Over a hundred years ago, Chicago became the birthplace of modern architecture. It’s not just the skyscrapers that have made it worthy of that designation – it’s the residential homes designed by architectural heavyweights like Frank Lloyd Wright and David Burnham.
In the decades that followed the industrious and creative boom, large luxury homes were built in residential areas – but like anything else over the course of time, sometimes these homes can benefit from some updates. Home renovations are popular among residents looking to change part or all of a home to improve their physical living space. Additionally, renovations often can increase the resale value of the home making them a great investment. In this article, we’ll take a look at the top residential renovation contractors Chicago has to offer.
450 Skokie Blvd., Building 600, Northbrook, IL 60062
Barnett Homes is a renowned luxury home builder and remodeler. A division of Barnett Capital, the firm began focusing on building houses and fully-embraced the construction industry in 2008. The firm states, “it wasn’t long until we became known as builders of luxury homes. Although the type of homes we develop has changed, our ideals and the passion we have remain the same.”
Ken Fixler currently heads the firm and is especially proud of its company culture which is nothing short of familial and warm. The firm’s projects include a neoclassical home in Southport Corridor which is now modeled to emulate a ‘New Beaux Arts’ style, another neoclassical home in Lakeview that was renovated with rooftop decks, and a restored greystone home in Wrigleyville that was transformed into a single-family unit.
Though newer on the scene, Barnett Homes’ works have consistently received media attention and have appeared in multiple articles in Builder Online, Chicago Tribune, Crain’s Chicago Business, and DNA Info which landed them this spot on our list.
NEWLOOK Design and Build + Development
907 Ridge Rd., Wilmette, IL 60091
NEWLOOK is a second generation, family-owned design | build + development business focusing on luxury residential and commercial in Chicago and its North Shore for over 30 years. Recognized for custom, award-winning architecture, and focused on design | build project delivery, NEWLOOK strives to streamline the process with one point of contact, taking full responsibility and cost accountability while accelerating schedules and reducing costs.
Today NEWLOOK is run by Michael Freiburger an award-winning designer and innovator who brings a rare and valuable holistic approach to the profession. Combining construction experience with a degree in Civil Engineering and a Master of Architecture, Michael has led projects across almost all construction types. He currently sits on the board of directors for the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago (HBAGC), and in 2018, Michael was included in Professional Builder Magazine’s 40 Under 40 Class for 2018, which lists the next generation of outstanding building professionals. Within the last four years alone the family-run business has been awarded multiple historic preservation awards and more than a dozen Key Awards, including four consecutive Crystal Key Awards from the HBAGC, and TWO Best of American Living Awards (BALA) at the International Builders Show 2019 in Las Vegas.
One of those BALA awards went to NEWLOOK for a rehab of a 4,000 sf Michigan Avenue Penthouse (pictured above.) The rehab features an elegant contemporary style with private lobby, custom details throughout, leading edge soffit entry, and ceiling articulation with cove accents defining living spaces in lieu of traditional walls. NEWLOOK’s other work has appeared in Best in American Living Magazine, Professional Builder, Custom Builder, Modern Luxury, Crain’s Chicago Business, Modern Home Builder, Pro Remodeler, Build magazine, and others.
42W346 Hunters Hill Dr., Campton Hills, IL 60175
Biron Homes is a general contractor and a design-build firm specializing in house remodel and new house construction. The firm takes an in-depth approach to every project they undertake and delivers them on time. Founder Stephen Biron has more than 30 years of experience in the industry. The firm won two Gold Design Awards for Exterior and Kitchen Remodel by the Professional Remodeler Magazine, as well as the Bronze Key Award for Excellence in Housing Design.
The firm states, “We do not believe there has to be a compromise between beauty and practicality. We are there before, during, and after construction to ensure that it meets or exceeds the high standards you expect.”
The firm offers attic conversion, basement design, home additions, garage building, kitchen and bath, outdoor kitchen, custom cabinets, and custom home bars for clients in Elmhurst, Winfield, Naperville, North Aurora, Palatine, South Elgin, West Chicago, and other areas. Their work has appeared in This Old House Magazine, Professional Remodelers, and has been featured in HGTV on two separate episodes.
