Brenda & Harry’s Contemporary Coach House
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Names: Harry, Brenda and their two sons
Location: Wicker Park — Chicago, Illinois
Size: 2000 square feet
Years lived in: 11 total, 4 post-reno — owned
Brenda and Harry have been friends of mine for a long time now which means I’ve been lucky enough to share in many of their “life events”. That translates to a busy decade or so, including a wedding (fantastic!), a first baby (joyous!), a second baby (doubly joyous!) and one big renovation (which, as you are about to see, is wonderful!).
I can remember this double wide coach house in it’s original, happily funky, state. Back in the day, it was equally welcoming, located in a big backyard that is an unusually lush green oasis in the city. Many happy evenings were spent in the old kitchen eating homemade pizza and playing games. Brenda and Harry are consummate hosts; their guests are made to feel like family upon arrival at the coach house. But as their own family began to grow, they realized that the layout of their much-loved home was no longer going to work.
As with any major renovation of a space, there are stories; the plans, the sources, the deliveries and the dramas. But, in the end, what matters is how it all comes together and becomes a place that feels even more like home. So, with that in mind, enjoy this tour of Brenda and Harry’s own vision of home, brought to reality at the back of a garden in Wicker Park.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Contemporary Eclectic
Inspiration: Trees, Rocks, Sky and Water
Favorite Element: Radiant Floor Heating! The Ofuro. The view into the garden.
Biggest Challenge: Designing a quiet, efficient AC system without soffits. It was a real 3D puzzle; also, trying to find affordable “eco-friendly” products in 2006-7; letting the 6-year-old take control of his bedroom walls.
What Friends Say: “Can we come over to take a bath?”
Biggest Embarrassment: Taking 5 years to rehab 2000 square feet.
Proudest DIY: We fell in love with the slab tables at BDDW in Soho and thought: how can we do this more cheaply? We found a walnut slab in Texas, had it shipped and finished by a local furniture maker. The legs were designed by our friend, Michael Goldin.
Biggest Indulgence: Living room furniture; the Wolf range; tiling all the walls (minus one) in the bathrooms! The tile wasn’t too expensive but the labor was…
Best Advice: Don’t move into a new house with a new baby.
Dream Sources: Poured terrazzo; super thick marble slabs in the kitchen; water recycling system and a Biedermeier dressing table
Resources of Note:
• Living/Dining/Kitchen: Benjamin Moore November Rain
• Sofa and chair: “Reef” by Cassina
• Ottoman: Poltrona Frau
• Brown chairs: Inherited from father-in-law
• Fuzzy rug: CB2
• Drapes: Custom through Urban Source
• Dining room chairs: Ikea
• Chandelier: DWR
• Counters: Carrera marble
• Cabinets: Aluminum from a now-defunct Spanish line.
• White Stools: Arne Jacobsen/DWR
• Lights: Vintage from a now-defunct antique store in Three Oaks, Michigan
• Wallpaper: Urban Source, Chicago.
• Nightstands: CB2 file cabinets
• Bed: old Case Study frame
• Kelim: Istanbul flea market
• Dresser: thrifted
• Large green tiles in master bath: zero-VOC recycled natural stone aggregates by Eco-Terr (ordered through Coveringsetc) in Moor Green
• Ofuro: Alaska yellow cedar by Seaotter Woodworks at Japanesebath.com.
• Sink: Duravit
• Faucets: Dornbracht
• Entry: Portland cement cut by saw to create tile pattern
• Throughout the rest of the house: recycled oak from Carlise Wide Plank Floors
• Dining Area: Purple Potatoes by Joan Goldin (gift of artist)
• Dining Area: Talking Tree by Hiromi Tanaka (local Wicker Park artist)
• Living Room: Nat Love by Clamdiggin (local Wicker Park artist)
• Orange Bedroom: Polar bear print – gift from our friend, Stephen Savage (from his book Polar Bear Night)
Thanks, Harry and Brenda!
Images: Janel Laban
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