When I bought an early 20th century commercial three-flat in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood (1), the goal was to put our architectural design studio on the ground floor, rent out the second-floor apartment, and live on the third floor. Such live/work arrangements have been attracting quite a bit of interest in urban areas like ours, so I was excited to have the chance to adapt this building to modern standards.
The main challenge was the narrow footprint. The 900-square-foot third-floor flat is 51 feet long and just 19.5 feet wide, with the rooms stacked front to back. It was divided lengthwise by a bearing wall into 8-foot and 11.5-foot proportions (2). On the wider side were the living and dining areas, a bathroom next to a narrow passageway, and the...
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