Some houses have a bit of everything: plenty of room, updated appliances, great outdoor spaces and ideal location.
For the past 10 years, Make It Better Associate Publisher Michelle Morris has called just such a house her home. The five-bedroom Winnetka dwelling has given Morris and her four children plenty of space to grow: “We have absolutely loved living here,” Morris says.
But her home must change with a changing family. Morris is newly engaged and her fiancé has four children of his own, and they plan to move into a home to accommodate their expanded brood. Morris calls this move “rightsizing.” Although she’s not sure exactly where they’ll settle, the couple plan to stay in the neighborhood.
Aside from its excellent location, walkable to town, school, the library and the Metra, the home’s key assets are flow and functionality, say Kathryn and Kelly Mangel, brokers with @properties.
In addition to a master bedroom with en suite bathroom and four additional bedrooms plus an office on the upper floors, the home boasts a formal living room, dining room with attached outdoor eating space, family room, breakfast room with more attached outdoor eating space, and a completely updated kitchen. A refinished basement with laundry room, recreation room, wine cellar and plenty of storage space complete the home.
“The floor plan is just spectacular, with an eating area, kitchen, dining room and family rooms all in one central area,” Kathy Mangel says. “It’s wonderful because that’s the hub and heart of the household.”
To ensure the home was ready for sale, the Mangels and Morris discussed bringing in experts including handymen, stagers, landscapers, contractors and home inspectors.
“You only have one chance to make a first impression in our real estate market,” Kathryn Mangel says. “We have to be perfectly priced, perfectly positioned and look fabulous!”
Even though she keeps her house clean and straightened, Morris hired a professional organizer, who helped her get rid of four huge carloads of stuff that had been cluttering storage spaces (the items were donated to the Goodwill Donation Center in Wilmette), and find the right spots for everything else.
“You don’t realize how much garbage you have in all the closets until you actually go through them,” Morris says. “Now, everything is exactly in its place.”
She also had upholstery cleaned and rugs cleaned and reshaped by Wilmette-based Kashian Bros Flooring. She says the small bit of cleaning made all the difference to the home’s appearance.
“If you walk into a home that has pet odors or stains on the floor, you assume the rest of the home has not been taken care of,” explains Kashian Bros’ Douglas Stein. “If you walk into a home with clean floors, no odors, the floors are in good repair and up to date, the feeling is quite different.
Morris did not have the home redecorated or staged to sell, mostly because she’d already had a decorator spruce up the common areas last summer. Morris was hosting a large party at her home so it was a great opportunity for an update. They did the entire revamp in only a few weeks, says designer Laura Carlson.
That renovation included adding some new and refinished furniture in the common rooms, hanging updated artwork (created by Morris’ own children!), replacing dated lamps with more contemporary lighting and repainting walls where needed. All tables were cleared of clutter, and family photos were put away, since prospective homebuyers don’t like to see too many of those.
Carlson and Morris also updated the kitchen with new hardware and appliances, as well as contemporary lighting and new bar stools. Morris had all the original natural wood cabinetry painted white and all the walls painted white to make the room appear more spacious.
Other touches necessary to get a home ready for listing were already in place as well, Kelly Mangel says. Morris’ close connection to the local community is apparent in these special details. Outdoor arrangements by local florist Edwards Flowers make a great first impression. Perfectly placed antiques came from Alexis Vintiques Design in Kenilworth. Even the wine cellar is fully stocked from Good Grapes in Winnetka.
“You can picture living there when you walk in,” Morris says. “Literally, people walk into my house and want to stay in my house. It’s not necessarily all top of the line, but it’s attractively done. It’s lived-in and simple, but beautiful.”
Morris leaves the home with mixed emotions — she’s ready to move to the next stage of her life, but looks back on her time in it with fondness. When she moved in 10 years ago, a newly single mother with young triplets and a toddler, the home was a great place for lemonade stands in the summer and playing indoors in the winter. Her family grew up there, developing lifelong friendships with their neighbors in the process, and now will continue to grow in another place.
“It’s hard to leave, but we’re all moving on. This has been the perfect place for me to raise my children,” Morris says. “Now, it’s the perfect place for another great family to come in here and do the same thing.”
Winnetka and surrounding suburbs long have been at the forefront of the environmental awareness movement. The new owners will enjoy not only a wonderful family home and community, but also opportunities to easily participate in organizations like: