DOWNERS GROVE – A few years ago, Don Rickard and his wife were on the hunt for a new place to call home. The couple primarily was looking to downsize and sought the right spot that fit their needs.
With more than 30 years of experience as an architect, Rickard decided to design his house himself from the ground up, using the village of Downers Grove as his backdrop.
In fact, he pulled from the community’s rich history to create something that paid tribute to its past.
“From the outside, it looks like it fits in the neighborhood,” Rickard said of his bungalow on Main Street, its modern style easily its charm and conventional aesthetic. “It got a lot of attention. A lot of people were asking questions.”
Rickard’s home was – and still is – the talk of the town.
In partnership with the Downers Grove Historical Society, Rickard will lead a presentation March 7 that is aptly titled, “This Ain’t Your Grandfather’s Bungalow.” From 7 to 8 p.m. at Emmett’s Brewing Co., Rickard will walk guests through his bungalow’s blueprints, concepts, construction and more.
The cost of the event is free for historical society members and $10 for nonmembers.
Amy Gassen, vice president of the historical society, said Downers Grove has at least 25 historic landmarks, including residential homes. And even though Rickard’s bungalow is not one of them, “it’s somewhat iconic,” she said.
“People say, ‘Oh, yeah, I know that house,’” Gassen said.
For Rickard, he wasn’t just interested in building a home that stood out like the other newly-constructed ones that he’d seen before. He yearned to show respect for his neighbors and their community, so he tacked on traditional details to his bungalow’s exterior.
The inside is a different story.
In a typical bungalow-style home, Rickard said, the layout is pretty simple: upon entering, there’s usually a small foyer that splits off into a bathroom and bedrooms with the kitchen “stuck in the back.”
Rickard saw that as a challenge. He wanted to break the rules and play with space. In his home, the foyer is a little bit larger and leads into a hallway with a featured bathroom, and “once you walk past that it really opens up and that’s where it really looks nothing like a bungalow.”
Rickard said his kitchen, which is at the center of his house, is large and wide with a huge island and has become a great entertaining area. He also has a master bedroom with a walk-in closet, an amenity not typically found in older versions.
Rickard takes pride in his bungalow, a blend of functionality and originality.
“The No. 1 goal was to make it look like it belongs there and not like something that just sprung up,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of people mistake it for an old house that had been remodeled.
“I’m not, ‘No, it’s not brand-new,’ which is a big compliment. I mean, to me that tells me that we succeeded in fitting into the neighborhood.”
If you go
WHEN: 6:30 to 8 p.m. March 7
WHERE: Emmett’s Brewing Company, 5200 Main St., Downers Grove