List Price: $11,995,000
The Property: Originally built in the 1890s by a retired Confederate general as a small summer cottage book-ended by two chimneys, this house grew in several directions over the years. By the time Tim and Gail  Anderson bought it in 1999—Tim is a retired Baxter executive—it was in need of editing. “We expected it to take about a year,” says Gail Anderson. Adds Tim, “We were one-third right.”

The couple took to the task with zeal, switching certain rooms from here to there, combining a warren of small spaces into a large, sunlit kitchen, creating new arched doorways that complement the original entryways, and wrapping it all with exquisite gardens.

While gutting much of the interior, the Andersons were duly respectful of the house’s historic highlights. These include a library, added by the architect Howard Van Doren Shaw around 1920, that has a plank-and-beam ceiling, carved wood statuary and flat stone coping set into plaster walls, and blue stained-glass accent windows (by Edgar Miller) that give the space the character of an English country chapel. Where the dining room is now, there used to be a bar hidden behind bookcases—presumably a relic of Prohibition. The Andersons moved it intact to the basement. Push open the bookcases to reveal a complete bar, and spin around a kick panel to reveal a brass rail on which to prop your foot.

The 22-room house and its three-acre grounds are filled with meticulous details, as you can see on my video tour, but even so, the estate manages to feel like a casual, inviting home—thanks, I think, to the owners’ relaxed personalities. They have a pretty organic kitchen garden, and they grow and harvest the fruits and vegetables themselves. Their sense of humor comes through in a second family room in the basement, which they have tricked out to look like a lounge on a vintage ocean liner, complete with porthole windows.

It’s not just the restoration but the house’s stately situation—it sits on a vast lawn beneath towering oaks—that makes this place “the most admired home in Lake Forest,” according to Houda Chedid, the Andersons’ agent. That’s quite a compliment: Chedid has listed some of the elite town’s most prestigious properties.

Price Points: The Andersons would not say how much they spent to buy the house—Lake County property records were no help—nor how much they spent on the renovation. With their three children grown, they are now reluctantly ready to downsize. Their asking price has remained firm since they listed the property for sale in April.

Listing Agent: Houda Chedid, Coldwell Banker, 847-234-3800;