HGTV shows like Flip or Flop and Windy City Rehab have made home renovations extremely popular, especially over the past year and a half as people have more time on their hands to take on their own home improvement projects. But often these television makeover results all look exactly the same. Every episode shows off the latest trends: minimalist decor and white-on-white rooms, to name a few. That’s why I get excited whenever I see a time capsule real estate listing; a single-owner home frozen in the time period it was originally built and left untouched by today’s trends. Yes, these residences might be outdated and end up gutted or possibly torn down — but who doesn’t want to go back in time? Not only are they a feast for the eyes, but you can also laugh or scratch your head at what was trendy more than 50 years ago. Well, these five homes offer you the ideal opportunity to go on a nostalgic trip.
As you can tell from the interior photos, this Park Ridge brick split level is perfectly preserved in every possible way. Building contractor Godfrey Lindstrom was responsible for constructing many homes around the suburb, including this one in 1957. First of all, look at the vintage kitchen featuring flat-panel wooden cabinets with geometric door handles. And it’s all tied together by the linoleum floor. Other great retro details include the slate flooring and analog clock door chime in the entryway, while the original bathrooms with wallpapered ceiling is not something you see every day. The midcentury modern vibes are complete with the pink and silver aluminum Christmas tree in the middle of the living room. Not sure if it comes with the house, but let’s hope so.
It’s the first time on the market for this 1968 custom-built home in Prospect Heights that has more than 6,800 square feet of living space. Everything about this place is like stepping back in time — from the astroturf indoor courtyard with spiral staircase, stone fireplaces in nearly every room, and the wood-panelled walls. Did I mention there is a whole restaurant in the basement? It looks like the long-lost child of Chicago’s legendary Trader Vic’s and the Regal Beagle from the TV show Three’s Company. You’ll find a unique-looking wet bar large enough to seat as many as ten people — plus extra tables and chairs — a nine-foot tournament pool table, and player piano. The plaid carpeting really ties it all together.
Located on a street of cookie-cutter new builds and larger three-story residences in Chicago’s Logan Square, this architectural oddity is probably destined for demolition, but we can still enjoy the interior photos. Behind the turquoise front door, there are period details you’d expect in a 1961 home, such as wood paneling and wallpaper and what appears to be terrazzo flooring in the kitchen. Are there wood beams behind that dropped ceiling? And do I see breeze blocks in the backyard? The property just sold at the time of this writing, so let’s cross our fingers it ended up in the hands of an antique collector and not a developer or flipper.
If you want to pretend you’re living in the Chain O’ Lakes circa 1956, then you’ll love everything about this four-bedroom, three-bathroom home. A midcentury modern dream from the “weldtex” or striated plywood ceiling to the hanging lights in the original kitchen. And I see more wallpapered ceilings in the bathroom, similar to the the split level in Park Ridge. Yes, there are a lot of wood-panelled rooms, but remember this cozy feature was not only popular from the 1950s through the 1970s — but it was also cost-effective and easy to install. The home is located on a lakefront double lot next to a private park, so it’s not surprising that the listing is selling as a tear-down or rehab project. Hopefully vintage lovers will purchase this gem, which comes fully furnished and preserved with all its midcentury details.
Crossing the Illinois-Indiana state border into Schererville to share one last time capsule home. A custom design from 1960, this ranch-style residence is located on a nearly three-acre wooded lot with a patio and a fire pit. You can enjoy all the views from the floor-to-ceiling windows in the sunken living room or while eating in the dining room of the breakfast nook off the kitchen. It’s the details that make this house so interesting, like that opening between the vintage kitchen and the dining room. Or the massive masonry fireplace. And can we talk about the geometric accents on that staircase? I hope whoever gets their hands on this one appreciates all its vintage vibes.