A Poured-Concrete House in the Woods
Usually the homes that catch my eye are ranches, but here’s an example of a very interesting modern home that is not only two stories, but is quite different than most other homes in general, not to mention those modern gems from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. Hit the link to read about this unusual home in Chicago’s northwest burbs…
The rough, earthy texture found on the exterior of this Rolling Meadows home, along with the concrete’s color and the many mature trees, helps to make the house feel like it’s perfectly situated in its environment.
Anders, the home’s owner, doesn’t know who the architect was, but he knew right when he saw the home that he loved it.
“I liked it already from just looking at the advertisement in North Shore Magazine. I looked at it on a Friday with my wife and then saw 15 more homes the next 2 days, but we were both sold on this house even though it was further from work and more expensive than we intended to buy.”
The home, built in 1974 as far as Anders knows, is a series of concrete cylinders of varying sizes connected by a central volume. The smallest cylinder is the one in the front, which is the entryway that houses a three-story, spiral staircase leading both up and down from the front entry.
The cylinders on the sides of the home are living areas (on both levels), while the largest space, the cylinder at the back of the home, houses a pool with a slide and walkway around the perimeter of the 2nd floor.
“I love the home’s unique shape and construction, and living in a home that’s so different,” says Anders. “And the skylight over the family room through the open second floor is another one of my favorite features. Of course, I also love having an indoor pool.”
The family room is in the central volume, which is diamond-shaped, with each of the four cylinders eating into a corner of the diamond.
Although a concrete house seems like it might stick out of the surrounding landscape like a sore thumb, Anders’ house actually blends in quite nicely. The garage is underground (along with several other rooms and storage spaces) and the trees in the area are plentiful and mature, making the home look well-incorporated into its landscape.
Additionally, the interior of the home feels very warm, thanks to the use of quite a bit of tambour paneling.
Anders says the experience of living in a concrete home is different than that of a “normal” house: “It’s quiet. And there are no creaky floors,” he says. “There’s really no maintenance of the walls, either, but I do have to maintain the roof and balconies.”
The home works out to nearly 4,000 square feet, including a couple of rooms in the basement, but not including the pool area, which is about 825 square feet more.
On the main floor, the rooms flow into one another. From the middle of the family room / bar area, you have views into the living room, the pool and the kitchen / dining room.
The fireplace reiterates the circular themes found throughout the house, but it was originally in the living room, and the previous owners, who remodeled a fair amount of the house, moved it to its current location, giving it the additional role of room divider.
Many of the rooms in the house feature built-in furniture, due to the unusual shape of the home and its rooms. The living room and family room both feature built-in or custom-made seating and tables. The kitchen has a built-in table with fitted chairs, and the kitchen and dining room are separated by a built-in cabinet.
“The prior owners had done a great job renovating the house a few years before we bought it, so we didn’t change much for a long time,” says Anders. “Recently, I completely re-did the kitchen and the two main bathrooms to look more modern.”
The master bedroom on the second floor resides over the living room, and features a round bed in the center of the room, complete with a lighting control panel embedded in the built-in cabinet that acts as a headboard and offers additional storage.
Of course, I wondered how you get a round mattress for a bed like this. “You can’t find a regular spring mattress,” said Anders. “When I first got here, I found a place in California that made round waterbeds, so that was my first one. When I got tired of that, I found a company that sold memory foam mattresses who was willing to create a custom round shape. I put the foam mattress on top of the waterbed, which made the bed higher as you see now. Bed sheets have to be custom sewn to fit the bed.”
A little more work than normal mattress shopping, but definitely unique!
“When people come here for the first time,” says Anders, ” they say they’ve never seen anything like it. Some have even asked if Hugh Hefner lived here when they see the round bed and the mirrors above it.” Anders remodeled the bedroom, which originally had a dark, velvet-like fabric covering most of the walls.
As far as Anders knows, Hef was never a resident, but he has heard some bits and pieces about the home’s past.
“The whole house was poured in one long day,” he says. “The locals used to call it the O’Hare house because the round shape was similar to the control tower at O’Hare.”
The central volume of the home on the 2nd floor is mostly open to the living room below, with the skylight Anders mentioned offering up abundant natural light. At the back of the space, sliders lead to the walkway around the 2nd story perimeter of the pool tower, and the 2nd floor above the kitchen and dining room has two more bedrooms and another bathroom.
The pool tower features the slide I mentioned previously, and a partial rock wall at the back, above which is a piece of art that Anders believes was created by the original owner of the home.
Behind the home is a massive, multi-level deck that Anders and his son enjoy for its entertaining capabilities.
“The huge deck allows for large gatherings without feeling crowded,” Anders says. “We’ve had more than 100 people out there for big BBQ parties. My son has had parties here, inside, with up to 150 people.”
I would love to know who the architect of this home was. During one of my “urban archaeaology” sessions (aka me driving around looking for interesting homes), I discovered another concrete home in a nearby suburb that shares some features with Anders’ home. The owner of the other home, who’s been there only about a year or so, didn’t know who the architect of that home was, either, but had heard that it was somebody involved in some way with the concrete company who worked on Water Tower Place when it was built. Anders did tell me that the original owner / builder of the house owned a construction company that built small office and apartment buildings.
If you have any information on who the architect of this home might be, please leave info in the comments.