$2.5 million glass house in Illinois blurs the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces

636 Division St., Barrington: $1,899,000 | Listed: Sept. 4, 2020

This five-bedroom home near Baker Lake in Barrington has 4½ bathrooms and melds contemporary interiors with elements of both a rustic farmhouse and industrial design. Built in 2015, the home’s custom glass entryway touts ceiling-to-floor windows that invite sunlight streaming into the dining and living rooms. Three stone fireplaces and heated driftwood floors throughout provide warmth, while the family room’s reclaimed wood beams and a showpiece-worthy reclaimed barn door lend a relaxed air to the home. The custom-designed Knapp kitchen features Carrara Marble countertops, a farmhouse sink and a walk-in pantry. A 400-bottle wine cellar, a sunroom with an outdoor television and a wood-plank ceiling, and a wet bar equipped with a dual kegerator tap elevate the home, while the primary bedroom suite includes a bathroom with a standalone tub and a shower with a full-body spray. A 4½-car garage completes the home.

Agent: Barbara Cullen of Baird & Warner, 847-909-4063

*Some photos are “virtually staged,” meaning they have been digitally altered to represent different furnishing or decorating options.

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$2.5M Glass House in Illinois Blurs the Lines Between Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

For those with any trepidation about living in a glass house, an Illinois home may change your mind.

The listing agent for a glass house in Northfield, IL, which is on the market for $2.5 million, says its design is likely to surprise you.

The home was designed by the architect Thomas Roszak, who was named one of the country’s best residential architects by Architectural Digest in 2005. Roszak’s other projects include Parkline Condos in Chicago and InterContinental Miami.

“The way that he designed it made it feel very intimate. You don’t feel like you’re in a glass house,” says Carrie McCormick of @properties.

It’s had just a single owner since it was built in 2002—the architect himself. He designed the 5,500-square-foot pad, which consists of glass cubes stacked atop one another. There’s very little a buyer will need to do except to move on in.

One reason is the use of materials: steel beams, stone throughout, and concrete and glass walls—all solid.

Teak was chosen for the front and rear decks. The kitchen faucets are by Dornbracht, and there are Poliform cabinets, closets, vanities, and storage systems throughout.

“The materials that were used were timeless and impeccably maintained,” says McCormick.

The living room’s soaring 20-foot ceiling is another hallmark of the design. Even the three-car garage is a glass cube.

A finished lower level offers opportunity for flex space: a home gym, home office, or home theater, for example. The home has five bedrooms—all on the second level—and 4.5 bathrooms. The fact that it’s on an acre lot ensures a lot of privacy.

Exterior of house in Northfield, IL




Living room


Dining room






Master bathroom




Walk-in closet


Lower level




It’s also—another surprise—perfect for families.

McCormick says the architect built the home for his family, which included three children.

“The design of it and the components of the home are unbelievable,” says McCormick. “It’s won numerous awards and been in many books.”

Among those awards: an Honor Award in 2008 from the American Institute of Architects.

Those glass walls are a huge plus for any nature lover—even during a frigid Chicago winter.

“Because it’s glass, you really feel like you’re living with nature,” says McCormick. “Whether it’s spring, summer, fall, or winter, you’re surrounded by color.”

The ideal buyer could very well be an architect who understands through experience—and appreciates—just how much talent it takes to construct a home like this.

“It’s definitely someone who wants something different. It’s not someone who just wants to live in Northfield. They want to live in this house,” says McCormick.

Located on a private street in this suburb about 20 miles north of Chicago, “it’s a great North Shore neighborhood,” she says, with access to Sunset Ridge, a top-rated school district, and near several country clubs.

It’s an easy commute to downtown Chicago, which is about a half-hour’s drive away on I-94 E, as well

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In Connecticut, a House That Blurs the Boundaries of Time and Place

THE TEXTILE DESIGNER Nathalie Farman-Farma was a studious 16-year-old in 1984 when her French-born father’s new banking job in Manhattan required moving the family from the elegant western Parisian suburb of Le Vésinet to what might be its stateside equivalent: Greenwich, Conn. Her mother, Eleanor, who met her father, Jean-Paul, while they were students at Stanford University, had grown up in Northern California as a daughter of William Hewlett, the co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, and settled on their new town a bit randomly; she sent a letter to The New York Times asking where the best public schools could be found in America and received a list in response.

Greenwich was a bit sleepier then, says Farman-Farma, now 52. The town, a 30-mile drive northeast of Manhattan, was full of Federal-style homes Edith Wharton would have recognized, such as the 6,960-square-foot, three-story 1892 house into which Farman-Farma’s parents settled their four children. They kept the outside white and the shutters dark green, and while they brought in a few family antiques and a good rug or two, they never updated the house with the latest kitchen gadgetry or decorating trends. Kids and dogs were free to gambol through the large parlors and 11 modestly sized bedrooms upstairs, and there were lots of books to read on the pillared porch.

