Meet the Manspergers
When you see a home with dusty carpeted stairs and narrow, old-fashioned bedrooms, do you see a problem you have to live with, or a potential for reinvention? When you see a neglected backyard, do you see the cracks in the cement, or do you see a future with an expertly-designed garden? When people think of renovations, they may think of planning a design and then hiring a team to do the heavy lifting. Paige and Nathan Mansperger are not those kinds of people. Originally from Atlanta, they moved here for Nathan’s job and immediately set about making their dream home a reality. After working for several months with Tori Gwin, they finally landed on a charming two-flat in Logan Square. “Tori worked nonstop for us,” Paige says. Even a "good" building wasn't good enough. “It was all about making sure we found the perfect fit.”
The perfect fit, it turns out, was still a relic of the past. Many two-flats in Logan Square were built in the turn of the twentieth century, when bathrooms and living rooms were front and center, while kitchens were relegated to the back corner. It was a time when women were expected to stay huddled over the stove, while the men relaxed in the living room. The Manspergers took one look and saw an opportunity to redesign an outdated floor plan, transforming the second floor into a modern, sleek unit. Now the bedrooms have more closet space (a “simple” trick of repositioning the walls), the kitchen has been moved from the back of the house to the middle for an open-plan atmosphere, and Paige personally tore out the old stairway carpeting and re-did the flooring underneath. It was a labor of love and YouTube tutorials. The couple also worked with a landscape designer to transform the dusty cement backyard ("She said it was the ugliest she's ever seen!” remarks Paige) into a beautiful garden, perfect for cooking at home and entertaining friends.
The garden changes with the seasons, but often sports essential herbs like thyme and parsley, along with arugula, radishes, and whatever the couple feels like trying their hand at growing next. Even as we photographed them on a sunny afternoon in May, Nathan was gathering fresh butter lettuce for their salads that evening. It all goes well with their design aesthetic, described in one word: green. "We love living things," Paige says, adjusting a fresh bouquet of flowers. It is a home bursting with life, not only because of their fondness for their garden, but because they've just welcomed a baby girl to the growing family.
The choice to live in Logan Square was easy. “There’s so many cool restaurants and places we can walk with our kids,” Paige says. “And having the 606 just a half mile away is perfect for weekend strolls.” With renovations officially done, Paige and Nathan have offered the first floor for AirBNB rentals, and have found that their location is so popular they’re almost always booked up throughout the year. In addition to supplementing their income, AirBNB allows the Manspergers to open up part of their home so that others can experience the best that Logan Square has to offer, in a space guests can feel confident is fitted with the very best in modern design standards. Paige and Nathan are a good lesson in possibilities. Next time you see a home that’s outdated or a backyard with weeds, try to do what they did: envision the potential for a home rife with love, and with life.
Photography by Alina Tsvor
Text by Eric Grant