There and Back Again
Photography: Jim Tschetter
It’s 1889 in Chicago. A great fire, supposedly started by someone’s cow, left the mostly wood-built city in ruins just a decade ago. The reconstruction efforts to rebuild spurred economic development and population growth in the region, and buildings started popping up everywhere.
One of these Victorian buildings had seen its share of renovations – including a change into four individual apartments – and recently it had been converted back to a single-family residence. Scott Dresner of Chicago-based Dresner Design filled us in on what this redesign of the master suite was like and how he reinterpreted its roots.
KBB: What were the problems with the previous design?
SD: The original bathroom was last remodeled in the 1980s. The shower was too small, and the tub took up ¾ of the bathroom. Overall, it was really dated.
KBB: What were the clients’ requirements for the bathroom?
SD: They wanted a shower for two people, a freestanding bathtub to take up less space and to each have their own separate vanities.
KBB: Explain how aspects of the original design were reused.
SD: The existing bathroom and closets had old church doors. Sometimes customers get attached to things, and they wanted to keep them. In this case, the old church doors were reused in the master suite to tie in the rest of the details of this Victorian home.
KBB: What challenges did you encounter, and how did you resolve them?
SD: It was a hard job because during construction we uncovered things that are fairly typical in old homes. We discovered the floor joists were made out of 2-in. by 4-in. pieces instead of 2-in. by 6-in. pieces, so the structure had to be upgraded. This is an old house, so we made it feel new by bringing it up to code and layering in modern amenities.
KBB: Talk about your design for the vanity in the master suite.
SD: I designed each vanity with each client in mind (one for the husband, one for the wife). We worked out all organizational needs together and designed spaces for all their respective items.
KBB: Why this particular chandelier in the master bath?
SD: It’s cool and it makes a statement. It really is the centerpiece of the room.
KBB: Explain the little kitchenette in the bedroom and what materials you used.
SD: Their kitchen is three floors down and they have little children, so they wanted a place to keep a few items, like milk for the kids and champagne for after the babies are asleep. We used quartz on the counters and put them in an under-counter refrigerator.
KBB: What was your favorite part of the project?
SD: I love the sliding door we designed with the full-length mirror on one side. It’s a cool modern design feature and eliminates the need to accommodate space for a swinging door.
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