How to Tackle Spring Cleaning with a Little Marie Kondo Inspiration

Spring is in the air, a time of blooming flowers, warming temperatures, and two words frequently uttered in homes across America: “Spring Cleaning.”

Celebrated organizing expert Marie Kondo champions a simplified, thoughtfully arranged environment as central to a serene life. Her much-ballyhooed KonMari method encourages a hands-on approach to home organization that begins with removing items that no longer belong in the home.

The KonMari method is the perfect complement to spring cleaning, where a commitment to tidying up, a focus on the essentials, and a work smarter-not harder approach can help you tune up your home and reduce the anxiety that a cluttered, messy home can induce.

Begin with a good decluttering escapade. If you can declutter first, you will capture some early feel-good spring-cleaning vibes and can more easily discern your next steps. Clear out any excess or out-of-season coats, shoes, umbrellas, purses, and other personal goods. Trash, recycle, and donate accordingly. Keep what you must and, in the spirit of KonMari, vanquish everything else.

Organize with a purpose. Everything you keep should have a place and then be in its place. In kitchen cabinets and the pantry, for instance, think like a grocery store merchandiser and stack items in a neat, orderly, and logical fashion for quick discovery.

Corral your cleaning supplies. To maximize efficiency, gather all your cleaning supplies together at the onset. Some must-have household items for spring cleaning: an all-purpose cleaner, a multitude of rags and paper towels, glass cleaner, gloves, a duster, and a sponge. Assemble the goods in one portable bin so you have what you need as you travel from room to room.

Enlist the help of the kids. Though few kids will volunteer for cleaning, it is important to make them a part of the solution – albeit with realistic expectations – so they are contributors to a well-kept home. While kindergartners might do little more than place items in a donation bag, that alone saves you some time and energy. Give one simple instruction at a time and perhaps outfit younger children with a “uniform” – gloves and an apron, for instance – to help them feel more engaged in the project.

Hit one room at a time. Adopt the baby-steps philosophy. Rather than thinking you must clean and organize the entire house in one motivated whirlwind of activity – a monumental, if not impossible task – focus instead on tidying up one room at a time, which is much more doable. Yet more, savor a sense of accomplishment when you leave that room sparkling and can move onto the next as opposed to having a series of in-process projects.

Slow and steady with the vacuum. Resist the need to hustle with the vacuum. In fact, the slower you go, the more dust and allergens you will remove.

Cap off the adventure. Find a candle or air freshener with a pleasing scent and let it run. Or, better yet, grab some fresh, fragrant flowers and place a vase on the dining room table. Enjoy the fruits of your labor.

The Suburban Single-Family Home Surge

After years of homebuyers showing a preference for urban living, including multi-unit housing, the COVID-19 pandemic has put an intensely bright light on single-family homes in the suburbs.

In mass media and industry forums, mortgage brokers and real estate agents across the Chicago area and many other U.S. big cities have shared tale upon tale of city folk turning their eyes upon suburban homes. Some observers, in fact, have called it the latest urban exodus, the first of which occurred in the 1950s alongside the mainstream adoption of cars.

The appeal of dense, urban living has declined for many considering the novel coronavirus pandemic. With concerns over public health and safety, the city’s inherent allure – shorter commutes for downtown workers, public transportation, cultural events, and the city’s overall bustle among them – has withered.

More and more, urban dwellers are targeting the suburbs for a single-family home purchase, including never-before-lived-in new construction homes. Here are the top five reasons why.

#1: More Space
With homes doubling as workplaces, schools, recreation centers, and gyms throughout the pandemic, many urban residents have realized their homes are too small inside and out to accommodate such diverse needs. People, and particularly those living in space-constrained multi-unit housing, want more elbow room, more freedom of movement, and improved access to outdoor living. Quite naturally, that has spurred an increase in online searches of single-family suburban homes.

