Meet Aaron and Vincent, two new homeowners with serious artistic vision. Aaron and Vincent recently purchased a three bedroom, two bathroom home in East Garfield Park with the help of Susannah Ribstein and Annie Coleman of LivingRoom Realty.
Both are Chicago transplants who were captivated by the city and couldn’t imagine leaving now. Aaron is the Director for Operations for Dynamism, Inc., a Chicago-based technology distributor focused on 3D printers and scanners.
Vincent is the Art Director of a nonprofit that supports adult artists with disabilities: Arts of Life. He also runs LVL3, a gallery and online publication supporting creative talent from all around the world. They are also the parents of a beautiful cat, Rox and an impressively photogenic pitbull named Milo.
We asked them a few questions about their journey to homeownership.
LivingRoom Realty (LRR): So, what were the deciding factors when you were selecting a neighborhood and picking out a property?
Aaron & Vincent (A&V): One of our primary concerns was being close to work. We were both coming from super easy commutes and didn’t want to change that. We were lucky enough to find a place that's almost directly in between both of our day jobs--our commutes are really only about five minutes. We also wanted to make sure that we would be able to access a grocery store, a gym, and our friends fairly easily. We did not want to go to the suburbs!
LRR: Can you explain a bit more about that process?
A&V: Our initial goal was to buy a commercial building, start a business, and live above it. After months of trying and several business plan drafts later, the process for financing proved too difficult to secure the property we were initially after. We eventually began looking strictly at residential homes, but came across a lot of bleak looking properties that needed tons of work and were at the top of our price point. We actually overlooked this property at first, but are ultimately very happy with it.
LRR: What made you choose this particular home? What’s your favorite thing about the property?
V: I love having a finished basement. We can hang out down there, watch movies, and display our art collection. The basement also serves as a private guest space when friends and family need a place to stay. We also wanted a large closet and were able to turn a whole room into a closet here.
A: Natural light is super important to me, so the fact that the kitchen and our bedroom both get a lot of that was a big factor. Also, having a space to garden (we have an extra long lot) is huge.
LRR: After going through it yourselves, what would you tell someone who is about to embark on the home buying process?
A&V: Don’t rush into it; the right property will come about in time. It’s easy to get excited about a property or feel like there's nothing out there worth your time, but it’s important to avoid settling on something you aren’t thoroughly excited about.
Have a good idea of what’s important to you in terms of property characteristics, but also keep an open mind about what’s going to work realistically, and be honest about your lifestyle and needs. Obviously, finding the right agent is also crucial!
LRR: How did you incorporate your own style into the home? Tell us about any improvements you’ve made or plan to make.
A: We honestly didn't have to do much to the house since it had been renovated shortly before we bought it. The biggest things we did were paint the entire interior of the house ourselves and swap out all of the light fixtures to match our aesthetics better.
If we could have done that over, we definitely would have hired professional painters as opposed to two people who could help us paint. That was really challenging.
V: We hope to add some curb appeal to the house and paint the exterior (at least the front) in the next few years. We have lots of plans for the front and backyard. Aaron’s planning a pretty complex garden, and I’m looking for ways to host backyard gatherings by adding a projection screen, fire pit, barbeque, and outdoor furniture.
Thanks to Aaron & Vincent for letting LRR into their living room!