Natural habitat

March 2019 View more

A soaring 24-foot living room features an opposing balcony that mirrors the curve of the floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the home’s front driveway and gardens

“Twenty years ago,” says Rubinstein, “people weren’t talking about solar modeling, but I designed the window location to maximize solar gains.” The 1.25-acre lot allowed her the flexibility to turn the home 20 degrees to bring in a lot of eastern light. No matter where you stand in the house, there is light coming in from three directions, including a large skylight above the central staircase.

Wood panels on the flanking walls help ground the space so it doesn’t overwhelm. The cherry and oak structures in the house are aging gracefully, becoming more mature and beautiful over time, Rubinstein says. “Organic architecture,” she says, “is part of the American Craftsman movement.”

Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” The 1880 proclamation by Englishman William Morris—long before Marie Kondo’s spark-joy litmus test—has been a Golden Rule of his Arts and Crafts movement for over a century.

The famous Red House he constructed in southeast London was an inspiration for a local home built by general contractor Mia Rubinstein 20 years ago.

“It’s a celebration of nature,” she says of the home. “The most important part of our current lifestyle is to bring nature into the house.”—MD

The Lisle home’s three-season gardens—including native species that bloom from April until October—were created through a collaborative effort between builders and landscapers, including a professionally built pond. “We have a lot of frogs in the springtime,” says Rubinstein. She and her husband, Harry, celebrate occasions with art, including a decorative statue next to the pond. “That was a statue that we bought in Michigan to celebrate an anniversary. It’s a fun part of adding to the house.”

Seeing Red
The five-bedroom, four-bath Red House in Lisle is currently on the market for $1 million. For more information, contact Monarque Real Estate, 630.637.0997. To read about the Red House in England that inspired it (now a café and bookshop run by preservation nonprofit National Trust), visit

A four-season sunroom overlooks the home’s back gardens. “When you’re sitting in the sunroom—which has a lot of skylights and you’re surrounded by glass—you are very much covered in nature.” The natural surroundings, coupled with a centralized location, are what make the home so unique.

Photos courtesy Monarque Real Estate Group