#2: Shifting Work Routines
Remote work soared amid the pandemic – and it is likely to exist well into the future for many Americans. While the swelling work-from-home reality has driven urban dwellers’ heightened interest in larger homes, including those with a dedicated workspace, the ability to telecommute has also empowered many to redefine their criteria when searching for a new home. With daily commutes reduced, if not eliminated, workers do not consider a close-to-city residence as critical.

#3: Affordability
Even the most ardent urban dwellers admit it is a challenge to get larger, economical homes close to a city’s downtown. That has fueled interest in the suburbs where homebuyers can often secure more bang for their buck.

Consider this: the median selling price of a single-family home in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood hovers around $1.5 million, while condominiums in the North Side neighborhood sit over $500,000, according to Chicago area real estate data. In Gallagher and Henry’s Covington Knolls community in Lemont, a new 2,604-square foot Danbury home – a brick 4-bedroom home with 2.5 bathrooms and a three-car garage – runs less than one-third the median cost of a Lincoln Park single-family home and even less than a Lincoln Park condo. The Danbury at Covington Knolls starts at $488,700 with plenty of luxury features baked into that base price.

#4: Changing Dynamics of City Life
With its cultural events and hip restaurants, the urban lifestyle compelled many to trade space and affordability for the action outside their doors. Amid COVID-19, however, museums, ballparks, theatres, and restaurants closed, putting a dent in the urban lifestyle that is only now begin to relent.

Yet more, the pandemic has increased awareness around healthy home environments. Those who may not have thought twice about a shared elevator ride or a communal fitness center in a high-rise condo before the pandemic are now more attuned to the potential risks such spaces carry.

#5: More Focused Eyes on the Future
For many, the anxiety, stress, and uncertainty of COVID-19 prompted reflection about what they really want in their overall life, including their home. And as pandemics have happened before and could certainly happen again, individuals are increasingly open to making more permanent changes, including opting for larger homes in suburban communities.

Behind the Build: Pam Rybarczyk

From sales staff and tradesmen to behind-the-scenes troubleshooters, dozens of personnel bring a Gallagher and Henry home to life. In “Behind the Build,” the Gallagher and Henry blog celebrates spirited members of our team.

Today, we introduce Pam Rybarczyk, the Jill-of-all-trades at Gallagher and Henry’s home office in Countryside. Over 21 years with Gallagher and Henry, Pam has represented the firm at hundreds of closings, addressed warranty issues, handled estimates on customer-requested changes to home plans, quarterbacked open houses, and even pinch hit for sales staff at community offices.

How did you come to join Gallagher & Henry in 2000?
I had worked in residential real estate for about a dozen years at a great family-owned homebuilder and really enjoyed it. The owner of that company, though, was going to disband the company and move elsewhere. He is actually the one who found the job opening with Gallagher and Henry in the newspaper and urged me to apply. He said they were a well-known and long-standing community builder with a great reputation.

What were you hired to do?
I was originally hired to help in the closing department, but quickly moved into customer service. My primary responsibility was to start up the customer service department and to centralize all the different customer service-related efforts going on across the company. At the time, we had 300-400 homes in progress, so there was quite a bit to coordinate and we did it in baby steps. Among the first things was streamlining the warranty process for customers and making that piece as seamless as possible for our homeowners. Any warranty issues came through me and I then worked with the supervisors and service technicians to make sure warranty issues were addressed in a timely, professional, and efficient manner.

Today, you touch so many different areas of the customer service process beyond the home warranties. What do you enjoy about that?
I really enjoy the diversity. I don’t concentrate on just one thing, but rather get to have my hands in so many different things and that means I’m always learning. It’s exhausting at times, but I’d rather be busy than twiddling my thumbs.

What makes your day special?
Over the last 20 years, I’ve attended countless closings. While the sales staff get to know the homebuyers from day one, I typically enter the picture as we move closer and closer to the closing. When we finally reach that day, the voice becomes the face when I get to meet them. The room is generally filled with a lot of positive energy, gratitude, and – before the pandemic turned everything virtual, at least – hugs. I’d say that’s pretty special.

