Rehabbing My New Penthouse

After spending 9 months of 2009 watching the housing market for good deals, I purchased a foreclosed property on September 30. Funny thing is that I was eyeing this property the entire time but I felt the price was simply too high. The property was a disaster since a flood destroyed the place after the owner moved to Arizona since he couldn’t afford the payments (or the insurance). In fact, the place was almost sold twice, one buyer’s financing fell through and another buyer had to back out because he had a Great Dane as a pet (only small dogs allowed).

As you can see in the photos, the place needed a ton of work: concrete floors (since the wood floors were warped), dry-wall (not primed or painted), no electrical finishings, lots of carpentry work required including baseboards, door frames and ceiling patchups.

However, the place had two amazing aspects: floor to ceiling windows throughout and a 600 sq. foot private rooftop deck. With a carefully thought-out rehab and interior design, I knew my next home would be a gold mine waiting to be uncovered.

I acted as my own general contractor and worked with four subcontractors and a designer. Fortunately for me, my new place is four blocks from my office. I picked out gorgeous Brazilian Cherry hardwood floors, paint themes across all the rooms, and added a new electrical and sound system through most of the house. I was fortunate to have a great carpenter that helped me take care of all the details, like baseboards and door trim. In fact all my contractors were fantastic. Since I self-managed this process, I was able to finish all the repairs in 6 weeks. 

Once the construction was done, I moved in and pretty much bought new furniture throughout. 

I was fortunate to not have to spend much money on the kitchen, and I was able to keep the island intact which saved me about $10k. I added a couple modern bar stools, and the kitchen area looks fabulous. The living room contains a couple of swivel chairs that I picked out from Room and Board. Perfect for the room because they spin around 360 degrees and are low to the floor. They are totally comfy and fit two people easily. The designer couch was picked out by my designer from a Merchandise Mart sale. She helped me negotiate a pretty good deal on it, and it adds some curves and flair to the living room. Add a modern lamp and table and room number 1 was complete.

Dining room furniture was pretty much re-used from my old place. I will eventually change out the dining room table but am not ready to spend there just yet. Love the zebra print carpet.

I am pleased with the master bedroom. The neutral colors give it a clean, pure look. My designer liked the paintings and it took me a couple weeks to agree with her. The red colors add some passion to the room. The drapes were a nightmare because it was custom made, so I will never recommend Boutique Hardware based in Lincoln Park on Clybourn. They were late by two months and double the initially agreed price. I plan to add some custom closets and am keeping my private bathroom private.

The guest bedroom turned out great. I kept the color patterns similar to the guest bathroom. The guest bedroom art was designed by a friend of mine and brought over from my previous condo. Funny story behind that; ask me and I’ll share it.

The previous owner upgraded my stairwell with gorgeous railings and copper designs. My designer picked the wall colors and I think the green really brings out the beauty of the copper.

The stairs lead to a fantastic entertainment room which has 8 speakers. I picked out the dark brown color and the lighting. The furniture mostly comes from Room & Board and is perfect for entertaining. 

The 30 x 20 roof deck is so unique in Chicago. I’ve already bought some awesome furniture (winter sale), and I expect to be doing a lot of entertaining up there this coming summer. Who wants to come over for a BBQ?

The past months of rehabbing have been super fun and sometimes hectic. I’m excited to finish up my place (custom closets, modern roller shades, more roof deck stuff). I wonder if Architectural Digest or Dwell would want to feature my place. It has been nearly 10 years since I lived in a high rise (penthouse in Hong Kong), so I think I’m going to enjoy this one and explore the new neighborhood.

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