Overview

Chicago’s residential design-build firms are setting a high standard with two trends in elegant, family-friendly dwellings. The custom home builders are buying up oversized lots in upscale neighborhoods, like the Gold Coast and Lincoln Park, and offering ready-to-build custom designs perfect for the area. In downtown highrises, as well as in neighboring North Shore suburbs, design-build firms are winning awards for their historically sensitive renovations. Whether it’s expanding or renovating an existing home or starting from scratch, these design firms are offering first-rate services from the design phase through the finished product. Ranked below are Chicago-based firms receiving attention in local and national publications, winning awards for their exemplary customer service and designs, and designing award-winning homes.

Top Custom Home Builders & Design-Build Firms

10
Leader Builders

Principals:
Peter Antonow

Address:
6327 W Dempster Street, Morton Grove, IL 60053

Contact:
847-965-0200 |
leader@leaderbuilders.com

About Leader Builders

Owner and President Peter Antonow has operated this design build firm out of Morton Grove for the past 29 years. Leader Builders Corp. offers home improvements, additions, and renovations, as well as new home design and construction. They have been featured on several episodes HGTV programming, including House Hunters Renovation. Their work has also been featured in Wall Street Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, and Trends Magazine.

Featured Projects

When a family bought two lots with a home on each, they contracted Leader Builders to more than double the size of one of the homes. The additions included a new second floor. The family then demolished the other house. Their new level includes a luxurious master bath with a large soak tub. Located within Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, the exterior of the majorly renovated property was expertly designed to blend into the block. The Chicago Tribune covered the firm’s renovation of a three-bedroom Gold Coast high-rise condo. The condo’s previous owner made structural and decorative modifications that its new occupant felt did not match the architecture of the building. Leader Building worked with Powell/Kleinschmidt Architectural firm to strip the condo down to its bones and start over. Finishing touches included custom stone and millwork, new cabinetry, and tinted solar screens for the windows.

9
A. Perry Homes

Principals:
Tony Perry

Awards:
Make It Better Magazine Best Architect and Builder

Address:
1220 Washington Avenue, Wilmette, IL 60091

Contact:
847-549-0668 |
aperryhomes@gmail.com

About A. Perry Homes

With over 30 years of experience, founder Tony Perry has been the design architect on over 400 homes, surpassing $600M in construction costs. Specializing in luxury homes in the North Shore suburbs, A. Perry Homes offers design-to-build services for remodels and new construction. They were named Best Architect and Builder for Make It Better Magazine’s Best Of lists from 2013 through 2017. They’ve also been featured in Luxe Magazine and the Chicago Tribune

Featured Projects

The firm’s custom designed home in Glencoe, Illinois was featured in Luxe Interiors and Design. The family of six takes advantage of the 8,656-square-foot space. The design offered a sensitive mix of formal and informal family areas made of durable elements for the active family, such as distressed hardwood floors. The home also features an East Coast stone fireplace. Architects Tony Perry and Kent DeReus collaborated on the design of this property, which turned out playful yet elegant, according to the family. DeReus also designed a four-level, six-bedroom lakefront property in Winnetka. With the primary focus of maximizing views of the lake, the home features a walk-out lower level onto a covered veranda and a third-floor attic with the perfect elevated view of the water. The master bath with large soak tub also features arched windows overlooking the lake.

8
Benvenuti and Stein

Design-Build President:
Geno Benvenuti

Awards:
Professional Remodeler Magazine Design Award,
Professional Remodeler Magazine Market Leader Award,
Chrysalis Awards,
Marvin Integrity- Red Diamond Achiever Award,
Village of Winnetka Preservation Award,
City of Evanston Preservation and Design Award,
Village of Glencoe Historic Preservation Award,
Village of Wilmette Preservation Award

Address:
2001 Greenleaf, Evanston, IL 60202

Contact:
847-866-6868 |
info@benvenutiandstein.com

About Benvenuti and Stein

Benvenuti and Stein offers remodel, addition, and new construction services, as well as custom cabinetry. Founder Geno Benvenuti has been designing new spaces for homes in Chicago and the North Shore area since 1977. He is currently on the board of directors for the Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse and has served as a board member on the housing and nominating committee for the Housing Options of Evanston. He is a member of TAB and Remodelers Advantage Business Roundtable Groups and has been invited as a judge for several national publication’s design awards. The most recent was participation as a judge for 2016 Kitchen & Bath Magazine Design Awards. The company runs a design center and showroom in Winnetka, as well as a custom cabinetry shop in Evanston.

