Introducing the Kenwood Kitchen!

What a blur it has been since September – we are so proud to have been recognized as one of the top 50 Remodeling Firms in the NATION by Remodeling Magazine. Looking back, it feels as though it has been ages and seconds since we began our journey. I am proud of what we have accomplished – I’m proud of our projects, I’m proud of our tenacity, and most of all, I’m proud of our team. I have the best team in the world and I couldn’t do any of this without them.

We have done a lot and we intend to do MORE! Specifically, more transformations and more giving back to our community. The best is yet to come.

So, in light of those objectives, I would now like to introduce you to the Kenwood Kitchen!


Built in 1903, this 3-story masonry structure features steep roof lines, a wrap-around porch, and showcases over 5,000 square feet of living space. Located in the historic Kenwood neighborhood, this property boasts the rich past – both ancient and recent – that Chicago’s south side has to offer.

I find this property intriguing because, at first glance, it immediately looks like a Queen Anne Victorian home; however, after further observation it becomes apparent that the building is brick. While the steep roof lines and bay windows lend themselves to the Victorian style of American homes, the masonry suggests an Italianate style which is also popular in the Kenwood/Hyde Park neighborhood among the mansions. Both of these styles reached the height of their popularity shortly before this home was built.

So, what is it? Your guess is as good as mine.

I digress.

Our scope for this project includes the remodeling of the Kitchen including new cabinetry, appliances, lighting, and tile. We are also upgrading an existing Butler’s Pantry. Since this home was built over a century ago, the Kitchen is a small space compared to the scale of the residence because the Kitchen was primarily intended for servants’ use. The interior finishes and woodwork have been immaculately maintained throughout the home so our Designer has chosen to work with the existing Kitchen footprint. This means that we are embarking on yet another historic project which uses limited space to maximize impact. For this effort, we are fortunate to be collaborating with the renown Beverly Hammel.

…don’t blink or you’ll miss this one! The holidays are coming so we need to move quickly.

Here are the Before Photos:



Want to see more projects? Check us out at Integro Rehab!


Final Reveal: The Firehouse!

It has been a busy summer! We planted over 100 species of foliage in Oak Brook, we embarked on a 5,000 square home in the Frank Lloyd Wright-Prairie School of Architecture Historical District in Oak Park, and now we have put the finishing touches on a National Historic Landmark: the Firehouse.

Built in 1899 as Engine Company 86, this Landmark building is the oldest surviving framed firehouse in Chicago. Typically, firehouses in Chicago were demolished in the 1930s and replaced with brick buildings; therefore, this iconic structure is unique to Chicago. Instead of being demolished, it was decommissioned in 1932 and later converted into a residence.

It is likely that this building was originally designed by Alfred Alschuler, Argyle E. Robinson, William Carbys Zimmerman, or Paul Gerhardt Jr., renown architects of their time. These original designs accommodated period-specific details including a stable for horse-drawn equipment where our 2-car garage now stands.

Our scope for this project consisted of the restoration of the 2nd floor including hardwood flooring, the addition of 2 bedrooms, upgrade of an existing Guest Bathroom, and the addition of a luxury Master Suite. In addition, a custom steel spiral staircase was designed and installed to reinvigorate this space and acknowledge its originality. Career architects and passionate about the built environment, our clients have owned this property for 15 years. The goal of this project was to prepare this building for marketable resale – to bring this space to life while restoring its original character and charm.


The big excitement this summer was the anticipation of the custom spiral staircase – there’s nothing quite like having to rely on email and phone conversations to confirm measurements…coordination like this takes hours off the end of my life…

So, we take our measurements, we discuss, we discuss again, we discuss again, we take more measurements, we confuse each other, we discuss again, then we take more photos with measuring tape in them, then we discuss, then we approve.

We wait, we wait, we wait.



Then, it arrives. Hooray! Yay for us! The final piece!

We bring in the troops.

Here are our carpenters on the first piece. In case you’re wondering, that face means “you’re crazy.”

