t isn’t immediately apparent that this Washington Park home was redesigned with two young children in mind, but make no mistake: “The kids were foundational for what I wanted to do with the house and how I wanted it to live,” says homeowner Michael Horton, who has fixed and flipped 20 homes to date. “I wanted it to be a place they could be comfortable in; where they could run around and where nothing was too precious.”
For help, he turned to designer Megan Hudacky, whom he has known since college. “Because we knew each other so well, we could skip that whole getting-to-know-you period, which can take some time,” Hudacky says. “Michael knows what he likes and has a good eye, so we were able to make a lot of decisions together.”
In this case, Michael wanted a home with big open spaces–something this 1980s residence lacked. “The house was really compartmentalized, with the kitchen buried in the middle and these tiny dysfunctional hallways,” recalls architect Stephen Barsch, who had sketched renovation concepts for a previous buyer; that deal fell through, but the architect returned to the project when Michael purchased the property in 2015.
Barsch decided the best solution was to “totally flip the floor plan around,” he says. “We relocated the kitchen and living room to the sunny, south-facing back of the house and put auxiliary spaces, like the children’s playroom, on the north side.” An 800-square-foot addition introduced a spacious entryway and study to the main floor and a second bedroom to the upper level.
Next, Barsch “blew open” all the exterior walls with 3-by-8-foot windows and a 20-foot-wide sliding pocket door that connects the kitchen to an outdoor living room and pool. One thing he couldn’t replace, however, was the square staircase that rises through the middle of the house. Instead, the architect says, general contractor Jason Solis “re-veneered the treads, wrapped the old oak stringers in metal and replaced the heavy wood railing with a sleek new steel version to make it as open as possible.”
As Barsch addressed the floor plan, Hudacky began the process of selecting the home’s finishes, fixtures, furnishings and accessories. “This was one of those rare projects for which absolutely everything was new,” she says. “I had a hand in everything down to the silverware selection.” One of the most important choices was the variegated planks of reclaimed pickle-vat wood that cover many of the interior and exterior walls, providing a texture-rich anchor for a simple yet striking materials palette of wood, brass and stone–a response to Michael’s request for something “warm, organic and modern but not too pristine,” Hudacky says.
The materials shine in brushed-limestone fireplaces, brushed vertical-grain oak cabinetry and natural brass hardware and lighting, including a 9-foot-tall ceiling fixture Hudacky created for the two-story front sitting room. In the kitchen, she elevated each material to its fullest potential, designing gleaming brass cabinetry, a herringbone-patterned limestone-tile backsplash and a custom white-marble wrapped range hood that matches the island’s waterfall-style top.
When furnishing each room, Hudacky had to meet the needs of three very different clients. “I didn’t want anything in the house that wasn’t comfortable and child-friendly,” Michael says, “but that’s tough with a modern style–and when you’re 6-foot-3, like I am. When Megan found the leather chairs for the kitchen table–and I can’t even tell you how many we looked at–it was like the heavens opened up.” Hudacky struck gold again when she furnished the playroom with a pair of wood-and-brass swing seats and Ligne Roset‘s Togo loveseats. “They’re definitely adult-scale pieces,” she says of the latter, “yet they’re low enough to curl up on with the children.”
Two rooms, however, were designed exclusively for Michael: a first-floor study, for which Hudacky commissioned local craftsman Evan Gist to create a custom wood credenza and desk, and a second-floor master suite that spans the east side of the house. The bedroom’s low-slung furnishings include a streamlined custom headboard with built-in bedside tables, Julian Chichester‘s elegant Chagal chair and a vintage sideboard Hudacky discovered at a Los Angeles shop. In the adjacent bathroom, she created “a very Zen space” with oak-paneled walls and a deep oval soaking tub. The children’s spaces are nearly as grown-up looking, save for a few playful details including lava-lamp-esque bedside lamps for Michael’s son’s bedroom and Aimee Wilder‘s eye-popping Cheetah Vision wallpaper for his daughter’s bathroom. “Aside from the wallcovering, it’s a pretty neutral, classic space,” Hudacky says of the latter. “I didn’t want any room to look too childlike; they can grow into these designs.”
And that’s exactly what Michael has in mind. “This is the first time I haven’t had a renovation project in the works in a long time–and I’m happy to keep it that way,” he says. “The kids and I love it here. There’s a big part of us in this house.”
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