Architect Fauzia Khanani Trims A Chicago Home Down To Size

Dreaming big is the name of the game. Otherwise, why bother, right? Architect Daniel Burnham certainly felt this when he proclaimed to the leaders of 19th-century Chicago, “Make no little plans.” Burnham’s own ambitious scheme was never fully realized, but the city shaped up pretty well anyway. Plenty of folks out to build their forever homes would agree with him, but when a family living in a Windy City suburb today shaved 2,000 square feet off the design of the house they were about to build, they still got a home that ticked all their boxes.

“We took a look at their existing design and went through a pretty intense reprogramming exercise,” notes architect Fauzia Khanani of New York’s Studio Fōr. “We established priorities, deciding which spaces were essential and which were just nice to have. Having an in-law suite with bedroom, bath and lounge area was very important, so we kept that part of the program. But we reduced the size of the kitchen and made other spaces multi-functional. There was a dedicated mudroom and we incorporated that into a corridor. That was a really good way to shave off 200 square feet.”

Located on a cul-de-sac and spreading over three levels, the Prairie Style-inspired home is amply fenestrated to offer ready views of the outdoors. Built-ins, pocket doors and a banquette equipped with storage are strategically employed to enhance the experience of moving unimpeded through the free-flowing interiors.

The judicious use of wood warms up the acutely incised volumes without veering into a retro riff on Frank Lloyd Wright and his kind. One of Khanani’s most striking touches is the brightly hued tile floor in the kitchen which bleeds irregularly into the entry hall. “When you have an open floor plan,” explains Khanani, “spaces flow one into the other. We thought we’d do that with this material, as well.”

At over 4,500 square feet, the house is anything but small. But thanks to shrewd programming, there’s nothing excessive about it either. And unlike many homes, this residence was not built to ride a current design or stand as a testament to success. Situated on a standard-issue suburban street, it is a home, like its neighbors.

“This house was a long time in the making for this family,” observes Khanani. “The charge was, ‘This is a house that our kids are going to grow up in, that we are going to grow old in, that our grandkids are going to come to.’ This is a house for the long run.”

Photography by Garrett Rowland.

For more like this Chicago home, be sure to check out this residence in Utah that coexists with its environment. 

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