I was in Lake Forest, Illinois, about 30 miles north of Chicago, a few weeks ago and I walked by one of my all-time favorite houses, a gigantic brick manor house by brilliant American residential architect Howard Van Doren Shaw. Being able to view Shaw's work on the reg is one of the great advantages of living in Chicago. I was thinking "hm, this house was on the market a few years ago, I wonder what happened...". Well guess what -- its back on the market and that means we get to snoop (baby snoop...).
I have to say, the interior decorating of this home isn't bad, it just doesn't live up the amazing architecture of the house. However, time has been kind to this grande dame, and a new owner with a conscientious designer and some good taste could fluff the old gal up no problem.
Yes, its gorgeous. But its incredible how little this listing picture does to communicate the real drama and impressiveness of the outside of this home. Take a look at some of the pictures I took a few weeks ago.
The gate posts, topped by urns, flank both sides of the U-shaped driveway.
Obviously, there was a Maserati parked in the driveway, because of course there was. But here you get quite a sense of the grand scale of the home.
A wrought iron gate graces the front of the property and is connected by the brick gate posts and several other brick posts.
For a formidable home (its over 10,000 square feet), the exterior and landscaping are so welcoming and graceful.
So -- the interiors are pretty beige and blah, but, as you can see, the original architecture is pretty un-messed-with. The longitudinal barrel vaulted foyer hall is a stunner. And did you catch the jib door beneath the stairs in the first picture? This would be so easy to make stunning.
Smartly, the sellers of the home put in a gigantic, bright, and fresh Christopher Peacock kitchen (which is pretty much de riguer in this neck of the woods). Crisp white, warm wood, lovely grey and hydrangea blue - I mean we're not breaking any artistic ground here, but its got classic good looks, is great for a family, and is like $250,000 and a kitchen reno headache that you don't have to worry about.
Again, the decorative schemes in the public rooms are pretty much a snooze BUT the original details have been left blessedly alone. I especially adore the fluted pilasters in the dining room (and check out those dentils!), and allllllll that lovely paneling in the library. Wonderful. Just waiting for someone to come and de-beige it.
But WOW - the exteriors. Something the nice people at Gracie paper wouldn't be able to help you fix in a hurry. This home's exterior is truly a Shaw masterwork. A perfect mix of stately formidability and grace that one would expect from a c1909 manor home.
And did I mention the formal gardens? And two fountains? This sort of English-Italianate hybrid is especially beautiful.
This expansive herringbone brick patio area extends the entire width of the back of the home. A perfect place for relaxing, entertaining, and just taking in the view of this glorious home.
I can't emphasize enough just how impressive this home is in real life (at least from my creeping around the outside), how much the listing shots don't do it justice. I hope someone tasteful and loving snaps this history estate up and gives it the interiors that it deserves. You can see the listing here.