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Alison Victoria of ‘Windy City Rehab’ Reveals the Biggest Waste of Space Your Home May Still Have Today


On “Windy City Rehab,” Alison Victoria knows that it can be tough to build a house from the ground up. And her latest clients are clearly struggling and need her help.

On the episode “Suburban Jungle,” she works with Steve and Sarah, a young couple who, for the past year, have been working on designing a home in Evanston, IL.

“This project is in the early stages, but they’re stuck because they’re not happy with the original floor plan they had drawn up,” says Victoria. She’s glad they called her in at this stage, because there’s still a lot of flexibility in what she can do.

Starting point on a new Evanston, IL home
Starting point on a new Evanston, IL, home


“It’s a massive project. It’s got a million-dollar budget, which, on a property this size, can go way faster than you think,” says Victoria. “On top of that, the homeowners are expecting their first child.”

Ideally, this growing family would like to be in their house before the baby arrives. With the clock ticking, Victoria gets to work, making some changes that surprise her clients and might shock you, too. Yet in the end, you might see that they all make sense and be tempted to try them on your own abode.

Near the entry, a powder room makes more sense than a full bath

Entry with brass-wrapped doors
Entry with brass-wrapped doors


The original plan calls for four full baths in the house, one of them right off the entry foyer. But who needs to step in the front door, immediately shed their clothes, and jump in the shower? No one, that’s who.

“It needs to be a powder room,” Victoria states, adding that this way, she can open up the entry. “By turning it into a true powder room, we gain that space to make it a grand entry.”

Nobody puts a fireplace in the corner

Centered fireplace
Centered fireplace


The original plan had the family room fireplace shoved in the corner. This is an anathema to Victoria.

“I don’t like a corner fireplace,” she declares. “Like, blecch!”

The fix is clear: “I need to get that fireplace out of the corner, centered, so it could be a standout moment, and we can create real, true, built-in space around it,” she explains.

Find one statement piece and coordinate the rest around it

Unique kitchen island
Unique kitchen island


Victoria finds an antique mantel for that centered fireplace and decides to use it as inspiration for the rest of the great room, to tie everything together.

She uses the same stain and style on the built-ins surrounding the fireplace and also to wrap the kitchen island. The latter is an especially thoughtful move, as it helps the kitchen island stand out from the rest of the kitchen cabinetry.

“I love that it’s a custom island,” says Sarah when she sees it, impressed that it makes her home unlike any other.

A formal dining room is a huge waste of space (and cash to build)

Corner banquet dining
Corner banquette dining


Another drastic change Victoria makes to the floor plan is to eliminate the formal dining room altogether.

“Nobody’s using a formal dining room these days, especially not a young couple,” she explains. It’s a waste of space, as well as a waste of time and money to build.

A better use of their investment dollars is a bigger kitchen, so that’s exactly what Victoria puts in its place, lining one wall with banquette seating.

“A banquette with windows behind it creates an invitation to chill, or fine dine,” says Victoria. No formal dining space required!

Add a buffer between the main bedroom and the main bath

Walk-through closet
Walk-through closet


Here’s something most people don’t consider: There are advantages to having a walk-through closet that separates the primary bedroom from the primary bath. At first this seems like a curious layout, but anybody who’s ever been woken up by their partner using the adjacent bathroom sees the wisdom in this.

“We have a walk-through wardrobe that is anybody’s dream wardrobe,” notes Victoria. “Steve can get out of bed, walk through the closet, because that’s open to the bathroom, and never disturb Sarah. I think that is just good design.”

Consider how the sun will fade features over time

New home exterior
New home exterior


The exterior of the house, newly designed by Victoria, has black-framed windows, white siding, and cedar siding in some places for accent. Alison explains that the color of the stain on the cedar is exceedingly important, so it’s imperative to know how the stain reacts when the sun hits it.

The painter lays out samples of the cedar stain, and Victoria rules out the grays immediately because in the sunlight and after fading, they’ll look blue.

She also votes against a harsh black stain, although black accents are extremely popular. She notes black will fade to dark gray in no time.

“I don’t want the siding to be a harsh black. I want it to look weathered,” she explains.

An ashy brown turns out to be exactly what she had in mind, because she says it will fade to grayish brown without ever looking blue. After several months, it still looks great on the house.

How does this ‘Windy City Rehab’ turn out?

Six months after taking on this project, it is complete. And the all-in cost? They actually went 10% over budget, spending $1,100,000.

“Which is really good for what they got,” explains Victoria. “I know they don’t regret spending one extra dime over the original budget.”

The post Alison Victoria of ‘Windy City Rehab’ Reveals the Biggest Waste of Space Your Home May Still Have Today appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

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