Duplex homes are often thought of as utilitarian dwellings that allow builders and developers to squeeze more homes onto a parcel of land. But a Chicago-area builder is working to show buyers that duplexes can be more than just practical.

With amped-up square footage, upscale features and finishes, and locations in some of Chicago’s most sought-after suburbs, semi-attached residences by Northbrook, Ill.-based Red Seal Homes is redefining the duplex home.

“With the convenience and maintenance-free aspect of attached living appealing to so many buyers with busy lifestyles, we saw a real opportunity to reimagine what a duplex could be and build a semi-attached alternative to an upscale single-family home,” says Brian Hoffman, an executive with Red Seal Homes. “And these definitely aren’t like duplex homes of the past, since they have the expansive square footage and premium features luxury buyers expect.”

Red Seal’s super-sized duplex homes are available at two of the builder’s communities in Chicago-area suburbs: Willow Lake, a community of 52 semi-attached homes in Lake Forest and Provenance, a master-planned development in the Northbrook area that includes duplexes as well as single-family homes and townhomes.

“These are well-established suburbs where much of the existing housing stock is older,” notes Hoffman. “Our duplexes are a welcome new-construction option that matches or even exceeds what resale single-family homes in the area offer in terms of size and features. Plus, the maintenance-free aspect is a real draw for anyone who appreciates everything these suburbs have to offer, and wants a home in these areas but without the extra yard work and upkeep that goes with a single-family home.”

For example, at Willow Lake, where homes range in size from 2,491 to 4,338 square feet and are priced from $800,000, buyers can choose from seven semi-attached floor plans featuring two to four bedrooms, 2½ to 3½ baths, basements and attached two-car garages.

“These floor plans start out generously sized, and with the option to finish the full basement as well as other alternate configurations, buyers can easily up their square footage even further,” said Hoffman.

Inside, the homes at Willow Lake have graciously sized living areas including open concept kitchen and great room configurations, separate formal living and dining rooms, libraries, lofts, and mudroom/ hobby spaces, per plan. “These duplexes offer all the must-have features for luxury buyers,” said Hoffman. “We can also customize these plans with many of those extras that make a home perfect for a buyer, such as screened-in or covered porches, master bedroom sitting areas, and even optional elevators.”

Meanwhile, at Provenance, duplex residences called the Villas measure 1,807 to 3,606 square feet and feature ranch and two-story plans. Priced from $599,900, the Villas include two to three bedrooms, 2½ baths, a full unfinished basement and an attached two-car garage. Floor plans offer features such as a first-floor master suite, loft, an office, two-story great room and second-level laundry room, per plan.

“People often assume a duplex means a two-story home, but that isn’t necessarily the case with these homes,” says Hoffman. “And with new-construction ranch duplexes especially rare on the North Shore, these homes will be especially appealing to buyers that want single-level living in a convenient attached home. Buyers can also choose a two-story plan with 3,606 square feet that gives them space equivalent to a roomy single-family home.”

Hoffman added that it’s not just square footage that has been elevated in Red Seal’s new generation of duplex homes. The builder is also outfitting its attached residences with upscale luxury finishes and features to appeal to the most discerning buyers.

At both Willow Lake and Provenance, duplex homes include high-end features such as site-finished wood floors on the main level; deluxe master baths with custom tile and cabinetry; gourmet kitchens with granite countertops, custom cabinetry and built-in stainless steel appliances; and elegant exteriors with a choice of elevations featuring cement board siding and brick or stone accents. Buyers can also work with the sales team at both communities to further personalize their home with a range of optional features and upgrades. In both communities, the maintenance-free lifestyle includes fully landscaped grounds with an irrigation system. Snow removal is also provided.

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