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The Crazy House

Our moving timeline just got condensed. I figured we’d take a few weeks to stage our home and paint a couple of rooms to prepare for it for sale. We would have time to get everything ready without making ourselves too crazy, and without losing much sleep. Then we fell in love with a house. I’m not going to share it here yet, because we can’t make a serious offer on it until our house has been listed. Meanwhile, I’m nervous that we’re going to lose it!

Our listing agent is familiar with our house from the blog (isn’t that a funny thing?), and she has given us some advice for selling the place. She’ll be coming out assess it in person this week, and then we’ll try to get it on the market as soon as possible.

Here’s one house that we looked at, and have passed on. It’s a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home with 2500 sq. ft. in the Ridgeland Historic District. (It’s adjacent to the Frank Lloyd Wright district, but we’d be happy with either area.) We’ve been referring to it affectionately as “the crazy house.”

237 S Euclid Ave, Oak Park, IL
237 S Euclid Ave, Oak Park, IL

If you live in town, you’ve probably spotted it. It’s a large Victorian — rambling, and distinctive. You might wonder, with a house that looks like that on the outside, if the inside matches. Oh, it surpasses the exterior. The people who lived here obviously loved their home very much. They just had a unique design aesthetic.


There are asbestos pipes running throughout the place though, and it needs all new plumbing and electrical work. The basement looks like it takes on water (though we can’t be sure). The kitchen needs to be redone, in addition to all of the other cosmetic work throughout the entire house, and it probably gets pretty warm inside during the summer. We’d also need to add a fence, and likely tear down the more dilapidated of the two garages on the property. The house is being sold as-is.


Despite its flaws, Brandon and I both really like the place! It has a lot of potential to be an amazing house. It would be expensive though. I love a good DIY project, but much of the work to be done there needs to be done by professionals. It would also be time consuming, and we can’t take on a renovation of that scale right now. Not with two little kids underfoot. And that’s why we passed on the crazy house.

All right, I’m off to make the basement more presentable. Gotta make sure we don’t earn any unfortunate monikers of our own.

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  • Shelley
    May 27, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Yep, know that house. Love the big wraparound porch! Best of luck with your home-buying plans. I hope all goes well!

  • Stephanie Precourt
    May 27, 2013 at 11:52 am

    This looks so much like a house we almost bought last year in Ohio. We were in LOVE with it and it was actually in a registered historic district called Ridgewood. It even had an old maid’s quarters on the top floor and secret closets. We ended up passing on it with heavy hearts because of the schools but little did we know we’d be moving to Oregon within months! It all worked out in the end; it was meant to be I guess. (But I loved touring those homes- I had to trade the idea of historic/Victorian home for a beach house)- Best to you on your next move!


    • Making it Lovely
      May 27, 2013 at 12:58 pm

      Love a good house with secret closets.

      (Thanks, Steph.)

  • Pencils
    May 27, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Love it! We saw a lot of houses like that during our house hunt. “Like that” as in very cool, interesting, would love to redo it, but way too much work with a small child and more money than we’d have to fix it up. My neighborhood has a bunch of Victorians and turn-of-the-last-century houses that were last significantly fixed up in the 1950s, usually with a 70s veneer. I love the 50s, love the 70s (although I remember it a bit too well) but they were just too much work. It’s too bad.

    Hopefully that house will be bought by someone who appreciates it and won’t tear it all to shreds in name of “modernizing” it.

    • Making it Lovely
      May 27, 2013 at 1:04 pm

      I suspect someone will come in and restore it — I doubt it will get opened up or changed in a significant structural way.

  • Allison
    May 27, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    Oh my those rooms remind me of a condo I looked at while searching for my current place. The upstairs of the condo was perfectly normal but the basement had been made into like a…very german pub/bar, complete with carved wood beams and other decor. It was very interesting. Needless to say, I passed on that one.

  • Lydia
    May 27, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    That’s hilarious! I was in that home during their Estate Sale. I thought the same thing, tons of potential but tons of $$$!

    Good luck on your hunt!

    • Making it Lovely
      May 27, 2013 at 12:19 pm

      What was the estate sale like!? I’m so curious about what the house looked like, and what kind of furniture it had!

      • Lydia
        May 27, 2013 at 6:47 pm

        Really eclectic on the boarder of hoarding. I got a kick out of the “bridge” in the back yard. What was it listed at? So curious!

