05 July, 2008

Our Uptown Chicago Condo

When I was growing up, I was pretty tight with my cousins, but now we're scattered from Arizona to Texas to Wisconsin and Illinois and all the way over to North Carolina. It's not surprising, then, that most of them were never able to make it over to see our condo before we moved to The Box House. At a family BBQ last week, I was reminded of that fact, and so I thought I'd share a few pictures here of how it looks since the current trio of tenants we are renting it to probably would not appreciate if we gave a tour in person.

Of course, looking at these pictures, I'm wistful for all the shiny newness of the condo, particularly as we spent our Fourth of July afternoon fixing an electrical problem in the tenants' unit at The Box House and missed out on another family BBQ. (Don't get me wrong, the condo had its own variety of problems, and I really do prefer a vintage building. But it will be a long while before we get The Box House looking how we want it to.)

This is the living room of the condo. It's pretty, but we almost never used this room. (Our couch is not really see-through, we had the mattress in another room when I took the photo.) We left the couches and curtains for the tenants.

This is the fireplace in the living room. It is the one thing I truly, truly miss about the condo. But we'll soon take care of our need to play with fire by building a fire pit.
Hmmm. Unfortunately, this is the only picture I can find on my hard drive of the kitchen (taken five minutes before we handed over the keys) and I'm too lazy to go look for another one on disc. You'll have to be satisfied with this, but please note we were never this clean. All the living room furniture was left for the tenants, as were the kitchen bar stools.

Poor Ted. I finished the Venetian Plaster on his office the day before we moved out of the condo, which is why the book shelves in this picture are empty and the desk is bare. I think I'll paint his office at The Box House the same color. Two walls are made from tongue-and-groove boards, the other two are brick, and I think it will make for a striking room.

This is the master bedroom, done up in terra cotta Venetian plaster. The 1930s deco bed with the marble-top cabinets is one I bought on eBay. Ted and I never got around to getting a proper mattress for it. We need to order a custom-sized one because the bed came from France and the size is non-standard. That's why our mattress is just set in the middle of the frame. At The Box House, we are currently using the nightstands and just the mattress--we haven't bothered setting up the frame at all. *Sigh*

This too-dark picture is of the guest room/my office. I LOVE the red walls, although I doubt anyone else will when it comes time to put the condo on the market. I may have to paint my office at The Box House red, although it may be too dark because it is in a basement. I do have two window, but still. The 1890s bed I picked up at an estate sale northwest of Chicago; supposedly, the house was part of the Underground Railroad.
Oh, and don't be fooled by that guitar. I haven't made it past the first lesson in my teach-yourself book and dvd set. But one day, Ted (who plays some classical guitar) and I will sit on the roof of The Box House, hippie style, and play our guitars under the full moon. One day.

The laundry closet with its stackable washer and dryer is kinda boring, as are the storage unit and the garage. So I'll skip those. But I'm saving the best for last. The bathrooms. Oh, God, how I'd love a reliable toilet right now. The Box House bathrooms will be beautiful after we've dealt with them, but for now I'd give anything to be able to flush the toilet just once and have everything whisked away as expected the first time.

Okay, I'm only going to show you one bathroom. This is the guest bathroom. The master bath has a jacuzzi and shower, but it never seems to look good in photos because I can't fit everything into one frame. The walls in this room were the first I ever tried to Venetian Plaster, and I LOVE this color.

Oops, that wasn't the last picture. I forgot the balcony.

