Soothing Sanctuary

While the old adage 'home is where the heart is' still rings true, home is more likely where you'll find the family, say Jim Diamond and Susan Schreiber, partners in Highland Park, Ill.-based DiamondSchreiber Homes, which builds luxury homes among the ...

July 01, 2003


The stately English Tudor exterior inspired an arch above the cooking hearth, builder Jim Diamond says.

While the old adage "home is where the heart is" still rings true, home is more likely where you'll find the family, say Jim Diamond and Susan Schreiber, partners in Highland Park, Ill.-based DiamondSchreiber Homes, which builds luxury homes among the historic mansions that characterize the lakefront communities north of Chicago. Reflecting this national trend, they designed this $3.5 million English Tudor residence in Glencoe, Ill., with enough R&R space to keep even the most "out"-going owners happy at home.

"There is a definite trend toward people wanting to spend their free time at home with their families," Schreiber says. "They really want to live in a house that they can wrap their arms around."

Interior designer Richard Menna, who worked closely with the builders on this project, says, "I've seen a shift in what luxury home buyers expect from their house. It used to be that much of the living space in a high-end home was designed for show, as sort of a 'look at my house and see what I have' approach. That formula has reversed itself. Today's luxury homes are very livable and functional."


The home's English basement includes a number of at-home recreation areas, including a six-seat theater featuring the latest sound and video equipment, padded walls and ceiling and "quiet-zone" construction that provides superior acoustics and minimal sound transmission.

Menna says this home reflects the market's desire for a balance between casual living space and formal entertaining areas. "With the emphasis on comfort," he adds. Along with formal living and dining rooms flanking a dramatic central foyer, the home features a spacious informal zone that includes the kitchen, breakfast area and family room. With five bedrooms, five full baths and two additional powder rooms, there also is plenty of private space for even the largest family.

In addition to more traditional formal and informal entertaining areas, this 7,600-square-foot, three-level residence features an English basement dedicated to at-home activities. It includes a sit-down pub, a spacious game room, a 1,000-bottle wine cellar, a state-of-the art theater with an 89-inch screen and six theater-style chairs, a separate exercise room and even a multisport practice room where family and friends can tune up their golf, tennis or softball swings ù indoors.


What Diamond calls "the grotto" includes a six-burner, stainless steel gas range, two ovens, a griddle and a pot-filler faucet. The multilevel island features cherry cabinetry and is designed to obscure the view of the cooking and prep areas from the rest of the living space.

Diamond and Schreiber pride themselves on their ability to keep a finger on their market's pulse, which has given their 5-year-old company an edge in a competitive market where they build and sell an average of eight to 10 spec homes a year.

Schreiber says she often spends weekends touring competitors' projects looking for new ideas. "We also love to have other builders come through our homes," she says. "We're confident that the finishing touches we incorporate distinguish us from the rest."

While some details vary from project to project, many, such as door and cabinet hinges that suggest the detail of fine jewelry and the incorporation of a commercial-grade ice-maker into the kitchen or butler's pantry, have found their way into every DiamondSchreiber home.

This home, completed in February 2003, also features whole-house audio wiring in 20 locations; a whole-house audio system with a multizone receiver and speakers with touch-pad controls; multimedia cable with television, satellite, Internet, networking and telephone capabilities in 41 locations; and a surge suppressor.

Style of Home | English Tudor

Location | Glencoe, Ill.

Total Square Footage | 7,600

Estimated Market Value | $3.5 million

Builder | DiamondSchreiber Homes Inc., Highland Park, Ill.

Architect | SGE & Associates Inc., Naperville, Ill.

Interior Designer | Richard Menna Interior Design Ltd., Chicago

Golf Room Designer | Green to Tee Golf Academy/Golf to Business Team Building, Northbrook, Ill.

Home Automation | AllSmart Solutions Inc., Libertyville, Ill.

Luxury spec-built residence

Major Products Used | Appliances: Viking (range), Thermador (ventilator), Sub-Zero (refrigerator/freezer), Bosch (dishwasher), KitchenAid (microwave, disposal), Dacor (warming drawer), U-Line (ice-maker, wine cooler), GE (washer, dryer) | Countertops: limestone | Cabinetry: Wood-Mode | Plumbing Fixtures: Harrington Brass, Concinnity, Kohler, Franke, Perrin & Rowe, Kallista, Toto, Grohe | Interior Doors: TruStile | HVAC: Carrier | Lighting: New Metal Crafts | Windows: Hurd | Exterior: brick, limestone | Roofing: slate | Digital Video Coaching System: Interactive Frontiers | Putting Green: Mirage Putting Greens International



Jim Diamond and Susan Schreiber used to be in real estate. To see how this has made them better builders, read "Welcome to the Neighborhood".



Fore Everybody


The video training system in this room includes a Sony computer, a Panasonic digital video camera and digital video coaching software from Interactive Frontiers. The room also contains training equipment such as a swing mirror and weighted golf clubs.

Joe Bosco, president of Northbrook, Ill.-based Green to Tee Golf Academy, is a busy man these days. When he's not on the course, working with students, or running the company's business-oriented adjunct, Golf to Business Team Building, he finds time to design indoor practice facilities, including driving ranges and putting greens, for upscale residential applications.

"At-home golf practice facilities are the natural outgrowth of the older dome and indoor driving range concepts, and they have really caught on in popularity today," Bosco says. "Lots of people want this option in their homes."

The swing analysis equipment can be customized to assess any swing-related sport, including softball and tennis, says Bosco, although golf-oriented rooms remain the most popular choice of homeowners.

"People are using golf as much for business as for pleasure these days," he says. "I also see it as the ideal family game because everyone does not need to be at the same level in order to enjoy it together. With the high-tech feedback technology and video analysis systems available today, people can learn more about their swing from an indoor practice room than if they were outdoors."

Creating an indoor golf room involves more than simply putting up nets and plugging in a projector, Bosco says. For the best results, the special function of the space should be taken into consideration at the initial design stages of the home.

Architect Sergio Estenssoro agrees. "If you are planning specific uses for the lower level of a house, you have to plan that space ahead of time so that necessary structural support elements will not interfere with the function of the rooms," he says. "You really want to be able to maximize open space and not have a column breaking up the middle of a room."

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