Making a House a Home

This home in Chicago was built circa 1905. It was purchased in 1991, previously owned by the same family since the 1940s. The house had seen only small modifications to the original kitchen and side porch -- the side porch was fully enclosed and made into a galley kitchen, a powder room was added to the space, and the original kitchen was converted to a dining room.


The flooring throughout the house was sloped, primarily caused by a rotten sill on top of the foundation. The front porch was not fully enclosed and was sinking. A coal burner was still in the basement, next to a highly inefficient octopus furnace. Gas fittings for fixtures could be found scattered throughout the home. The fireplace had pulled away from the chimney. Squirrels had invaded the partially finished attic with crumbling plaster. The kitchen had a silent gas refrigerator.

Over the course of 30 years the house was gut renovated one room at a time, floor to ceiling, with new drywall, flooring, and windows installed. The work done included: rebuilding the rotten sill, digging out the basement floor 6" and creating a new basement door to replace the bulkhead cellar access, opening rooms with larger archways in place of hanging doors, and installing engineered beams. The front porch was jacked up and enclosed to be part of the house and windows added. All mechanicals (plumbing, electric, HVAC) were replaced. The front and back yard was completely landscaped.

The overall floorpan of the house was not substantially altered though some rooms were opened and enlarged. The galley kitchen and dining room space was combined (and 3 engineered beams installed when the load bearing wall between the rooms was removed). A powder room was added under the staircase and the basement stairs moved and rebuilt. 

The 2nd floor was slightly modified by removing the closets in two bedrooms and moving the walls so that the rooms became wider. Built in closets were created in two of the bedrooms. Since the front bedroom was oversized, a walk in closet was added. The hallway was opened and a new staircase to the 3rd floor attic space was built. The roof was raised in the back of the house and this space was made into a master bed/bath suite with sitting area and built in drawers and closets.  The roofing was replaced.

The basement was partitioned into rooms and closets added for storage. A dog shower was installed.

The original stucco, likely added to the frame siding in the 1940s was repaired and painted. All window sills and exterior trim was repaired or replaced and painted.

A 2nd floor side deck was added (above the kitchen).

The front and back yards were landscaped with perennial plants and shrubs, all grass removed, and a deck, pergola, and pond added.