After studying classics in college, Farman-Farma worked as an editor at The New Yorker and, in 2000, married Amir Farman-Farma, now 56, a financier from a royal Iranian family. Today, the couple lives in London with their two teenage children, in a Chelsea townhouse from which she also runs the design studio of her five-year-old textile line, Décors Barbares. (Her first book, “Décors Barbares: The Enchanting Interiors of Nathalie Farman-Farma,” was published last month.) But her mother, now in her 70s (her father died in 2005), continues to live in the Greenwich house, as bulldozers raze neighboring properties of similar vintage to make way for vast neo-Norman compounds.

While the house, on a promontory that overlooks Long Island Sound, is hardly au courant, Farman-Farma has nonetheless helped it evolve: Over the years, she has reimagined the interiors as a reflection of her peripatetic personal history and her well-researched ethnographic obsessions. With references that careen from Russian fairy tales and Uzbek ceramics to the rustic cabins of the Sierra Nevada and the soignée interiors of the World War II-era Parisian decorator Madeleine Castaing, Farman-Farma’s aesthetic catholicism melds seamlessly with the house’s East Coast establishment origins. As she did with her mother’s family property on Lake Tahoe and her own early 19th-century London residence and office, she has created a living laboratory for her layered taste. In a design era that favors vast glass walls and near empty rooms, Farman-Farma’s ethos seems as anachronistic as the Greenwich house itself. “Obviously,” she says, on a late summer afternoon, perched in a crosshatched wicker armchair covered in her black-background Sarafane fabric beside an ottoman draped in an embroidered antique fabric from India, “I don’t have much

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hong kong apartment refurbishment by lim + lu blurs the line between interior & exterior

situated on the first floor of an old building in metropolitan hong kong, architecture practice lim + lu presents the refurbishment of a 167 sqm apartment for a japanese family of four. dubbed the grosvenor residence, the project aims to allow nature to breathe life into its redesigned interior, creating a space that refreshes its residents. using neutral colors, earthy textures, open spaces, and lots of greenery, the architects have generated a vibrant environment, blurring the line between the indoor and the outdoor world.

lim + lu designed a tranquil home office environment to tackle the new frontier of work-from-home culture

all images by lit ma



the apartment overlooks a tree line, which inspired lim + lu to enlarge all pre-existing small windows into large antique style steel fenestration. in this way, more natural light was brought into the living space, illuminating it sufficiently. the black wooden blinds and delicate brass details accentuate the feeling of an elegant yet quaint summer home. the room is completed with wooden slats and rattan, which generate richness in texture, while keeping a clean aesthetic that adheres to the overall feel. altogether, these elements work simultaneously, ensuring that the family lives in understated luxury, in close connection with nature. 

for the children's room, the idea was to incorporate a sense of privacy in an open space without the isolation of separate spaces to foster a sense of togetherness



taking into account that the clients often work from home, lim + lu aimed to form a functional, tranquil space, where residents can think and focus, energized by nature and greenery, though never distracted by them. the tall windows and brass accents serve as a modern interpretation of a study, while providing an atmosphere that encourages creativity and positive work mentality. an abundance of daylight, neutral colors, and wooden elements adorn the room and balance the visual characteristics harmoniously.

for lim + lu, the idea was to create a tranquil space to think and work, with nature and greenery to energize the scenery without obstructing focus



the children’s bathroom was designed with a traditional japanese bathroom in mind, with a deep soaking tub and a separate shower space. as these kinds of bathrooms are typically wet rooms, an acid-washed granite finishes the surfaces of the space, emphasizing the calming, meditative atmosphere. with these soaking rooms deeply tied to the concept of renewal, lim+lu hopes to provide that same revitalization of body and spirit to the residents.

the tall windows and brass accents do away with the modern interpretation of a study and instead provides an atmosphere that encourages creativity and positive work mentality.



to create an open space layout that flows seamlessly between the kitchen, dining, living room, study, and balcony, the original enclosed kitchen was opened up and combined with the rest of the rooms. this large open area now serves as a family room, where all members gather whether it is over a meal in the dining room or over activities by the couch. all while enjoying the scenery through the large balcony doorway, the view framed by palm trees and greenery to really bring to life the feeling of the perfect summer getaway right at home.

neutral colours and finishes allow the many pieces of greenery that decorate the space to shine a vibrant healthy green, blurring the line between the outdoors and the interior.

the master bedroom utilizes natural materials such as rattan and wood paired with steel and brass antique style windows to maximize the element of nature

the use of wooden slats and rattan create a richness in texture while keeping a clean aesthetic that adheres to the overall feel.

a soft muted green compliments the overall motif of nature, while still providing a sense of energetic youth and vibrance.

an abundance of daylight, neutral colours and wood adorn the room and balance the visual elements together, just as one needs to do between work and relaxation.

the black wooden blinds and delicate brass details accentuate the feeling of an elegant yet quaint summer home.

the children’s bathroom was designed with the traditional japanese bathroom in mind, with a deep soaking tub and a separate shower space to be used for relaxation and cleansing

the master bathroom utilizes a moody colour palette and textures



project info:


name: grosvenor residence
architecture office: lim + lu
location: mid-levels, hong kong
area: 167 sqm



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: myrto katsikopoulou | designboom

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