Living and dining room
Two functions combine in this formal space.
The custom-designed tables that flank the entry to the room can be separated, as shown, or rolled together to form one table, seating eight or more. “A big table blocks the entry,” says designer Susan Fredman, ASID, owner of Susan Fredman and Associates. “Splitting it in two helps guests access the space easily. It pulls people into the room.” The bay windows on the far wall of the room frame leafy green city street views. Natural light filters through open-weave shades to silhouette the sculptural accent chairs. An antique curio table holds mementos safely under its glass top.
Kitchen and family room
“This is a small space with many different uses―it’s a cook’s kitchen, an eating space, a work center, and a place for watching TV,” Fredman says. “It’s meant to be lived in.”
The multipurpose functions of the kitchen/family room area mean practicality is paramount. Thoughtful, user-friendly elements include the following:
• Professional-grade Jenn-Air appliances are arrayed in a classic work triangle, with the sink, refrigerator, and range at each corner. There’s no need to walk more than three steps in any direction when cooking.
• The 48-inch range contains two side-by-side ovens. This allows the homeowner to enjoy the versatility of two ovens without sacrificing the wall space stackable units require.
• Locating electrical outlets in strips along the bottom of top-mount cabinets keeps the backsplash from being cluttered with outlet facings.
• Countertops are made of sealed honed quartzite, a durable natural stone. Marble, which requires more care, is used as an accent on the island’s end caps.
• The multilevel island provides bountiful workspace on the kitchen side and seating to the rear. Its various heights accommodate users whether they’re standing or seated.
• Walls beneath the cabinets and above the range are coated with chalkboard paint and can serve as message boards, places to list grocery items, or areas to write recipe notes.
Adjacent to the kitchen is a comfortable place to relax.
The kitchen occupies one end of this room; the rest is devoted to family space, shown here. It has several seating areas:
• A banquette and table provide space for casual meals or homework.
• A soft orange corduroy sectional sofa injects color. “It balances the darker earth tones used in the kitchen with a natural playfulness,” Fredman says. (The island’s barstools and other seats pick up the color, too.)
Add the fireplace and built-in television complemented by practical built-in cabinetry, and the room becomes an inviting space in which the rest of the family can keep the cook (or cooks) company.
“You can’t help but feel good in here,” Fredman says.
Despite its proximity to other bedrooms (three are on the second floor), privacy is achieved in the master suite by simply closing a hallway door. Features include the following:
• The lift-equipped cabinet at the foot of the bed holds a flat-screen television―there when you want it, hidden when you don’t so that you can enjoy viewing the fireplace on the opposite wall.
• A soft padded headboard reaches to the ceiling, underscoring the room’s 10-foot height.
• A radiant heating system keeps floors in the bathroom warm to the touch of bare feet.
• The laundry room is located on the same floor. The washer and dryer are near clothes and linens, which eliminates carrying heavy laundry baskets up and down the stairs.
“From June through the end of September, we have great weather in Chicago, and people like to take advantage of it,” Schreiber says. The FitHouse offers three distinct spaces to enjoy the outdoors.
“There’s not a lot of opportunity for private green space in the city,” Schreiber says. “You have to make a different type of place to escape.” The home’s top floor has two greenroofs―landscaping planted directly on the roof―that provide extra insulation, absorb rainwater, and reduce reflected sunlight. Greenroofs are an increasingly important element in Chicago architecture. In addition to a program that is geared toward commercial buildings (Chicago’s City Hall is capped with extensive plantings), the city also offers grants each year to residents who voluntarily install greenroofs on their homes.
• A deluxe outdoor kitchen is located just off the main-floor kitchen and family room, and it contains a refrigerator, gas grill, wood-burning pizza oven, and plenty of counter space.
• On the garage-top terrace, durable Trex decking is arrayed at an angle. “This gives visitors a sense of procession leading up from the outdoor kitchen,” says designer Aimee Nemeckay, of Susan Fredman and Associates. Low, comfortable seating is arranged around a wood-burning fireplace.
“The plant material is designed for maximum drought tolerance,” says landscape designer Aldo Burcheri, of Christy Webber Landscapes. “The trees are bonsai-like in that the container keeps them from growing like a tree in the wild,” Burcheri says. “These will grow to about 15 feet, helping to shade the space without overpowering it.”
Rooftop views lure visitors up to this show-stopping entertaining space.
Treetop-level windows line the front of the room, and greenroof terraces open off either side, bringing the outside in. Throughout, sculptural furnishings and accessories contribute to the gallery-like atmosphere.
One side of the room is devoted to lounge space, piled high with soft floor cushions. The other, shown above, contains a table and wine bar. With the exception of ceiling-mounted speakers for music, the room is intentionally free of media technology.
Elements like the following help foster conviviality:
• In addition to storage for dozens of bottles, the wine bar features a refrigerator, dishwasher, and cappuccino maker―everything you might need for a gathering of friends.
• The wine bar countertop is topped with Paperstone, a rock-hard compressed paper that is made of 80 to 85 percent recycled material. “It’s similar to a solid surface like Corian and just as easy to maintain,” Nemeckay says.
• Sliding glass doors offer easy access to the greenroofs. Closed, the doors maximize views. When the weather allows, they can be opened to catch cooling breezes, helping to reduce energy costs.
• “Design as much as possible with the environment in mind,” Fredman says. Even small details like the wine barrel top tray―an old material given new use, shown at the far right―speak to the home’s green sensibility and the room’s function.