Professional Remodeler Magazine awarded the firm a 2015 Design Award and a 2007 Market Leader Award. The firm has also received numerous Chrysalis Awards sponsored by Qualified Remodeler and Kitchen and Bath Design News as well as numerous Design & Preservation awards from local townships.

“Beauty achieved through balance, symmetry and clean lines along with the desire to create timeless and state of the art home environments are the motivation/ inspiration behind all my work.” – Geno Benvenuti

Featured Projects

The firm’s rehab project for a 1950s home in Winnetka won the 2016 Winnetka Preservation Award for Rehabilitation, a Professional Remodeler Magazine Design Award, and the Marvin Integrity Red Diamond Achiever Award. This massive rehab started in the home’s bones, gutting the framing of the first floor to the roof rafters. With coveted views of the lake in almost every room, the newly designed home features glass walls and an open floor plan. A Lakeview couple with young children wanted more space for their growing family. When they acquired the lot next to their property, Benvenuti and Stein were able to add a fun addition with an indoor pool, sunroom, and outdoor terrace connected to the family’s existing home by stacking French doors. The firm also moved the home’s kitchen into a combined living space perfect for the active family.

7
Foster Design Build

Principals:
Robert Berg

Address:
2661 N Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614

Contact:
312-445-9564 |
info@FosterDesignBuild.com

About Foster Design Build

Founded by Robert Berg in 2010, this firm offers custom home design and building services for residential and commercial clients. With nearly 30 years in the construction business, Robert Berg has worked on a wide range of projects, from luxury custom homes to the renovation of the O’Hare International Airport Food court. Another notable project, FDB led the renovation of Randolph Place Lofts which, at nearly 1M square feet, was the largest residential conversion in the country. The company has developed multiple properties in the trending Lincoln Park neighborhood. It has become one of the top names for custom luxury home designs, while also standing out for its dedication to historic restoration. The company has been featured in Luxury Home Quarterly, NBC News, and the Chicago Architecture Blog, among others.

Featured Projects

In 2012, Luxury Home Quarterly featured FDB’s renovation of a century-old residence in Hyde Park, which just happened to be right next door to President Barack Obama. The renovation included careful replacement of the dilapidated windows and brick facade, which needed to be approved by the City of Chicago’s Department of Landmarks. The renovation, which took the 6,000-square-foot home to 11k square feet, also added new smart features and many practical offerings, such as kid-friendly storage spaces. The firm’s Lake View East home on Burling Street was designed to be elite, from its marble fireplace to the stunning skyline view from its rooftop deck. Design of the 10k-square-foot home features an asymmetrical array of various volumes to add complexity and distinctiveness.

6
Norsman Architects, Ltd.

Principals:
Brent Norsman

Address:
1309 N Wicker Park Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622

Contact:
773-252-9448 |
info@norsmanarchitects.com

About Norsman Architects, Ltd.

This full-service architectural firm offers collaborative and sustainable-focused services for commercial, residential, and mixed-use developments. Through the firm’s construction arm, House Plant, Inc., the architects work closely with clients and subcontractors to create the best possible finished space. Founder Brent Norsman teaches at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He received his Master of Architecture degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Featured Projects

Completed in 2013, a Wicker Park home was built around a 13-square-foot sunken living space. The 5,500-square-foot home maintains a clean modern aesthetic using an open floor plan, concrete and walnut floors, and cabinetry. The open winding stairway calls attention to the beautiful pine ceiling treatment. The firm completed an adaptive re-use to an Oak Park single family residence in 2012. The project included a substantial rear addition, bringing the total square footage to 5,700. Additions include a new great room and kitchen area, a playroom, and second-floor bedrooms. A custom-made plate steel, glass, and wood stairway joins the addition to the existing structure and serves as a central point of balance. The firm moved a one-car garage to the front to the house, which opened up space at the back of the lot. The added great room uses large corner windows to take advantage of their newly claimed greenspace. Standing seam exterior siding acts as a rain-screen and redirects runoff to a rain garden.

5
Power Construction Co.

Principals:
Brandon Rogalski

Awards:
Professional Builder Magazine 40 Under 40

Address:
8750 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue, Suite 500, Chicago, IL 60631

Contact:
847-214-6483

About Power Construction Co.

Founded in 1926, Power Construction is the largest construction firm that focuses exclusively on the greater Chicago area. In the 1990s, Power created the Luxury Residence Group to focus on the design and construction of luxury-scale condos and single-family homes. Luxury Residence Group is managed by Brandon Rogalski, whom Professional Builder Magazine named in its 40 Under 40 list in 2011 while he was the senior project manager at Norcon Inc. Beyond their self-standing homes, the group has designed condos in The Waldorf Astoria, The Palmolive Building, and The Ritz Carlton Residences among many other prestigious places. The firm often pairs with other notable architecture firms and contractors to provide the best services to their clients.

