A tough guy butler opens the massive front door ushering us into a cozy office. “Whaddaya say?” he inquires, asking us to declare our secret entry phrase. We chanted, “This tomato gave me the icy mitt at the petting factory.” We’re then allowed clandestine passage down to a secret round wine room encased in beautiful aged wood crowned with brick. Just beyond was a sliding barn door leading to our destination: a newly renovated basement-turned-speakeasy hosting a modern Prohibition Party. Wearing fedoras and flapper gowns with Jellyroll Morton playing in the air, we were all Zeldas and Scotts giddily sipping Gin Rickys, admiring the atmosphere.
The room is a time capsule into the past. Kristin Georgy and her husband, Steve, have been working on it for 10 months, their inspiration being an old 18th century pub. Their vision evolved along the way into more of a 1920’s underground saloon, but even that isn’t a hard and fast design thread. Kristin just knows what she likes, and doesn’t worry about whether it adheres to any rules.
Kristin and Steve bought this land a few years ago in Crystal Lake, Illinois. An old house and barn were on the property, both tear-downs, but they harvested as much of the materials from those buildings as they could: windows, stone, wood, a barn door.
“I just like old stuff. Everything down here is old. The wood is reclaimed from Heritage Beam and Board, the barn door came from the old barn on our property that sadly had to be taken down. The light fixtures were my grandfather’s. When I was young we used to make fun of him for always buying these old ugly light fixtures but when we were designing this room I remembered them and went to look and realized that they’re all super cool. My grandpa knew that even then.”
Because this project was such a big undertaking, it took a big team to accomplish everything. “I would explain to Emily and Seth at Heritage what my seemingly impossible vision was, and they would just say yes. They were my Yes People!” Heritage collaborated with an amazing builder, Keith DuShane of V2 Construction who originally built the home, and took Kristin’s vision to a place that worked logistically and beautifully for their space.
Emily and Seth really enjoyed working on this project. “The great thing about working with the Georgys is that they had so many creative ideas that were so unique. We really wanted to make their vision a reality, no matter what. We love a challenge.”
When Kristin designed the basement space, she knew it would be well-used because they have this epic family and friend network. “There’s family everywhere, all the time,” Kristin laughs. Their community is hugely important to them, and they have secret homages to people they have loved around the space, including 15 bottles of booze mired in the brick behind the bar: Grandma’s favorite scotch, a birthday gift from a best friend, some really bad spiced rum from a friend who passed away. Every bottle has a story, and they want to remember them all.
The Prohibition Party had a heart, too. For all of their big events, the Georgy’s pick a worthy charity and ask their guests for donations. So this party did not only serve to christen the cool basement, the Georgy’s were also raising money for CASA: Court Appointed Service Advocates. “When kids are in the foster system, they need an advocate to guide them through the system. These advocates are all volunteer and so vital in the lives of these kids during such a hard time in their lives,” Kristin explained. “We like to do that. Our oldest is the ultimate philanthropist. One year we chose a Save the Tigers organization just for her.”
The process of creating the space was such a collaborative effort. To make it all happen for the Georgys, Heritage worked closely with Keith DuShane and Exceed Floor and Home, who did the amazing tile, flooring, and brick work. Heritage is proud to have been a part of the process, and of course the festivities after!