There are certain words & phrases that really seem to get the attention of modern architecture enthusiasts, especially when it comes to people searching for a modern home. One of the most common things I hear from people looking for a modern home is that they would love to buy something that was built with post-and-beam construction.
This is likely because they know that in most cases, this comes with other things that they’re enthusiastic about, namely walls of glass, an open floor plan, and exposed beams with wood plank ceilings.
Although I’ve never been able to find out who the original architect was of the house at 258 S. Brookdale Lane in Palatine’s wonderful Plum Grove Estates subdivision, the home features all those elements, and so much more.
Before I tell you more about the house, I want to write a bit about Plum Grove Estates itself. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s just west of 53 / 290 and just north of Algonquin Rd in Palatine, putting it just north of the border with Schaumburg and just west of the border with Rolling Meadows. And if you know anything about that area, you’ll instantly recognize what a convenient location it is: 5 minutes north of the Woodfield shopping & dining area, 5 minutes from either 53/290 or I-90, and just 20 minutes from O’Hare airport.
And as great as the location is, it’s the neighborhood itself that is truly special.
Designed as a planned community by Carl L. Gardner & Associates, Land Planners, the neighborhood was laid out in such a way with winding roads so as not to destroy or change the natural topography, but to enhance and celebrate it. As such, the roads would encourage slower vehicular traffic as well as walking, riding bikes, and enjoying the natural beauty that abounds throughout the subdivision.
Utilities are buried, and despite larger homesites of one-half to one acre in size, the neighborhood was developed with a sewer system rather than individual septic systems that are typical in developments in the Northwest Suburbs with larger lots.
Gardner was the master planner of choice for many Chicago-area and Wisconsin suburbs, and his design for Plum Grove Estates won an Award of Merit in Neighborhood Development.
Also included in the accolades was Landscape Architect Harold O. Klopp, who set aside space in the southeast corner of the subdivision for what was originally a private park (now part of the Rolling Meadows Park District), as well as retaining many natural features to make the area more beautiful, and adding planted “islands” between implied lanes in the roads that twist through the neighborhood.
Klopp was also internationally recognized and was the Landscape Architect for the Chicago World Flower and Garden Show for several years.
The area is rich with old-growth trees of all different varieties, as well as a large pond in the north part of the development. But it’s the twisting roads and rolling hills that really make Plum Grove Estates feel as special as it is.
And because it was developed starting in the early 1950s and continuing into the 1960s, and due to the larger lots, it’s no surprise that there are many nicely-sized ranch homes that were very contemporary at the time.
There are also a handful of genuinely modern homes in Plum Grove Estates.
258 S. Brookdale Lane is one of the earlier examples of such homes. Originally built in 1959, it’s about as classic an example of Midwest post-and-beam modernism as you’re likely to find: Roman brick and glass construction with cedar and wood trim, walls of glass, and a long, low profile that looks just fantastic on its lot of just over an acre at the end of a cul-de-sac.
“We have always admired MCM architecture,” says Jon, one of the home’s owners, “but were unaware there was a neighborhood in the school district that we were looking in until the listing hit the MLS. All the windows and the lot size of over an acre, so close to the city and so many amenities was very appealing to us.”
A long sidewalk that runs along a brick wall leads you to the front door, around the corner from a wall of windows at the front of the living room.
Step inside and you’ll see your first clues that this sprawling modern ranch has been extensively updated renovated in recent years, as you notice the beautiful polished concrete floors.
“The house was already great,” says Rick, an Interior Designer who’s also the home’s other owner, “but we knew we could improve the flow even more, and bring more light into the kitchen, which was a bit dark when we bought the house.”
The project touched every room in the house, as well as the exterior (both the interior and exterior have been repainted in the last few years).
At the front of the living room is a wall of windows. An extra-wide corner brick fireplace with integrated bench enhances the environment, while providing a place to sit to put on and take off shoes when coming and going via the front door.
Overhead are the signature exposed beams and wood plank ceiling, finished in contrasting tones that enhance the visual elements of the structure.
“We really love the front room with all the floor to ceiling windows,” says Jon, “especially when we light the double-long fireplace.”