What has kept you engaged and invested over these last 21 years with Gallagher and Henry?
It’s really the people. There’s such camaraderie in our company and we’re constantly working together toward a common goal, which is to make sure our homebuyers get the house they want. Each person we build for is such an individual and I love meeting them and playing a part in bringing their new home to life.

What fills up your time outside of work?
I love sports. My kids – now 20 and 25 – were so involved with baseball and softball for years, that it’s in my blood. I’m a massive Blackhawks and Cubs fan.

In the Spotlight: Kingston Hills

Gallagher and Henry entered new territory when it unveiled Kingston Hills. After initially making its mark in Chicago neighborhoods and collar suburbs in Cook and DuPage Counties, Gallagher and Henry ventured into Will County for the first time with Kingston Hills, a massive 410-acre site in southwest suburban Homer Township.

Today, Kingston Hills continues leading the charge in Homer Glen. With average lot sizes of 75-by-150 feet, Kingston Hills exemplifies Homer Glen’s village motto – “Community and Nature … in Harmony” – by providing its residents a slice of suburban privacy alongside the amenities and conveniences of modern life.

    • Prices for new single-family homes in Kingston Hills start at $441,800.  
    • Find Kingston Hills: The Kingston Hills community is located immediately east of Bell Road on 151st Street.  
    • Sister Communities: Kingston Hills is one of two Gallagher and Henry communities in Homer Glen. Its sibling community, Goodings Grove, sits approximately one mile north.  
    • Way Back When: Gallagher and Henry first opened sales of Kingston Hills in 1993 with a first phase consisting of 105 homes and capacity for some 800 homes. Early buyers could select from 17 different floor plans with base prices starting at $165,590.  
    • A Mature Community Today: Given Kingston Hills longstanding roots in Homer Glen, the community is fully developed with streetlights and parkway trees as well as the Kingston Hills Park and a community biking trail.  
    • A Homeowner’s Perspective: “Living in Kingston Hills, we’ve gotten the best of both worlds: a peaceful feeling in a quiet community and a vibrant neighborhood with friendly neighbors and access to everything we need,” Joan K. says.  
    • Lifestyle Series Launching Pad: In 2010, Gallagher and Henry tabbed Kingston Hills as the host site of its first Lifestyle Series home plan, the Amberwood ranch. Developed from extensive market research from prospective homebuyers as well as its current homeowners, Lifestyle Series plans include the most sought-after amenities, including open-concept floor plans, three-car garages, brick construction, and substantial storage solutions. Five additional plans have joined the Amberwood in Gallagher and Henry’s Lifestyle Series portfolio, including a second ranch plan called the Fremont.  
    • Fast fact: According to geologists, the rolling hills so prevalent around Kingston Hills owe their presence to the Wisconsin glacier that stalled some 10,000 years ago in this particular patch of northern Illinois.  
    • Super Schools: Kingston Hills families have access to accomplished public schools. Both Homer Community Consolidated School District 33C, which serves some 3,800 preK-8 students, and the 3,800-student Lockport Township High School District 205 outpace state averages in English Language Arts, Math, and Science proficiency scores.  
    • Happy in Homer Glen: In its most recent National Citizen Survey, more than 90 percent of Homer Glen residents rated the village as a “good” or “excellent” place to live and raise a family. Residents also gave the village stellar marks for safety, ease of travel, K-12 education, and the natural environment. Nine out of 10 residents, meanwhile, reported they would recommend living in Homer Glen to others.

Interested in learning more about Kingston Hills? The sales office is open Thursday-Sunday from 9am-5pm. To schedule a visit or to request additional information, please contact the Kingston Hills sales office at (708) 301-1999.

Why Winter is a Winning Season for Your New Home Adventure

Winter might not seem like the best time to begin the new home construction process – and it’s an understandable assumption. Frigid temperatures and snow piles, after all, do not necessarily conjure up images of an active homebuilding scene in the Chicago area.

But truth be told, there are some significant advantages to launching the homebuilding process during the winter season. By kickstarting the effort in wintertime, you can line up scheduling, permitting, and design, immediately initiate construction when the weather does break, and enjoy your new home before the cold air returns.

