A Tudor Revival Home Marries Traditional and Contemporary Construction

Tudor Revival

In 1923, an architect/builder of a Tudor Revival house in Evanston, Ill., let the mortar sag in between the exterior brickwork to resemble a wedding cake. This technique was seemingly by design because the home was a wedding present to the architect/ builder’s daughter. The brick, stone, stucco and timbered façade—complete with multi-paned glass windows and a turret entrance—embodied Old World charm.

One block away—and 90 years later—Christine Bridger, principal designer at Evanston-based Company + Cottage, lived with her family in a Victorian home that had been stripped of its character. She and her husband renovate cottages in western Michigan to rent as residential investments, and the couple longed for a more rustic place they could make their own. When the Tudor Revival house went on the market in 2013, they leapt at the opportunity to buy it.

The architect/builder of this 1923 Tudor Revival house let the mortar sag in between the exterior brickwork to resemble a wedding cake. The home was a wedding gift for his daughter. Fast forward 90 years, and the home had retained many historic elements.

“We went to two public open houses and were thrilled to see the original woodwork, hardwood floors, doors and some doorknobs were still intact,” Bridger says. “Classic and period-correct finishes make a place feel timeless and, with this house, we wanted to create a city cottage that feels like we’re living in the country.”


Bridger had her work cut out for her; the Tudor house suffered from dated interiors. Lighting fixtures from the 1980s conflicted with the classic architecture. Walls were painted in jarring hues, like ectoplasm green and cantaloupe, and various parts of the hardwood flooring were stained different colors throughout the house.

Still, the home’s architecture retained strong elements of its historic charm. The living room’s vaulted ceiling is lined with wood beams—likely derived from old-growth Douglas fir. Arched, built-in shelves flank the living-room fireplace, which was rimmed in stone, and arched openings separate rooms.

“The cathedral-ceiling living room is my favorite room in the house,” Bridger says. “It has so much character. We showcased the fireplace by extending the stone up to the ceiling, using matching field stone in Mendocino flats. We also found a vintage wooden pew for the room that complements the rich wooden ceiling beams.”

Several spaces weren’t well-suited to modern living, and the Bridgers’ new layout removed walls and added new ones for functionality. A bedroom was transformed into a sunroom with a slate floor. French doors between the dining room and kitchen were removed, and the opening was arched to echo the existing archway between the living and dining rooms. Most windows were replaced with modern, cottage-style ones, but two original windows with decorative ironwork remain on the front of the home.

Drywall was removed throughout the house to add insulation, which uncovered a brick wall along the kitchen’s western perimeter. The treasured find is now visible in the kitchen and adjoining sunroom.

Most windows were replaced with modern, cottage-style ones, but two original windows with decorative ironwork remain on the front of the home.

“When I saw the brick wall, I decided to compromise functionality for design despite the unavoidable heat loss,” Bridger remembers. “The brick adds such texture and warmth. I have never regretted the decision to keep it exposed.”

In the kitchen, a wall and adjoining L-shaped island were removed to reconfigure the layout. A new wall was built 3 1/2-feet north to increase the size of the kitchen. Sanded barn wood became open shelving, and Bridger added shaker cabinets and marble countertops.


A tiny set of stairs ascended to the second floor’s attic with its low, angled ceilings, poor-quality finishes and sloping floor. Although never intended to be living space, a maid had resided there at one time, and the Bridgers initially renovated it enough to make it into their bedroom. After seven years, however, they decided to redo the second story and replace their substandard roof with a faux-slate roof.

Taking advantage of the upper story’s complete demolition, the couple designed a much larger living space and gave their plan to their architect. The new, 1,000-square-foot upper level includes a primary bedroom, walk-in closet, laundry, bathroom, gym, office, living area and balcony. The primary bedroom and office are separated by a double-sided, gas fireplace.

For the upstairs remodel, the couple selected a different contractor than that of their initial renovation; they hired NorthShore Restoration & Repair in Evanston in 2020.

“The home was incredibly well built,” notes Mike Ruley, owner of NorthShore Restoration & Repair. “The original first-floor system is made of old-growth timbers, 3-inches by 11-inches on center. That’s highly atypical—especially for the 1920s. It shows the architect/builder wanted to make a home of exceptional quality for his daughter.”

As demolition progressed, the crew ran into an unforeseen challenge: They discovered that when the 2013 remodel moved the wall by 3 1/2 feet in the kitchen, the structural integrity of the second floor’s joist system had been lost. The original wall had transferred the structural load to the center load-bearing wall and, without it, the upper-floor system was 3 1/2-feet shy of reaching a structural element.

PHOTOS: Company + Cottage

About the Author

KJ Fields
KJ Fields writes about design, sustainability and health from Portland, Ore.

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