“With subdivisions, the days of people coming in a year before the house is ready, picking the house and model, and waiting for it to be built—are no longer the only option,” says Julie Howard, the in-house designer for Timber Trails of Western Springs, a planned community with gorgeous single-family homes, luxury townhomes, parks, mature trees, and more. “Many people want to sell their home first and try to avoid the double move. Many people don’t want to wait seven to 10 months for a new home to be built.”
That’s what drove Brian Taylor, the owner of Timber Trails Development Company, to conceptualize this new Western Springs community, which is filled with a variety of home styles that people can purchase and move into instantaneously, but they still feel like custom homes. And he’s able to achieve that with Howard’s help.
Howard, who has known Taylor for 20 years, has been remodeling homes in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs for years. She has a thoughtful design sense, really thinking about how a family might live in a house. (She has three children of her own.) Earlier this year, Taylor approached Howard to ask for help with what’s often a homeowner’s responsibility—selecting the finishes that turn a new house into a one-of-a-kind home.
The result is outstanding. Single-family homes and townhomes—including ranches, first-floor masters, and traditional two-story homes—are available at Timber Trails, and they range from the high $400s to over $1 million. The process all starts with the building plans, which Howard says have evolved a lot over the past five years. New homes in Timber Trails have larger mudrooms and large open kitchens, for example. “We start there,” Howard says. “Those two areas are the most used areas in a house.”
But that’s just the beginning. You can see so much of Howard’s influences in the finishes, from the tile to the cabinet colors to the light fixtures. “A lot of detail goes into the tile,” she says. “That’s where a lot of the personality comes in.” All the rooms in Timber Trails homes and townhouses have high design, from coffered ceilings and rustic beams to shiplap and wainscoting. Another advantage of the spec house according to Howard is that many people just don’t want to or are overwhelmed when it comes to picking all the colors and finishes on their own.
The move toward this custom-approach in already-built homes is becoming a necessity, Howard says, because homebuyers are much more educated on what they expect in a new house today. They’re seeing home tours on Houzz or Pinterest, and they know what’s on trend. “People don’t just want plain walls,” she says. “They want all this interest, and they have these ideas. And Brian is taking a new direction—attracting these buyers and giving people a more custom look.”
Overall, the community feels very established, despite being a new-construction development. One of the reasons is because Timber Trails is built on the site of an old golf course, which had tall trees and meandering trails, which remain. “It’s beautiful at night,” Howard says, when the trees and trails are illuminated with lights.
Howard says Timber Trails Western Springs offers what homebuyers today want—new-construction homes that aren’t cookie cutter and that you don’t have to wait months or years to move into. “We’re taking the time to think through a lot of details,” she says, from custom cabinetry to high ceilings to small details like the placement of electrical outlets. That’s the advantage of having an in-house designer who can collaborate with a builder on what families need and want before the blueprints are finalized.