Advantage #1: Beating the Rush
Spring generally brings a flurry of activity into the market from eager buyers. By starting the home buying process in winter, however, you beat others to the punch. You get an early jump on securing the lot, home plan, and exterior design you want; minimize the risk of permit delays; and stand at the front of the line when the weather enables excavation and foundation work to take place.

Advantage #2: A Pinch More Planning Time
A winter start allows you to firm up plans and finalize details before construction even begins. This way, you avoid wasting the best months for construction on planning and selections. You have a bit more time to consider materials and finishes as well as any custom features you desire.

Advantage #3: A Smoother Process
With plans and selections in hand, Gallagher and Henry can order and secure materials for install. Once temperatures allow for a multi-day stretch, crews can begin site work, including excavation and installation of the foundation. Thereafter, the trades can work in earnest, capitalizing on spring’s mild weather to move forward with construction with the help of added daylight.

Advantage #4: An Autumn Move
The typical Gallagher and Henry home takes 6-7 months to build from the time you sign your purchase agreement. Beginning the new home process in winter positions you to celebrate fall holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving in your new home. With a fall move-in, you can also settle into your new home and the community at a time in which you can still be outdoors, walking the neighborhood and meeting neighbors.

Blending Design and Function to Maximize the Kitchen

For good reason, the kitchen is considered the “heart of the home.” A common convening spot for meals, entertaining, family discussions, and an assortment of other life endeavors, the kitchen is the home’s premier multi-purpose, memory-making space.

Given how much we demand of our kitchens, we need to consider function and design simultaneously so the kitchen can deliver. In its Lifestyle Series homes, Gallagher and Henry fosters this through thoughtful planning and savvy interior design that makes the kitchen a beautiful, functional, and safe space. Here’s how:

Workspace Solutions

For adults and kids alike, the kitchen has long been a common workspace for paying household bills, tackling a work project, or completing a homework assignment. In its recently released ranch plan, the Fremont, Gallagher and Henry emphasized workspace with two kitchen islands as well as a semi-private chef’s kitchen. Having multiple workspaces in a common area of the home has become even more critical given the rise of remote work and e-learning in the COVID era. Notably, the Fremont’s dual islands provide added storage space and seating.

Savvy Storage

Speaking of storage, it’s critical to a kitchen’s functionality. Without generous storage, a kitchen can easily become a cluttered mess that leads to inefficiencies and a frenzied atmosphere. In its Eden home plan, Gallagher and Henry prioritized storage in the kitchen area with a full wall of cabinets extending some 11 feet, a kitchen island, and a butler pantry. As assortment of upper and lower cabinets in varying configurations, meanwhile, can accommodate different servingware, gadgets, and kitchen aids.

Lighting the Way

Given how many different daily tasks take place in the kitchen, lighting cannot be an afterthought. In Gallagher and Henry’s Danbury plan, a window over the sink and nearby sliding glass doors flood the kitchen with natural light, while recessed lighting ensures a bright environment that illuminates the entire kitchen area. Gallagher and Henry also installs additional pendant lighting over the kitchen island and a chandelier over the dinette space to bring added flair and practicality to the kitchen.

Functional Style

With its Lifestyle Series homes, Gallagher and Henry have amplified opportunities to merge design and function. Consider hardwood flooring. While hardwood flooring certainly contributes to an overall design aesthetic, adding texture and warmth to the kitchen, it must be durable enough to withstand the rigors of kitchen traffic and daily use. By making hardwood flooring a standard feature in its Lifestyle Series home kitchens, Gallagher and Henry enables homeowners to select a style that suits their tastes while ensuring homes have a practical, purposeful solution for everyday living.

Behind the Build: Julian Sally

From sales staff and tradesmen to behind-the-scenes troubleshooters, dozens of personnel bring a Gallagher and Henry home to life. In “Behind the Build,” the Gallagher and Henry blog celebrates spirited members of our team.

