If Tyler and Danielle Lenczuk’s remodeled town house has a heart, it’s the multilevel back deck, where the young couple love to grill with friends and family in classic Chicago style. If it has a brain, however, it’s the stack of black boxes lurking behind a closet door in the basement. That’s the control tower for a home automation system that empowers the Lenczuks to adjust everything from heating and lighting to window blinds, music, TVs, and security with a few taps on their iPads. Adding it was one of the many ways architects Jeffrey Day and E. B. Min transformed a nondescript spec house into an urban enclave tailored to their clients’ personalities—although doing so required a few trade-offs.
"The goal was to make the house work the way the owners wanted it to, but to be strategic about how we did that so the money they put in was of real benefit," explains Day, whose practice the Lenczuks discovered online. The project started when Danielle moved in with high school sweet-heart Tyler to the brick town house he had purchased in Chicago’s creative Bucktown district. The duo wanted space for their art collection and for hosting gatherings with their sprawling extended family. Yet despite its voluminous 3,155-square-foot interior and spacious decks, the house didn’t serve their needs. "It looked functional, but once we lived in it for a while, it wasn’t," says Danielle, who owns a gift and paper shop. "We wanted to make it our own."
The couple liked Day and Min’s brand of comfortable modernism, and they asked the pair—who are based in Omaha and San Francisco, respectively—to select new furniture and fix up the decks, which were already showing signs of deterioration.