Featured Projects

Working alongside Gary Lee Partners, an independent interior design collective, Luxury Residence Group completed a massive renovation of a historic Hyde Park residence in 2015. The home was originally designed by architect Henry Van Doren Shaw in 1904. Among other tasks, the project included the restoration of over 60 windows and installing a new kitchen and pantry by Parenti & Rafaelli. The firm was involved from the conceptual design phase through managing subcontractors for the work. Luxury Residence Group worked with the well-known Wheeler Kearns Architects firm to design and build a gorgeous 8,600-square-foot home in Wicker Park. The home was built around an 1880s-era coach house, which was also renovated. Among its distinctive elements, it became the first home in Chicago to install “Thermal Evolution Technology” Hopes Windows.

4
Airoom Architects Builders and Remodelers

Awards:
National Kitchen and Bath Association National Builder/Remodeler of the Year

Address:
6824 N Lincoln Avenue, Lincolnwood, IL 60712

Contact:
844-394-4646 |
webinquiry@airoom.com

About Airoom Architects Builders and Remodelers

With more than 58 years of experience, this firm has completed over 16k projects in the Chicagoland area. Airoom specializes in home additions, kitchens, and bathrooms, but they’ll build you a complete custom home, as well! They were named the 2017 National Builder/Remodeler of the Year by the National Kitchen and Bath Association. They have received additional remodeling awards from Build Magazine, The Chicago Home Book Design Competition, Professional Remodeler Magazine, among many others. Their projects have been featured in Kitchen and Bath Business Magazine and Modern Luxury Interiors Chicago.

Featured Projects

Airoom’s task for this family home in Lake Bluff was to revamp a crowded first floor with four small rooms into a more practical living space that would accommodate a busy family. The team removed load-bearing walls and moved or hid elements like upper-level plumbing. The result was an open split level, utilizing two large rooms with natural light and a more comfortable overall flow. Shortly after purchasing her two-story, 2,600-square-foot condo in Chicago, a homeowner contracted Airoom to do a major remodel. Most importantly, she wanted a more open kitchen. Other requests included a new custom staircase, new flooring throughout the unit, three remodeled bathrooms, a walk-in pantry, laundry room, office, a walk-in master closet, fireplace, wet bar, and a dumbwaiter connecting the family room to the second floor. One highlight of the kitchen upgrade is a floating soffit from which recessed and pendant lights cast the perfect mood lighting.

3
Nicholas Design Collaborative Ltd (NDC)

Principals:
Peter Nicholas

Awards:
American Licensed Architects Design Awards,
Association of Licensed Architects Award of Merit,
AIA Chicago Honor Awards

Address:
509 N Wolcott Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622

Contact:
312-243-7799 |
info@nicholasdc.com

About Nicholas Design Collaborative Ltd (NDC)

Principal Peter Nicholas, AIA, NCARB, founded his own architecture firm in 1989 and added the design/build component in 2001. The firm can now guide clients through the design phase through the building process. Before founding his own firm, Nicholas worked for two respected Chicago architecture firms: Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, and Booth/Hansen and Associates. Among the firm’s many distinctions, NDC has won design awards from the Association of Licensed Architects and AIA Chicago.

“As a 2nd generation native of San Diego, my interest in architecture started as a teenager seeing the Salk Institute by the great modernist Louis I. Kahn in La Jolla. I ended up in graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where Kahn lived and taught. I have always been inspired by the work of the early California modernists Irving Gill, Rudolph Schindler and Richard Neutra, all of which worked in Chicago early in their careers, influenced by Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright before establishing themselves in Southern California. I am always looking for ways to respectfully connect a modern expression to the urban context and history of Chicago.” – Peter Nicholas

Featured Projects

In 2015, Chicago Architect Magazine featured NDC’s Periscope House, located in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood. A complete renovation of the 1970s-era 1,200-square-foot home added two new bedrooms and one new bath to the existing two of each. The entire project raised the square-footage to 2,500. The second-floor master bedroom suite was designed with floor-to-ceiling glass, creating a periscope effect with a view of the tree-filled street. The open living space below wraps around a stunning urban courtyard. A new 5,000-square-foot Roscoe Village residence sits on one-and-a-half city lots. The home offers a subtle farmhouse façade in the front to blend into the block, but varying volumes throughout give this home a more urban, contemporary feel. The home received an Award of Merit from the Association of Licensed Architects in 2002. After 10 years, the owners decided to switch the living room and kitchen, a remodel project which was featured in Trends Top 50 American Kitchens 2012-2013 and in Kitchen Trends Magazine.

