We are Denise (the author of this blog) and Pete. We are under contract on this Chicago-style bay bungalow in Morton Grove, Illinois, a small suburb just north of Chicago.
We currently own a 1963 raised ranch. It’s a perfectly nice house, for someone else. I’ve lived there since Pete and I got engaged in October 1989 and Pete has lived there since his first marriage. So we’ve lived there a long, long time, not because we necessarily wanted to, but it would have been an added expense to move elsewhere which we didn’t need at the time we were first married.
The years following just flew by—it was enough room for the 2 of us and for alternate weekend visits from Pete’s 2 daughters.
The house was first owned by Pete’s grandparents. They moved there when it was first built and they were already in their 60s, so it wasn’t the house where Pete’s father grew up. We dont have any sentimental or emotional ties to the place.
About 2 years ago I started dreaming about adding on to the house. My goal was to add more character to the place—you know, those little details that show care, craftsmanship, thoughtfulness and quality—just like the Chicago-style brick bungalows, which I’ve always loved and admired. Some of my other requirements were:
- I wanted to be able to go upstairs to bed.
- I didn’t need more space. I needed DIFFERENT space.
- I wanted a house that we chose ourselves—Pete didn’t even choose that house in the first place; it just became available at the right time for him.
- While we have a great family room in the finished basement, it has put me in a rut: we go downstairs and we stay downstairs the rest of the night. A family room on the first floor would make me much more inclined to get other stuff done.
- I didn’t want a box on top of a box addition (unfortunately that trend is WAY too prevalent in our area) — it would have to blend in with the existing structure.
So I got to work dreaming and reading books like The Not So Big House by Sarah Susanka. I played around with potential layouts on the computer endlessly, or whenever I should have been doing something else. Of course, I’m not an architect either, so I didn’t know if what I was doing with the place would even be feasible. Eventually we talked to a couple of architects and debated about what to do: renovate and deal with everything that goes along with adding a second story onto the house or move .