In The Times of Northwest Indiana, Joseph S. Pete reports that prices in northwest Indiana, better known as the Region, jumped 13.8% last year—not quite Boise numbers, but a lot more than the 9.6% growth of the greater Chicago metro. It’s got a lot of advantages: it’s generally affordable, if you’re looking for houses instead of condos it has much more of the former, and property taxes tend to be pretty low, especially compared to the south suburbs you might otherwise be looking at if you’re looking in NWI. And, of course, it’s mostly pretty close to Lake Michigan and some of its best public shoreline. Here’s a look at what’s out there in the Region.
First, here’s a bit of Chicago history: look inside this unique midcentury house, built in 1959, and you’ll find some unusual wallpaper. That’s the work of Jack Denst, a student of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy at the Chicago School of Design, which rose out of the ashes of Moholy-Nagy’s New Bauhaus. Denst made his mark as a designer with wallpaper and other vivid, pop-art wall coverings. He’s practically an Imagist who worked in wallpaper, maybe the Ed Paschke of wallpaper. He sold his wares from a showroom in the Merchandise Mart for 42 years, and they decorate what was Denst’s getaway. Just the wallpaper alone wouldn’t be cheap, and in this case it comes with a whole house near Lake Michigan.
A good place to find MCM homes in Indiana is Munster’s Fairmeadows subdivision, like this ranch. Like a lot of MCM homes, it’s deceptively large: three beds, two baths, and 2,800 square feet, appearing modest from the street but opening up to the backyard, with a gorgeous family room centered around a wall-mounted fireplace, and a big screened-in porch. Down below is a party: a shag-carpeted bar and a shag-carpeted conversation podium.
More traditional is this newer-build (1992) Valpo log cabin, which focuses on a big, two-story, open-plan family room and its massive stone fireplace, overseen by a cozy loft area. Not very traditional, or at least traditional for 1992, is the basement bar decked out as a pseudo-diner, complete with red-vinyl booth, if you need a place to feel less quaint. It’s a nice compliment to the hot tub in the back, which sits on the sprawling two-level porch, if four beds and three baths over nearly 3,000 square feet isn’t enough.
As you might notice, this is basically a farmhouse with a massive neoclassical pediment nailed to the front. It gives you a sense of what’s inside: the simplicity of a farmhouse dressed up with a lot of color and wallpaper, sometimes great, sometimes not (like the neon-green porch). But it hasn’t lost much of its 1842 origins, so you can peel back some of its evolution and leave yourself with something between grand (five beds, three baths, 3,400 square feet) and warm.
For pomo on a budget, what was once a modest 1942 home has been vividly transformed into… well, it’s pomo, it’s a lot of things. The kitchen pays tribute to its Gary location with an double-arched corrugated steel ceiling (really), while the dining room has an exaggeratedly coffered ceiling. The living room centerpiece is a lovely wood stove with a two-tone brick splash, whitewashed and raw. It’s just two beds and one bath, but outside is a lush green space to stretch out in.