List Price: $1.695 million
The Property: From its triangular floor plan to its hanging chimney, internal balconies, and master bathroom tiled in black polka dots, this Wilmette house built in 1981 is a study in unconventional design. The work of the late Marion Gutnayer—a University of Illinois architecture professor whose own even more unusual home is just a block away—this four-bedroom house has a big eight-sided living room whose brick walls shut out the sight and sound of the busy street outside, while its tall, slender windows frame views of trees and garden space. Upstairs loft spaces near two children’s bedrooms overlook the living room, and they are matched in the rear of the house by a broad balcony off the master bedroom that looks out over the glass-walled family room and into the yard. There is also a wide spiral staircase, vertical cutouts in some brick walls, a large-panel terrazzo floor, and multi-bulb light fixtures made of chrome and smoked-glass.

Gutnayer’s son Glenn, now a builder in Highland Park, was working for his father at the time the house was built. “He saw every building he designed as a three-dimensional piece of sculpture,” Gutnayer says. “He was very happy with this one when it was finished. The chimney that hangs over the driveway is great, isn’t it?”

The sellers, William and Mary Brash, bought the house in 1986 from its original owner and found its floor plan to have great flow both for kids and for parties. Mary Brash says that Marion Gutnayer “was great at making contemporary spaces”—but the architect also handled the little details in intriguing ways. For instance, the central pillar of the staircase doubles as the laundry chute. The Brashes are now semiretired—he’s in commercial real estate and she’s an interior designer—and downsizing to a townhouse.

Price Points: Although 30 similarly priced houses have sold in Wilmette in the past year, each one—whether older or newly built—had a far more traditional look. The sellers and their agent, Aliza Korrub, are well aware that their listing is different. “This is the North Shore,” Mary Brash says. “They’re traditional here.”

Listing Agent: Aliza Korrub, Century 21 SGR; (847) 971-0419 or