“You’re crazy, Ally.”

Before long, it’s all coming together:


Up, up, up we go!


Until we get to the top to reap the glory of our construction.


…party foul!

Suddenly, all of those confusing discussions become clear and I am further validated that measuring across distances is bad for my health.

That’s okay, that’s okay…a cap piece and a 2-3/8″ return piece will solve all of our problems.

The End.

So, without further ado, here is what you have all been waiting for (right?)!


Living Room – BEFORE
Living Room – AFTER
Spiral Staircase – BEFORE
Spiral Staircase – AFTER
Master Bedroom – BEFORE
Master Bedroom – AFTER
Master Bedroom/Closet – AFTER
Master Bedroom/Closet – AFTER
Master Bathroom – BEFORE
Master Bathroom – AFTER
Master Bathroom – BEFORE
Master Bathroom – AFTER
Master Bathroom – AFTER
Main Hallway – BEFORE
Main Hallway – AFTER
2nd Bath Firehouse 1
Guest Bathroom – BEFORE
2nd Bath Firehouse
Guest Bathroom – BEFORE
Guest Bathroom – AFTER
Guest Bedrooms – BEFORE
Guest Bedrooms – AFTER
Main Staircase – BEFORE
Main Staircase – AFTER

…and there we have it, a new life for another old building.

Thanks to the 606 studio for bringing our project to life through photography.

Special thanks, of course, is credited to our clients – your beautiful aesthetic for this exceptional building created an inspiring transformation.

Want to see more projects? Check us out at Integro Rehab!

Integro Rehab named by Remodeling Magazine to its 2017 Big50 class of America’s Top Remodelers

Chicago, IL (September 12, 2017) – Integro Rehab has been selected by REMODELING magazine to join the REMODELING Big50. Each year since 1986, the REMODELING Big50 inducts 50 remodeling companies that have set exceptionally high standards for professionalism and integrity through exemplary business practices, craftsmanship, and impact in their community or the industry at large. Big50 remodelers run successful, often growing, companies of various sizes that have taken the lead in raising industry standards.


“To give a sense of how unique this status is, consider there are roughly 92,000 remodeling firms in America with paid staff,” noted Craig Webb, REMODELING’s Editor-in-Chief. “ Since 1986, we have selected only about 1,550 firms. That’s 1.7% of all the remodeling businesses in the country.”

“We are honored to receive this distinction,” says Allyson Case, CEO of Integro Rehab. “ The award recognizes excellence and leadership, and we are privileged to be named to this select group of remodelers.”

REMODELING editors, columnists, industry leaders, and companies themselves make the nominations each year. Following a lengthy evaluation and interview process, the editors select the 50 companies who exemplify the best of the industry that year, and who have something to offer other remodelers in proven practices.

The Big50 selection process has become increasingly rigorous in recent years, and the result, REMODELING editors believe, is one of the strongest classes to date. “ Uniting the 2017 inductees are high standards and a determination to excel. They are taking the opportunity to build or adopt new efficiencies into their systems and processes— ensuring that they are poised to meet their sales, production, and customer-service goals and continue to thrive,” according to REMODELING. The Big50 awards will be presented at a dinner at the Remodelers Summit and Awards Gala on Wednesday, September 27, 2017 in Minneapolis. The 2017 Big50 winners will be featured in the September issue of REMODELING, a national trade publication read by more than 150,000 professional remodeling contractors, with longer profiles of the winners posted on the REMODELING website,

REMODELING, published by Hanley Wood, is the leading publication in the home improvement industry. REMODELING has and continues to be the indispensable tool that remodelers cannot do without—delivering the business know-how, product and technical information that home improvement pros need to help make smart decisions that will shape their success.

Learn more about Integro Rehab here.

Final Reveal: The Hyde Park Condo!

We made it. 9 months of work, communicating across countries, coordinating across oceans, and operating over 20 stories high. Have you seen our progress video? Grab a beverage and check it out before continuing!

