Johanna and Jason Patterson knew, when they were expecting their first child, that they wanted to make the Historic District in Geneva their home.
They were living in Chicago, but Johanna had grown up in Geneva.
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"We wanted to be in this neighborhood," the James Street resident said recently, while keeping an eye on the third, and latest, addition to the family, 2-month-old John.
And the house, a 1917 Wilson Bros. Craftsman, has grown with the family since the Pattersons bought it in 2009.
"We just saw the potential in this house ... we just kind of fell in love with it," Patterson said.
You can see what the Pattersons have done with it by attending the annual Geneva Christmas House Tour Dec. 6 and 7.
It is one of five houses to be featured. The self-guided tour is from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 6 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 7. Tickets cost $30, and include a tea served at the First Congregational Church of Geneva.
Designers worked with the owners to come up with the decor. For the Pattersons, it was Celebration Design of Gibby's Wine Den, and Plandscape.
The Pattersons loved the house, but not some of what came with it. Namely, shag carpeting covering walnut floors, and a small kitchen in to which a stairwell exited on one side. They also wanted a more open space where the dining room and living room are, so they set about knocking out the wall between.
That led to a pleasant surprise: They found a half-wall. The Pattersons decided to keep it.
They also kept a built-in buffet, and cabinets in the dining room, putting a wine-and-beer cooler in one.
They closed off the stairwell's kitchen exit. They added a mud room on the back, and a master bedroom over that addition, plus a back stairwell.
"We tried to honor the home's history," Patterson said. The children's bathroom has new tile, but it is in a small hexagonal pattern common to the early 20th century. They saved and reglazed the clawfoot tub that was in there, and refurbished brick fireplaces. Swing-in casement windows in the living room were refurbished by an expert in historical windows; small windows on the enclosed porch were taken out and larger ones put in, in keeping with the home's style.
• The Quiles house was built in 1868 by actor and inventor John Bowman Atwater, and was featured on a 1949 Saturday Evening Post magazine cover.
The Victorian house has a three-story octagonal wing, a wraparound porch with gazebo, and Italianate woodwork around the eaves. Decorators from Circa and Heinz Bros. Greenhouse outfitted it for the tour.
The home is on a 2.7-acre lot, and features a circular drive with wrought-iron gates. The house features clear leaded-glass windows and damask wallpaper. You can peek in the secret door in a guest bedroom, once used to call the hired help that lived above the garage. Other touches include a beaded-board ceiling in the dining room, and a turn-of-the-century buffet whose glass matches that of the windows. And you can imagine cooking on the brick stove, as the Atwaters did in the 1870s.
• A house doesn't have to be old to be honored as a pick for the tour. Two post-war homes will be featured.
The first, a 1959 brick ranch, has been renovated. Tour decor was handled by Anastazia -- Treasures for the Home and Moonlight Landscaping.
The owners bought it five years ago because of renovation possibilities they saw. It features a retro living room, with a fireplace with a tile surround put up by the homeowners. A woodsy feel is carried throughout, with big windows in the family room enabling a view of the back yard. There is a wine tree, the kitchen has cherry cabinets, and there is walnut flooring.
• The Troendly Home, built in 1999, is a cedar-and-Wisconsin-bluestone Cape Cod in the Mill Creek golf course subdivision. It is being decorated by The Little Traveler.
The theme is "winter retreat." The home features two paintings by British artist David Smith, including one hung above the stone fireplace in the great room. There is also a kinetic wind sculpture in the back yard.
Bakers will be envious of the lower baking counter found in the island; others may "ooh" and"aah" over the Giallo Veneziano granite, or the Italian porcelain countertops and backsplash, or the Wood-Mode maple cabinets.
• The Watanabe Barickman house, built in 1912, is on the National Historic Register. Local architect and builder Oscar Wilson built it for his family of eight. It is being decorated by The Mossy Twig and Plandscape Inc. The Arts and Crafts bungalow underwent major restoration in 2007. It features a Prairie Style interior, reflecting the influence Frank Lloyd Wright had on Wilson. There are wide eaves, long and narrow windows, and ornate wood trim. The house features a sleeping porch, a 1912 chandelier in the dining room, and a butler's pantry.
Tickets may be ordered by calling the Geneva Chamber of Commerce at (630) 232-6060, or visiting its website, genevachamber.com. Proceeds pay for decorations for downtown Geneva. The House Tour is part of the Christmas Walk weekend of festivities, including a tree lighting Friday evening after the arrival of Santa Claus and Santa Lucia.