When Britt Whitfield and Jacqui Scott began looking for their next home in Chicago, they prioritized one thing above all else: “The ability to throw a party was #1,” said Ms. Whitfield.
And when Ms Whitfield, 43, says “a party,” she’s not referring to a cozy gathering with some friends. As CEO of the Revel Group, a Chicago-based events company, she spends her days overseeing functions with thousands of guests. Although her personal gatherings are more intimate, she still enjoys throwing parties for large groups of friends and colleagues.
The couple had renovated or built five previous homes in Chicago, moving every two years. But now they were looking for a place to stay. So, in addition to serving as a party venue, the house needed to be a family home, where her two sons, Cal, now 7, and Paton, 5, would feel comfortable growing up.
When they found a grand Neo-Georgian house on an unusually large lot in the Logan Square neighborhood, it seemed ideal. Designed by the architecture firm Worthmann & Steinbach and completed in 1905, the brick and limestone building had 8,000 square feet of indoor space and ample outdoor space.
And though it was in a heavily built-up area, “it had a side yard, a back yard and a front yard,” which were ideal for parties, play dates and caring for their two dogs, Ms Scott, 42, said. psychotherapist and instructor. at Loyola University Chicago.
They bought it for $1.66 million in June 2018, then called on Filoramo Talsma Architecture and Project Interiors to renovate it. While the exterior was in good shape, the interior needed a major overhaul.
The previous owner had worked on renovating the home for years but never finished it, said Chris Talsma, founder of Filoramo Talsma Architecture, calling it “half stripped down, half rebuilt.”
“Except for the shell, there wasn’t much worth keeping,” he said.
With Ms. Whitfield as the general contractor, construction started a couple of months later and the team didn’t stop. They gutted the entire interior except for the paneled entry hall and began rebuilding the house with features that blended urban contemporary styling with a healthy dose of whimsy.
“She’s literally in the fun business,” explained Aimee Wertepny, founder of Project Interiors, “so the idea of where we could take this, the possibilities this client and friend would be open to, was the biggest draw of the gate.”
Lauren Warnock, who was the lead home designer for Project Interiors but has since established her own firm, Navy Black Studio, noted that a party house and a home for young children and pets aren’t that different: Both need to be welcoming. while resisting wear.
“It had to be kid- and dog-proof and allow them to just have fun,” Ms Warnock said. “Nothing could be so precious that they couldn’t just enjoy life.”
In the living room, the designers installed back-to-back tufted sofas beneath a ceiling adorned with diagonal moldings and four-leaf shapes. In the adjoining dining room, they covered the ceiling in a wall covering that mixes cork and gold foil, and installed a large custom dining table by Lagomorph Design with a star-shaped wood veneer top. Heavy drapes open to a bar and library with a sloping bench covered in snakeskin-print velvet.
The kitchen has standing and seating options that can accommodate quiet family meals and lively cocktail nights. On one side, the back of the island ends in a soft bench, upholstered in sturdy Xorel, near a small breakfast table; on the other, a bar-height counter with a live-edge walnut slab top creates a spot for a bartender to serve guests.
To the rear, steps with built-in stadium seating lead down to the family room, in a new addition with aluminum and glass bi-fold doors that open to the patio.
The work was mostly completed in September 2019, at a cost of around $2 million. That fall, Mrs. Whitfield and Mrs. Scott welcomed nearly one hundred guests for a housewarming party. They then hosted an event to celebrate the TV series “The L Word: Generation Q.”
A few months later, the pandemic put a stop to everything.
“The house has features and functions to be able to have parties, but that was immediately stolen from us,” said Ms Whitfield. At the same time, her events business hit a wall: “She basically had no job.”
Unable to share their Chicago home with friends as planned, they began to have doubts about what they had built.
“During those Covid years, there was a part of me that said, ‘Why aren’t we living in a high-rise on the Gold Coast with someone to park our car and a place that’s a third of the size?’ said Ms. Whitfield.
Ms Scott added: “It seemed like a lot to drive.”
By August 2021, they were ready to move on and put the house on the market for $5.399 million. It was not sold. That was lucky, because when the pandemic restrictions were relaxed and people started gathering in groups again, they changed their minds.
The couple took the home off the market last March and have learned to love it again.
“We’ve amped it up in the last six months and we’ve been entertaining more,” Ms Whitfield said. And while there have been some low points during the pandemic, she added: “I’m so glad we’re still here.”
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