Having a clear design vision doesn’t always come easily, but one Chicago couple knew exactly what they wanted when they decided to build a new home in historic Hinsdale, with years of travel and more than a passing interest in architecture and interiors informing the overall concept. “The project was inspired by a love of English and French country homes, with deep courtyards to bring in light and act as additional rooms,” says Andrea Burridge, who led the interior design aspect of the project. “The thought was, ‘Let’s try to do a house like that here, without having it look pretentious and like a fortress.’ ”
The couple’s first step was to do some serious research, poring over design and architectural blogs—which is how they discovered architect Ken Pursley. “Ken’s name kept popping up,” the wife recalls. “I went to his website and fell even more in love with his work. Then, I called him out of the blue.”
Soon afterward, Pursley, whose firm is based in North Carolina, flew up for a consult. The homeowners had provided him with a rudimentary floor plan, a plethora of images and tear sheets they had collected throughout the years and even photos they had taken of a particular Lake Forest home. In response, Pursley, along with project manager Mark Kline, created an elevation drawing based on their inspirations. “Ken really envisioned the concept,” Burridge says. “He even figured out who the architect of the Lake Forest home was and when it was built. He’s one of the best architects out there right now, but it doesn’t get in the way of his listening to an owner.”
In this case, Pursley recalls his clients having differing visions. “In his mind, the husband wanted a traditional family home—comfortable and approachable,” he says. “But, the wife wanted a little bit of an edge to it. The trick was trying to find that line of making the house look traditional and grounded and like it fit into the neighborhood yet also have a little bit of seductiveness and intrigue.”
The solution was designing a layout that had an element of surprise, playing up what was visible from the outset to create private areas. “The planning was so different from most houses,” Pursley says. “By placing the garage structures in the front, it allowed those more modest elements to mask the main house and courtyard beyond.” As a result, the home doesn’t reveal everything from the street; rather, its compelling layout unfolds after stepping inside.
Private areas, including the master suite and the husband’s study, are situated on the main level as well, while four bedrooms upstairs and one in the basement accommodate guests, including two of the couple’s grown children. “The upstairs can be completely closed up when we’re here by ourselves,” the wife says.
Executing the significant detailing throughout the project was no small task. “The architecture was very complex, detailed and authentic,” says general contractor Dave Knecht, who worked on the home with project manager Mike Zalud. “We meticulously handpicked our subcontractors to create a team that met our stringent standards and executed the construction details seamlessly.”
As a result, “everything works and lives exactly as we all thought it would,” the wife says. “The team interpreted everything perfectly. It’s remarkable.” To Pursley, the project is an example of different design talents working as a cohesive unit. “When the elements of architecture, interior design, landscaping and construction come together so fluidly,” he says, “it makes for a truly special place.”