SEP 19, 2013

Couple take their cue from home's square footage

Chicago Tribune

September 19, 2013

Couple take their cue from home's square footageLike many young couples, David Tibble and his wife, Michelle Weissgerber-Tibble, were reluctant to leave Chicago, where they launched their careers, for the suburbs. That is, until they checked prices.

After months of shopping, the couple bought a 1,913-square-foot, three-story townhouse at Lexington Park in Des Plaines for $280,000. The 149-unit development was built by Chicago-based Lexington Homes.

"There is no way we could have found this much square footage with brand-new amenities for this price in the city," Michelle said. Similar new town houses in the city, she said, cost $600,000, while existing town houses went for $400,000.

"Is being able to say you live in Chicago worth $300,000?" she said. "No, not to me."

Both spouses nixed the idea of renovating an older town house. "We are not handy people. Unless there's a tutorial on YouTube, I'm clueless," said Michelle, who was burned out after her ownership of a condo that needed constant repairs. "I want to spend my extra cash vacations, not renovations."

The deal-clincher was the town house's two-car attached garage.

"After having to find parking spaces near our Chicago apartment, pay for parking and then lug everything upstairs, having the garage is huge," David said. "Especially for Michelle, who needs to load and unload a lot of equipment for work. Now, she can just come home, put it on a garage shelf and be done in a few minutes."

David commutes by train to his job as an executive assistant at a consulting firm in Chicago, while Michelle uses their car to reach her acting gigs and run her home-based business, Chicago Balloon Twister, which provides entertainment at private and corporate parties.

"Last week, she was Strawberry Shortcake at a kids' party, while this week she was Katy Perry at a hospital benefit," David said.

"We're right next to (Interstate Highways) 294 and 90, so I get to (gigs) faster," Michelle said.

David also acts part-time in commercials (that's him pondering a carpet purchase on a new Empire Carpet commercial). On weekends, he performs in plays.

The northwest suburbs were familiar to the couple, who met while performing in Arlington Heights. They married in January.

"Because we both work weekends, we knew we wanted a town house instead of a single-family house because we don't have time to mow the lawn and take care of a big yard," David said. "I used to have a house, so I know how much time that takes."

Their small front yard is plenty of room for the couple's tiny terrier mix. "We have two parks a block away, and there are a lot of dogs here, so we can walk her and she sees her friends," David said.

The couple chose the Coventry floor plan, which has three bedrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms.

"One is a master bedroom, one is Michelle's office and one will be a baby's room someday," David said.

The couple liked the town house's standard amenities, including the brushed-nickel lighting fixtures and faucets, marble countertop in the powder room and stainless steel appliances. Their upgrades include hardwood flooring on the main level, a staircase with oak rails and iron balusters, granite countertops in the kitchen and master bathroom, and ceramic flooring and walls in the master bathroom.

David's favorite part of the home is the open floor plan on the main level, which allows the living room, kitchen and dining room to flow.

"In the summer, we use the deck, too, so it's all one big open space when we entertain," he said.

Downstairs is his "man cave in-the-works," David said. "I have a pinball machine and a treadmill. After we get a big TV in there, I'll be able to use it to watch sports with my friends."

Michelle enjoys her new kitchen, where an island is large enough for them to have dinner with another couple. The deck is her favorite place to relax.

The couple said their new town house should suit them for years to come. "Even after we start a family, we'll have enough room here," David said.

Meanwhile, their town house is a central location for family members from Chicago and Wheaton.

"I think a lot of holiday dinners will be here, and that's OK," he said. "Then we get to stay home."

The Lexington floor plans range from 1,605 to 1,913 square feet and are base-priced from $242,900 to $272,900. They have two or three bedrooms.

"We are very happy with our first brand new home with Lexington."

- Mr. & Mrs. Thakkar