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Un-Split My Home Private Residence

The Challenge

A family is seeking to expand their 1950’s era, split-level home in Northbrook, Illinois, This family discovers that its configuration proves inflexible and challenging to improve. No matter what option was considered, one suggestion seemed to be asked again and again, can we “un-split my home?” As the adjacent spaces on different levels prevent the reorganization of space, opportunities to improve were restricted to an addition to the rear of the home.

Many split-home owners face these challenges and find themselves frustrated and daunted by the prospects of trying to improve the home. They often find themselves in an “un-split my home” predicament. Those who pursue a compromised solution often make the condition worse, sacrificing spaces to enable awkward access to the already disjointed flow of their home. The aesthetics and curb appeal of these modifications, spending good money after bad and make the home even more challenging to fix or sell. The options often become to either sell the home at a significantly reduced price or tear the home down, start over and build a new home to replace the split.

The Solution

Together we developed a solution to convert a once compartmentalized plan into the open and flowing home that they desire rather than entertain the undesirable options. The open plan capitalizes on its views into the forest preserve and vegetable garden located in its backyard. The “un-split my home” solution clears the way for success.

Missing a two car garage, we reconfigured the layout, sacrificing an under-utilized basement bedroom, to create the space needed to add this important feature. This bedroom was then relocated to the new second floor with the other bedrooms. The additional storage space and the ability to park two cars without having to jockey their position in the driveway is a huge benefit. Among the improvements are an expanded kitchen, more spacious bedrooms and a guest suite.

Finally, the exterior facade is treated to a renewed and refreshed craftsman architectural character, while maintaining the quaint scale of the surrounding neighborhood. This style was created using modern, fiber-cement siding, for its strong character and low-maintenance qualities. It also resists pests of all sorts, a real advantage when living this close to the woods. Others on the street are endlessly battling woodpeckers who are feasting on their cedar wood siding.

Home Features

The concept creates an open floor plan and the following spaces and features:

first floor

  • foyer
  • kitchen
  • living room
  • powder room
  • family room (12′ ceilings)
  • sunroom
  • screen porch
  • 2-car garage

second floor

  • master bedroom
  • master bathroom
  • master screen porch
  • bedroom 2 (jack & jill)
  • bedroom 3 (jack & jill)
  • bedroom 4 (en suite)
  • jack and jill bath
  • guest bath

basement

  • recreation room
  • laundry room
  • storage
  • mechanical room

The dramatic demolition photos really help to illustrate how we were able to open up the spaces. This appears to be a totally new home and it lives that way as well. The cost savings of working with the existing structure made this project possible. Better Tools for Renovations and Additions were used to illustrate the various construction conditions of existing, demolished, and new construction for this project.

In the end, this proved a sustainable solution to a significant challenge. Using the principals of “un-split my home”, the owners transformed a space-challenged home in a great location into one that suits their daily and family needs. Neighborhood kids, parents, pets, friends, and guests come together for a quick chat, barbecues, parties. Something is always happening and it all starts at the front porch. This home is well lived in.

existing front view contact mark eric benner architects