Home Ground

November 2018 View more

As principal of Widler Architecture, Brent Widler has designed homes for clients across the Midwest, but one recent project was literally in his backyard. The customer? His wife. “We designed the house together, but Lynsey was the client,” he insists. “I presented her the concepts.” After fine-tuning some details on the elevations and the rooflines, the couple was ready to build on a teardown lot that was owned by Widler’s late father, just north of downtown Downers Grove. “He passed away in 2013, and we had renters for a while,” he says, “but were happily surprised that it became a really vibrant, thriving area. My kids [Lucas, 7, and Zack, 5] now get to run around the same yard I did.”—MD

An original abstract painting by local artist Sharon Swing ($550) hangs above a family antique used as a bar cabinet in the Widlers’ front living room.

Windows in the home have a film to block 86 percent of solar heat absorption, and smart home technology helps to control even more. “The front shades are on a timer to drop down when the sunlight is at its peak,” says Widler.

Louie sofa ($1,300), Malone chairs ($1,300 each), and Basque floor arc lamp ($350), Walter E. Smithe. Tribeca coffee table ($500), allmodern.com.

The kitchen is the hub of every family home, and the Widlers designed theirs to have clean, contemporary lines, but still feel comfortable. “We worked with textures instead of colors,” says Widler. “The backsplash gives it texture, and the walnut gives it warmth.” Open shelves offer the white-on-white kitchen more texture and color, while Minnesota-made Cambria quartz countertops offer durability. The couple chose an induction cooktop—which offers the heat responsiveness of gas and the clean look of electric—to avoid burning gas, improving indoor air quality in the environmentally conscious home. A corner desk serves as the family command center, where bills are paid and school papers are signed.

To make the project even more ambitious, Widler designed the family home to be LEED Silver certified, integrating smart home features with resilient and efficient building materials. The roof was made from standing-seam metal panels, which are more durable and last longer than traditional shingles. After minimizing leaks in the HVAC system, an energy-recovery ventilator was installed to draw fresh air into the home to maintain air quality.