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The Best Residential Architects and Designers in Chicago

21 Min Read

Perhaps one of the most popular cities in the continental United States, Chicago is a beautiful city with great weather and even greater people. Beyond the numerous tourist spots and tall buildings, many people— Americans and foreigners alike—visit Chicago for its famous sports teams, recreational offerings, and gastronomic experiences. With a stable economy, lots of employment opportunities, and numerous educational institutions, it is a great choice of residence for young professionals, families, and retirees as well. Its balance of the fast city life and relaxed suburban vibe makes it an even better choice for many Americans who love to work hard and play harder.

If you are looking to build a home in the great city of Chicago, we suggest you check out this list of the best residential architects in Chicago, Illinois. These architects are experts in their craft and have decades of combined experience in designing and building beautiful, durable, and functional homes in the city to help you transform your dream home into a reality.

Wheeler Kearns Architects

343 South Dearborn St, Suite #200, Chicago, IL 60604

Based in Chicago, Wheeler Kearns Architects is a 20-person firm devoted to creating spaces that embody their clients’ purpose, energy, and vision. The practice focuses on an empathy-filled process more than a specific project type, style, or scale, resulting in a diverse and richly varied portfolio. Since its founding in 1987, Wheeler Kearns has twice been named by a national jury as AIA Chicago’s Firm of the Year. The award honors sustained outstanding achievement and excellence in a body of work produced by a firm over time.

Project by Wheeler Kearns Architects

Founded on the design of a second-home community in southwestern Michigan, Wheeler Kearns Architects has worked for over three decades creating living and retreat experiences for their clients that respond uniquely to their lives. For two empty-nesters who were deeply devoted to nurturing their land, this looked like a home that encouraged interaction with the natural elements. From sculptural features of black locust woodwork that beg to be touched as one walks by to an outdoor courtyard that sweeps nature right up to the front door, every moment of their home is designed to help them live into their purpose.


1144 West Washington Blvd. Chicago, IL 60607

Brininstool+Lynch is an award-winning architecture firm that offers design solutions for residential, commercial, and institutional projects. Founded in 1989, the firm has a strong history of creating elegant and functional designs that are contextualized to the site and personalized to the needs and ambitions of clients. Founding principal Brad Lynch has guided, developed, and created a wide range of architectural design solutions over the decades, from high-rise mixed-use developments and corporate headquarters to individual residences and master plans. His keen attention to detail and extensive knowledge result in exquisite and efficient designs that last. Founding principal David Brininstool has decades of experience in the industry and is a known pillar in the teaching and innovation of architecture. A proponent of technical innovation and collaborative culture, Brininstool merges excellent leadership and project management with architectural principles to ensure sound craftsmanship and client satisfaction.

Working for a diverse range of clients in numerous cities across different states, Brininstool+Lynch emphasizes the importance of context in design and material choices both inside and outside the home. In the modern Chicago home pictured above, the firm merged contrasting concepts in creating the perfect home that stood out yet blended in at the same time. Combining traditional with modern, the firm used both wood and glass to maximize natural lighting and offer a great view of the cityscape without sacrificing privacy and intimacy. Fusing nature with technology, the home features modern design elements and controls as well as large open areas enveloped in trees, plants, and grass. The firm’s design offers a serene and relaxing space within a busy and progressive city.

dSPACE Studio Ltd.

2920 N Lincoln Ave. Chicago, IL 60657

dSPACE Studio is an award-winning architectural design firm that offers architecture, interiors, and landscape architecture services. Core to the firm’s work is its focus on thoughtful design and innovation. Each project is customized to the individual needs of the client and their families. Beyond the science and art involved in architectural design and planning, dSPACE creates architecture that reflects people’s unique personalities and fosters human connection and interaction. Each project begins with understanding the client’s needs and objectives, which are then matched with the location and budget to create a customized design that fits the client’s preferences and lifestyle while staying within budget and schedule.

The 6000-square-foot Chicago home pictured above is a modern home with an open-plan living space, several communal and entertainment areas, and five bedrooms for the clients and their children. The homeowners wanted a modern home that offered privacy yet held a strong connection to the outdoors and ample indoor space for the family and for entertaining. dSPACE achieved this by using a mix of zinc panels, wood laminate, and glass walls. The exterior is blanketed in greenery with outdoor furniture for relaxing and entertaining. Each floor and room on the inside offers a unique venue for arts, sports, dining, and personal time. Modern materials and carefully planned design elements reveal an elegant home that is as beautiful as it is functional for all its residents and guests. The firm’s work is a masterpiece resulting from a strong understanding of architecture as well as the client’s objectives.

