Sunday, August 20, 2006

A Childfree Afternoon

There are so many great things to do in Chicago with kids. But every once in awhile, it's nice to do something in this town without them. Yesterday, Mr. C. and I did just that. We left the kids at a friends' house for several hours and went out to lunch and to the Cottage Living Idea Home. I wore a dress, Mr. C. put on some decent shorts, and we spent an afternoon talking about money, real estate, work and, of course, the absent kids.

We went to Tapas Barcelona in Evanston for lunch. It wasn't my first choice, but all of my choices were not open for lunch, and since we were working from an older (2002/2003) Zagat Guide, we couldn't be sure that anything on the list was still around. We had been to Tapas Barcelona once before and the place was quite empty at noon on a Saturday, so the service was good. And we didn't have to worry about plates not coming out fast enough, taking anyone but ourselves to the bathroom, watching our language, or whether to coax The Boy into eating the foreign dishes.

After lunch, we headed to the main attraction: the Cottage Living Idea Home. It's at 2721 Woodbine in Evanston, but you have to park in a junior high lot at Green Bay Road and Lincoln, which you access via the most circuitous route ever, per the site's directions. A shuttlebus comes along every 15 minutes to drive you to the site. We just missed a bus when we got there, so we made out in the car while we waited.

The shuttlebus dropped us off in front of house with an amazing front garden, in a neighborhood filled with large homes on even larger lots. We paid $10 each to see the house, which had 3 bedrooms and 3.1 baths. What I liked best about the house was the light everywhere (lots and lots of windows), the creative use of space, and how the rooms were quite generously sized, but didn't feel that way. I did not like how you walked into the front door, walked 4 feet forward and into the dining table, which was the dividing piece of furniture between the kitchen and the living room. I think the layout was a better reflection of how people really live nowadays (kitchen is the center of the house), but it still seemed a bit strange to me that the kitchen would be immediately off the rather-small foyer, and in what amounted to the same room as what would be the formal living room (the focal point of the wall opposite the kitchen was a large fireplace). The house was in a rough L pattern, with rooms accessed in the long part of the L kind of like a railroad apartment. There was a "mudroom-in-a-hallway," laundry room (which even Mr. C. thought was cool), vanity bath and storage closet beyond the kitchen. If you walked futher, there was a TV room, a craft/guest/office room and a full bath. There were at least 3 sets of French doors leading to the patio down the L.

The stairway to the second floor and the door to the basement were between the mudroom and kitchen. There were 3 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms upstairs, plus a little office done in the nook of the upstairs landing. The master bedroom was cozy (but not small), with a queen-sized bed and a little sitting area. The color scheme was very Martha Stewart: green-blue walls, dark wood floor, sisal rugs, green-blue armoire, overstuffed chairs in paisley pattern w/ a green-blue base. There was a natural-light filled closet beyond the bedroom, and access to the master bath off of that. The bathroom had his-and-hers sinks, a clawfoot tub, and a partially separated toilet and stall shower. Mr. C. did not like the fact that the shower was designed to vent steam over the dividing wall between the tub/sinks and shower/toilet. A little old lady in there at the same time commented that she thought it was weird that the clawfoot-style tub was right in front of 2 windows that faced the front of the house. Fine for a daytime bath, but pretty revealing even with the window covering at night. All of the bathrooms had pocket doors to save space.

The second and third bedrooms were pretty non-descript. The bedroom done up to look like a girls' room was really cute with two vintage twin beds, a large ottoman between them as kind of a nightstand/lounge area, a big closet and a nook that would be perfect for a desk or TV unit.

The back patio/garden was huge, with lots of space for entertaining. There was a small square of lawn at the very back, near the garage. The garage had space for 3 cars (which seemed anomalous for the neighborhood) and contained tons of brochures for vendors who had worked on or decorated the home. The list price on it? $2.2 million. That was definitely the most expensive open house we've ever seen.

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