My wife and I were sitting on our front porch one evening this summer, having a drink and watching the sunlight head west up the street, and she said, "This is the best room in the house." And I agreed. And that's how this year's Nest Issue got its theme.
Our porch is 115 years old, with a varnished wood ceiling and a painted wood floor. It's open on three sides to let the breeze come through. But it's also protected by bushes and plants my wife can name, so we can have our privacy while we watch our neighbors. It has cushioned chairs and a little table. Our dog won't let us sit out there without her.
It's as perfect as any place we know—especially during the summer—and the reason is that it provides a setting where we can enjoy ourselves and each other, be part of our community yet sheltered, feel at once relaxed and enlivened. It's comfortable. It's where we like to be.
Here are five portraits of rooms Chicagoans have created that do for them something like what our porch does for us. The rooms are designed for eating, working, watching, and hanging out. All of them are artworks of a sort; one is nothing but. Another is as much outside as in. But all are where the people who made them like to be. —Tony Adler