Making the kitchen brighter was accomplished by opening the back wall of the living room and creating a long breakfast bar on the living room side of the kitchen, with waterfall quartz counter tops and bar seating for six people.
Having the kitchen open to the living room provides borrowed light, and the lighter tone of the new custom cabinetry also aids in the kitchen being brighter. It’s bigger, too, as Rick & Jon extended the kitchen at one end to incorporate more cabinet space, counter space and modern appliances.
“When we bought the house, there was an in-wall oven in the chimney stack,” says Rick. “It wasn’t the original oven, and it didn’t work very well, so we re-purposed that space as storage and chose all new Bosch appliances for the kitchen.”
Head back and to the left of the kitchen and you’ll find the family room. This is one of the areas where Rick & Jon greatly improved the flow of the house.
“This was a great space with all the big windows,” says Rick, “but it felt sort of cut off from the rest of the house, like sort of a dead end space. We opened up the wall back into the bedroom hallway and it’s completely transformed this part of the house.”
Here, two walls of glass overlook the bluestone patio and expansive back yard, an alcove off to one side of the room is home to an entertainment center and EV, and at the front of the room is a large dry bar with wine & beverage coolers built in.
Go around the corner to the right, and you’ll find the home’s original three bedrooms.
“As best as we can tell,” says Jon, “the house was added onto sometime in the 1960s. It was originally a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house.”
In the Primary Bedroom, an exposed brick wall with windows above it acts as a headboard wall for the bed, and large windows and a new sliding door look into a brick courtyard on one side of the house.
“When we bought the house, the shower in the Primary Bedroom’s en suite was a bit on the small side,” says Rick. “One of our other goals during the project was to make that shower bigger, and we love the way it turned out. It’s more spacious and so much brighter, too.”
The second bedroom also has large windows and a new sliding door into the courtyard, and the third bedroom at this end of the house has two exposed brick walls with high windows, offering multi-directional natural light during the day.
The exposed Roman brick reinforces the linearity of the home’s design, and all three bedrooms at this end of the house benefit from in-floor radiant heat, which feels fantastic under-foot. (the rest of the house has baseboard radiant heat).
Heading back toward the other side of the house, the 2nd full bath can be found, with dual sinks and more exposed brick with a high-set window.
Head through the kitchen and you’ll be in the part of the house that Rick and Jon believe was added in the 1960s.
First is the dining room, where they added a built-in buffet with quartz counters to coordinate with the kitchen and the bar in the family room. Here, you can also see that part of the extra-wide fireplace in the living room is two-sided, so the dining room benefits from the fireplace as well.
In the hallway leading to the garage is a powder room that, like the other bathrooms got the remodeling treatment in 2021.
Behind the dining room is the den, which Rick uses as his office. Again, large windows offer tons of natural light, exposed brick ties to the outside and other spaces, and the plank and beam ceilings maintain continuity of materials.
Finally, there’s bedroom 4, which is currently being used as a study, and which also has a door to the outside.
And there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outside, too. In addition to the courtyard off of bedrooms 1 and 2, there’s a large bluestone patio behind the kitchen that extends back under the pergola, which is supported by four massive brick pillars and is the entire width of the patio.
The natural beauty of Plum Grove estates makes the oversize lot a great place to enjoy the natural world.
“One evening I pulled into the driveway and a Buck with a full rack was standing behind the garden area,” says Jon. “Over the years we’ve been here we’ve seen countless animals crossing our yard front and back.”
The natural surroundings aren’t the only thing they love about the house and the area.
“The location is wonderful,” says Rick. “It’s so quiet being at the end of the cul-de-sac, and there are so many great restaurants in the area. Plus, the ease of getting anywhere in the area, being so close to freeways is so convenient.”
As much as they love the home and the area, Rick & Jon are selling now to fulfill a lifelong dream of living in France.
“We’re going to really miss the home and the area,” says Jon. “It’s such a comfortable home to live in, and the friends we’ve made in Plum Grove Estates are terrific. But we’re also excited to start this next chapter of our lives.”
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This home sold on 5/11/2023