In the Windy City, a custom walnut slide offers a playful way for a small family of four to glide down to the basement.
When a Chicago couple approached architect Julie Fisher of fcStudio inc to revive their 4,600-square-foot house, they gave her a virtually blank slate. The only specific element on their wish list? A slide to make traveling from floor to floor a whimsically fun event. Although the finished result is lighthearted, the technically challenging stair-slide hybrid was the most time-consuming element of the renovation. The bespoke solid-walnut staircase, wrapped in an attractive lattice, snakes throughout the four-story dwelling. With contractor Joseph Vitulli of Top Line Construction and fabricator Luc Halupka of HL Stairs, Fisher experimented with different configurations to determine the optimal pitch and slope of the ramp, which leads only from the main floor to the basement. They ultimately decided to build it next to the wall, and slightly higher than the adjacent staircase. “It’s so beautifully integrated, like a piece of furniture,” Fisher says. “The slide doesn’t feel like it’s just applied or like it’s a toy.” After its completion, the chute instantly became a universally loved feature. “Kids are okay when they go down,” Fisher says, “but it’s the adults who fly!”
The walnut staircase and slide in a Chicago town house leads from the main level to the basement. To protect people on the ride down, a “crash pad” fashioned from a standard gymnastic mat covers the wall at the slide’s base.
Architect Julie Fisher of Chicago-based firm fcStudio inc gut-renovated a historic house in the city. Challenged with a narrow footprint—25 feet at the house’s widest and 21 feet at its most slender—Fisher worked to create a modern interior custom fit for a family of four. In addition to designing the interior architecture, Fisher selected the furnishings. A walnut staircase wends its way from floor to floor and creates sculptural moments on each level. A Honeycomb rug purchased from One King’s Lane and a Bensen Edward sofa from ID Chicago outfit the living room.
Fisher characterizes the house as having an “understated niceness” to it. “The clients wanted everything nice, but not precious,” Fisher says. “A comfortable and functional home that has hints of fun and colorful interjections—just like them.” Here, a painted wall with decals purchased on Etsy, Restoration Hardware’s Devyn Daybed, a Flokati rug from gilt.com, and custom drapery by Workroom Couture Home mix with a toy piano that’s been in the family for years.
The kitchen features many built-in and hidden features. A Miele integrated refrigerator and freezer are sheathed with custom wood panels and Sub-Zero under-counter refrigerator drawers offer extra space for chilling food. Since the family cooks a lot, Fisher worked with them to incorporate specialty appliances including a Wolf Duel Fuel range, a Wolf deep fryer set into the countertop, a Miele wok burner and dishwasher, and a Panasonic microwave. A custom hood by Best keeps the space ventilated. Calcutta Gold marble adds a striking contrast to the Modulnova cabinetry and island units are from McDuffee Design. The faucet—which boasts an extra-strong spray—is by KWC.
Lucy chairs from Bend and an Eero Saarinen Tulip base outfitted with a custom top offer places to eat and sit in the kitchen. Porcelain tile lines the floor.
Fisher advises that comfort, functionality, and durability are key to selecting furniture. “I don’t care how big your budget is, there is no point wasting money on something that looks good, but doesn’t function for you, or is easily damaged or stained,” Fisher says. In the dining room, she opted for a Cross Extension table and Profile chairs from Design Within Reach and a custom bench by JJ Woodwork. The Spillray pendants are by Axolight.
In the master bathroom, glass tile clads the shower and Carrara marble lines the floor. The shower fixtures are Hansgrohe.
Benjamin Moore’s Mustard Field paint adds a vibrant touch to another bathroom in the house.
Working is much more pleasant when you have natural light to brighten up your space. If you aren’t lucky enough to have a window, then invest in some stylish lighting.
The rear addition is clad in James Hardie’s Fiber Cement siding.