March 19, 2008

Restoration Continues at Sweet Home Chicago

I do windows !

Stained Glass Staircase Window

The little alcove in the photo above has a built-in oak bench where I'm told by old timers in the neighborhood young men had to cool their heels while waiting for their girlfriend to make an entrance from the staircase above . The windows above it are not stained glass but hand painted by me because I dislike drapes or shades.

The original stained glass window on the staircase ( 2nd photo ) was in poor condition with many of its pieces pulled away from the leading. I removed the window and took it to a local craftsman who soldered all the pieces together. This is the only full length stained glass window in the house and it is truly lovely, especially when the sun from the East shines through the glass and the jewel like glass sparkles.

In researching the history of our American Foursquare we learned that it was built by a banker in 1904 at the cost of $5,000. For that amount, which was a lot in those days, the finest materials were used - oak throughout and plaster walls and ceilings.

When we purchased the house the former owners had done a 1950' s "remuddling " on it -dropped ceilings, linoleum tile on top the oak floors, flocked wallpaper, and cheap dark wood panelling covering the original plaster walls. Little by little over the years we have worked to remove all the signs of past indignities to restore the grand old lady to its former glory.


  1. That is a beautiful fortunate the previous owners hadn't replaced it. Your home is lovely.


  2. Thanks, Gail. We sure are fortunate that the previous owners didn't replace the important pieces of craftsmanship, nor did they paint the oak woodwork.

  3. Good for you! I think it's wonderful that you're restoring the original beauty of your home, Carolyn. And it truly is beautiful.

  4. Thank you, Nancy ! I've enjoyed seeing the results of our hard work.

  5. looks great! I'd love to see a closeup of your handpainting work on the window. Do you know how many of the crafsman homes were made in Chicago?

  6. I love how warm oak woodwork makes a house feel. Your staircase and stained glass window are beautiful. I know how much work it takes, I have restored two houses. Never again. The next one will be new.

  7. Thanks, Joyce. Did you click the photo to enlarge it ?

    The American Foursquare craftsman house is one of the most popular in America and its said that there is one on just about every block in Chicago !

  8. I know how you feel , Vonlafin. There'll be no next one for me unless its the old folks home and I'm trying to stay out of there. I'm planning on going out of here feet first ( God willing and the creek doesn't rise !)
    I hope I've inherited my Mother's genes because all her sisters lived to be in their 90's and kept house up until the day they died.

  9. i found your blog and started reading it when i went looking for chicago/urban gardening blogs. I'm particularly interested in native and prairie plantings in case you ever happen to come across any other resources-- i'm just getting started.

    Regardless i wanted to say that i've been loving your restoration pictures. Can you provide any detail or resources on how you painted your windows-- the ones that look like stain glass? We have a house from 1890 and there is one window in particular that would do wonderful with this treatment!


  10. Hi Tamra and fellow Taurean. Welcome to Sweet Home and Garden Chicago.

    A good resource that I'd recommend is

    I'm happy to give you the details about my technique. I must first warn you though that I did it free hand without a pattern ( being an artist helps :) I used special paints made for painting on glass, drew the diamond shaped leaded glass pattern and then filled it in with a diluted mixture of white and a tiny dab of black to produce the opague color you see.

    If you go on-line and google " faux painted stained glass window " you'll find many resources.

  11. What a wonderful idea. Much nicer than drapes or blinds, and a perfect fit with the style of your home. You're a woman of many talents Carolyn.

  12. I'm glad that you found a "home" in Chicago!

  13. the pictures of your home are just lovely....from the wabi sabi copper sink cover to the wonderful to have such a gorgeous old home to renovate.....


  14. I am lucky, indeed, to have such a wonderful home. When we bought it back in '68 it was a complete disaster and needed a lot of love and attention which we gave it over the following 4 decades.


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