Today, we introduce Julian Sally, Gallagher and Henry’s estimator. Julian, who holds a degree in Construction Management and Engineering Technology from Purdue University, came to Gallagher and Henry in April 2019 after a 15-year career in construction and project management, primarily for municipalities.

What brought you to Gallagher & Henry in 2019?
I learned of the estimator position through my recruiter. He told me Gallagher and Henry built custom homes and that they are a mid-sized, family-owned business that has been around 50-plus years. He said the estimator position was a good opportunity that rarely becomes open at Gallagher and Henry. After learning the details of the position, and with my kitchen and bath design, estimating, and construction management experience, I thought I would be a good potential fit.

What does your role as estimator entail?
My position as estimator entails me keeping pace with the workflow of current projects under construction through issuance of purchase orders, maintaining and updating the subcontractor and supplier database, and submitting quotes to our sales managers per client request for custom options to our models. For example, let’s say a client wants to expand the side of the house out 4 feet. We would call that a “custom option” because it is not part of the standard or alternate architectural plans for the model. This would require planning and estimating of that custom option for feasibility and cost.

So, what goes into accommodating a homebuyers’ request to modify an existing floor plan?
When a client requests a custom option, multiple trades would be required to complete that “custom option.” An architect may need to create plans. Subcontractors would submit quotes. I would then review subcontractor quotes and create and estimate for the client. That cost is provided to the client, who would then decide if they want to purchase that option or not. Due to the custom nature of various client requests, it keeps the job interesting. It keeps you sharp.

What do you enjoy most about your role as estimator?
The specificity of it. In past work, I had to wear multiple hats and take on multiple positions through the course of a construction project. At Gallagher and Henry, I look forward to and enjoy honing in on being increasingly efficient at the multiple roles within the singular position and responsibility of estimator. Multiple hats, but within a singular role or position.

What do you enjoy most about working for Gallagher and Henry?
I enjoy the teamwork. Everyone within the company has a singular focus of creating the best product for the client. Everyone is an expert and engaged in their position. The communication maintained and required to be able to build custom-option homes is a necessary culture well developed within the company. I respect that culture and enjoy the challenge involved with the custom nature of our company as well as the output required to constantly build a great house and satisfy our clients.

What do you enjoy outside of work?
I love the outdoors. I like to fish, hike, and bike ride on trails. I enjoy playing chess. I like to cook and if I try a new recipe, I make it until I perfect it to my taste.

Movie, theatre, music, or sports: what’s your preference?
Movies would be at the top of that list. Four-star movies like The Aviator, The Godfather, The Green Mile, or A Beautiful Mind, for example. If a movie gets four stars, I am always curious to know why.

Successfully Satisfied

In November 2016, Chuan and Tram, then parents of one young daughter with a second child on the way, moved into Gallagher and Henry’s Farmingdale Village community in Woodridge. Gallagher and Henry’s earnest efforts to accommodate customization requests, the quality of the homebuilder’s work, and the spirited growth of the family’s Farmingdale Village neighborhood makes this couple a pair of satisfied buyers.

Chuan and Tram gained familiarity with the Woodridge area and Gallagher and Henry thanks to family friends who lived in a Gallagher and Henry-built home near Farmingdale Village. Knowing Tram desired a move to the western suburbs to be closer to family – “The village,” Chuan calls it. – the couple visited Farmingdale Village on a few occasions to tour the model homes and discuss different possibilities. Those visits spurred a strong rapport with Gallagher and Henry sales manager Sandie Kanakes. “We had a good feeling about Gallagher and Henry,” Tram says.

When those same family friends told Chuan and Tram that Gallagher and Henry had opened a new phase of development at Farmingdale Village, the couple quickly made their way to the sales office. “We were actually excited to be the first home in the new area because it allowed us to pick the exact lot we wanted,” Chuan says. “Plus, we really liked the idea of our kids growing up with the neighborhood.”

Chuan was immediately drawn to the Calysta, then the newest floor plan in Gallagher and Henry’s Lifestyle Series. “I wanted the biggest home I could get,” he says. “Go big or go home, right?”