Dirk Denison Architects

1123 W Washington Blvd. Chicago, IL 60607

Dirk Denison Architects is an award-winning architecture firm that offers design services for residences, offices, galleries, and other living and working spaces in Chicago and New York. Core to the firm’s success is its unique approach to architectural design, which involves crafting a narrative that connects the intricacies involved in creating the best space for the specific client and their objectives for the given site. By understanding the client’s vision for the site and carefully considering options in terms of style, size, and overall theme, the firm crafts design solutions that balance the science and art behind architecture. Its designs are characterized by their uniqueness both in structure and expression because Dirk Denison does not believe in one-size-fits-all solutions. Each architectural masterpiece is a physical manifestation of the owner’s personality and caters to their unique needs, habits, and lifestyles.

The Bucktown home pictured above is an exceptional modern-industrial type home surrounded by lush greenery, which matches the urban-suburban mix feel Bucktown is known for. The L-shaped home, with its brick and stone siding and large windows, maximizes the natural lighting and breeziness that Chicago is known for. Its light-colored siding and straight lines create a stark yet beautiful contrast against the bountiful garden. Inside, exposed beams and columns offer a rustic look that is welcoming and cozy. Steel appliances, quartz countertops, and modular shelving across the home follow the modern home architectural style and emphasize simplicity with a hint of elegance. Dirk Denison’s design created a pleasant and inviting contrast between modern and industrial and between technology and nature. The design and functionality of the home aptly match the homeowners and their unique lifestyle.

Kipnis Architecture + Planning

1642 Payne St, Evanston, IL 60201

Kipnis Architecture and Planning is a multi-awarded sustainable architecture firm that offers residential and commercial design and planning services. Established in 1993, the firm bases its practice on the High Design/Low Carbon philosophy through which it creates beautiful and functional homes that are also energy-efficient and environment-friendly. The firm’s work debunks the notion that excellence in design is sacrificed when incorporating sustainability measures in architecture. Indeed, Kipnis’ plans exemplify the remarkable fusion of art, science, and the environment by using modern techniques, sustainable materials, and carefully-planned designs and layouts. Such creative yet sustainable and functional designs are delivered across different architectural styles, from traditional and historic to modern and contemporary.

The majestic home pictured above rests on a five-lot parcel overlooking the Chicago River. Kipnis specifically designed its shape and layout to maximize natural lighting and the views of the river while shielding the grounds from traffic noise. The large scale and positioning of the roof made it possible to install and operate the solar panels that help power the home. Along with its energy efficiency and emphasis on connecting with nature, the firm merged both traditional styles with modern technology in designing the home. The home’s exterior is a homage to the traditional farmhouse architectural style while the interior utilizes automation to efficiently improve lighting and ventilation. The firm’s design showcases its thorough knowledge of sustainable techniques and a wide range of design styles that allow it to merge energy efficiency with any architectural style that homeowners desire.

Morgante Wilson Architects Ltd.

2834 Central St, Evanston, IL 60201

Morgante-Wilson is an award-winning architecture firm that offers architecture, interior design, and custom furniture design. Drawing from years of experience in designing and planning homes and commercial spaces, the firm offers clients a broad array of architectural styles and design ideas that suit their needs and tastes. By listening foremost to clients’ stories and visions and understanding their preferences, Morgante-Wilson tailors striking, durable, and efficient homes that match the personalities and preferences of homeowners. The firm considers listening to clients the first duty of design and believes that listening intently leads to a truly functional and unique home.

Morgante Wilson Architects design of this single-family waterfront home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is a modern-day take on traditional Shingle Style architecture of the Northeast. This contemporary home features a dramatic catwalk that spans the home’s double-height great room, passing through the steel chimney and connecting the top-floor bedroom wings.

Project by Morgante Wilson Architects Ltd.

The great room strikes a balance between grandeur and comfort, the bridge provides a virtual ceiling allowing a more intimate feel and scale over the seating area while the double volume of the vaulted room opens up the views at the perimeter of the room. The contrast between the home’s front and rear elevations strikes a similar balance. The front elevation leans to the traditional, while the rear elevation takes advantage of the natural slope of the lot and features 3 full stories of large windows that showcase stunning lake views of Geneva Lake.

Searl Lamaster Howe Architects

500 N. Dearborn St, Suite #1050, Chicago, IL 60654

Searl Lamaster Howe Architects is an architectural design and planning firm that offers a wide range of services to clients throughout metropolitan Chicago, across the country, and in select foreign countries. Its portfolio includes master planning, renovations, and new construction for residential, commercial, and institutional clients. The firm’s unique approach is centered on its commitment to creating inspiring spaces where people live, work, and celebrate life. It collaborates closely with clients and contractors through every step of the project to ensure that the client’s vision is achieved while keeping within budget and on schedule. By listening to clients and creating with them a shared vision, Searl Lamseter Howe delivers design solutions that are functional and effective as well as beautiful and creative.

