A Not-So Empty Nest

Chicago-area architect Charles Page is particularly sensitive to what his market is looking for in a house-luxury, comfort, and plenty of room for visitors.

November 01, 1999

Because his lifestyle requirements match those of the affluent empty-nesters he designs and builds homes for, Chicago-area architect Charles Page is particularly sensitive to what his market is looking for in a house-luxury, comfort, and plenty of room for visitors.


Architect Charles Page designed and built this 7000-square-foot European-style home as his own personal residence. Cherry cabinetry and trim in the main-floor library (below) add warmth and sophistication. A tiered, volume ceiling dramatizes a Romeo-style balcony that provides an overlook into the home’s office space.

As an empty-nester, Page knows exactly the features he finds most desirable and has incorporated them into his own personal residence. As the eighth home he has designed and built for himself over his career, this European-style home in Winnetka, Ill., perfectly suits his needs and tastes.

"The design of this home fits the trend for the empty-nester market," Page says. This includes the incorporation of the latest in technology and luxury features, a low-maintenance exterior, and a "must" for this type of home buyer-the potential for single-floor living.

Although the 7000-square-foot house features three floors of living space, with four bedrooms upstairs and another on the basement level, it is the main-floor location of the master suite that gives its floor plan the flexibility empty nesters are looking for.

In addition to the master suite, Page’s home also features a spacious library and central great room on the main level. "The living room has all but disappeared these days. It’s now the great room in many new homes," Page says. "The great room is so popular because it provides a comfortable gathering spot. Typically, the openness of this space encourages interaction between other areas of the house."


The home’s central great room features a dramatic, 14-foot tray ceiling accented by crown molding. Elliptical cutouts above the Palladian windows direct natural sunlight into the spacious room that also features a cut limestone fireplace.

Page’s design for his latest home concentrates the second-floor bedrooms over the home’s midpoint, directly above the master bath, mud room and garage. This allowed him to give key living areas dramatic, volume ceilings. The exception to this is the formal dining room, which features a ceiling that is purposely lower in order to establish a cozy, intimate ambiance.

Page operates his Northfield, Ill.-based firm, Page Builders, with assistance from his three grown children Steven, Russell and Catherine. Reflecting this close family connection, Page wanted his new home to not only suit his empty-nester lifestyle, but also be one that his children and grandchildren would feel comfortable visiting. In addition to the extra bedroom, his fully finished, 1800-square-foot basement includes a spacious informal recreation area, a full bath and a game room with eight arcade games.

The $2.6 million home was completed in Spring 1999.


The L shape of the kitchen creates a clear visual distinction between the meal preparation area and the dining space without impinging on the room’s open design. A brick hearth fireplace serves as a cozy conversation spot. Maple cabinetry features a color wash stain and glazed finish combined with granite countertops. Maple beams accent the room’s 12-foot ceilings. Floors are red oak. Page’s master bath features an automatically filling spa tub, steam shower and dual vanity. Cove molding and recessed lighting accent the ceiling. Marble-finish Corian countertops match the tumbled marble tile floor.

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