If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent over a year staring at the same four walls. It’s kind of a bummer of a time to be living in the open-plan era—you can’t even go to the dining room or the den, just from the bedroom to the big space with all the stuff and back.
Well, below are some places to imagine yourself in, and maybe give yourself some ambitious ideas. Whether you like the outdoors, playing piano, or living like an English gentleman or a sultan, the Chicagoland area can fulfill aesthetic desires that run beyond bungalows or influencer-friendly new construction.
I found this home on Wednesday, its first day on Zillow; when I went to write this on Thursday, it was under contract. Sorry! But you might have some luck. Anyway, you can see why it didn’t last very long. $429,000 is a good price for three beds, two baths, and 2,500 square feet. It’s a great price when you consider the living room, with its 360-degree fireplace and 270-degree windows. And that’s not all: the second-best fireplace in this house, the mod teardrop one in the cozy, wood-paneled den, is cooler than the fireplaces in 99% of the homes in the area.
For a different kind of cozy, try this country estate designed by Harrie T. Lindberg. Architecture Digest has a nice appreciation of his work, which mixed up the Continental influences desired by the society set while extracting something American, and resulting in houses that read “less as impressive statements of status and more for comfortable living.” There’s still quite a bit of status embedded in its 7,000 square feet across four beds and nine baths—check out the mural in the sitting room—but the scale on the inside and out is more subtle than a lot of homes of its size and price range. Also: huge fireplace.
Alternately, you may want something more along the lines of an impressive statement of status—like, say, a vizier—and boy do I have the house for you. Built in 1982, it somehow feels of its era (especially the big built-in for the CRT TV) but also from the future. It’s for a very particular taste, but it would be a shame if it got too renovated; its audaciousness and absolute commitment to the bit give it a charm that houses of its size, price, and era don’t usually have. Even the TV feels just right. Pick up a Betamax if you go in on this.
Built in 2007, this six-bed, seven-bath house feels like a supersized midcentury ranch, maybe two supersized midcentury ranches stacked on top of each other, and it hides its large size—over 6,600 square feet—very well, if you’re into that. At the same time, it shows off its centerpiece, the two-story living room with the kind of proportions and light you get from a 21st-century sleek glass box. The rest of the house is a bit of a mishmash between the two styles; if you can’t decide between the two popular high-end styles, you might love it. I’m a fan of the steam shower with a dizzying tile pattern that’s the size of a den.
Its curbside appeal says “tiny biotech firm,” but inside it’s fab—instead of a conversation pit, it has a conversation stage… with a piano… shaped like a piano… beneath a piano-shaped layered ceiling. If you host a talk show, you can now work from home. There’s a small, hotel-sized indoor pool with a swim machine, and downstairs you’ll find a “sports arena”: a 40×20 oval space with torso-high walls and astroturf. There’s also another 4,000 square feet of unfinished storage space, for… you already have a stage and a sports arena and a pool, so… model trains? At over 10,000 square feet for the price, that’s a solid bargain, so dream big.