For the Eastwood Residence pictured above, the firm merged contemporary architecture design concepts with the more traditional look of the neighborhood. Using a mix of metal, brick, and glass, the firm maximized natural lighting, maintained efficiency, and offered views of the exterior. Flat interior walls, high ceilings, and modular cabinetry offer a modern aesthetic that is both easy on the eyes and functional for daily use. Brick accent walls and floating staircases further open up the space and create a soft and welcoming ambiance. Despite being bounded on both sides by equally large homes, the firm’s design allowed for adequate exposure to the outside while retaining privacy for the residents. The unique and well-designed plan shows the firm’s creativity in creating designs that respond to its context and fit in well with its surroundings.

Nicholas Design Collaborative Ltd.

509 N Wolcott Ave. Chicago, IL 60622

Nicholas Design Collaborative is an architectural design, planning, and contracting firm that serves Metropolitan Chicago and adjacent areas. Founded in 1989, the firm offers clients unique and personalized design solutions that help them achieve the optimum home or work environment. Through decades of continuing education, exploration, and fieldwork, Nicholas Design Collaborative has achieved a high level of knowledge in materials, construction techniques, efficiency measures, and sustainable solutions. This allows the firm to offer the best solutions to design issues, as well as create plans and layouts that optimize workflows and movements. Collaborating with clients and the rest of the project team, Nicholas Design Collaborative delivers personalized designs that fit the needs and visions of clients, whether for their homes or their offices.

In the Chicago residence pictured above, Nicholas Design Collaborative fused several architectural design concepts to create a unique family home that reflects the homeowner’s hometown while blending in with the surrounding neighborhood. The firm combined modernist elements with more traditional brick and stone siding and pathways so that the home fit in well with its neighbors while still showing a unique aesthetic. Glass walls and flat roofs allow the family to embrace the weather in the privacy of their own home. Carefully and thoughtfully designed private and common areas allow each family member their own space as well as areas for interaction, gatherings, and parties. The firm’s careful attention to the needs and objectives of the homeowners resulted in a durable and beautiful home that the family can enjoy for generations.

HBRA Architects

372 West Ontario St, 2nd Floor, Chicago, IL 60654

HBRA Architects offers architectural design and planning services for a wide range of clients and projects across the city of Chicago. Its personalized approach to each project gives clients a sense of intimacy and connection that is missing in most large firms. As a result, clients receive a more hands-on experience in the design and construction of their homes and living spaces. Founded in 1961, the firm has completed dozens of residential, commercial, and institutional design projects of different scopes, styles, and venues. What has remained consistent is its ability to deliver unique and personalized design solutions through a process that clients enjoy and appreciate.

In the majestic Winnetka residence pictured above, HBRA fulfilled the homeowners’ desire for a late eighteenth-century style home that flaunted a classic aesthetic while offering excellent accessibility using modern technologies. The daily living spaces and common areas are restricted to the main floor while the basement and second floor are accessible by elevators. The home features stucco siding, multiple large bow windows and circle windows, and several ornate elements that are characteristic of classic French architecture. The large lawn, fountain, and open space areas give the home a countryside look and feel that encourages rest and relaxation. HBRA’s design is as functional and accessible as it is classically elegant and breathtaking. It showcases the firm’s immense capacity for classic architecture with modern amenities and features.

Studio Dwell Architects

1135 North California Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Studio Dwell Architects is a full-service architecture firm that serves residential, commercial, and institutional clients in the greater Chicago area. Founded in 2005, the firm comprises a close group of designers with diverse backgrounds and experiences united toward the common goal of creating exceptional architecture. Studio Dwell utilizes modern technologies and contemporary methods to create design solutions that are beautiful, effective, and unique to the needs and objectives of users and residents. Prioritizing user experience and client involvement, the firm delivers exceptional designs while also allowing clients to commit hands-on and enjoy the homebuilding experience. Such interaction makes the home or office space more memorable and personal for the client.

In the Bucktown Two residence pictured here, the firm combined multiple design concepts and styles to create a stunningly unique contemporary home that fits the unusual plot. The home’s exterior uses both glass and brick to create the perfect interior atmosphere, maintain privacy, and offer great views of the neighborhood and skyline. Exposed steel beams and ducts, brick interior walls, and wood columns and staircases create an astonishing fusion of industrial and country styles that result in a rustic yet welcoming look and feel. High ceilings and large modular furniture create a clean and open space where family members and friends can gather and hang out. Studio Dwell’s attention to detail and extensive knowledge of design and material allowed for a unique and contextualized design that fit the homeowner’s personality and preferences.

