A congregation of three in a former Lakeview church | Space | Chicago Reader

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A congregation of three in a former Lakeview church

A condo with 25-foot cathedral ceilings and a rooftop deck doesn't seem like too shabby a space for Shawn and Suzanne Staples to raise a family.


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Shawn and Suzanne Staples had a house-hunting goal: to find a permanent residence to raise a family. "We got really lucky," Suzanne explains over the giggles of the couple's boisterous two-year-old, Abby. "Every single place we looked at was exactly the same. As soon as we turned the corner [into the living room], I was like, 'I really, really want it.'"

This past April, the Stapleses moved into their "forever home"—a Lakeview church designed by Swedish-born architect Lawrence Gustav Hallberg and built in 1898. The building has since been converted into condos, with the threesome occupying a triplex loft that features 25-foot cathedral ceilings with skylights, exposed brick, a wood-burning stove, a rooftop deck, and a built-in wine fridge . . . just to name a few of its charms.

"It's a church but it has an industrial-like feel," Suzanne says. "Shawn wanted something old; I wanted something new. It magically matched up." And while the design is eccentric, it's livable. "Since there are multiple levels we don't feel like we're on top of each other. And there's room to grow," Shawn explains.

The couple is committed to raising their family in the city rather than the burbs, and the neighborhood suits their needs. "Being surrounded by museums and the lakefront . . . these are all things you can access in ten minutes versus loading up the car, driving downtown, and struggling for a parking spot," Suzanne says. "I think being immersed in this culture will be beneficial to any kid." Both parents work downtown—Suzanne is a banker, Shawn's an attorney—so commutes are easy, and Abby's day care is within walking distance. And as marathon runners, they get to train on the nearby Lakefront Trail, which is also ideal.

Right now their walls are somewhat sparse, but design dreams are well underway. The original church stairs have been carpeted, and the pair plan to uncover what's underneath. There's also talk of stained glass under a skylight. "It would be nice to bring some of the original church back into it," Suzanne says.

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