This year, The Winnetka Woman’s Club Annual Housewalk will take attendees through six outstanding Winnetka homes. Sheridan Road got an exclusive sneak peek into this historic Howard Van Doren Shaw estate that is sure to amaze all the attendees.
Photographs by Jon Cancelino
The Halstons were casually looking for a new home when they happened upon the historic Howard Van Doren Shaw estate that was too special to pass up. Now the family’s carefully restored, updated, and well preserved landmark home will be featured in The Winnetka Woman’s Club Annual Housewalk, “Lifestyles,” on Wednesday, May 26. The six homes selected represent North Shore living in various degrees of decorative and architectural significance.
Built in 1926, the country-style home received landmark status from the Village of Winnetka in 2007. But rather than turn it into a showplace, Kirsten Halston wanted the family’s house to be a home, where their three children could run around with friends.
“I have used all the colors found in nature and am very fond of green,” says Kirsten. “I like to use it throughout the house in different shades and textures.” The natural colors enhance the relaxed and friendly feeling of the home. Sisal area rugs add a slightly casual feel to the main floor, including the formal living room.
“In the entry hallway, I brought in some soft shades of yellow mixed with soft greens,” says Kirsten. An interesting technique used on the walls in both the entry hall and the formal dining room adds an old-world charm and depth to the rooms. Kirsten explains that after the walls were painted a flat color, they were marbled with actual marble dust, and finished with a matte wax.
“I really feel that these colors work best because I did not want the colors to compete with the outside gardens,” she explains. “I wanted to take advantage of the abundant light, and for the inside to be in harmony with the outside and nature.”
A highlight of the tour, the grand and formal entry hall that is just off the foyer, is indeed abundant with light, even on an overcast Midwest morning. The entry hall, perhaps better described as a receiving area, is reminiscent of that in The Sound of Music, where guests dressed in evening wear gathered to mingle over champagne prior to parties and dinners.
Graced with a sweeping spiral staircase, the room features high ceilings, a large bowed window at the front of the hall, and a conservatory at the back, lending breathtaking views to what is already a room to be remembered. A Waterford spindle, original to the home, adds an elegant touch to the base of the stairway, although this is one piece that Kirsten puts away for safekeeping when not entertaining or opening her house.
The completely renovated kitchen is every cook’s dream. “We didn’t add a lot of space,” says Kirsten, “but reconfigured the old floor plan.” The spacious and light mud room features solid oak beams and benches, and full closet-size lockers.
But the pantry and the butler’s pantry are especially well-thought out and inviting. Martha Stewart would be envious of the ample white cabinets, shelving, and drawers that serve a myriad of kitchenware. A bit of detailing and scalloping around the woodwork adds a feminine touch, and the lighting fixtures, while new, are a 1920s style. In the butler’s pantry, original cabinets and a distressed nickel sink add character.
If all of that isn’t enough, the backyard boasts a pool, pool house, tennis court, and garden shed. Stone walls around the property look as if they were indeed hand-stacked 90-odd years ago. Kirsten remarks that it is so much more colorful and lush in the summer months, adding to the sense of the outside coming in.
The Winnetka Woman’s Club 2010 Annual House Walk, “Lifestyles,” is scheduled for Wednesday, May 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $55, purchased prior to May 19, and $60 thereafter. They may be purchased by mail or in person with cash, check, Visa, or MasterCard, or by phone with a Visa or MasterCard. Tickets are picked up on Wednesday, May 26 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Winnetka Woman’s Club, 485 Maple Street (corner of Oak and Maple) in Winnetka. During the day, lunch will be offered at a private country club between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. for $35. Advance reservations are required.
For more information, call 847-446-1830, visit www.winnetkahousewalk.org, or contact Mary Lou Bilder-Gold at 847-446-4140, or Jeannie Balsam at 847-242-0844.
(Left: This Howard Van Doren Shaw home is balances by the symmetry of its design; Right: The formal entry hall is filled with natural light coming through large windows on both its external walls)