Industrial style gets a rustic, personal edge in a historic Chicago building, thanks to lots of wood and meaningful collections
This loft-style condo originated in the early-1900s building that once housed the industrial bakery for the National Biscuit Company (later known as Nabisco); the building was converted to residences in the 1990s.
House at a Glance
- Who lives here: A professional couple
- Location: West Loop neighborhood of Chicago
- Builder: Vero
- Size: 2,880 square feet (268 meters); 2 bedrooms, 3 full bathrooms, 1 half bathroom
The three-level unit’s original interior was decidedly tame: white walls, carpeting, marble surfaces. Chicago architect Steve Besch of Besch Design renovated the main living space to create a more rustic, industrial backdrop for their eclectic furnishings, vintage pieces, reclaimed objects and artwork.
Two sets of double-hung windows flood the main living space with natural light. The owners control light and privacy with motorized shades and added floor-to-ceiling draperies for a dramatic effect. As the ceiling-mounted ductwork didn’t efficiently heat the 26-foot-high volume, radiant floor heating was added during the renovation.
Reclaimed barn wood replaced drywall in the living room, creating a space to display the husband’s guitar collection, a nod to his youthful days in bands. The vintage spotlights for the guitar wall, now fitted with LEDs, were once used in Playboy’s Chicago production studios. Barn wood also frames the wall around the opening to the third-level master bedroom and was used to create bifold window shutters for privacy.
A view from the master bedroom’s opening includes the main level, the mezzanine guest bedroom and, above it, a third-level seating area. The architect removed existing built-in bookcases from the mezzanine and third levels to create more room for furniture.
A mezzanine-level loft above the living space houses a guest bedroom and bath. At the far end of the main level, a double-sided fireplace warms the living space and, on the other side, the home office. Most of the furnishings throughout came from the owners’ previous residence.
Preserved Original Features
Old hardware around the opening to the kitchen once held the massive oven doors. The loft’s original exposed brick walls were sealed to prevent dust emissions from the old bricks and mortar.
The kitchen was updated with new antique-patinated cabinetry, an expanded island, concrete countertops and stainless steel appliances, giving the owners enough equipment and space to entertain family and friends.
Exposed original trusses frame the third-level seating area. During the renovation the architect and the owners found Carnegie Steel stamps on the trusses.