Northworks Architects + Planners

1512 North Throop St. Chicago, IL 60642

Northworks is a full-service architectural design and planning firm that serves metropolitan Chicago and six other cities in the continental United States. It offers a wide range of services for both residential and commercial projects, including historic preservation, new building design, renovation design, and building condition analysis, among others. Core to the firm’s success in every project and endeavor is its strong teamwork among professionals of different backgrounds, training, and experiences. Such diversity yet coherence allows the firm to create solutions that meet the aesthetic, functional, and efficiency goals of clients while keeping with budget and schedule.

The accessory dwelling unit pictured above is one of the firm’s recent remarkable projects. Designed and built as a separate intimate space adjacent to the main home, the small outpost is designed with entertaining and gatherings in mind. In order to keep privacy in the main home, the homeowners wanted a separate space with its own entrance, kitchen, and bathrooms for use when visitors stay over or when entertaining a number of guests. The space offers great views of Lake Michigan and the surrounding greenery while leaving guests ample privacy to carry on their activities. The firm’s exceptional teamwork allowed it to create a remarkable design despite the challenges of the terrain and location. It is a testament to Northworks’ capabilities and dedication to meeting clients’ needs and objectives.

moss Design Studio

2855 West Diversey Ave., Chicago, IL 60647

Moss Design Studio is a LEED-accredited full-service architecture firm that serves Chicago and much of the state of Illinois. Its diverse portfolio includes residential and commercial projects as well as breweries, wineries, and urban planning projects. Licensed in three other states, Moss is proficient in regional design and planning based on a site’s terrain, climate conditions, and local architecture. This enables the firm to create unique design solutions and plans that respond not only to the needs of the individuals living in or using the space but also address the needs of the surrounding environment. Moss works closely with the design team, contractors, and fabricators to ensure that the resulting space is as desired by the owners and would have little impact on the environment.

The Winchester House photographed above is one of the firm’s residential projects in Chicago. Set in a small plot of land alongside homes with a similarly modern aesthetic, Moss designed the home to fit in with the surrounding neighborhood yet stand out for its contemporary style and openness that many of the current homes lacked. Opting for a cubic house style and utilizing large glass doors open up the interior to maximize natural lighting and offer a great view of the outdoors. The use of mostly white and wood shades creates a simple, minimalist, and homey feel. Carefully designed modular cabinets and furniture match the homeowner’s preferences and needs and minimize clutter around the home. The firm’s attention to the objectives of the client and knowledge of local architecture resulted in a uniquely beautiful, efficient, and comfortable home.

Liederbach and Graham, Architects

500 North Wells St, Chicago, IL 60654

Liederbach and Graham Architects is an architecture firm that offers design and planning services to homeowners and institutions in Chicago and adjacent areas. Intentionally small in size, the firm offers clients personal attention throughout the duration of the project. Close contact and regular communication allow clients to make informed decisions on the project without worrying about going beyond budget or schedule. This close collaboration also enables clients to select specific features they want to be included in their homes without risking structural durability, stability, and aesthetics. Founded in 1991, Liederbach and Graham creates striking and functional home designs that clients and their families can enjoy for decades.

The country-style home pictured above showcases the firm’s remarkable attention to detail and adherence to traditional architectural styles. The stone facade with its numerous windows is a classic feature of old country homes and manor houses. The beautifully decorated portico, long porte-cochère, gabled roof, and several chimneys further create a sense of affluence and grandiosity that is continued to the home’s interior. Inside, each room is carefully crafted to mimic old country homes using layers of stone and brick and a combination of glass, steel, and wood. Built into the traditionally set home are modern features that keep the home secure and make living in it more comfortable and easy. Liederbach and Graham’s collaborative approach resulted in a majestic home that looks as if it has been preserved for centuries.

Blender Architecture

2215 West School St., Chicago, IL 60618

Blender Architecture is a local architecture firm that offers design and planning services for residential, commercial, and institutional clients. A close-knit firm with a select group of diverse professionals and staff, Blender Architecture focuses on engaging in intimate dialogue with clients to uncover their objectives and transform their vision into reality. Drawing from years of experience in design and planning, the firm utilizes design and materials to create exceptional spaces that encourage innovation and creativity while also nurturing rest and comfort. It balances science with art, traditional with modern, and people with the environment to create stunning design solutions for contemporary architectural problems.

The floating house, pictured above, is one of the firm’s innovative residential designs. As the plot did not have rear alleyway access, Blender had to place the driveway and garage in the front of the home. To maintain the facade’s desired aesthetic without compromising safety and functionality, the firm opted to recess and submerge the driveway and garage. This draws focus to the front of the home which features a modern entryway that opens into the kitchen, which was explicitly requested by the homeowners. The remainder of the first floor, including the backyard and garden, was designed as common spaces for the family and guests while the upper floors housed private bedrooms and a small balcony that offered great views of the Chicago skyline. Blender’s innovative and creative design checks all the boxes of functionality, durability, efficiency, and beauty.