A Space for Everyone — This Lincoln Park Home Was Purpose Built for a Large Family

It doesn’t sound like much of a challenge to plan and build a 7,500-square-foot house for a single family. But a few caveats made this project a bit of a puzzle for the team of Casagrande Architects and Epic Interiors. First, the family consists of a husband, wife and five kids so they wanted seven-bedrooms (one for guests) with each bedroom having an en suite bathroom. The next challenge was that this house wasn’t being built on a large suburban lot, instead it’s located in Lincoln Park on a just slightly wider than 25-foot average lot.

“There’s an extra 7 or 8 inches of width on this lot, which doesn’t sound like much,” says architect Philip Casagrande, whose eponymous firm also handled the construction. “But with those 7 inches, we didn’t have to request a special permit, so it was just enough.” Along with the seven bedrooms and 10 bathrooms (there are three powder rooms) Casagrande needed to include all the other rooms a family needs: kitchen, pantry, mudroom, living room, family room. He notes that it was an intense amount of space planning to not only fit everything into the four-story home, but to ensure that the flow was logical and that the rooms felt comfortable in scale.

In the living room, a mix of club and accent chairs feels less formal than sofas. The art over the fireplace is by Chicago artist Pamela Staker.

Designer Jeannine Bogart, who founded Epic Interiors with Andy Clymore in 2011, joined the project as the walls started to go up. “It was such a large project, we really had to think of it in two phases,” she says. “The first phase was finishes, flooring and general construction. The second phase was bedrooms, bathrooms and furnishings.”

To give the multi-story dwelling a feeling of unity, Bogart used a few clever techniques. She chose a restrained and calm palette of neutrals and grays that are repeated throughout the home’s public areas. The furnishings she chose are contemporary; they’re also durable, but the look has a modern vibe while still being kid-friendly. In the children’s bedrooms, Bogart let the kids’ personalities and interests lead, which naturally meant more color and pattern than in the public spaces. “It was a very collaborative process,” Bogart says, noting that she worked with the family and the Casagrande team for two years on the house. “This is their forever home and they wanted the look to be timeless and clean.”

The Kohler tub is central to the primary bathroom’s luxurious appointments; its gently rounded edges provide a counterpoint to the linear grid of the window.

In the kitchen, which is in the middle of the narrow lot, natural light was a priority, so two large windows face each other on the cooking and dining sides, which put a window directly behind the Thermador gas range. “Years ago, we did about a dozen kitchens with a window over the stove, but at that time, we did them with glass block,” Casagrande says. “The client had a photo of a project he liked and said that’s what he wanted to do.” Not only is the “backsplash” a window, the vent hood is custom made of glass and steel. “It’s a cool look that makes the kitchen as open and airy as possible,” Bogart notes. “Sometimes it isn’t a functional decision, as much as an aesthetic one. Fortunately, the house is always spotless!”

Knapp Kitchens made the floor-to-ceiling custom cabinetry, allowing every inch of space to be efficiently used.

Just off the kitchen, is a butler’s pantry with chevron marble tile—a pattern Bogart repeats in several rooms—and plenty of additional storage. “The butler’s pantry matches the island,” she says. “But it’s distinct from the white kitchen; the blue gives the space definition.”

In the pantry, the backsplash is tiled in a chevron pattern, which designer Jeannine Bogart uses selectively throughout the house. The dark blue cabinets provide contrast with the neighboring white kitchen cabinets.

Through either the butler’s pantry or a hallway, the kitchen links to the family room. Here, the homeowners requested as much seating as possible and they asked that the space on either side of the fireplace not be a traditional five-shelf bookcase. “They wanted it be different and sleek,” Bogart says. “We added a bench on the wall next to the fireplace, which gives even more seating for parties, and we made it out of a light wood, which keeps it modern.”

In the couple’s bedroom, the fireplace wall is clad in an Ann Sacks tile in the unifying chevron pattern. The Callan chair is by Room & Board.

At the other end of the main level is the living room and front entry. “We didn’t do a sofa, because we had these beautiful windows we didn’t want to block,” the designer says. “The room mixes formal and casual because this house doesn’t have a lot of places for the family to gather, so each one has to work in multiple ways.” The entry just off the living room is a true, gracious greeting to the home with a beautiful chandelier and grasscloth wallcovering. The family’s coats, boots and bags come in through a lower level entrance that’s kitted out as a more traditional mudroom.

The foyer is a small space, but grasscloth wallpaper by Serena & Lily, plus patterned floor tile by Ann Sacks give the entry an oversized visual impact.

Upstairs, the primary bedroom is a respite for the busy couple—they own a business together in addition to their five children—and a place for them to retreat with television, fireplace and reading nook. “This bedroom needed to be an oasis for them to come home to,” Bogart says. “They got rid of the clutter when they moved, everything in here is something they love.” The primary bathroom is similarly outfitted to be a relaxing space with a large soaking tub, sauna and steam shower. The window above the tub faces the house next door, so Bogart frosted it for maximum light and privacy.

Now that they’re in and this large project is complete, Bogart says that the family couldn’t be happier with the outcome. “They’re so respectful of this house and what we did,” she says. “There was a ton of time, energy and love that went into this house.” 

How to Help:

Consider giving to a local housing nonprofit. The below are all previous Make It Better Foundation Philanthropy Award Winners:

  • A Safe Haven Foundation provides food, shelter, treatment, medical care, education, job training and job placement to people in crisis and helps them transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency.
  • Mercy Housing Lakefront is a nonprofit developer of program-enriched, affordable housing for people in need.
  • The Night Ministry provides housing, health care, outreach, spiritual care and social services to adults and youth who struggle with homelessness, poverty and loneliness.
  • Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E) helps seniors remain independent and active in their community by offering intergenerational living opportunities and a variety of citywide support services.

If you’re interested in helping more people have access to design services, you can support the nonprofit Designs for Dignity, which transforms nonprofit environments through pro bono design services and in-kind donations.

If you have the opportunity to join a local housewalk tour of private homes, many partner with nonprofits and local museums, like the Wilmette Historical Museum or Evanston History Center.

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