2
Moss

Principals:
Laura Cripe
Matt Nardella

Address:
2855 West Diversey Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647

Contact:
773-857-5533 |
mnardella@moss-design.com

About Moss

Moss is a full-service architecture and design studio serving residential, retail, and commercial sectors. They assist clients with site selection and design to the permitting and construction process. Moss creates site-specific designs with an emphasis on integrating natural light and air, creating and protecting green spaces, and using sustainable materials. The firm was co-founded by Laura Cripe and Matt Nardella, AIA, LEED-AP. Cripe is a certified permaculturist and urban farmer and manages the firm’s business development. A graduate of the New School of Architecture, Nardella returned to his hometown of Chicago to establish his own firm after spending a decade designing sustainable architecture in San Diego. Moss was selected to be part of Chicago Architecture Foundation’s 50 Designers, 50 Ideas, 50 Wards Exhibit. They’ve been featured in Chicago Architect Magazine and have made a number of appearances in CS Interiors.

Featured Projects

Moss’s Erie Street Loft project was Curbed Chicago’s 2011 Home Remodel of the Year. The 2,400-square-foot, two-story loft accents its industrial origins. To give it an open feel, parts of the floor have been left open, and the loft includes a glass walkway on the second floor. The loft also features a reclaimed wood fireplace, custom shelving, shoji doors, and a green roof terrace. The project has been featured in Apartment Therapy and CS Interiors Magazine. Moss’s Melrose House was also featured in Apartment Therapy. The firm renovated this single-family home to open up new space and allow more access to natural light. Customary of the green firm, the home features salvaged materials, including salvaged pendant lights and a floor and staircase made from shipping crates composed of Tropical hardwood.

1
BGD&C

Awards:
NAHB Best in American Living Award,
Home Builder Association of Greater Chicago Diamond Key Award

Address:
875 N Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611

Contact:
312-255-8300 | cgrode@bgdchomes.com

About BGD&C

In 1986, Rodger Owen and Charles Grode teamed up to form a small contracting firm serving the city’s high-end architects. After much success, they expanded their offerings to offer a complete set of design and build services. The firm focuses on the Lincoln Park and Gold Coast neighborhoods. Their houses have set records for highest selling prices of a single-family residence in the city. The firm has lots available in the neighborhoods’ hottest areas, including North Orchard Street, where empty lots go for around $3M and are ready for their $9-$12M custom-designed home. Roger Owen was recently inducted into the Merchandise Mart Hall of Fame for his contribution to the residential design industry. The firm was named Best Builders by Modern Luxury Interiors in 2017.

“A great deal of my inspiration came from summer travels all over Europe including schooling at Universite d’Aix-Marseille, France.  By taking my third year abroad at the Universidad de Madrid, Spain I was able to take a number of adventures throughout France and Italy including trips to Venice where I developed a great admiration and inspiration for the 16th-century Italian master Andrea Palladio and his classic principals—symmetry, proportion, and attention to detail.  Palladio gained his first experiences as a stone cutter and I think this is why so many of our homes have stone details inspired by the Roman style. During college, I was involved in the purchase, design, renovation, and construction of residential apartments and after graduate school, I continued in this field.  Along the way, my clients encouraged and inspired me to transition from apartment renovation work to the custom designing and building of new single-family homes and so BGD&C was born. We are proud that, over the past three decades, we have maintained the same excellent quality, service, and timeless aesthetics which makes BGD&C known as the best custom home builder in Chicago.” -Rodger Owen 

Featured Projects

BGD&C collaborated with KADLEC Architecture and Design to design and build a 13k-square-foot home in Lincoln Park. Per the client’s wishes for a mix of formal and informal living spaces, the home blends a classic French Provincial style with more casual, contemporary elements. Recreation spaces include a pool and a dedicated playroom. KADLEC focused on the interior design, while BGD&C oversaw the planning, overall design, and building portions of the project. The firm designed a 10k-square-foot Gold Coast townhome with Architect Darcy Bonner, principal of Darcy Bonner Associates. The façade is completely comprised of thousands of individual pieces of limestone, with more of the rich stone found in the main staircase. The house required specialty artisans to meet the client’s unique requests. The house was featured in Private Air Luxury Homes Magazine.

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