The Rancics, stars of the Style Channel's Giuliana and Bill reality show, purchased the unfinished 12,000-square-footer in west suburban Chicago in April for $1.56 million, as we previously reported. They spent the summer remodeling it, giving viewers glimpses during their reality show. (See video clips below.)
Although when the two were house hunting, the 39-year-old Bill said he wanted a place they could grow into and raise a family so that "we won't have to move for many, many years to come," perhaps in the end the house seemed too big and lonely given their well-publicized miscarriage after in vitro fertilization. In a December episode of their show called "Remodel Remorse," Rancic says he would not have bought the place, except he thought his wife was having twins.
When they first toured the Federal-style house with its red brick facade, there was a gravel walkway with a wooden plank where front steps should have been, but now there is a horseshoe drive made of clay pavers leading to a limestone pathway. Inside originally was "the dusty debris of a project abandoned mid-construction," reported the Chicago Tribune. But in about four months time, the couple ripped out marble floors in the foyer and replaced them with Brazilian cherry wood to match the rest of the house, and they converted a basement bathroom into a limestone-walled wine cellar and converted two rooms into a rubber-floor exercise gym. They also put in a theater with stadium seating and added iron railings where stone balustrades once stood on the backyard balcony.
Although the original listing details at the time of their purchase said the price included all the yet-to-be-installed cabinets, floors, plumbing, heating, windows, and doors, according to the Real Estalker, it seems the Rancics installed ones of their own choosing anyway. They even removed an elevator.
The power couple, who has authored five books between them, did build a bit of high-tech into the home though. In fact, iPads are built into several walls throughout the house, including the kitchen. From each panel, or even from a remote iPad powered up anywhere in the world, the new owners can control temperature settings, security cameras, lights and alarms.
And for testosterone-filled Rancic, no home would be complete without a nice place for a humidor. So he built a navy blue "cigar and scotch room" with white wainscoting and a white Calcutta marble bar.
"It's a warm house, it's a house that kind of puts its arms around you when you walk in," Rancic told the Chicago Tribune. But hey, that's Giuliana's job! She recently told talk show host Wendy Williams: "You know we've been trying to have a baby for a long time, but we're on a break right now, and we've just been making love and having fun."
Before he found his true love, Rancic, who went from founder of a now multimillion-dollar cigar-of-the-month club to real estate investor, sure did learn a lot about real estate from Donald Trump after overseeing the construction of Trump Tower Chicago on the riverfront site of the former Chicago Sun-Times building. He has bought and sold a handful of properties since 2007, making a profit on all of them at a time when many are suffering losses.
In early January, he sold an approximate 2,000-square-foot, 50th-floor unit in the Park Tower building on the Windy City's North Michigan Avenue that he renovated "from top to bottom." (See condo photos in our gallery.) He bought it for $1.185 million -- less than half of the previous owner's mortgage -- and sold it 20 months later for $1.425 million. It had an original list price of $1.65 million that was later reduced to $1.499 million, reported Chicago Breaking News. Also, in March 2009, through his GDP LLC company, Rancic sold a Gold Coast row house for $3.595 million that he paid $1.5 million for just under two years before. Of course he had renovated that one too, and even had a bit of seller's remorse later.
Sheree R. Curry, who was born and raised in Chicago and sold a home for a profit in a north suburb there, is a three-time award-winning journalist who has covered real estate for six years. During her 20-year career, her articles have appeared regularly in the Wall Street Journal, TV Week, and Fortune. She also wrote about real estate for Trump World magazine before it went belly up. She's been writing for AOL Real Estate since 2009 from a Minneapolis-area rental. She seeks a book publisher -- or at least a lender who'll give a reasonable mortgage rate to a self-employed mom.
See Giuliana and Bill visiting Hinsdale
See Giuliana and Bill moving into their Chicago grey stone