“I was feeling overwhelmed by our house,” says Julie Chernoff, speaking of the 6,500-square-foot historically significant home in Evanston where she and her husband, Josh, had raised their two children, entertained thousands of guests over the years and held numerous fundraisers for local organizations. “It was a little harder to convince Josh that it was time to right-size.”
But once the couple found a rare empty lot just blocks from their current home, and started to talk with friend and builder Scott Simpson about what a new house could look like and how the process would work, Josh’s enthusiasm for the project grew.
“The thing about working with Scott is that he’s friends with everyone he’s ever worked with, and that really says something,” Julie explains.
The quilt in the master bedroom is by Ann Brauer.
Also collaborating on the project was Jodi Morton, principal of 2to5 Design and a longtime neighbor of the Chernoffs. “The project was so unique and special because they were our neighbors and friends for 14 years,” Morton says. “I knew how they lived, I knew their family, and I knew them as generous and lovely hosts, so I had a good sense of what they were looking for in their new home.”
What they were looking for included a fabulous kitchen (Julie is a legendary cook and food writer), plenty of space for entertaining small groups as well as large gatherings, storage space to make entertaining easier, separate workspaces for Josh to quilt and Julie to write, a fully tricked-out home gym, a wine cellar, an elevator, a master suite and two additional bedrooms for their frequent guests. Every inch of the new home’s 4,600 square feet is ingeniously used: Even a “Harry Potter” space behind a staircase holds extra tables and chairs.
Brightening the dining room is “Candy-Striped Lilies” by Woodward Payne.
Within the space, Morton concentrated on designing a neutral envelope so the couple’s extensive art collection could shine. “They’re really artists in their souls and lovers of craft so they were drawn to the integrity of what we were choosing,” Morton says. “The house has that sense of craft and it marries so well with their collections.”
The couple moved at the end of summer and haven’t looked back. “We’ve had eight parties or fundraisers here in the last six weeks,” Julie says with a smile. “It’s really working for us.”
In Julie’s office hangs “California Ranunculus” by Woodward Payne.
TYPE: Single-family home
LOCATION: Southeast Evanston
Scott Simpson Design + Build
Amy Mangold, Scott Simpson Design + Build
Jodi Morton, 2to5 Design
The master bathroom tile is by Ann Sacks.
Light fixtures in living room, kitchen and office
Design Within Reach
Light fixtures in dining room and master bedroom; dining room table and chairs
Living room coffee table
Room & Board
Living room sofa and chairs
The Chernoffs had several heirloom rugs they wanted to place in their new home, including the one that anchors the great room.