Before the final reveal, let’s recap our beloved project:

Hyde Park is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Chicago, boasting a rich history filled with classic architecture from the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Hyde Park Condo is no exception. Featuring over 2,500 square feet of space with sweeping views of Lake Michigan, this project is located in one of Hyde Park’s most prestigious high rise buildings. Built in 1928, this unit had undergone limited renovations over the past century. Currently residing abroad, our clients sought to retire from their careers in our world-class city of Chicago. The goal of this project was to create a home that our clients would enjoy for the decades to come – a space which would provide the history and visual interest that the fantastic architecture of Europe has afforded them for the majority of their lives.

Our scope included the gut rehabilitation of the entire unit, upgrade of the utilities, and installation of a high-velocity air conditioning system. Custom, plaster legacy mouldings throughout the unit were preserved and restored. A solid wood, custom arched entry door defining the Living Room and Dining Room was restored to serve its original purpose. Also original to the unit, wooden cornices and columns were revived and repurposed as focal points throughout the space.

The vision of this space was to pay homage to the classic architecture of the building, built in 1928, while incorporating contemporary pieces: Plaster crown moulding and black, Italian cabinetry; A cast iron soaking tub positioned on large format stone tiles; 6-piece wainscoting along the walls highlighting 10” planked hickory hardwood flooring… Hints of the past collaborating with nods to the future.

The primary challenge of this project was long-distance coordination. In addition to maintaining an aggressive schedule for completion, Integro worked remotely with our clients – providing weekly video blogs to showcase the progress of our ambitious undertaking. Understanding the physical limitations of managing a project abroad, Integro coordinated our project schedule to accommodate finish materials from across the globe. The majority of these items required significant lead times of up to 20 weeks and other portions of our Work were sequentially related to the delivery of these finishes – for example, the Italian cabinetry in the Kitchen was designed flush to the ceiling which provided no room for error in the floor height. This meant that we had to level the floors without raising their height and install our ¼” tiles with exactly ¼” of underlayment months after the cabinets were built and weeks prior to their arrival on site from Italy. The level of detail Integro contributed to this project is shown by the seamless transitions from classic to modern design throughout the rooms.

Our final product in the Hyde Park Condo provides a sensory experience throughout the space. Legacy mouldings grace the formal entry and guide your path to a recessed, oval ceiling custom built to invisibily accommodate the new HVAC system. Following dramatic views of Lake Michigan, the Living Room brings you to the fully restored arched entry into the Dining Room. No sooner is one inspired by the stately presence of century-old architecture, than the eye is briskly greeted by contemporary, black cabinetry complimenting professional-grade appliances in the Kitchen and a modern Powder Room showcasing a wall-mounted sink. The bedrooms, featuring built-in bookcases and polished copper radiators revived by the Integro team, lead directly into their private ensuite bathrooms accommodating luxurious soaking tubs, floating sinks, and sleek fixtures. Subtle and confident. Classic and contemporary. The Hyde Park Condo is now a space that has thoughtfully shaped an ambiance of elegant bravado.

BEFORE – Kitchen
AFTER – Kitchen
BEFORE – Kitchen
BEFORE – Kitchen
AFTER – Kitchen
BEFORE – Living Room/Library
BEFORE – Legacy Doorway
AFTER – Legacy Doorway/Living Room
BEFORE – Living Room/Library
AFTER – Living Room/Library
BEFORE – Library/Front Hallway
AFTER – Library/Front Hallway
BEFORE – Office/Guest Bedroom
AFTER – Office/Guest Bedroom
BEFORE – Master Bathroom
BEFORE – Master Bathroom
AFTER – Master Bathroom

Photo Credit: Tom Rossiter

Special thanks to SMNG-A Architects for their support, coordination, and design of this stunning space. We couldn’t have done it without you.

…and, of course, our deepest gratitude and appreciation to our clients – the homeowners of the Hyde Park Condo. Your collaborative enthusiasm, incredible diligence, and earnest commitment to our cause transformed our challenges into creative opportunity. You made this project great.

