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The Cool Factor: A Charcoal Factory Turned Industrial Flat in Chicago (Courtyard Included)

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Admired recently: an industrial-meets-verdant space in Chicago, where steel-framed windows and concrete floors mix with original rough-hewn timber beams and lush ivy-covered walls.

The renovation is the project of designer Michael Del Piero for her client, a globetrotting antiques dealer who was intrigued by the building’s unusual look. The space was a former charcoal factory built in the 1890s, but by the time the client entered the picture, it was far more early-1900s manufactory than urban apartment: “It was a raw and rough space with a dirt floor on the lower level and wood plank flooring upstairs that had not been cleaned for 20 to 30 years,” she says.  “There was no bathroom and no kitchen: a true factory setup.”

The client enlisted architect Trish VanderBeke as well as Michael’s firm, Michael Del Piero Good Design, for their “never-too-precious design style,” Michael says. “He knew we would take the raw space and bring it into the now without loosing the cool factor.” The homeowner’s ask? “Maintaining the original details and adding necessary living luxuries without loosing the vibe.”

Join us for a look at the now-even-cooler end result.

the charcoal factory, as it has come to be known, is in chicago,
Above The Charcoal Factory as it has come to be known is in Chicago in an industrial area which has recently taken off as the place to be Michael says Access to the property is through a narrow and dark alleyway which appears very gritty and urban without anything remotely residential in feel anywhere At the end is a large garage door As the door opens quite slowly an amazing European style courtyard is revealed The old charcoal factory is situated at the end of the courtyard which houses two beautiful old birch trees
entering the space.
Above Entering the space The steel and glass windows were made to mimic the originals Michael says We used double glazed glass in order to maintain the vintage look<span id=ezoic pub ad placeholder 872 class=ezoic adpicker ad>
inside, in the long and narrow downstairs dining area.
Above Inside in the long and narrow downstairs dining area We decided to sandblast the walls and floors since charcoal and dusty debris filled the space Michael says This resulted in the most glorious rough interesting walls which could never be re created by anyone in todays faux finish plaster world
the original uncovered walls make for a textural backdrop.
Above The original uncovered walls make for a textural backdrop We also added a kitchen heated poured concrete flooring and a small bath on the first floor Michael says
a verdant corner. 13
Above A verdant corner
upstairs. iron walkways and catwalks were added throughout—as in here, t 14
Above Upstairs Iron walkways and catwalks were added throughoutas in here to access the new outdoor terrace The wooden ceilings and beams are original and the result of power washing says Michael
the project now features a compact kitchen, all in stainless steel.
Above The project now features a compact kitchen all in stainless steel We sourced the kitchen and bathroom sink from a restaurant supply vendor not a typical source for a residence Michael says
the hall leading into the bath is studded with forged, rusted objects the clien 16
Above The hall leading into the bath is studded with forged rusted objects the client collected on a trip to Argentina Just visible in the background the fireplace with steel surround<span id=ezoic pub ad placeholder 877 class=ezoic adpicker ad style=displayblockimportantfloatnoneline height0margin bottom15pximportantmargin left0importantmargin right0importantmargin top15pximportantmax width100importantmin height250pxmin width250pxpadding top15pximportanttext aligncenterimportant>
the sleek stainless bathroom sink was also sourced from restaurant supply; & 17
Above The sleek stainless bathroom sink was also sourced from restaurant supply the toilet was sourced from the same suppliers who sell toilets to prisons Michael says<span id=ezoic pub ad placeholder 878 class=ezoic adpicker ad style=displayblockimportantfloatnoneline height0margin bottom15pximportantmargin left0importantmargin right0importantmargin top15pximportantmax width100importantmin height90pxmin width728pxpadding top15pximportanttext aligncenterimportant>
the primary bedroom, with a rope wrapped panel as headboard. 18
Above The primary bedroom with a rope wrapped panel as headboard<span id=ezoic pub ad placeholder 879 class=ezoic adpicker ad>
a steel framed glass door leads out to the newly constructed terrace (and affor 19
Above A steel framed glass door leads out to the newly constructed terrace and affords views of the ivy covered walls too<span id=ezoic pub ad placeholder 880 class=ezoic adpicker ad style=displayblockimportantfloatnoneline height0margin bottom15pximportantmargin left0importantmargin right0importantmargin top15pximportantmax width100importantmin height90pxmin width728pxpadding0text aligncenterimportant>
the outdoor lounge space. 20
Above The outdoor lounge space

For more urban/green spaces we love, take a look at:

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