What makes a house a home? It’s tempting to think that selecting the finest materials, from custom cabinetry and woodwork to bespoke fixtures, countertops, and hardware, will fulfill this goal. Yet, a home is defined by the people who envision and inhabit it just as much as by the bricks and mortar surrounding it.
Such is the case of the Robert Parker Coffin-designed home and estate on Ridge Avenue in Barrington, now on the market for the first time since the home was built in 1990. While the current homeowner will be very sad to leave, she says, “I hope a family buys it and that there will be many children running through the rooms of our home.”
There is a timelessness about this very special home and property. It seems at once old and new; artfully blending classic English and French country architectural elements with the features people want in a newer home—an achievement of modern elegance at its finest, without being ostentatious.
When the homeowners decided to build in Barrington, they selected the property and spent two years designing the house with Coffin and exactingly placed the house to take advantage of the sun throughout the day. The estate is defined as much by the carefully planned and landscaped property as it is by the elegant home itself. Landscape architects with the well-regarded Brickman Group were commissioned to design multiple English-inspired gardens and a tree plan for the property, which once was wide-open horse country with very few trees. Now, the grounds dazzle from spring’s crocus to fall’s foliage when the towering canopy of mature trees (an investment of $500,000 three decades ago) explodes in color.
Two years went into the actual building of the home, and its stunning interiors are a testament to craftsmanship and attention to detail. A grand two-story entry foyer opens to the living room, which is reminiscent of an ultra-sophisticated Parisian salon, with a fireplace and French doors that open to a Juliet balcony overlooking the back gardens and lawn. Loads of windows and natural light create a natural flow throughout the main floor, achieving an open floor plan sensibility while maintaining defined living spaces, each with a purpose and character of its own.
As you walk from room to room, you can’t help but admire the gracefully arched doorways surrounded by handsome custom millwork and moldings throughout. Signature “Coffin Doors” leading to and from main rooms seamlessly disappear into the adjoining walls and blend into the woodwork. Several etched-glass custom windows add another layer of design ingenuity to the home’s overall aesthetic.
The gourmet kitchen with butler’s pantry is ideal for family dinners or for entertaining a crowd. An expansive bluestone balcony patio spans the length of the house and looks out across the gardens and the 20-acre private back property. Buyers may choose to purchase 10, 15, or 20 acres along with the house.
A highlight of the house is the library or gentleman’s study, which was custom crafted from solid cherry wood. The room—suitable for reading, working, or sipping a glass of brandy while playing backgammon—may convince you that you have been transported to Downton Abby.
Upstairs, the master suite features its own fireplace (one of five in the home) along with a spacious spa-like master bath. Beyond the family bedrooms, there is a fully equipped multi-generational apartment suitable for a nanny, live-in help, or in-laws. A second set of stairs at this end of the home leads discreetly to the mudroom and kitchen downstairs.
The walkout lower level defies expectations and provides a large portion of the home’s living space. Designed by Linda Grubb a few years after the home was initially built, it is the ultimate party and entertaining space, with a fully equipped gourmet kitchen, media room, family room with fireplace, wine cellar, and additional guestroom with full bath.
The media room itself was designed to the owner’s exact specifications. With a wool rug for sound absorption, the room is ideal for listening to opera or classical music or taking in a screening of a film that demands theater-quality viewing.
Despite its more than 11,000 square feet of living space, this house still manages to feel like a home in the best sense; perfectly harmonizing the needs of everyday life with the luxuries sought for gracious living and entertaining.
361 Ridge Avenue in Barrington Hills is currently offered at $3.4 million by the Kim Alden Team of Compass, Barrington. For more information, call 847-254-5757 or visit compass.com.