49 Sherwood Terrace, a100, Lake Bluff, IL 60044
Sexton Developments has been providing construction services in Chicago for more than 80 years, offering both custom home construction and remodeling services. Sexton Development does construction and renovation services for high-end residences in the North Shore of Chicago. The firm also built a sister company, called Sexton Properties, dedicated to zoning and the entitlement process.
The firm offers initial construction consultations at no cost, then proceeds to the planning phase, which includes municipality permits, as well as scheduling and construction.
Sexton’s works have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Professional Builder Magazine, and Forest & Bluff Magazine, who named them Custom Home Builder of the Year in 2014. The firm also received a 2016 Crystal Key Award for a custom home given by the Home Builders Association.
875 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1314, Chicago, IL 60611
Firms may speak highly of themselves on their websites, but it was this rave review from the publisher of Sophisticated Living Chicago that really caught our eye, “If you can’t tell, I have mad respect for hard work and genuineness, which is a big part of why I’m also a fan of Rodger Owen and Charles Grode, the visionaries behind custom home builder BGD&C.”
Established in 1986, BGD&C has a focus on projects in the Gold Coast and Lincoln Park neighborhoods. While they do create and build custom homes from the ground up, it’s their status as a design/build firm that makes them perfectly suited to serve clients looking for renovations.
With interests in architectural history and fine art, the firm’s two partners and founders, Roger A. Owen and Charles R. Grode, have developed an exceptional rapport with clients for their design work and ability to seamlessly blend styles and needs in what’s been described as an “effortless elegance.”
Last year, the firm was awarded their first ever Diamond Key Award from the Home Builder Association of Greater Chicago and the Best in American Living Award by the National Association of Home Builders. Additionally, they were selected as the “Best Builder” by Modern Luxury Chicago. In 2016, BGD&C made the BOND Custom Top 100 list, a ranking of North America’s best luxury residential architecture firms.
BGD&C’s works have been featured in Luxe, Modern Home Builder, Dering Hall, Custom Builder, Chicago Magazine, Elle Decor, Modern Luxury, and Private Air.
Rock and Wall Construction
2020 West Concord Pl., Chicago, IL 60647
Rock and Wall Construction Company has completed more than 250 renovations in Chicago over the last 35 years. Their works have include the historic Wrigley Mansion in Lincoln Park, as well as the Marshall Fields Mansion in Prairie Avenue. John Krenger currently heads the firm. The firm states, “we combine state of the art construction materials with quality craftsmanship to create a bathroom that looks great and adds value to your home.”
Rock and Wall renovated 1801 Wesley Ave., giving an older monument a contemporary finish. The project won the firm both an Evanston Preservation Award and a Margery Perkins award in 2010. The firm also recently transformed a Victorian house into an expansive, modern home. Crain’s Chicago Business praised their work as an “innovative, cool place to live.”
The firm offers green construction, new construction, room additions, real estate inspection, kitchen and bath remodeling, and property rehabilitation. Rock and Wall’s works have appeared in Architectural Digest, AIA Magazine, Home Magazine, Chicago Magazine, Metropolitan Home Magazine, and the Chicago Tribune.
Heritage Luxury Homes
1741 Harding Rd., Northfield, IL 60093
Over the course of the past 20 years, Heritage Luxury Homes has built more than 100 luxury houses in Winnetka, Glencoe, Kenilworth, and Highland Park. Husband and wife Leo and Milena Birov founded the firm in 1990. Leo has extensive engineering experience while Milena acts as the firm’s Realtor so she is able to help renovation clients figure out what might be the best investment for resale longterm. The firm offers construction services for exteriors, foyers, kitchen, bedroom, family room, library, dining room, media room, and condominium build-outs.
The firm states, “Our reputation for excellence is unparalleled in today’s luxury home market. We build each home with the highest level of craftsmanship at every step along the way.”
Heritage builds year-round and has supervisors on-site around the clock. Upon project completion, their work has a one year builder’s warranty and added appliances come with an extended four or five year service warranty. Additionally, the firm also offers a luxury home maintenance program in which a team of maintenance professionals who are familiar with the specific needs of an owner’s come in and do all necessary work on the same scheduled day.
The firm’s works have appeared in CS Interiors, Florida Design, Luxe Magazine, Miami Home and Decor, Sitting Pretty, and on Fox News and NBC-TV. In 2011, Heritage was named the Developer of the Year by Chicago Agent Magazine.
