Highland Park, IL (Oct. 13, 2012) - Serious exterior decoration was the answer to proportion and style problems experienced by a North Shore family as they gradually morphed their lovely suburban home into an awesome estate-like setting.
In the 16 years the family resided on a tree-lined Highland Park street, they doubled the size of their home site, purchasing and demolishing an adjacent residence to establish a private tennis court and acquiring a third lot to introduce a park-like appearance.
However, following these inspired improvements, the exterior in which the homeowners and their designer John Robert Wiltgen took so much pride, failed to live up to its enhanced site. Rather than nestling between several other homes, their residence was hidden by encroaching landscaping. Standing alone on one of the highest points in its subdivision previously hidden elevations were now exposed.
Working with Wiltgen and his intrepid design team, the owners opted for an extensive remodel to elevate their home’s façade to the status of its surroundings. Wiltgen is on intimate terms with both the interior and exterior of the residence, having been invited to shop for homes with the owners a decade and a half ago when they elected to transition from their Michigan Avenue penthouse to the suburbs. Having created two previous homes for the couple, he was an obvious shopping companion.
Headquartered in a studio in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, Wiltgen has practiced interior design for more than 30 years. He is a professional member of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA). Spanning the country from Michigan Avenue’s Mag Mile to LA’s toney Wilshire corridor, Wiltgen’s award-winning designs can also be seen in Canada, Mexico, France and on Africa’s Ivory Coast.
From the get-go, Wiltgen’s vision and creativity enabled these buyers to see the potential of the partially finished 6,500 square foot house that, under his management, they immediately expanded to almost 12,000 square feet. Wiltgen and his design team created the home’s exterior and interior concepts, supervised the construction and furnished its rooms before the family moved in.
``That was accomplished with a cohesive plan that integrated some of the clients’ existing pieces along with new items,’’ Wiltgen reminisced, glancing around the classically updated façade.
Formerly, brick was visible above the foundation on two sides of the building. Trim on the windows and door was synthetic stucco. The Wiltgen design team added brick veneer where it was lacking. They also rearranged windows on the east side to create a better rhythm and altered the architectural details of the entry and side door.
The new window and door trim was fabricated of pre-cast limestone although both the designers and owners would have preferred actual limestone which was too heavy for the existing foundation to support. Pre-cast limestone is an artificial product made from concrete layered over Styrofoam™.
Because the Wiltgen design team wanted to incur minimal damage to the landscape, they implimented their plan in the dead of winter. Workmen began showing up in November and finished in early April. Waiting until spring would have incurred extensive damage to existing shrubs and perennials. During winter’s coldest weeks, the house was wrapped in heated tarps enabling the workmen to continue without interruption.
In the spring, when the project was finally concluded, the client confided ``I thought it was impossible for our home to look better than it did when it first went up. But now, there’s no comparison. It is really fabulous. I still can’t believe it.’’
So what’s next? ``I don’t know says,’’ Wiltgen. ``But with this family, it will always be something – the boys are getting older…maybe a home sports center addition. Who knows?’’ Seems the designer was correct. Just as the exterior work ended, the homeowner confided news of his next heart’s desire - a 5,000 square foot residential sports addition.