Monday, July 9, 2012

French Home Exteriors: French Doors and Exteriors on Chicago's "Most Expensive" Block

Good morning everyone!  Rob here posting this week as Tonya has been busy packing some non-essential items in preparation for the move.  You will see more regular posts from me as construction begins on our home in the coming months.  My posts will focus a great deal on architectural design and will feature many photographs and videos of the home being built from start to finish.  We anticipate this being a fantastic experience and look forward to sharing and learning with all of you.

One of my closest friend since childhood moved to Chicago after we both finished college.  We usually meet up with him during all of our visits to the city.  This past weekend he had a specific street he wanted to show us that is filled with inspiration for French style home exteriors.  In fact not only is this street French / European inspired, it has been called "The Most Expensive Block" in Chicago.  Most homes take up 2 or 3 Chicago lots with the crown jewel of the street taking up 7 city lots.

Today's photos take you for a walk down North Burling Street in Chicago. There is some great architecture here.

This home caught our eye right away with the black french doors and glass transoms.  The windows also trimmed in black, tie the entire look together.  Cast stone or limestone is something you see on many French and European style homes.  The black window boxes add a great touch to many of these homes, complete with automated watering.  Can't help but notice the two boxwood planters on both sides of the double staircase.

A boxwood boarder is not something you see often in Chicago.  For any of you that have walked around the city, the space between the sidewalk and street usually consists of grass that has been half killed off by our four legged friends.  To see manicured boxwood's with an irrigation system in this space is the exception and not the rule on the streets of Chicago.

While I am not a fan of glass around a door, I could live with this on the second story as it is shown.  The iron Romeo and Juliet balcony is very similar to one that will appear above the front door of our future home.  The interior has to be a great space with all of that natural light coming in from the sides and transom windows.

This home has more of an Italian feel than French.  For me it is the lack of iron railings in front of the doors and windows which has been replaced with cast stone spindle's.  It could, however, pass off for a French Riviera style home.  The red terracotta roof tiles really add a punch of character.

This doorway enters the patio space at the home above.  There are so many different things going on with this door I am not sure what to call it?  I think I will just stick with European because I feel some French, Italian, and Spanish influences here.  I think this is one of the most creative ways of installing a light fixture over an exterior door.  The cast columns are just amazing.
Now to the crown jewel of the street.  From what we have researched, this home is over 27,000 square feet covering four floors.  It sits on seven city lots and is estimated to have cost over $40M to build.  The land alone is worth over $10M.

This is the side garden view leading back to the iron gazebo.  I hope to find a similar one to place in our backyard (the gazebo not the house).  Thankfully the cameras didn't catch me reaching up over the iron fence to snap this shot.

The other side of what is perhaps one of Chicago's greatest mansions. Notice the second story patio space above what is the four car garage. I really like the shape of the black iron gate.  They also used crushed black stone for their driveway and courtyard.The entire space is trimmed with pavers.  Everything was executed well at this home.

The neighbors place is not to shabby either.  This home has a beautiful wood gate has been stained black.  I think it adds a touch of elegance.  The roof line of this home is also very French.  For those of you familiar with Chicago, the Waldorf Astoria (formerly the Elysian) in Chicago has the same style of roof line.  I bet that roof deck is a fun place to hang out in the summer!

I really like the limestone / cast stone on the front of this home.  It has a more Roman style arch (as one reader has pointed out) over the center french doors.  I am starting to find that I really like small round, oval, and square windows.  If you want to see a great small window, check out Tina's bathroom at .  These unique windows always get my attention.

Again, more great black trimmed french doors and windows.  This transom / door glass is a unique combination as the door has the 1/4 arch and the window is also arched to match the door, but also squares off at the top to match the windows above.  Really like this look.

Of course we had to get a shot of the two of us outside the streets main attraction.  Only wish we could see what it looked like on the inside.