Orren Pickell Building Group
740 W Fulton St., #601, Chicago, IL 60661
For more than 40 years, Orren Pickell Building Group has been building and renovating distinctive houses in Chicago. The firm is a family-run, full-service, award-winning general contracting firm. Orren Pickell provides a personalized, guided walkthrough experience for their all of their clients.
“Our seasoned, experienced staff members pride ourselves on finding creative solutions to home design challenges, and in delivering home designs that delight the eye and make family and friends feel right at home.”
Orren Pickell’s remodeling services can give clients an alternative to moving or building. With an eye on space planning, the firm offers home additions and extensions and has extensive experience with bathrooms, home theaters and gyms, kitchens, living areas, and exterior spaces in Chicago homes.
Orren Pickell has received more than 300 awards including numerous Gold Keys for Excellence in New Construction and Excellence in Remodeling from the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago and citations from publications such as Architectural Design. Their works have appeared in North Shore Magazine, Hinsdale, Splash, Chicago Tribune, Interiors, Forest & Bluff, Daily Herald, Luxe, Building & Construction, Crain’s, Chicago Sun-Times, and Custom Builder.
One North Wacker Dr., Suite 4125, Chicago, IL 60606
Middlefork LLC provides home design, building, and renovation services in many of Chicago’s high-end neighborhoods. Founder and current president Andrew Bowyer has two decades of experience in both architecture and finance, he is also a member of the NHBA’s 20 Club program and also a member of the Architectural Review Board for the Village of Northfield. The firm’s works are known for being timeless, elegant, reserved, and on time. The firm adds, “while Middleforks homes are luxurious, they are built for a living first. They have a timeless elegance that is understated, with places for families, fun, and friendship.”
Middleforks works include a renovation of a six-bedroom, 6,900 square feet Georgian house on N. Dayton St. in Lincoln Park. The firm built a master suite with an expansive, walk-in closet. The firm also redesigned and rebuilt a 4,400 square feet cottage in Old Town that was built in 1890. The firm has also done work on the North Shore, including the renovation of a 3,000 square feet ranch and the renovation and addition of a 6,000 square feet colonial.
The firm is a member of Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago, The National Association of Home Builders,. Their work appeared in Modern Home Building, Interiors, Modern Magazine, KBB, Modern Luxury CS, Michigan Avenue, and Chicago Magazine.
Middlefork received a Citation of Merit from the AIA Chicago in 2016, a Crystal Key Award and Gold Key Award from the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago, Excellence Award from the PowerHouse SMART, and an Honorable Mention from the K+BB Design Awards in 2015.
Goldberg General Contracting
3510 N. Elston Ave., Chicago, IL 60618
Goldberg General Contracting (GGC) has been renovating and constructing high-end custom homes for more than 30 years. GGC partners with top architects, subcontractors, and leading interior designers to best serve the needs of their clients. The firm garnered numerous accolades for their modern and luxury designs including being named ‘National Custom Builder of the Year’ in 2010 by Custom Home Magazine, and has received multiple (18) awards from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Founded in 1987 by Jacob S. Goldberg, the namesake custom builder still serves as the president of the firm, and is the project manager of their most notable designs, ensuring that their work is of the highest caliber.
The firm states, “…particularly acclaimed for its high levels of quality control, timeliness and project management. Staffed with more than twenty-five carpenters, tile setters, and site managers; GGC’s strength lies in its team of highly-skilled craftsman.”
Goldberg transformed a sculptor’s studio into a high-end residence in Bucktown neighborhood which included glass, steel, and wood panel walls, and maintained a large crane suspended on the over 35 feet high ceiling. The firm also worked on modern additions to a traditional home in Lincoln Park and the renovation of an 1888 house on Astor Street. Goldberg, in collaboration with Renner Design Associates, restored a 6,900 square-foot mansion and constructed a 3,400 square-foot masonry addition.
Goldberg’s works appeared in Luxe Interiors + Design, NPR WBEZ, Building Design + Construction, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Dwell, Kitchen Trends, Residential Architect, Custom Home, Chicago Magazine, North Modern Luxury, Builder, Wired, and USA Today.