium, two stories high, brings light into the interior of the house, which is both extra-deep and extra-wide thanks to its siting on a very large lot. The formal living and dining rooms are grandly scaled and adorned with stained glass and plaster ceiling medallions. These and some handsome lacquered doors were transplanted from the much older mansion next door, whose owners split what was once an enormous lot in half and in 1978 built this home for themselves; they worked with the architect Marcel Friedes, who also designed a high-rise at 1540 North LaSalle Street.

Howard and Lisa Skolnik bought the house in 1992; their youngest child is grown and they are divorcing, so they have put the house on the market. Lisa Skolnik, a prolific journalist whose articles on home design and other topics have appeared in Metropolitan Home and many other publications, candidly acknowledges that they have not updated the home much while living there; the kitchen and baths, in particular, are quite dated. (Full disclosure: Lisa Skolnik is my colleague; she has written for Chicago Home + Garden, which is published by Chicago, and for Chicago Architect, a magazine that I edit.)

But that’s not all a buyer might change. As you will see in the video, Brad Lippitz (the Skolniks’ agent) and I agree that there are several ways to reassign the seven first-floor rooms (six of them surround the atrium). Just one possibility: the atrium itself is now a playroom, but Lippitz envisions opening it up to the kitchen, for a large Tuscan family-style kitchen and dining room combo. That would free up the 357-square-foot dining room to be a family room with doors to the fenced back yard.  But then you would need to concoct a new use for the existing family room.

And while the stern exterior says “urban,” Lisa Skolnik notes that her children had a fairly free-ranging childhood, à la suburban kids. That’s not only because of the big fenced yard. “They rode their bikes to soccer practice” on the lakefront, two blocks east, she says.

Price Points: The Skolniks first listed the house for sale in September 2009, with an asking price of $2.199 million. They dropped the price to $1.95 million in early March. A house built in 2009 two blocks north on a smaller-than-standard lot was sold on March 23rd for $1.35 million. That place was new, with all the finishes and gadgets that implies, but it was also significantly smaller, both in lot size and in interior space. 

Listing Agent:  Brad Lippitz of Prudential Rubloff; 773-230-5100 or