Winnetka Colonial Chronicles, Part 8

Hooray! We crossed the finish line on this Winnetka Colonial before it finished us. We've spent months ripping it apart and carefully rebuilding it. This house is now ready to serve many more years. If you want to read more about this odyssey, check out Winnetka Colonial Chronicles Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. Odyssey seems like the right word to describe this project. There was more joy than pain on this winding road. We are no nuttier today than we were at the start, so that also goes in the win column. It helps to find some pleasure in untangling those problems that inevitably pop up in vintage homes. It also helps that we we blocked out all of the hideous details from our memories. Who even remembers that happened? Not us.

The scars have healed. Now we can exhale and conclude with a look at the first floor. 

We refinished the hardwood floors with a custom stain, replaced the baseboard, and installed crown molding. The traditional center entry stairwell was stabilized and reinforced.

The typically oversized living room is always a bit tricky in colonial homes of this age, but we added lighting to complement the natural light from the large windows and refinished the fireplace which had previously featured painted brick. 

One way to reduce the "bowling alley" effect of the large colonial living room is to create some visual separation. In this example, we added french doors and a coffered ceiling to separate the study from the living room. We also added a passage to the kitchen to improve the flow of the house.

Another view of the study. The tightly compartmentalized floor plans of older homes are often incompatible with how families live today, so it's common to merge small spaces that are closed off and divide other spaces that are unusually large. 

Before: the old wall separating the kitchen from the dining room.

Before: the old kitchen.

The kitchen was a prime example of adapting the layout to today's family: small, dark and closed off by a wall where the refrigerator is now, the new kitchen benefitted from a more spacious expansion, as well as new appliances, cabinetry, and lighting.

A good layout is vital because so much of family life occurs in or near the kitchen. If possible, we like to make kitchens comfortable for two or more people to work together. Pathway widths of 44" between range and island and 46" between sink and island are shown here. An eight foot island ensures plenty of counter space for food prep and seating for four.

A small powder room is a fun challenge, and there is some limit to what can be done in a 44" x 44" room once the toilet is installed. The dramatic Farrow & Ball wallpaper created a dragged-paint effect and accentuates the height of the bathroom. 

Down-on-their-luck properties with the promise of a brighter future can test a homeowner to the core, no doubt. But the final results can be extraordinarily satisfying. We hope you enjoyed the Winnetka Colonial Chronicles, and thank you for spending some time in The Attic. Please don't hesitate to contact us if we can assist you with any of your renovation projects. 

Remodeling and Home Design