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Tactile Side of a Home


Several years ago, my wife and I were searching for a new home to raise our ever-expanding family. We were living in Chicago, near Wrigley Field, and had renovated our home top to bottom — but it was small. Our first thought was to move to a nearby suburb, where homes and lots were a little bigger and where the schools offered more, as well.

About this time, my wife’s Aunt Mary told us about a home in her northwest Chicago neighborhood that was going to go up for sale. The Edgebrook area of Chicago is a sturdy community with brick bungalows and Georgians with nice size lots, but I was not sold. I had spent most of my time building and renovating homes in the suburbs that we were considering and had a good feel for a few homes that would be great fixer-uppers. My wife said, Let’s just go and look and see what the home is like.

We drove up to the home, which was still owned by the original owner, a widow who had built the home with her husband in 1941. Walking up to the yellow brick home, I could tell that is was very well maintained. We knocked on the door and Mrs. Lang, the owner, welcomed us in. As I entered, I closed the 2 1/4-inch-thick door behind me, and it closed with a solid “thunk.”

I bent over immediately and whispered in my wife’s ear, “This is the house.” She quickly turned and said, “We haven’t even seen it yet.” But I knew.

As we toured the house I could see the great pride that Mrs. Lang had for her home. As we went about it, I looked at all the finishes. From the impressive front door to the interior trim, this home was built well with thick, tasteful finishes. The combination of the materials and design not only made the home look good but felt good as well.

Years ago I was given the advice that when you buy a home, look for one with charm. As a builder it is something I tried to bring into every project. Whether you are building a new home or adding on, spend some time to consider some of the things you will touch on a daily basis in that home. The front door is the first point of contact for you and your guests. Spend a little more on the thickness, the design, the hardware that goes into that feature.

The same is true for interior doors, door hardware, and the quality of the trim around it. And if there is a banister, make sure it is the right size, feels smooth to the touch, and feels sturdy as you either ascend or descend the stairs.

To me the feel of a home is just as important as the look.