Thank you.

Want to see more projects? Check us out at Integro Rehab!


Why you shouldn’t max out your construction budget…and a Hemingway project update!

Oh, July…you came, you went. It was nice knowing you.

The Hemingway project is underway with demolition complete (Well, we didn’t rip up all of the floors because, y’know, we need to walk on them. Another day, Batman). The carpenters have been working incredibly hard to reinforce the Attic: leveling the floors, laying a new sub-floor, and framing it up. After a particularly humid week, there was a small monsoon in Chicago. As our crews were working, it began raining in the Attic! Looking up to the roof, Sebastian counted: one leak, two leaks…three, four, five…I’d show you pictures except that I was on a sailboat in the middle of Lake Michigan and Sebastian was busy finding buckets.


Did I mention that we had not planned on any roof work?

Of course we didn’t! It’s Murphy’s Law!

Sigh. Okay.

Now, I’ve mentioned before that you should have a contingency budget during construction. Yes, this kind of stuff is what it’s for – especially during a renovation (as opposed to new construction). Here’s a twist to also consider:

We need to do the roof now. It’s going to cost more money. At this time, we’re also finalizing the layout of the Attic and discussing all of the crevices and corners to make sure everything is perfect when drywall goes up. The entire time, we are working around a 36SF skylight: 6′ x 6′. The thing is massive…and it’s low….low to the ground. So, when you’re standing on one side of the Attic, there’s suddenly a barrage of light shining down. I’m always a fan of natural light and we were planning on working with this skylight – now that we need to fix the roof though, the ideas start circling.


What if we remove that big skylight and put up 5-6 smaller skylights higher up in the ceiling? This would allow more light AND more consistent light throughout the space. Then, we can space our collar ties evenly down the Attic without needing a gap to avoid this massive skylight…



Then! Since we can evenly space the collar ties – perhaps we can go from this:


To this:


THIS is what the contingency budget should do – it should allow you to afford the challenges that need to be overcome and ALSO allow you to capitalize on the new opportunities that the challenges present.

Having to replace the roof is a bummer. Replacing the roof, however, has the potential to completely transform the space. This is why you should never max out your initial budget. Give yourself some breathing room – and if you can’t do that, then wait until you can because, more often than not, the challenges turn out to be the dream makers.


Here are some progress photos!


Want to see more projects? Check us out at Integro Rehab!

Introducing the Hemingway Project!

This week, I am off sailing the Chicago Race to Mackinac Island! A 330 mile trek involving over 300 sailing vessels, this is the largest freshwater race in the world. Unfortunately, the sea state was intense with winds “blowing stink” and waves topping 10-foot swells for over 24 hours straight – forcing 98 boats to retire due to safety, damage to the vessels, sea sickness…and perhaps logic. What can I say? Sometimes I do things that defy logic…such as treating huge rolling waves like a roller coaster instead of evaluating my mortality. Our team, Mutiny, finished the race on Tuesday morning – our fleet started the race with 17 vessels and ended the race with 9. This was certainly a regatta to remember.


Meanwhile, on dry land, I have left Sebastian yet again to manage our projects while I’m away. The Firehouse and the Oak Brook project are cruising towards their finish lines. While we love to stop, reminisce, and admire our transformations – we can only enjoy this briefly before doing what we must: move on to the next.

Allyson Location Portrait_393

Therefore, allow me to introduce you to the Hemingway Project! This project involves the historical restoration of an approximately 4,500SF building located in one of the most renown Frank Lloyd Wright Historical Districts in the nation. This​ ​building​ ​is​ ​a​ ​Queen Anne​ ​style​, ​designed​ ​by​ ​architecture​ ​firm,​ ​Patton​ ​and​ ​Fisher,​ ​and​ ​built​ ​between 1882-1889 – ​more​ ​than​ ​a​ ​decade​ ​before​ ​the​ ​Village​ ​of​ ​Oak​ ​Park,​ ​itself,​ ​was​ ​incorporated. This​ ​building​ ​is​ ​designated​ ​at​ ​the​ ​National​ ​and​ ​Local​ ​level​ ​for​ ​the​ ​National​ ​Register​ ​of​ ​Historic Places.  

