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A Tudor-style house gets a stunning modern twist on Chicago’s North Shore

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This modern lake house is the personal residence of Elissa Morgante and Fred Wilson, co-founding partners of Morgante Wilson Architects, sited in Wilmette, on Chicago’s suburban North Shore. Expansive walls of glazing provide on the rear facade provide sweeping views over Lake Michigan. 

It features a modern interpretation of the traditional Tudor style on the front exterior that melds beautifully into its surrounding neighborhood. The house reveals an almost entirely glass-lined, contemporary rear elevation that was designed to take maximum advantage of its idyllic waterside location.

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Description of the project by the architect, “For 15 years, architect Elissa Morgante was captivated by a uniquely shaped parcel of land fronting Lake Michigan near her home in Wilmette. Nestled next to her family’s favorite North Shore beach and boasting unparalleled Lake Michigan views, the property caught the imagination of Elissa and her husband and business partner, Fred Wilson.”

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Despite watching the property change hands over the years, they were undeterred in playing the “what if” game of designing their dream waterfront home on the site. However, when the land became a private garden for the adjacent residence, they resigned themselves that their vision for the property would likely never be realized.

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But then Elissa and Fred met the new owners when both their homes were featured on a house tour in 2013, and everything changed. After sharing her passion for the property with its current owners, she learned they would be open to selling the land, but only if their own Lake Michigan views would remain forever protected. Done.

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The two couples ended up with a purchase agreement that included a mutually beneficial restrictive covenant protecting the unique qualities and views of both properties and making Elissa and Fred, along with their new neighbors, stewards of this stretch of Lake Michigan beach and bluff.

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This modern waterfront house in Chicago is the sixth – and they say final – home Elissa and Fred have designed for themselves. It is the culmination of their prestigious joint careers as co-principals of Evanston, Illinois-based architecture and design firm Morgante Wilson Architects, and reflects their confidence, strong personal aesthetics, and individual inspirations after more than 30 years of pushing the design envelope.

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 Among the many original and curated design highlights of the home:

  • One-of-a-kind cabinet concept incorporating a steel-framed cabinet with fronts upholstered in woven vinyl. It’s a custom design Elissa came up with where the insets can be wiped clean but also popped out to be re-upholstered/switched out if so desired.
  • A unique pull-out banquette-style bench that is built into the wood-lined kitchen island, which can disappear when not in use.
  • A stairwell of sculpted plaster, showcasing a 30-foot custom light sourced during the couple’s travels to Tel Aviv. Other pieces sourced during the couple’s international travels are also showcased throughout the home.
  • An informal, open floor plan anchored by an architectural cube, which is treated with a variety of textured finishes – including leather, linen, vinyl, and photograph-covered drywall – to create a rich tapestry of materials as you move throughout the home.
  • Custom furniture designed by the couple specifically for the home, such as an unorthodox trapezoidal table that maximizes lake views from the kitchen.
  • A versatile home-office-slash-dining-room, which features a large dining table that’s made up of two smaller tables-cum-desks, giving the designers plenty of choice and adaptability in terms of how they work from their home. “We can sit together at the dining table and cover it with blueprints and plans while we collaborate on client projects,” said Morgante. “Or we can split the table into two even halves, giving each of us our own separate work area in a single shared room. We love the versatility of this space, which has turned out to be one of the best design decisions we’ve ever made as architects.”
  • A kid’s bedroom with a custom lofted space
  • An artfully composed all-glass wall of floor-to-ceiling windows across the entire back side of the home, showcasing unfettered views of Lake Michigan.
  • Use of black walnut from a tree on the property, which is incorporated in a stunning kitchen island, live-edge foyer bench, and subtle touches such as guest room shelving.
  • Elements that pay homage to the couple’s architectural heroes: Alvar Aalto (Elissa) and Edwin Lutyens (Fred).

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What We Love: This modern lakeshore house in the Chicago burbs is a showcase of the Midwest’s thriving design culture. With its idyllic location overlooking Lake Michigan, this home was been maximized to take advantage of its surrounding beauty. The collaboration between the design duo on their personal residence highlights their ingenuity, carefully considered design selections, and beautiful craftsmanship throughout.

Tell Us: What design details in this home do you find most inspiring? Let us know in the Comments, we enjoy reading your feedback!

Note: Be sure to check out a couple of other amazing home tours that we have showcased here on One Kindesign from the portfolio of the architects of this project, Morgante Wilson Architects: Net-zero energy vacation cottage in Michigan with light-filled interiors and Shingle style home in Illinois features interiors with understated elegance.

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The beautiful landscaping is by award-winning Chicago-based landscape designer Mariani Landscaping.

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Images Courtesy of Morgante Wilson Architects, Photo by Werner Straube Photography

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