Peek into the library with its stash of books and antiques and a surprise -- one wall opens to a two-story staircase. Yes, Laurie Turpin-Soderholm and Rob Soderholm love curling up with good books and collecting vintage treasures.
But then a visitor sees the large, well-appointed kitchen and realizes the expanded vintage farmhouse is the perfect home for this thoroughly modern couple. Aside from having enough books to fill several rooms, each of them owns a Nook e-reader, the portable kind for reading books electronically.
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Arlington Heights House Walk & TeaArlington Heights House Walk & Tea
The five houses: An architect's home highlighted in Fine Home Building's Houses magazine; an award-winning new home; an antique farmhouse, renovated and filled with antiques and flea market finds; a newly renovated home designed for a growing family; and a 1920s renovated bungalow.
When: Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 9
Tickets: $30; $25 for Society members; Tea an additional $10
Information/purchase tickets: ahmuseum.org; (847) 255-1225; in person at the museum, 110 W. Fremont or at Vignettes, 15 E. Campbell
Benefits: Arlington Heights Historical Museum
The home that is well over a century old is one of five open for the June 9th Arlington Heights Historical Museum's 20th Annual House Walk & Tea.
It's hard to know where to look first in that library -- at the books flanking the window, the furniture including a small 1850s Amish desk with a leather top or red upholstered love seat, Maybe the artifacts including Laurie's 1900 typewriter named The Chicago, which has keys for typing both dollars and British pounds or the still-working black telephone with a rotating dial will catch your eye.
The vintage charm belies the fact the home's floor plan was completely reconstructed because a previous homeowner took out walls to create a more modern, open feel. However, the original southern white pine floors gave clues to the layout.
Rob Soderholm and his late wife, Cathy, purchased the home more than 20 years ago, and he and his father-in-law, Don McCafferty, a Chicago carpenter, did much of the interior work.
For example, the staircase was enclosed, and after opening the wall to the library the men used salvaged and new materials to match the existing railing.
The home's woodwork was a similar adventure -- trim found on the second floor was replicated to replace all that wood that had been removed from the first. Soderholm reveals he and McCafferty started with wood six inches wide and sawed it down to the appropriate four and a half inches.
Don't miss the framed turn of the century Valentine fan. It was found inside a wall during demolition -- lovingly wrapped in tissue paper. It now hangs near where it was discovered.
Rob works with an architectural firm, RGLA Solutions, Inc., in Schiller Park, which allows him access to a lot of expertise. In 2002, an architect friend designed the large kitchen with the mixture of white and dark-stained cabinets, butcher block island and chef's appliances.
Laurie, who married Rob a year ago, brought home decor she has collected from around the world while traveling for her job as a meeting and event planner.
She hung a large blue, gold and red Moroccan plate with a silver rim above the Wolf range. Not far away is a ceramic symbol of Sicily with its yellow, blue and white colors that work so well with tiles she's collected.
"Fortunately we both love antiques, so much our things melded beautifully," she said.
It is easy for people who have lived in old houses to imagine the tiny galley kitchen that perched on what was then the rear end of the house before the addition of this bright space. The new kitchen is really in the middle of the house with a family room and second-floor master suite also added beyond it.
The benefits of scouring antique stores and estate sales is demonstrated by the two glass-fronted cabinets on either side of the family room fireplace,
The Soderholms discovered them in an Arlington Heights shop, and Rob ran home to measure what space was left as the fireplace was already installed. They fit almost perfectly.
However, you won't see the rug that Laurie bought in Istanbul after her mother generously overnighted a fabric sample so Laurie could decide whether a rug she had her eye on would work with the upholstery of a favorite chair. She bought the rug and loves it with the oversized chair that holds place of honor in front of the fireplace, but it's not large enough for the room, she said.
With its two porches and second-floor balcony, visitors will also find details to admire on the exterior of the house.
Rob points out how the lines of the addition match the original house, and the cedar clapboard siding that was discovered after removing layers of vinyl and asbestos siding.
Laurie reports Rob enjoys gardening as well as cooking. He and his brother-in-law Tom Trayser, a landscape architect who lives in Crystal Lake, built the raised vegetable garden and slate and brick patio and paths in the rear and side yards.
Antique bricks, reclaimed from a street in Evanston, also cover the front walk to the house.
And Rob is sure the home's nostalgic gravel driveway is one of a very few remaining in Arlington Heights.