An​ ​American​ ​Queen​ ​Anne​ ​style,​ this en vogue​ ​architectural​ ​aesthetic reached its height of popularity in the late 19th century.​ A traditional construction, ​the​ ​structure​ ​consists​ ​of​ ​a​ ​stone​ ​foundation​ ​with​ ​combustible structural​ ​framing.​ ​The​ ​exterior​ ​features​ ​the​ ​original​ ​wood​ ​clapboard​ ​and​ ​wood​ ​shingles.​ ​The roof​ ​has​ ​a​ ​cross​ ​gable​ ​with​ ​replacement​ ​asphalt​ ​shingles​ ​and​ ​brackets which provides ​a​ ​complex and​ ​creative​ ​opportunity​ ​for​ ​design.​ ​The​ ​windows​ ​are​ ​the​ ​original​ ​wood.​ ​This​ ​building​ ​also consists of ​a​ ​1-story,​ ​open​ ​porch​ ​with​ ​a​ ​gable​ ​clad​ ​roof​ ​and​ ​square​ ​wood​ ​posts.  

Our​ ​scope​ ​on​ ​this​ ​project​ ​includes​ ​exterior restoration of the building, an​ ​upgrade​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Kitchen,​ ​remodeling​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Study​ ​including the​ ​addition​ ​of​ ​a​ ​fireplace,​ ​an​ ​upgrade​ ​to​ ​all​ ​bathrooms​ ​in​ ​the​ ​building,​ ​a​ ​full​ ​remodel​ ​of​ ​the Master​ ​Suite,​ ​restoration​ ​of​ ​the​ ​original​ ​hardwood​ ​flooring,​ ​and​ ​restoration​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Grand Staircase.​ ​The​ ​3rd​ ​Floor​ ​Attic​ ​is​ ​currently​ ​unoccupied​ ​space​ ​which​ ​will​ ​be​ ​transformed​ ​into​ ​a multi-use​ ​recreational​ ​area​ ​featuring​ ​climate​ ​control,​ ​a​ ​wet​ ​bar,​ ​bathroom,​ ​library​ ​spaces, custom​ ​cabinetry,​ ​a​ ​fireplace​ ​hearth,​ ​and​ ​25-foot​ ​gabled​ ​ceilings​ ​showcasing​ ​custom​ ​collar​ ​ties.  

The goal of this project is to maintain and invigorate the historic features of this building while creating a safe and functional space with modern amenities to improve comfort and flexibility.


So,​ ​for​ ​your​ ​viewing​ ​pleasure,​ ​here​ ​are​ ​the​ ​Before​ ​photos: 


Want to see more projects? Check us out at Integro Rehab!

How to End Your Workday in the 21st Century

We are quickly approaching Independence Day here in the United States, July 4th. This is a time widely known for grilling out, spending time on the beach, enjoying festivals, and watching fireworks to celebrate the birth of our nation. During this holiday, Integro schedules Project Shut Down. Project Shut Down is the term I use for days during the year where we schedule no workers on site at all of our projects. It is a day off for everyone in the company. No email, no phone, no crews.


I consider Project Shut Down to be one of the most important assets of our firm. Our construction work requires as much, if not more mental capacity as it does physical capacity. Our days are long and our expectations are high. I demand a multi-faceted array of talent from my staff – requiring that their daily issues are not merely addressed, rather that they are resolved. This, of course, all being done with professionalism, humility, and enthusiasm.

This is no small feat. Each person on my team has spouses, children, and personal lives.