There was, however, one small problem: Gallagher and Henry did not have a Calysta model for the family to tour. “But they already had some families living in Calystas, so Sandie arranged for us to visit one of those homes,” Tram says. “That sealed it for us.”

Though the family inhabited a brand-new home on Chicago’s Northwest Side, they did not design that residence. Chuan, in particular, craved the opportunity to put his personal stamp on the Calysta. “Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a customization kind of guy. I like to have things my way,” he says.

And Chuan delivered no shortage of ideas. He wanted cabinetry in the kitchen removed to accommodate a full-size refrigerator and full-size freezer. He requested a deeper pour in the basement to allow for 9-foot ceilings. And he asked that the exterior living room wall be pushed out an additional 4 feet to further enlarge the Calysta’s 3,365-square foot plan.

An ambitious Chuan also crafted plans for a completely redesigned second floor that converted the four-bedroom plan into a five-bedroom home without sacrificing the office or the convenience of second-floor laundry. “I mocked it up in Photoshop and the architect took it from there and finalized the plans,” Chuan says.

To achieve peace of mind, Chuan hired a trusted and thorough inspector to examine the home twice: once at framing and again when the home was complete. “I had used this inspector twice before on purchases and he’s thorough,” Chuan says. The inspector’s two separate investigations of the property cemented the family’s confidence in its investment with Gallagher and Henry.

As hoped for, Chuan and Tram’s children, now 5 and 4 years old, have grown up with the neighborhood over the last four years. Newly built homes now surround the family and a wonderful sense of community has blossomed, including a neighborhood block party and annual Halloween festivities. “We’re loving it,” Tram says. “It’s our forever home.”

4 Common Homebuyer Mistakes – and How Gallagher and Henry Helps You Avoid Them

As purchasing a home requires a substantial investment, the homebuying process can spiral into an overwhelming endeavor. Given such high stakes, it is inevitable that homebuyers face uncertainty and doubt, if not anxiety and angst, that leads to missteps or misgivings.

Gallagher and Henry is here to help you navigate this process with ease and confidence.

1. A Common Mistake: Rushing to Buy
Quite often, homebuyers feel pressured to act fast. If they fail to move decisively, after all, a desired property can be scooped up. Making such a hefty decision under intense pressure, however, is no way to make a significant life move and a likely path to buyer’s remorse.

How Gallagher and Henry Helps: At Gallagher and Henry, there are no high-pressured sales pitches, no urgent buy-or-die deadlines. We have been building homes in the Chicago area since 1954 and we are not going anywhere. We are committed to our homeowners and our business. As a family-owned, family-operated homebuilder, we want you to feel confident in your choice. So, we will supply earnest answers to your questions, connect you to helpful resources, and give you the time and space to make an informed, assured decision.

2. A Common Mistake: Failing to Survey the Market
Even the most informed homebuyers can fall prey to assumptions. They think their budget limits them to a certain area or to the resale market, for instance, and they fail to consider new home construction as a viable option.

How Gallagher and Henry Helps: Gallagher and Henry’s sales offices and model homes are open Thursday-Monday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Stop in and explore. Ask questions. Gather information on Gallagher and Henry’s points of differentiation. Learn about the specific Gallagher and Henry community you are visiting as well as others across the southwest and western suburbs. Our floor plans are available on our website for your perusal 24/7. We are also transparent with our prices and standard features, while we can also cost out any modifications you might be interested in seeing.

3. A Common Mistake: Waiting for Perfection
You are wise to create a wish list of wants and needs to guide your home search. But searching for the “unicorn,” the home that checks every last box, can produce an extended, frustrating home search.

How Gallagher and Henry Helps: You do not need to wait for perfection. Rather, go out and grab it. Gallagher and Henry currently has homesites available in eight communities while our Lifestyle Series includes six distinct home plans – four two-story options and two ranch plans. And though we build with brick, our home plans are pliable. You want a larger kitchen? A fifth bedroom? Another full bathroom? Extra windows delivering natural light? Specific finishes? Our plans serve as a starting point and our construction know-how enables us to flex the plans and deliver on specific requests from our homebuyers.