      • Making it Lovely
        May 27, 2013 at 8:55 pm

        $499,000. It’s a great price for such a big house, but it will need a LOT of work, and expensive work at that.

  • Helen
    May 27, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    So much potential, I cant understand why you are passing it up!! I have been in your position before on more than one occasion, if its meant to be its meant to be,

    • Making it Lovely
      May 27, 2013 at 1:05 pm

      There are so many beautiful homes here in Oak Park. We’re passing on this one, but I’m sure we’ll find something else equally interesting. (Probably a lot more staid though!)

  • Emily
    May 27, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    We are preparing to put our house on the market in a couple of weeks as well! I would love to hear some of the things your Realtor advises you on. It’s hard getting a house ready to sell, trying to “depersonalize” spaces and declutter. Help!

    • Making it Lovely
      May 27, 2013 at 1:06 pm

      The crazy thing is that our realtor (both agents I’ve talked to, actually) are advising us not to do much. Our house is already well positioned to sell in this market, and I think I want to do more to it than they want me to! I’ll write more about the process after we’ve had our in-person consultation.

  • Chris
    May 27, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    What an amazing place, but wow, that would be a lot of work/money. Just out of curiosity, how much can/does your husband do with the remodeling? It sounds like you most of the painting, but he is pretty handy too, yes?
    Oh, and I am curious about house prices in your area. I live in Southern CA so I always assume that houses are terribly expensive. How much was the crazy house listed for?
    Good luck with getting the place you’ve fallen for!

    • Making it Lovely
      May 27, 2013 at 12:57 pm

      I have more remodeling experience (My dad was a handyman and I was his assistant), but Brandon helps a lot. I just have to explain or show him how to do the work first.

      Houses are expensive here compared to farther out in the suburbs, but they’re not as high as California’s real estate. The house above is listed for $499,000. It probably needs $100K+ worth of work, and could sell for $750-800K, finished. We’re not looking for a home to flip though — we want to stay in our home for a long time.

      • Chris
        May 27, 2013 at 1:09 pm

        It is so interesting to see the difference in prices around the states, suburbs/urban areas, fixers/flipped, etc. We’ve finished most of our renovations and maybe would want to move to a larger place if it weren’t so expensive in our area.
        Oh, also wanted to tell you that after I asked you about the Brockway sink you mentioned in a bathroom post, we used it in our bathroom remodel:
        Thanks for being our inspiration!

      • Making it Lovely
        May 27, 2013 at 8:57 pm

        It looks great! You’re whole house does. And I love that sink so much. That, and the one in my laundry room (that I’m really going to miss) are my two favorite sinks, hands down.

  • J
    May 27, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    Know the house! For your followers that don’t live in Oak Park, a house like this that is sold “as is” and needs tons of work not to mention asbestos removal, lists for $500K. Oak Parkers love their community enough to pay these crazy prices for crazy houses! Somedays I feel like Tom Hanks in “The Money Pit” when he’s stuck in the floor singing the name game song! But I still love my old Oak Park home. Good luck with your house hunt. Can’t wait to see you put your great design aesthetic into another Oak Park Home!

    • Making it Lovely
      May 27, 2013 at 9:03 pm

      Ah, these old Oak Park houses. The Money Pit can hit a little too close to home with some of them!

  • Tiffany Grant-Riley
    May 27, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    I know exactly how you feel re finding the perfect house for you. We found ours last year, sold at Christmas…then the sale fell through at the start of the year, but funnily enough we weren’t too cut up about it (although we were extremely miffed at the way the seller took it off the market-let’s just say she didn’t bother to tell us until we saw it re-listed at a higher price with another agent. ARGH!) Anyway, we were relieved in a way because it turned out we were both having little nagging doubts. Four months on we’ve moved into an amazing rented property in a gorgeous town in Kent and, although we have to stop thinking about the major structural work we’d love to do on the house, I’m learning how to make a beautiful home from a rented property which is a challenge in itself. Happy house hunting!

    • Making it Lovely
      May 27, 2013 at 9:28 pm

      My mom keeps saying “everything happens for a reason.” I love the house we’re hoping to buy, but even if it doesn’t work out, I’m sure we’ll find a great place with different challenges to take on.

