Building a New Home:  5 Ideas to Create Uniquely Personal Space in your House

Building a New Home:  5 Ideas to Create Uniquely Personal Space in your House from Chicago Residential Architect Elissa Morgante

Building a new home offers a unique opportunity to create space that is perfectly suited to the way you live. In fact, it is one of the great joys and delights of building a custom home that you can, well, customize it to your needs, habits, preferences, and desires. Here are a few ways Fred and I did just that in our own new house:

We built a train room

Fred has been a model train enthusiast since childhood, which is the reason our last house featured a dedicated room for his collection. While it provided a nice escape for Fred, no one else stepped foot in it – unless they wanted to see his trains. So in our new house, we did things differently. Fred’s trains are still on display, but they’re part of a larger space that includes an exercise area and den, with plenty of seating. Now, viewing Fred’s collection is a more user-friendly experience that can also include working out or watching a game on television.

We paid homage to Alvar Aalto, my architectural hero

Studying abroad in Denmark while in college, I became enthralled by the work of Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. His buildings often featured specialty finishes, including blue bricks. When it came time to design our new home, we thought it would be fun to nod to the architect who so inspired my sense of design. Every time I approach my front door, I’m reminded of my days as a young woman in Europe – and the passion I felt for my chosen profession.

We paid homage to Edwin Lutyens, Fred’s architectural hero


We honored one of Fred’s favorites, too:  Edwin Lutyens, a British architect famed for his imaginative English country houses. Picturesque and romantic, his designs typically included whimsical rooflines, along with other, equally charming architectural elements. Our new house nods to Lutyens in an understated, yet unmistakable, way.

We put our exercise room upstairs

In our last house, our exercise room was in our basement. This time, we put it upstairs, smack in front of windows overlooking Lake Michigan. Our thought was that if we could exercise with a view, we might be inspired to work out more often. It’s too soon to say whether our plan to fool ourselves is working or not, but we’re hopeful!

We made space for star-gazing

Upstairs and down, we created outdoor spaces for star-gazing, wine-sipping, and late night conversation. Upstairs it’s a second floor balcony that seats four people. Downstairs, it’s a screened porch warmed by an always-wanted-it fireplace.  These were things we really wanted to make happen, and they’ve made our daily lives richer than we could have imagined.  

You’ve probably got wishes and dreams for how you’d like to live, too. The amazing thing is that a house can help fulfill them. The team at Morgante Wilson Architects is expert at creating uniquely personal homes. To learn more, give us a call!

Elissa Morgante
Morgante-Wilson Architects
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Design Inspiration: Five Innovative Interior & Architectural Ideas for New Homes from Chicago Residential Architect Elissa Morgante

Morgante-Wilson Architects provides architectural and interior design services in Chicago, Evanston, Winnetka, Glencoe, Glenview, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Wilmette, Northbrook, Deerfield, Northfield, and Ravinia

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  • Peggy Swartchild | May 12, 2016

    Great article. Loved the personal story of your new house and how you incorporated your want list.
    Beautifully done.
    Peggy and Moose


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