Location Wilmette, IL
Size 6,500 square feet
Scott Simpson and Tom Kenny had already worked with the homeowners of 845 N. Michigan in Wilmette, Illinois, once before, on a renovation in nearby Evanston several years earlier. When the couple—now with three children—relocated for a bigger, greener home and better school district, the co-owners of Scott Simpson Builders were called on once again. What began as another renovation project ultimately worked better as a whole new structure, fueled by what Kenny calls “a great big conversation between architect, builder, and homeowners.”
The resulting home, designed by architect John Holbert and built in 13 months, is something of a Frankenstein—albeit a beautiful one. “From just about every elevation, everywhere you look, there’s at least one product that is reused or repurposed from something else,” Simpson says. He was kind enough to give gb&d a tour of the home.
General Contractor Scott Simpson Builders
Architect John Holbert
Landscape Eiserman & Associates
Salvaged Wood Urban Evolutions
Furniture Lambright Woodworking
Fireplace Halquist Stone Company
Concrete Work Designing Concrete
Exterior & Landscape
Though a small portion of the roof (in the balcony area over the garage) is a living one, the majority is made from Galvalume—an aluminum that reflects solar energy and reduces the need for air conditioning. Simpson says the roof also features solar-thermal panels that heat the home’s floors and water and gutters that divert rainwater to an underground, 8,000-gallon tank. The landscaping by Eiserman & Associates features gabion benches that keep slopes from eroding and are aesthetically pleasing as well. The ones seen here are essentially wire-mesh-basket frames, holding bricks that were part of the original structure.
The bathroom’s floor tiles were actually dismantled from a convent built in the early 1900s, when the convent was converted into an assisted living facility. Simpson reports that the tile originates from Germany. (In fact, the company that made it, Villeroy Boch, is still thriving today in the housewares industry.) The vanity and medicine cabinets were made by Lambright Woodworking, an Amish company out of Topeka, Indiana.
The fireplace is made from Chilton Stone from Halquist Stone Company, the same stone that was used on the house’s exterior. The mantle on the fireplace was made from timber from a backyard tree. The shelves to left of the fireplace were made from reclaimed walnut courtesy of Urban Evolutions and built by Lambright Woodworking.
Certification Not applicable
Wood Repurposed from pickle barrels, a factory, and a backyard tree
Concrete Basement floor is polished concrete that used a low-VOC, water-based urethane finish
Tile Bathroom floor tiles came from a former convent built in the 1900s
Landscape Gabion benches placed to reduce soil erosion
Water Rainwater is captured and diverted to an 8,000-gallon below-ground cistern
Renewable Energy Rooftop solar-thermal panels generate heat for the home’s floors and hot water
Roof Galvalume is used to reflect solar energy, and a small portion is planted
Dining & Kitchen
“We picked a walnut butcher block for the table, with custom-made metal legs,” Simpson says of the dining table by Urban Evolutions. “And then the same walnut is used on the face of the cabinet doors on the island.”
The chocolate-brown countertops are PaperStone, a surface entirely made of post-consumer, recycled paper and held together with petroleum-free resins, and the Lambright cabinets use FSC-certified wood.
The floors perhaps have the best story. The hardwood beams hail from the Thomas Edison factory in New London, Wisconsin, explain the folks at Urban Evolutions. The factory originally was purchased by Edison to make phonograph cabinets.
Simpson double-tracked more than a dozen barn doors to span 53 feet, fulfilling a request for “one long, giant closet” in the basement. (There are two feet of storage space beyond the doors.) The wood for the doors came from 18’x18’ pickle barrels that were thoroughly cleaned and converted, courtesy of Urban Evolutions. The basement floor is polished concrete, done by Julie Thompson of Designing Concrete, with a low-VOC, water-based urethane finish.