My American Foursquare - Empty House Tour, Downstairs Edition

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If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you know that my husband and I just spent the last two days moving into a new house! Let the party begin.

One of the things we wanted while looking at homes was something with true character and style on its own - we didn't want a cookie cutter house that we would have to FORCE into having personality. It's totally a personal choice, but for us, it was extremely important to find something that felt significant and had a story behind it.

Here were our priorities when it came to picking a house:

  • LOCATION! We wanted to buy somewhere within walking distance to yoga, restaurants, stores, and parks, because we like to live an active and on-foot lifestyle - Major check! Yoga is not even a full block away. I could do a whole post on things I can walk to from my new house, but I'll spare you... for now
  • History! We wanted something that was older and very sturdy. - Check! Our new home was built in 1910 and it is considered an "American Four Square" style. It's a 4 bedroom, 3-story house in an historic neighborhood that we love. 
  • Original, heavy wood doors - Check!
  • Original woodwork, meaning trim, stairway, and built ins are original and have not been painted - Check! I am amazed that in over 100 years no one painted the trim or ripped out the built-in pantry. Thanks to everyone who ever owned this house.
  • No carpet anywhere. We just don't like it, it's ugly, and it collects a lot of allergens. If there was carpet, we wanted something with wood underneath it so we could rip it out - Check! No carpet anywhere in this baby.
  • Updated kitchen, meaning all or most appliances were stainless, adequate storage, and a dishwasher - Check! Everything but the stove was stainless, and we have already ordered a new stove to replace the white one.
  • At least three bedrooms, preferably four (because we want a master, guest room, and at least one office but preferably two offices so that we can each have one) - Check! We have four bedrooms in this house, plus a large third story that will be another room or office once we spruce it up.
  • A garage (these are especially hard to find in the neighborhood we looked in, because most of the houses were built before people even had cars!) - Check!

When we found this house, we pretty much knew instantly. We walked through it with smiles on our faces and just had that feeling you have when you find "the one." <--Yeah, it really feels like that, but I'm clearly a little bit dramatic! We put an offer in, and the next day, it was ours. Less than 24 hours on the market.

As I mentioned in my About page (which desperately needs an update), my inspiration to start a blog was YoungHouseLove - clearly a house-related blog, just based on the name. So, I started this blog with a focus on food, fitness, and home. But, I was living in small Chicago apartments and I couldn't do much with them, so the focus re-routed and the 'home' part got a little bit lost. I am so excited to have a place that is mine now, so that I can create an environment that is peaceful and unique and share it with my blog readers. Thanks for being along for the ride!

For now, here are a few sneak peaks of some of the features of this house we are so excited about. 

Original entryway.

Above, you see an image of the foyer and original entryway of the home. I love the full size mirror and the gorgeous antique light fixture that hangs from the ceiling.

Original wood stairway with a stained glass window

Across from the entryway is the original wood stairway. I appreciate the quality and brightness of the wood, as well as the gorgeous stained glass window that lets light into the stairway (more pictures of that coming soon).

The front room

To the left of the foyer is the front room. You walk through original glass french doors into this sitting room, where we plan to place a tufted couch and chaise lounge. This room has so many great features, such as the antique fireplace, gorgeous wood mirror, rustic industrial light fixtures, and the original glass french doors.

Ethereal living room
Through the front room is the living room. My favorite thing, by far, about this room is the bay windows. The combination of soft light and flowy drapes gives this room an ethereal feel, and we intend to juxtapose that with some modern furniture.

Here, we are putting our mid century couch, coffee table, and credenza. We are planning to mount our 60" flat screen on the wall above the credenza. Fingers crossed an old house can handle that...

Dining room

To the right of the living room is the dining room. There is a nice spread of high windows to let in light, but my favorite part of this room is the light fixture the previous owner added. I think it is so unique in this house and really an interesting conversation piece.

You can see through a small door to the top right of this picture - that goes to a walk through coat room that exists between the foyer and the dining room. So, if you wanted, you could let your guests in the front door, bring them into the walk through coat room to hang coats up, and enter the dining room. That coat room also has the door to the basement.

The kitchen is behind the living room. I love the backsplash (it looks off in this picture, but is actually white) and how simple it is, and I have already had a lot of fun playing with displays on those shelves.

At first, we considered adding upper cabinets that were white with glass inlays (which would have been true to this era of house, and also would allow us to keep the current lower cabinets without finding a perfect match). That said, now that we have put things away, we may leave it as is. Feel free to weigh in...

The fridge is unpictured here, but it is stainless and matches the dishwasher. We have a lot of other stainless appliances (Vitamix, juicer, etc) that will sit out, so we want the stove to match. (Hint hint: we already bought it)

The built in pantry

The pantry is between the kitchen and dining room, and this is by far one of my favorite features of the house. I am in love with these built ins - they are just so beautiful to look at, and I love the hardware, too. To boot, it stores an amazing amount of stuff, and is what is enabling us to get by without upper cabinets in the kitchen. I have put all of our things away, and we still have empty cabinets.

There is a skylight in this room as well as a window on the wall, so this pantry has amazing natural light. Get ready for lots of food photography coming at you from that built in table on the right.

Also off of the kitchen is a half bathroom. It is fairly small and simple, but gets the job done. I love the combo of the red door and red lighting. Great job, previous owners. You made our job easy.

Note to my readers... what should I put on those shelves up there? I want something decorative and interesting, because I don't need it for storage.

And there you have it! 
I am half-assing it and starting with downstairs only, because it is taking me quite a while to sift through my photos and pick just one of each room. I certainly could work on this all day, but I really should get back to things like unpacking my house and making myself food and, oh yeah, work.

  • What do you do in parts of your home where you place design before function? What kind of display areas do you have?
  • Have you ever lived in an historic home?
  • What do you think of open display kitchen shelving instead of upper cabinets?


  1. Beautiful! I like the open kitchen shelving. You could use that space to store your stock ingredients in colored tins or mason jars - it would be orderly and decorative!

    1. Great idea! Orderly and decorative is a great combo...

  2. Replies
    1. I shall take that as a vote for open shelving! ;0)

  3. BEAUTIFUL home, Carly and Justin! Congrats on your very first home. You'll never love a house as much as you love this one, in my experience. We bought a 70 year old home the first time out and we were the second owners. Loved, loved, loved it. Now, we live in suburbia. Beautiful huge home but I like it about half as much as our first home. I think that you want something shiny on those shelves,by the way, to reflect the light. Mercury glass? Art glass pieces? Something along that line would work for me...

  4. Found your blog through Twitter - I watch #americanfoursquare and your tweet came up. We live in a Foursquare too (and blog about it) - we love it, it's such a unique combination of classic and modern. Congrats on your new home!


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