  • Leslie
    May 27, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    OMG! I grew up a few blocks from the crazy house. It started out as a normal home and was sadly a case of over remodeling over the years. And this dates back to the 1980s. I’m sure the people who lived there were lovely, but lacking in the inner voice to tell them to stop fiddling and adding just one more thing. I still live in town (we are in South OP too). Your home is lovely, inventory is low, and prices are coming up. So get ready to move soon! Best wishes to you.

    We are hoping to move next Spring, so I can’t wait to see how you do! I think you will be in a new home by fall if not sooner.

    • Making it Lovely
      May 27, 2013 at 9:30 pm

      I think that as long as we don’t price the place too high (tempting, because we think the moon of this place!), it should sell quickly. It really does feel like a good time to buy/sell a house. Good luck to you when you start your search!

  • Megan @ Rappsody in Rooms
    May 27, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    Wow! Crazy house for sure. I totally agree with you on the potential for the house though. It would be a fun one to update. I also kind of dig that pink floor!!

    • Making it Lovely
      May 27, 2013 at 9:31 pm

      I know — I’m kinda into it too. It wouldn’t be the first thing I rip out, but it’s a little funky (and not just in the design sense).

  • Lianne
    May 27, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    I’m glad your agent is telling you to do very little. We sold our house ourselves (who knew it better than us?) and figured the people who bought it would buy it because they shared our aesthetic. It sold in two days to a family who loved it because of that and because they could tell how much we loved it. I made a little book that held stories of the house – ours and from the previous two owners. They loved having the history. They became our friends and we still visit our old house.

    I think so much of our world is impersonal and sterile – people crave and appreciate the human connection. Selling your house can be a chance for connection, even if it’s brief, rather than just a business transaction.

    • Making it Lovely
      May 27, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      That’s so sweet! Maybe we should make a little something for our house. I know I’ve really liked that when looking at some of the other homes for sale.

  • Catherine
    May 27, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    That house is lovely, but I think it would be difficult to live in an historic house. In Texas, homes that are designated with historic symbols are subject to strict decorating guidelines and many must be “shown” as tours during the year. There’s a gorgeous home in Georgetown, TX that I love to drive by, and it’s been on the market forever. People stop and take pictures all the time, and I think it would be hard to live there. Here’s a picture from the city website, if you are interested:

    • Making it Lovely
      May 27, 2013 at 9:35 pm

      That does sound difficult! The houses here aren’t subject to approval on any changes (interior or exterior). There are house tours of the area, but there are so many historic houses that there are plenty to choose from and you wouldn’t have to show yours if you didn’t want to.

      And that house — I can see why people stop and take pictures!

  • nicolette@ momnivore's dilemma
    May 27, 2013 at 9:00 pm


    I shuddered at the word asbestos…that’s a pricey fix! We are in the city, due north of Oak Park, but a decade ago when I was in grad school at UIC, I drove through Oak Park daily on the way to the 290, and would day dream of those lovely Victorians…

    Best of luck house hunting,

    • Making it Lovely
      May 27, 2013 at 9:56 pm

      Fixing the asbestos would be pricey, especially since it goes all the way up through the house. And it would need to be done before we could even move in. Some of the other homes we’ve looked at have it too, but only in the basement where it is easily accessible.

  • Sarah
    May 27, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    Oh my gosh – I love that pink floor! Please tell me if it’s carpet or tile or what. Now I need it.

    • Making it Lovely
      May 28, 2013 at 12:17 am

      Isn’t it fantastic? It’s carpet, and it was either in 2 bedrooms, or maybe all three upstairs. Plus the hallway, I think.

      • Sarah
        May 28, 2013 at 9:45 am

        Goodness, yes! If I were only near Chicago!

  • Caroline
    May 28, 2013 at 7:29 am

    Thanks so much for taking us with you. When’s the next house? Can’t wait. If you could possibly make this search last as long as possible it would be most entertaining!

  • Jennifer
    May 28, 2013 at 9:34 am

    Good luck selling your home! From people I’ve talked to, it seems like there is more movement out there, and realtors are actually looking for houses to sell. This house looks like a fun project, but the asbestos would freak me out too!

    • Making it Lovely
      May 28, 2013 at 11:10 pm

      We’re in a good place, apparently, as the market is strong for selling a house in our price range. It does seem like it’s on an upswing across the board, too!