When it comes to construction, I have the greatest team in the world. As such, it is my job to ensure that their needs are well regarded. Part of my approach to this concept is Project Shut Down. I cannot expect my team to be 100% 24/7. It’s not physically possible. They need to decompress, they need to relax, they need to spend time doing the things in their lives that are most important to them.


Yes, we love our work. The goal, however, is to work to live and not live to work. The irony in this realization is that our work suffers if our work itself is the sole focus of any given member of our team. In order to be passionate and work with purpose, we have to have a bigger picture clearly in focus – why should anyone care about Integro’s growth and passion if the success of our goals does not positively impact their personal lives?

In the age of technology, generations of workers – from Baby Boomers to Millennials – are fully connected to work all of the time in some capacity. Every person that I spoke to about disconnecting responded with the same sentiment – it’s really hard to do that:


“People still email me with time-sensitive stuff!”

“I check my email so I can prepare myself for what’s coming when I get back. I don’t like to be bombarded.”

“Our team works globally in different time zones.”


We all know these arguments, right? Well, I’m here to tell you – with love – that I think all of them are silly. Our lives are too important for excuses like that.

Here are my ideas on how to stop working in the 21st century:

1.Unsync. No, I’m not crazy! I’m not a hippie! Yes, I do have a job that makes incredible demands on me! I do it anyway – yep, that’s right – I go to “Settings” and I click that button that syncs my email off. Boom. Personal email only when I check my phone! Have a laptop or desktop computer at home? Turn off any notifications from your email. Turn off the feature that automatically loads your email application when you turn your computer on.

I do this for vacations and long weekends. I also do this daily.

Yes. Daily.

When I have completed all of the tasks that I can for the day, I turn off my work email. What am I going to be able to do after 7pm when some random **** hits the fan as I’m spending time with my family? Nothing. All I’m going to do is ruin my mood and ruin my sleep cycle, panicking all night about something that will likely be addressed in some capacity first thing in the morning. This will be more satisfying if I learned about it first thing in the morning after a quality slumber.


2. Set expectations. I work for myself now; however, when it comes to our clients, the buck stops with me. I used to work in a corporate environment, reporting directly to executives. Here’s the deal: set expectations. You’re getting time sensitive emails at night or when you’re on personal time off? I would venture to guess that 9 times of out 10, this is because you’re feeding the beast by responding. Please see Item 1.

Team members contacting you when you’re scheduled for time off is extremely bad behavior. Don’t reward that!

If your team knows that you rarely respond when you’re off work hours, they will typically stop demanding immediate gratification. In my experience, I received the same emails at the same time late at night, except they had more respectful deadlines.

In the same breathe, give them an opportunity to be on good behavior. Give at least a week’s notice to critical team members about your absence. Make sure your team is set up for success while you’re gone. Coordinate any major meetings for after your return so there are few loose ends. You can show that you’re in control AND take time off.

3. Automatic Replies. Turn them on, identify a departure date and a return date. Clearly state that you’re unplugged without ANY email or phone. Period. Leave an emergency contact that IS NOT YOU, if necessary.

This is a simple thing to do and can really alleviate negative experiences. This includes your email and your voicemail. If people don’t know you’re gone, then they think you’re just not responding. This is not nice and creates unnecessary animosity. It’s also unprofessional. Do yourself and everyone else a solid and give notice that you’re gone.

4. Don’t feel bad. Look, it happens to everyone, you unsync, you set expectations, you notify – and there will always be a honey badger who won’t respect your time off. It’s taken me years; however, I have finally made the leap: I’ll deal with it when I get back. Period. Unless someone is having a catastrophic emergency on a project such as fire, water, or theft – I’m out. I love you all, I’m out. People may not like it, don’t make it your problem. You did everything you could to avoid that sentiment.

5. Be consistent. Use Items 1-4 and use them all the time. Inconsistency breeds discontent.

Consider this practice – and, I promise, when you’re spending your evenings, weekends, and vacations work free, your office will notice how your refreshed attitude improves their lives as well.

Happy Independence Day!

Want to see our team? Check us out at Integro Rehab!