It is definitely one of Chicago’s favorite past times. In a city with such diversity throughout its neighborhoods, the leisurely Sunday post-brunch stroll (Spring and Fall only, let’s not get over zealous here) with an exquisitely crafted espresso drink turns up some pretty amazing housing eye-candy. Whether secluded Ravenswood Manor, booming Hyde Park, or stately Lincoln Park; the variety of homes never fails to deliver. Did you ever wonder what people turn those circular turret rooms into (observatories, surely?), or been caught daydreaming over someone else’s lazy porch Sunday – no need any longer, the big glossy signs advertising the newest custom home additions offer a way in to the myriad world of funky features that may cause even the proudest homeowner to feel a pang of jealousy. Here’s some of the most coveted features in today’s custom homes:
The Home Theater
The quintessential home luxury, it has stood as one of the most requested additions since the technology has been available, and continues to make home entertainment a big feature in custom homes. There is nothing like calling all the shots in your own theater. Want to make your guests leave their phones outside? Only serving garlic buttery popcorn? A filter on Alec Baldwin’s voice whenever he’s onscreen you say? You’re the boss! Watch movies the way you want to – and with the price of theater tickets always rising, it might even pay for itself one of these days!
The Walk-in Pantry
Whenever a feature is prefaced with ‘Walk-in…’ there’s only one thing on most people’s minds. But the utility of walk in closets over standalone furniture has made them almost ubiquitous, and there are other things one can walk into that make a home special… No shiny new chef’s kitchen would be complete without somewhere to store all that food; another slight tip of the hat to a bygone era, the pantry is making a comeback. Whether you are an aspiring culinary genius or are stocking up for the long summer holidays – ample space to layout full stores of spices, dried goods, and other staples can help with meal planning and make the decision on what to make for an unplanned Wednesday night dinner much simpler.
The Tub with a View
Often now a fixture of any ‘sanctuary’, an expansive bathroom just feels luxurious, plus it enables the much better usage of that hotel robe you purchased that one time. Going a full step beyond the walk in wardrobe and his and hers bathroom fixtures, the return to claw footed bathtubs, often raised on a plinth to afford better, non-overlooked views out of the 2nd floor window is one that’s going to stay. The antique feel of the tubs mixed with cool, clean modern fixtures, countertops, and lines creates a striking bathroom where relaxation, comfort, and peace are of the utmost importance.
The Roaring Fireplace
There’s just something about an open fire, crackling and flickering, radiating warmth throughout a space. Whether you have daydreams of being a burly woodsman, hate the way that Chicago winters nip at your toes or just love that homely smell – there’s plenty of reason to covet a custom fireplace. It creates an instant hearth, a place that feels like the center of a home, a gathering place and space to unwind in with friends. Continuing the outdoors-inside are the re-imagined fire pits, where people can warm themselves by being near the fire, indoors, but safe from flames. There are striking modern takes on open fires as well – take the FireOrb, designed in Chicago, tipping a nod to the wood burning stoves of the past with dramatic ceiling high flue and organic, globular structure – certain to turn those post-brunch walkers’ heads’.
There’s just something about how a home looks with a deck wrapped around it. When you see these homes it is hard not to picture a swing chair and a cool glass of lemonade. It is part of the charm – that indoors/outdoors feel that enables the home to live as part of the space it is in, rather than against it. With a full deck, multiple rooms can let out onto it – allowing the whole family to share in those long lazy summer weekends at home. Perhaps even the decadent upper deck – giving the master bedroom that perfect sunny spot for the first coffee of the day. Then there’s the old romantic in us all – and being able to take a blanket outside, to hear the rainstorm on the decking roof, and stay warm with your patio heater and watch it go by. Sounds just like heaven.
The Secret Passage
It’s true, they do exist, and not just in storybooks – look around enough old mini-mansions, and one day a realtor will have that gleam in their eye as they divulge the information! The feeling of sneaking through the hidden passageway and having a piece of history built into the very structure of the home is pretty unique and cool. So when a new custom home advertises a secret passage, with the advances in construction technology, and with our imaginations on overdrive – the options are endless. Whether you want to be able to sneak down to the basement to catch up on some sports or video game hours, create a fun route for the kids to get to the playroom from their bedroom, or you’re just a lifelong Sherlock fan; you can really put your own special, and hidden, touch to a home’s layout.