  • jenn aka the picky girl
    May 28, 2013 at 11:13 am

    Ooh, this is so fun! I love looking at homes.

    I live in an historic district in Texas (though my house is small and not at all fancy – built in 1904). I love it, but it always surprises me that anything I do to the inside or out has to be approved. I have to get permits to change anything, even fencing. Yes, my house is one of the oldest in the neighborhood, and I love it, but it isn’t the type you’d think they’d get worked up about.

    That said, I do appreciate the codes for the neighborhood in general. Can’t wait to see more of your house hunting!

  • Catherine
    May 28, 2013 at 11:24 am

    Ohh nice. Yes, someone will come along and restore that lovely! Our house is about 83 years old and we had (and still have) many projects (plumbing one of them!) but it’s fun to watch it come back while preserving it’s historical elements. Good luck with your home buying/selling!

  • Rayla
    May 28, 2013 at 11:57 am

    It’s pretty tacky to post the houses you are passing on. If I were that home owner I’d be pissed you were giving it all the negative publicity and if I were that realtor, I’d stop showing to you.

    • Sarah S
      May 28, 2013 at 2:14 pm

      Oh, stop being ridiculous. Nicole said she liked the house. She’s not pointing out anything a buyer wouldn’t immediately see/ find out for themselves.

    • Making it Lovely
      May 28, 2013 at 11:14 pm

      Nobody would be surprised that the house has issues — they would know by the price it’s listed at (a bargain for the size and location). We really did like it, and strongly considered buying it! It’s just not a good fit for us right now. It’s not a remodel that could be comfortably lived through with two young kids in the house.

  • Janis Conn
    May 28, 2013 at 1:58 pm


    Little did I know I would be on the sell-house/buy-house journey with you. BE PREPARED. Our current house sold in 24 hours. Agent wanted to bring a few (8 ) buyers through before it was “market-ready” We received an offer that we couldn’t refuse. Husband and I decided to move back to WA State (from SoCal) so last week I was on a house-hunting trip in the NW. Made an offer on house #12.

    Just finished calling moving companies. Even though I’ve been through this process many times (6 states and 4 foreign countries) I haven’t made a personal move in 27 years! I guess that’s what “early retirement” and consult is all about : ).

    Good luck with your adventure. (Love the “maybe” house, but agree, a lot of work.)

    • Making it Lovely
      May 28, 2013 at 11:16 pm

      Wow, congratulations on the quick offer! Sounds like you have some fun ahead of you (early retirement!). This is our first house, so we’ve never been through the selling process before. Hopefully ours will go well too.

  • Erica
    May 28, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    We looked at that house more than 5 years ago! Then, it was still full of stuff. We called it the “crazy maritime rabbit house” because was stuffed with furniture, knickknacks and art, and a lot of them had either a ship theme or a rabbit theme. It’s probably a good call to pass that place up…there’s a lot of good stuff in OP and I’m sure you’ll find something you love!

    • Brandon
      May 28, 2013 at 7:45 pm

      Nautical vis a vis Watership Down?! I should have known! I was thinking more a quirky, fun mausoleum! I think that house was amazing and I cannot say a thing, not one thing was in bad taste, because that was from a whole another point of view. That home was that couples home and they really made it that. It was them, through and through, no matter how weird. I applaud that artistry. Plus, the world needs more mutants.

      • Brandon
        May 28, 2013 at 9:44 pm

        *whole other (E and A were not being cooperative with my brief idea of not paying constant attention to my beloved knuckleheads.)

  • Alisa
    May 28, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    I’m breaking out in a cold sweat just reading about your search ;) We moved into our current house 3 years ago, and while it’s only 55 years old (and has loads of potential) it’s required more un-exciting and aesthetically un-rewarding upgrades than you can shake a stick at… and we’re nowhere near done. I shed a tear each time I open my wallet for more insulation or a new oil line instead of an occasional table that didn’t come from a garage sale. And yes, our basement is chock full of asbestos tile too.

    When I see pictures of homes like the Crazy House, all I can think about is how many invisible parts of that house are surely as out-of-date and in need of repair as the visible parts. Gah! I think I need a Xanax now ;)

    That said, how much fun to live vicariously through you on this search!!!