4. A Common Mistake: Miscalculating the Costs of Homeownership
Owning a home is more than the monthly mortgage payment, as numerous other costs come into play, including property taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintenance. These expenses can – and do – add up, and that can put stress on household finances.

How Gallagher and Henry Helps: Gallagher and Henry has established relationships with experienced lenders who can help homebuyers secure competitive rates and gain clarity on monthly principal and interest payments rooted in their personal financial circumstances, not hypotheticals. Even more, moving into a new Gallagher and Henry home minimizes maintenance costs, especially on big-ticket items. There will be no needing a new roof or furnace, windows or appliances anytime soon, as everything in your home comes new and under warranty. On the utilities front, meanwhile, all new Gallagher and Henry homes carry the ENERGY STAR label, which reduces energy use 15-30 percent on an annual basis.

Family Embraces Life in the Calysta

In April 2020, Joe, Julia, and their four daughters moved into Gallagher and Henry’s Farmingdale Village community in Woodridge – the second time the family has inhabited a Gallagher and Henry-built home.

With four girls under age 12, Joe and Julia had outgrown their previous three-bedroom home in Woodridge. “We were at the point where we needed to spread out and find a bigger home,” Joe says.

Focused on staying in the same school district, the family began by exploring the resale market in and around Woodridge. “We were finding homes that either didn’t suit our needs or required a lot of work,” Julia says.

Then, Joe and Julia remembered Farmingdale Village, Gallagher and Henry’s new home community located in the southeast corner of Woodridge. Not only would a home in Farmingdale Village enable the family to remain in Center Cass School District 66, but it would also enable them to build a home that suited their needs. “We could get the space we needed and also have the ability to pick and choose what we wanted,” Julia says. “There wouldn’t be a need for a kitchen remodel because the kitchen was built the way we wanted it.”

The family also stood confident that Gallagher and Henry would deliver a quality-built home. “The home we were living in was built by Gallagher and Henry in the 1980s and we were the second owners,” Joe says. “Everything in the original home was great. The only area that we had a problem with was the addition, which was completed by a different company. When you look at Gallagher and Henry homes, you can tell the quality and durability is high, and we experienced as much.”

Touring different two-story models in Gallagher and Henry’s Lifestyle Series lineup, the family quickly selected the four-bedroom Calysta. “The first time we went through the Calysta, the girls were already claiming their bedrooms,” Julia recalls. The family then selected a cul-de-sac lot that bordered a wooded area.

Gallagher and Henry sales manager Sandie Kanakes guided the family through the construction process, moving from exterior selections to interior selections in an orderly manner over many weeks. “Sandie took us step by step and kept us on pace, which was great because we didn’t know anything about building a new home,” Julia says. “She would tell us what was next and encourage us to think about what we wanted, whether by looking online, sending us photos, or making recommendations. She got to know us and made thoughtful suggestions that simplified the entire process.”

Gallagher and Henry also accommodated the family’s request for custom changes to the Calysta floor plan. Specifically, the homebuilder installed a closet pantry in the kitchen, while a deeper pour in the basement provided higher ceilings. “I loved how we could adjust the floor plan to work for us,” Julia says.

Though unnerving to move amid a pandemic, the family has quickly settled into their new home. They enjoy the Calysta’s open floor plan, the family room’s electric fireplace, and a second-floor laundry room that has added ease and convenience to a necessary household chore. Most of all, the family appreciates having more than 3,300 square feet, which has been especially appreciated in the era of remote learning. “We don’t feel crunched at all,” Joe says. “We all have space we need and then some to spread out.”

And the gourmet kitchen already has Julia excited for the 2021 holidays. A longstanding family tradition brings extended family to her house every other December for multiple days of baking. “One year, we did 17 different varieties of cookies over the weekend, many using my grandmother’s recipes,” Julia says. “I’m on the schedule to host in 2021 and we’re going to enjoy it in this big, open kitchen with a large island.”