The balcony is particularly nice in the evenings, and during the day has a freakish amount of sunlight because it's on the top floor without another porch above it. Some of the best times we had on the balcony were watching the fireworks from the Saddle and Cycle Club, a show that rivals the downtown fireworks in many ways--and you don't have to fight the crowds.
On the day we moved, we realized that the patio table, which we had assembled on the balcony, would not fit through the doorway. We were tired and crabby at this point, and didn't want to mess with taking the table apart, and couldn't even if we wanted to because we had already moved the tool chest. "Fine, the tenants can have a furnished balcony," I said, a decision I've since regretted. When the lease is up, I may go claim the table back. *Grin*

Schwarzie, the condo mascot. I fed him by hand for two years (once he even walked right into our bedroom from the balcony to look for peanuts) until he got a little greedy and nicked my finger. Ted made me stop at that point. Don't feed the wild animals, kids!
The condo is pretty, and after all the hard work we put in plastering the walls, I wish we could have enjoyed it longer. But I'm so thrilled to be living in a place we have more control over--for instance, we can make decisions on how to decorate the yard without having to go through a committee!
Well, that's the fifty-cent tour. I hope you enjoyed it! We'll be putting the condo on the market as soon as the market changes and people actually start buying condos again. (If any of you random readers are interested in moving to Uptown, let me know! The designer finishes are fabulous, if I do say so myself!)


Anonymous said...

It's a beautiful place. I really like the way you furnished it... All the woods and amazing furniture. Very nice!

Joanne said...

Thanks, Ethan! I'm big on the natural wood look. Ted bought the place before it was finished, and requested that the fireplace and window frames be left unpainted; I think all the other units have white windows. There's even more bare wood at The Box House, so I'm thrilled.

Marilyn said...

Ooh, such a great place! That's the problem with working on a place - if you leave it, a little of your heart is still there. Love the cool beds and Schwarzie too.

Joanne said...

Thanks, Marilyn! Schwarzie wasn't just the condo building's mascot, the whole block would feed him--black squirrels in Chicago are such a rarity. We called him Schwarzie, but he had several names--Cody, Blackie, etc. We were all hoping to keep the squirrel alive through the winter so there'd be more black squirrels in the spring. Last summer, there were three.

Anonymous said...

I live a little south of where your Uptown place is, and this year I've seen at least one black squirrel prancing merrily across the phone wires behind my place. I'm going to imagine that it's Schwartzie's friend, heir or the little guy himself.

Joanne said...

Good to know Schwartzie's family is spreading out. When I mentioned the black squirrels on the Uptown history blog, Irish Pirate said that he had spotted a few at Marine/Buena.

jay said...

It's funny how many housebloggers started off in a condo. And for those of us that tackle renovations, how wistful we can become by seeing photos of our old homes. Ah, for simpler times.

Oddly enough, our old condo in Oak Park had a neighborhood critter too - an albino possum! We'd sometimes come face to face with him coming home late at night (or early mornings ;-)

Joanne said...

Jay--It's even harder when you still own the place. I should have put in "owner reserves the right to use the jacuzzi at any time" into the rental agreement, right down there in the fine print.

An albino possum sounds so cool!

Jennifer said...

Wow I love that bed!

I can't believe that it has gotten so hard to sell a condo in Uptown now. A friend of mine bought one (for waaaaaaaay too much money) not too long ago as a rental property and I believe it is even next to impossible to rent out now. All those condos that were built 5-7 years ago when the market was at the best it may ever be have just about ruined Chicago's housing market. Good luck though. The place is beautiful.

Joanne said...

Hi Jen and Stan! When the market was great, one of the units in our condo building--a duplex--sold for as much as our entire two-flat in Evanston did. We were shocked; they could have bought a whole house in Rogers Park for that price and still be on the train line, if they were willing to do work on the house. (Although I understand all-too-well the desire to move into a turn-key kind of place.)

Another person in our building needed to sell not too long ago, but it was now the bottom of the market. After a year, it finally sold for exactly what she bought it for six years ago. That was depressing.

We did have a lot of traffic come through when we put our unit on the rental market, but a lot of young people would prefer to stay down in Lincoln Park or Wicker Park, even if they end up in tiny units. That should change soon, as more and more things open in Uptown.

Our unit is a block away from the Aragon Ballroom and where the new theatres are supposed to be built at Lawrence and Winthrop. When the market changes, and it will, eventually, these things are always cyclical, we should be able to sell for a decent price. As long as we can hang in there until then, we'll be fine. I'm hopeful. :-)