    • Making it Lovely
      May 28, 2013 at 11:20 pm

      The functional but not necessarily visible updates are not so much fun to spend money on. We’ve replaced the roof and updated the plumbing here, which is great for the house, but it is nice to SEE a new table (or chair, or what-have-you).

  • Kristina
    May 28, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    We met at the preschool last Friday after the sing a long. Glad I made an introduction. Love reading your blog! There’s a gut rehab on our street 707 Carpenter. It hasn’t gone on the market yet…still has exterior work to be done. You should buy it now and pick out paint and exterior colors to make it your own! You’d be buying into play date heaven for your toddlers!!!

    • Making it Lovely
      May 28, 2013 at 11:22 pm

      We do have a house in mind that we hope to buy, but we should meet up sometime!

  • Londen@sixtyfifthavenue
    May 28, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    How exciting for you guys!! We are in the Chicago area and want to move to a neighborhood where the houses are $$$ for fixer uppers. I just don’t have the guts to sell our much loved house until I know we can swing something in the new hood. Loved seeing the inside of the crazy house, I see the potential And all the money it needs. Good luck!

  • Christina W.
    May 28, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    Urghhhh why can’t you guys move next year so I can buy your house! My fiancee has a year of school left before he will be a bonified special educator and we are looking towards Oak Park/Chicago in general as a place to start a family (partially thanks to your blog making Oak Park look like the best place ever). I wish you guys tons of luck on your home buying process and move, though! Also call me crazy (oh ho!), but that carpet is looking a lot like something you’d see in a celebrity’s home in a Domino house tour or something. I’m kind of into it but not in an “I want to put that in my house” kind of way? If it was a rug it would be awesome. Carpet not so much. Did it smell like glamorous old lady cigarettes and perfume like I imagine?

    • Making it Lovely
      May 28, 2013 at 11:24 pm

      Oak Park IS the best place ever! Or among them at least. I love it here. And that carpet is awesome — in an “I want to put that in my house” kind of way for me! The place should have had that scent, I agree. Let’s just pretend it did.

  • Christina W.
    May 28, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    PS – of the blogs I read on a regular basis, you are the third to announce a move in the last few weeks. Blogland is so much better than TV right now.

    • Making it Lovely
      May 28, 2013 at 10:57 pm

      Oh, who else? I know John and Sherry are moving again (I’m excited to follow along)!

      • Christina W.
        May 29, 2013 at 11:48 am

        Yellow Brick Home! They had an offer in on a fixer upper that fell through a few months ago, but they’ve found a new one they like and have made an offer and that’s all they’ll say about it until they know for sure this time. Don’t want to jinx it!

        • Making it Lovely
          May 29, 2013 at 1:04 pm

          Oh, DUH. I just saw Kim yesterday — I don’t know why my mind didn’t immediately go to her!

  • ashley @ sunnysideshlee.com
    May 29, 2013 at 8:56 am

    I love Oak Park and the houses are crazy beautiful and timeless! We debated moving there but my partner is eeked out by how old some of the homes are (read: needs lots of structural updating and renovations) … but it’s such a gorgeous little area!

  • Holly
    May 29, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    We looked at a few crazy houses and I’m more into the crazy houses than my husband. He really wanted something move-in ready (just add our own personal touches) but we quickly realized that we were going to need to buy something that needed a little bit of work. We actually ended up buying a house that didn’t meet all of our criteria BUT was much much less than what we budgeted for so will allow us to make an addition and renovations which we are really excited about. It is such an interesting process and I’m excited to hear/read how everything goes for you guys. Best of luck! PS – We lost 2 houses before we found “the one” but we are so happy with the one we are settling on.

  • The Dated House | Making it Lovely
    June 24, 2013 at 11:01 am

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  • Janet
    July 3, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    I thought I would like the inside more after seeing the outside but no : )

  • The New House (We Hope) | Making it Lovely
    July 15, 2013 at 12:59 am

    […] shared plenty of photos from the MLS listings from two of the other houses we had considered buying. Both of those were estate sales though, so the homes were vacant. […]

  • Alana
    August 23, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    Ahh!! We used to live right around the corner from that place! How can you miss that little bridge. Very cool to see the inside. It *is* a little nutty, but I wouldn’t kick it out of bed for eating cookies.