When designer Megan Winters first encountered the 1.85-acre estate on Crabtree Lane, just East of Sheridan Road and mere blocks from Lake Michigan, she was immediately taken by the home’s exterior architecture. The charming cupola and painted brick felt reminiscent of a David Adler estate. The home’s original architect was not Adler — but an early protégé of his, Jerome Cerny — who established a reputation for balancing the architecture of the Old World with his ideas for a new age of living. Originally built in 1962, the brick beauty on Crabtree Lane embodied the golden age of Chicago-area design that has long been associated with Adler, Cerny and others.
“I am constantly inspired by the David Adler homes in Lake Forest,” explains Winters. “He was a genius. I am also inspired by the landscape here. It’s not just amazing landscape design everywhere one looks, but the preservation of the open lands and trees and neighborhoods. Lake Forest is a special place.”
As Winters walked the home’s 6,235-square-foot interiors, she recognized instant potential in its classic details and good bones, but the floorplan was problematic. It might have functioned for 1960s families, but it did not make sense for families today.
“It was completely cut up and dark,” recalls Winters, who has listed the home with the Dawn McKenna Group’s Annie Royster Lenzke, a Lake Forest-based Coldwell Banker Global Luxury® Property Specialist. “Furthermore, the two-story cavernous connector building and four car garage/studio building needed to be rebuilt. All of those spaces felt awkward, and not at all livable for today.”
She got to work on her dream home. Taking cues from Cerny, she took a harmonious approach to the renovation, blending the charm of the original exterior balanced architecture with a fully redesigned floorplan that created an entirely new living experience for modern families. She made sure to preserve the exterior architecture, leaving the cupola and painted brick in tact while updating key details like new black windows, a herringbone door, new lanterns, driveway orientation and landscaping.
“I had it in my mind’s eye to create a home that would feel forever classic in the most beautiful way,” she says. Her vision for the inside was “to reconfigure the interior architecture for today’s lifestyle and make it maintenance-free,” says Winters. “I wanted to make the floorplan flow much more easily from room to room without making things too open or too cut up.” Her design team completely opened up the living room to the foyer, reconfiguring the hallways to have an axis throughout the main floor.
The kitchen, family room and dining areas were all placed on the same floor level, with the same ceiling heights. The kitchen now became a large, functional space that opened to the family room and separate dining space. Adding black Viking appliances, an expansive island, leather pull details and large pantry spaces, the kitchen became a true feast for the senses.
“We actually dropped the ceiling in the formerly two-story family room, moved the staircase and completely redesigned everything in that upstairs space,” says Winters. “We removed the kitchen, opened up the main space to be a light-filled studio, added one additional bedroom and full bathroom, and made the bedrooms ensuite. We added closets and a second-floor media room above the now one-story family room.”
The four-car garage — originally a stable — was also connected to the original home so it flowed more seamlessly. “It’s a unique configuration, with the two buildings melding together, and a wonderful way to have togetherness in the main spaces of the house, yet a separate ‘wing’ with three bedrooms, studio and media room that still feel connected in the best way.”
Needless to say it was a complete transformation. “People were completely blown away when they saw how we reorganized the spaces and made everything flow so naturally,” says Winters.
In addition to the floorplan overhaul, all of the windows, doors, floors, cabinetry and bathrooms were replaced. Then the designer infused the interiors with her personal style and high-fashion décor. High contrast pops of color, Parisian flair and dressmaker details like cashmere wallpaper, striking light fixture sand custom gilded elements fill the entire home with a bright, glamorous and youthful ambiance. Adds Winters: “It is important to me that the interiors are classically balanced architecturally and aesthetically, and that they are truly livable for today’s lifestyle…and always, always joyful in vibe.”
That sense of joy is felt as one moves through the home and takes notice of its strong visual connection to the outdoors. Amazing sightlines to the meticulously landscaped backyard express Winters’s long-time appreciation for Lake Forest’s surrounding beauty. “The inside spaces flow out to the back patios so beautifully, which is amazing for entertaining, but also for everyday living,” says Winters who plans to stay in Lake Forest after the home is sold.
From outdoors in, every element harmonizes into a landmark residence that honors Cerny’s work and celebrates Winters’ joyful, classically chic aesthetic. As Lenzke concludes: “This home is a modern-day masterpiece.”
This extraordinary Lake Forest estate is listed for $3,799,000 and marketed exclusively through the Coldwell Banker Global Luxury® program. More information can be found here or by contacting Annie Royster Lenzke at (847) 414-4045.