House Update:  Our working plans from Jack Arnold should arrive tomorrow.  There are some additional changes that we already know need to be made, but we are getting closer.  We hope you sign up to follow along as we share our building experience with you.

Wishing everyone a great day!

-Rob (and Tonya)


  1. good luck on your plans. I really enjoyed the photos!

  2. Wonderful architecture in these homes. I have never been to Chicago. Thanks for sharing these.

  3. Thanks for visiting Inspired Design, it led me to your blog, which I am now happily following as well. I've never visited Chicago... I know, huh? Silly, I need to change that. I had no idea they had a section of french-inspired homes. Absolutely gorgeous. I bet they were even more striking in person! xo

  4. I love the boxwood sidewalk. I have never seen that before. I will also be calling my sprinkler company and seeing why I don't have my planters on this system.
    Most important is trying to find out who lives in that house! Wow, I would love to see the inside too.

  5. You made me want to visit Chicago. Awesome architecture. Cute picture of you both. Good Luck!

  6. All such beautiful pictures! I can't wait to see the progress on your home and thanx for stopping by earlier!:)

  7. So gorgeous! I visit Chicago often (one of my favorite cities) so I can't wait to go check out this street myself! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Wow! I need to visit Chicago asap! I love the crisscross hedges :) What a fun idea. And you're more than welcome to stay in Provence for a few days :) the more, the merrier! x

  9. These buildings are gorgeous ...thanks for sharing them :)
    New follower , Francine

  10. GREAT POST:)
    Your blog is so wonderful..I asked you a while ago if you have twitter or fb to follow with???

    If you want some cute swedish decor inspiration...check out my new post:)

    Have a great week.

    LOVE Maria at

  11. What a great walking tour! Great boxwood design. We are on vacation in London--lots of boxwood here!

  12. Loved all the homes--beautiful! Jack Arnold is great! I got to do a house of his here in Houston! Your home will be beautiful!!!

  13. Chicago is such a beautiful city and loved the tour...can't wait to hear about your plans!!

  14. Thank you for this piece of french-inspired Chicago... fabulous... xv

  15. Great post. I'm visiting from your comment on Savvy Southern Style. I look forward to following along and watching you build. Hopefully it will be in my future someday soon, so I look forward to learning a lot. Wonderful blog!

  16. Beautiful buildings and so regal in a French way. I will be following your blog so I won't miss you building. Hope you like to follow back after you visit me, I'd love to have you. Love your blog, so glad I came by.

  17. Here is a new blog tip! Include a blog list! Part of having a blog is "paying it forward" and supporting other blogs! I am only saying this because it seems like you could be one to watch. Make a blog list and others will link to you too.


  18. I truly want to visit Chicago soon. I love all of your photos. Amazing!!!

  19. Gorgeous! I love all of the beautiful architecture! Limestone always looks great!

  20. You’ve found some elegant homes there! Just by looking at the style of their windows and doors, you can tell that a lot of effort and work have been exerted to achieve the beautiful designs. Just like the first photo, where the house had black window boxes. The windows definitely give the home a kind of strong yet controlled character. The 7th photo has a Shakesperean feel not only with the home itself, but also with its courtyard. It's great that you've found some homes that would inspire yours. Goodluck!

  21. You are so lucky to have that elegant and precious home. French doors and exteriors are very classic and elegant looking thing, where the fashion and style lives. It has a unique look that can stand in the crowd. For sure your house is the well-known one in town. I can't help but to envy from your beautiful french door and exteriors.

  22. Awesome houses! French designs are so pleasing to the eye, windows have a simple vertical or horizontal patterns, but those mix well with the many synchronized designs on the house walls and on the sidings. Floor divisions usually have extended concrete linings, and the wooden doors with dark varnish simply add up to the elegance of these houses.

  23. Truly a magnificent view and I think this is the reason why I am into this idea of considering again patio cover maintenance to promote better home exterior and bring back the beauty of my patio to be more like these.


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