houses is all the rage these days, but not many have the wherewithal or the courage
to tackle homes in high-end communities like Wynstone in North Barrington. Imagine
spending more than $1 million to buy a home in a golf course community, tearing
it apart so you could fix it up and then trying to sell it at a profit.
Tauke of New American Homes in Hawthorn Woods is doing just that. Tauke gave a
tour behind Wystone's gates, and shared some of her secrets.
active new-home builder for decades, Tauke has the confidence to rip out two-story
fireplaces and move them a few feet or build additions so a home will have a larger
family room or a fifth bedroom. On the other hand, she refuses to spend $3,000
extra just to get a trendy brand name on her stainless steel appliance, recycles
kitchen cabinets and even adds a few from IKEA. It must be her Iowa roots.
Wynstone houses have amazing stories. The first one glowed in pink from carpet
to countertops to wallpaper - enough wallpaper that four men spent six weeks removing
it, even from the closets. Tauke dubbed another house "Austin Powers meets Hugh
Hefner." Think sunken bar right inside the front door and secondary bathrooms
with whirlpool tubs large enough for six people. On top of that, almost nothing
in the house worked. Now, it's listed for $2.3 million.
is working on a home with a fabulous view - lake and golf course - that was not
maximized from the family room. She paid $1.5 million for this one and thinks
the lot could be worth as much as $1 million. Eventually she will try to sell
it for about $3 million. A Tudor for sale now for just under $2 million needed
the family room extended - and the basement under it dug out. "People buying these
big houses don't want to tackle the work needed to bring them back," said the
remodeler. "Because they're so big, it becomes very, very expensive." In fact,
Tauke said she spends at least $500,000 on each of the homes she rehabs.
the formerly pink home has sold, and that one got two bids above Tauke's asking
price. Two more homes recently went on the market through her real estate company,
which can be reached at www.newamericanhomes.us.
fourth is under construction. Tauke said the key is buying homes in great locations
at the right prices. She thinks others are on to her Wynstone system, and she
might have to work her magic in another geographic area next time. "Many of these
homes are really just big tract houses. They have cheap cabinets and laminate
countertops. All these new products are really what's driving this thing," Tauke
The first residents moved into Wynstone 18 years ago. Tauke believes within five
years the community will see teardowns. Here are some of her secrets.
Limestone. Yes, Tauke got a deal on a lot of limestone, but it's certainly an
elegant way to make homes neutral. For example, when she toned down the Austin
Powers house and moved the fireplace, she installed a whole wall of limestone
in the great room. And most of her Wynstone bathrooms are sheathed in it.
flooring is another important material. Get rid of that carpeting.
The kitchen in the Tudor achieves personality with an island that's almost 9 feet
long and upper-end cabinets from the Plain & Fancy line. On the other hand, it's
all neutral but warm, from the creamy finish on the cabinets to the soft look
of the limestone tiles on the floor.
Tauke consults people from architects and interior designers to real estate brokers
- and especially landscape architect Pam Self of Lake Zurich - she selects all
the finishes herself.
Identify the home's big problem that has kept it from selling and fix it. The
Tudor's family room was too small, it didn't have a basement, and perhaps worst
of all, the fireplace blocked the view of the first tee. No longer. Not only is
the room larger with only windows between it and the golf course, it has a basement
underneath it. Digging out the basement was the hardest part of the renovation,
to the experts and give the home what buyers in this price range are looking for.
The Austin Powers house has an addition because Tauke has learned these homes
need five bedrooms. And separate baths are important for all bedrooms, she said.
Homes need basements
or lower levels for home theaters. Wine cellars are another popular feature.
skip the little things. In the home Tauke's working on now, Self recommended moving
the fence around the swimming pool down the hill so people looking from the house
would have a clear view of the lake and course. Tauke is using white vinegar to
hone the marble floor in the huge entry, and she's replacing small dark granite
pieces with mosaics. "Shiny gray marble is not as in as honed," Tauke said.
While she certainly does more than decorating, that's important, too. Thus the
Austin Powers house no longer has Plexiglas stair railings or black bamboo wallpaper
in the master bathroom, not to mention mirrors everywhere in the bedroom.
you can't sell it on eBay like Tauke did with the pink name-brand carpet, donate
items like usable appliances to charity.
2006 Daily Herald.