An occasionally updated chronicle of estate sales in the city and suburbs of Chicago.

"It's such a guilty pleasure..." Lynne Stiefel, Pioneer Press

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Minnetonka Multi-Level

It was almost as if the house had been built with its back turned. Someone just passing by would have seen a two-car garage atop a small hill and not much else.

Even at the entryway, there was almost no hint of what was inside.

This room was just to the right. All I could learn about the former owners is that they'd raised a large family here, and that the father had been a general contractor. His work would certainly explain that line-up of woodworking tools. As well as a lot of other things I'd soon discover.

Up a few stairs on the left was the first of many bedrooms. It had a linoleum floor, which seemed odd, and its own bathroom with double sinks, which seemed extravagant. I haven't seen mirrored tiles like that since I was a kid. They kind of match the sinks.

I climbed the entryway stairs and saw this really cool lighting fixture. The picture doesn't do it justice. Each one of those trios of stylized exclamation points was a different color.

The stairs opened up onto a formal living room and dining area. It was much larger than it appears in the photo. Also brighter.

Here's the living room from the vantage point of the windows. I'm no fan of wallpaper, but this -- little country carriage scenes repeated infinitely across that great expanse -- kind of took my breath away. And those are wooden planters lining the floor of the walkway. You don't see those in homes this age any more. The new owners almost always tear them out. It's a pity, but keeping them does demand a certain amount of houseplants and the skill to keep them alive. Otherwise, all you've got are boxes of dirt.

The whole house was full of terrific details, like this custom-made radiator cover. Note the carpeting at the bottom that continues along the wall. That'll come up again.

These intercom/radios were in just about every room, providing push-button convenience to every member of the family. Also, possibly opportunities to spy.

Pink bathrooms must have really been popular once upon a time. (I happen to be the not-so proud owner of one myself.) This is a particularly fine example, shown with matching towel and Kleenex box.

In the future, all bathrooms will be equipped with exhaust fans, sun lamps, heat lamps, steam baths and dangerous numbers of electrical switches.

Remember that carpet running along the bottom of the radiator cover? It also ran along the bottoms of all the walls and doors. When the door was shut, it had a seamless look. Talk about attention to detail.

This is the lamp that hung above the dining area. I would have yanked it out of the ceiling and taken it with me if I'd been able to.

Right next door was the kitchen, and one of the home's best surprises.

That Radar Range®-looking thing at the top is actually command central for all the intercom/radios. Mom could call everyone to breakfast, lunch and dinner without having to leave the kitchen. Ever. She could spend all day there, cooking away. Except for those times when she was cleaning.

Just below the control panel was a built-in, fold-down turntable. Put on a record, and you could pump music throughout the house. (Storage for LPs was hidden in the lower one.) Wow. This whole place was beyond Brady.

Past the kitchen was an addition which must have served as another family-type room. It also had some great details.

I'm a sucker for a wet bar, and this room had one. Note the mini-fridge on the left, which saved you the trouble of walking an extra 10-15 steps into the kitchen.

Up above was this custom-made light fixture, with two different colors of Plexiglas. It's a pity it wasn't working, because I bet it would have looked great.

In the end, it didn't surprise me that the owner of this home had been a contractor. Judging from this house, I bet he was good at his job. It was evident he'd given a lot of thought to every room, putting everything he knew about building into creating a home that would make his family happy and comfortable. I think he wanted them to have best. I think they got it.

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