On “Windy City Rehab,” Alison Victoria has been traveling a lot of late to do renovations across the country, from Atlanta to Los Angeles. But in the latest episode, she returns to Chicago to work on what might be one of her best projects yet.
In “Back to the Client Game,” Victoria meets with Amin and Nahal Mashouf, who have already purchased a 3,400-square-foot house 10 minutes from downtown Chicago. They paid $465,000 for the house, which was originally built in the 1890s, and have already demolished the interior and framed out a few extra features.
The Mashoufs are a “young, vibrant couple full of life,” Victoria says. “I said yes to them because I really, really liked them.”
She also discerns they have “great, high-end taste.” This sounds fabulous, but it could be a bit of a problem, because their renovation budget is $150,000.
“That might seem like a lot of money, but with all their luxury design ideas, that is not that much,” says Victoria.
As she does her best to give them the glam style they crave—on a budget—she gives the rest of us some unique and original design ideas that might work well in our own homes, too.
A statement door creates a grand entrance
“The first door was white and was pretty standard, pretty basic,” says Victoria. It was also fairly small. It didn’t even reach the top window line.
Since they’re working on a budget, Victoria dusts off a tall, stately door that she bought ages ago and gives it to her couple gratis.
Painted black to match the now black window casings, it really makes a statement.
“That door is now installed, and it is grand,” says Victoria. “It’s so tall! You can walk into this grand entry that now fits this home.”
Wine cellars are out, wine under the stairs is in
All the chic homes have wine collections on display these days. In the past, they were called “wine cellars,” but today, what people really want is not an underground storage vault, but a main-floor wine room or display case.
But where to put it? Wine storage can take up a lot of valuable space. The Mashoufs have already come up with a solution. They want to put a glass front on the slanted storage space under the stairs and outfit it for wine.
“It’s dead space anyway,” Victoria says in agreement.
The finished result really is cork-popping. Cheers!
Make your kitchen feel more like a living room
Victoria loves that there’s a relatively huge space for the kitchen.
“We’ve got to make the kitchen a true living space,” she says. “Rather than just a room like, ‘we cook in here, we eat in here, we drink in here.’ It needs to feel more like a living room.”
To do this, she adds a large island on one side of the room, a big dining area in the middle, and a bar on the other side, so the room truly becomes a multipurpose space that can be used at any hour of the day or night.
“This kitchen is no joke. It’s the most beautiful kitchen I’ve ever done,” exclaims Victoria.
Trim your renovation budget in places you don’t go often
When the workers open up the interior walls, they find that the plumbing has been misplaced and needs to be moved. That will take an extra $10,000 to $15,000, which is not in the budget. Something will have to be cut from the original plan.
Amin suggests leaving the roof deck unfinished. Victoria is all in on that, since it’s a space they never have to look at or visit. Most of the other interior spaces will be used every day.
Victoria suggests they finish the deck the following spring, after they accumulate more funds. It seems to be the ideal solution and holds the budget steady.
The Japanese art of shou sugi ban is a new way to go black
Anyone who wants a rich ebony finish can simply paint it black. But for a truly elegant and unique touch, Victoria’s master carpenter, Ari, suggests using shou sugi ban, “the traditional Japanese method of wood preservation using fire.”
Ari uses the technique on the upstairs fireplace surround and on the kitchen island pedestal he’s crafted specifically for the house.
“That pedestal is a piece of artwork,” says Victoria. “It’s a sculpture!”