Meet Your Neighborhood – Chris and Hillary Hau
By Lyra O’Brien
The stately 1918 Bungalow on 50th Street is the house Chris and Hillary Hau call home with their two daughters. It’s an exceptional blend of old-world charm with beautifully updated accents. Converted back from a duplex to a single-family home, the hard work and loving care is so special that it’s highlighted in a book called Updating Classic American Bungalows. It was that special combination of mixing the past with the present that the family found so appealing.
“I like merging the old with the new. We still have the beautiful leaded glass and all the spectacular woodwork, but it’s blended with the new kitchen and upstairs bedroom space. We have tall ceilings in the back of the home, an updated kitchen and bedroom space. With all of these features, the house is very unique,” stated Hillary Hau.
Chris, a Principal at Quorum Architects, and Hillary, a nurse, bought their home from friends in 2003. Even before buying the home, the family says they were already sold on the neighborhood.
“We knew Washington Heights was centrally located. She’s five minutes from work and I’m five minutes from work. When we go places or go out, this is where all of our friends want to meet first because we are so close to everything. We are the meeting place for everyone, and people just love the area,” said Chris Hau.
Hillary said she wasn’t familiar with older homes prior to living in the Heights. She said she grew up in a ranch from the 1970s, but knew her house was the one as soon as she walked through the front door.
“I couldn’t helping thinking these homes are all so great in the Heights. I walked into my home and thought ‘WOW’. This house is so different and special. Really, every home in this neighborhood is so distinctive. I love walking around because you can see how every home is so different, and I always see something that’s rare and new,” said Hillary Hau.
Q. What is your favorite room in the house?
Chris Hau: “I really enjoy the whole house, not just one room. I just enjoy different spaces during different times of the day. We use the dining room in the morning to eat breakfast as a family and watch the sunrise. Our porch is east-facing, so you get all of that sunshine. The back porch is west-facing, so we grill out or eat dinner there. The living room can be for reading or board games. The family room is where we want to watch a movie together. The kitchen is central for bringing everyone together.”
Q. What work have you done to your home?
Chris Hau: “We renovated the porch, and the deck. We updated the master bathroom, we finished the basement, created a work area and a kid’s play area. We placed new siding on the garage and installed insulation throughout the home. We reconfigured the outdoor area to give us more outdoor living space. We have completed one major project for every year we’ve lived in this home. Now we think we are done for a while and will focus on maintaining the home for years to come.”
Q. Tell me about your neighbors.
Hillary Hau: “We’ve really gotten to know our neighbors, and have become close during the years. Our neighbor Lorraine is Grandma Lorraine to our girls. How special is that?! Our neighbor Diane is amazing and has been here 30 plus years. People that live here, stay here, and we are grateful for that.”
Q. What do you love best about living in Washington Heights?
Hillary Hau: “It really is the people. Not just in our neighborhood, but also at Mount Olive Lutheran Church and School, where our girls go to school. As we meet more people, we continue to make more friends. Also, it’s nice to see all the new families moving into the area. They really seem to want to live here and take pride in the homes they are purchasing. We appreciate that and welcome them into our neighborhood.”
Q. How has the neighborhood changed?
Chris Hau: “We are fortunate to have two really strong commercial corridors here with North Avenue and Vliet Street. Those local business are vital to supporting our neighborhoods. The transformation on both streets has been incredible and a big reason why the area continues to attract new families to buy homes here. I felt so strongly about that I became involved with the North Avenue Business Improvement District about a decade ago.
A strong business community helps maintain a strong neighborhood community. It’s working and will continue to build on its own growth. It’s been fun to see both streets become so popular and successful. I look forward to seeing how much more this area grows in the future.”
If you are interested in featuring your home in the Highlighter, please contact Lyra O’Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org or (414) 861-0387.