Alison Victoria, the star of The Windy City Rehab, definitely knows how to end Season 3 of his show in style. In the “Ground Up” ending, she not only renovates but also builds what she says is her best home.
With a $1.5 million budget and carte blanche to do whatever she pleases, she flippantly exclaims, “I’m in complete control. I’m designing the most beautiful house I’ve ever made in Chicago! This will be the home for every magazine. I will really let them fight for it!”
It’s “the biggest new build I’ve ever built in Chicago,” she adds. A small house on a large lot collapses and, as the title of the episode suggests, she builds it from scratch.
She’s going to add luxury amenities like a sauna, wine cellar, bar/lounge, atrium, and the finest finishes and antiques to make it look like the luxury home that has always been.
As we prepare for the big finale, we realize that there are a lot of great ideas in this new build. Check out Victoria’s masterful makeover and you might be inspired to try some of her tricks!
Sometimes it makes sense to start from scratch
While a house can be attractive and old-fashioned, sometimes it’s best to just let it go. So it is with this house.
“It has some major structural damage, so it makes more sense in this case to do new construction so you can get the ceiling height you want, you can get the square footage you want,” Victoria says.
It also allows her to dig a new, spacious basement that will house a bar, relaxation room and sauna.
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Atrium is back!
Remember those mid-century modern homes in the 60s and 70s that had interior atriums or glass-walled rooms, pots on the ground, and skylights overhead where a tropical plant paradise flourished? Well, the atrium is back, but with some new features that make it cooler than ever.
This is a city house, and although it is on a relatively large lot, it is still close to other houses, and there is no huge lawn in front of or behind it. In addition, the weather in Chicago is not conducive to growing more delicate plants outdoors.
So Alison designs “a custom two-story atrium with floor-to-ceiling windows and a glass roof.”
Moving on to yet another superlative, she says, “This is one of the most ambitious structures we have ever built in an apartment building. This is a statement. Your eye goes up. You have this nature, this oxygen and this life inside the house.”
With balconies and windows overlooking the two-story atrium, it’s truly a stunning sight.
First, inspect “mechanism and electricity.”
In this episode, we learn a new phrase: “mech and elec”, which refers to mechanical and electrical work inside the house.
In new construction, it is absolutely essential to “check structural members for mechanical, electrical and plumbing work prior to coating and concealing,” Victoria explains.
This must be done before the drywall has risen, otherwise you will have to rip it out. Victoria doesn’t even think about finishing until these checks are complete.
Control the environment with lighting
“I am a control freak,” Victoria admits. “That’s why lighting is my favorite thing to do. Because you can control it. You can control the temperature, you can control the mood with a simple dimmer.”
That’s why Victoria spends a lot of time looking for the perfect fixtures (she’s especially obsessed with sconces) and installs a lot of recessed lights in ceilings, walls and even floors.
Every powder room should be a “moment”
Come to think of it, the bathroom is one of the rooms in your home that guests use the most. Therefore, this is a great place to impress.
“Shower rooms should be the moment for your guests when they can’t stop talking about it,” Victoria says.
In this project, she does her best in the restroom.
“This dressing room is the perfection of a dressing room, from the hand-painted fresco to the lamp,” created by an Italian artist in the 1950s.
Fence can look like art
For this unique home, Victoria has created special iron panels that provide privacy while still giving passers-by a little “peep-in” effect.
“I hate to call it fencing,” she exclaims. “This is art!”
Instead of gates, Victoria uses antique wooden doors that open onto the patio, which gives them a special appeal, and they can also be appreciated from the inside looking out.
How is the rehabilitation of the Windy City going?
Jim, the client, didn’t look into his new home when it was being built, so he’s overwhelmed by the finished product.
“Things on paper were interesting,” he says. “But when you see their embodiment in reality, it is impossible not to be impressed. The level of care and detail that the team showed was impressive.”
We agree and can’t wait to see how she tries to top him next season.