At Home with Kristyn Hartman
Will Shilling Photos
There was the ranch in Peoria, the vacation-style retreat in Phoenix, the Southern charmer in Charlotte, and then the townhouse in Chicago.
Kristyn Hartman has lived in many distinctly different houses throughout her well-traveled broadcast television career, but the historic red-brick house in German Village she moved into in May 2012 is where she finally feels at home.
“I have always, always, always wanted an older home,” says the Illinois native and newest anchor of the WBNS-10TV news team. “We finally made that dream come true.”
Hartman’s circa-1920 three-story sits on a corner lot canopied by immense shade trees. An elevated, covered porch with thick brick pillars and padded wicker furniture creates an inviting pathway to the oversized, oak entry door boasting a 3-square-foot picture window.
“This sounds really weird, but I love the front door on this house,” Hartman says. “It’s huge. Somebody told us we have the biggest front door in German Village. I don’t know if that’s true, but I was really attracted to the front door.”
Hartman says she and husband, Chris, were also drawn to the home’s open floor plan and how it was largely renovated to their style.
“We like a comfy, not overdone, very livable decor,” she says. “We didn’t want something with a distinct living room and a family room.”
The vast entryway provides a direct view of the combined living and dining area to the right, and a thick banistered staircase with a turnoff to the left. A curved-top brick fireplace opens to both the dining area and adjacent kitchen, and there’s a creatively placed half bath tucked beneath the back stairway. Hartman calls it her “Alice in Wonderland” bathroom because of its demure size, long curved entry wall, yet surprisingly functional layout.
“This may sound corny, but there’s just something sweet about this place,” Hartman says. “I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I really love it. The house just said ‘comfortable’ to me.”
Hartman describes her preferred decorating style as comfortable elegance. The front room, with its sleek, yet soft, upholstered furniture, aptly reflects this style.
“Our goal is to have everything be approachable,” she says. “We want somebody with kids to come over and feel like they can run all over the place. Heck, our dog Roxy hops up on the furniture. She has the run of the place. She’s also 62 pounds, so everything we’ve bought is very durable.”
Hartman herself is quite approachable and outgoing, yet she prefers more quiet hobbies at home.
“I love needlepoint,” she says, noting holiday stockings are one of her specialties.
She also loves to bake, so having two ovens stacked in her gourmet galley-style kitchen was a serious plus.
“This house has everything I’ve ever wanted—plus a double oven,” she says.
“I’ve been known to make about 1,000 cookies over the holidays,” she continues. “I do nut cups, butter cookies, sugar cookies, shortbread dipped cookies, thumbprint cookies and some fudge every once in awhile. It’s a lot, but I love it.”
What does she do with all those sweets?
“I give them away,” says the naturally community-minded Hartman. “Everybody loves a good homemade cookie.”
Hartman relaxes most often at her round, dark-wood kitchen table—mostly because it’s located in the heart of the first floor.
“I just love sitting here where you can see part of the living room, you can see out to the courtyard, you can see the den. You kind of have a view of a lot of things from right here.”
A colorful, handcrafted glass vase perched on a kitchen windowsill is one item within her view that’s more than just an eye-catching piece of art. It embodies a favorite memory.
“We got it in Italy,” she says. “We went a number of months after 9/11 and we were walking through Venice and an official stopped us and gave us a water taxi pass and said, ‘Be our guest. Go to Murano.’ So we went to Murano. This guy named Roberto greeted us at the glass shop and we haggled over that vase for four or five hours.”
Hartman’s trip to Italy is just one of many international jaunts she’s taken.
“I’m in a job where I tell people about the world, so I need to understand the world,” she says. “My aunt Mary Ann (Kurke) was a world traveler and she inspired me to see different things. I remember going to her house and looking at slides from her travels. She was a subscriber of National Geographic, and there was this picture in one of Machu Picchu and I remember thinking, ‘I have to go there someday.’ We finally got there last year. It’s one of those places where you feel a little closer to heaven. It was just majestic.”
Hartman says her bucket list is all travel, too.
“I want to get to Russia,” she says. “I want to get to all the great museums of the world. I want to go to the Far East. I wouldn’t mind checking out the Great Wall of China.”
She also has her sights set on a trip to Germany with her husband.
“We’ve both been there separately, but not together,” says Hartman, who met her husband in a German class at Northwestern University, while working on her undergraduate degree.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence, then, that Hartman, who still reads an occasional German-language newspaper, feels most at home in German Village.
“We really settled in pretty quickly here,” she says. “I feel very, very fortunate.”
ROOM(S) FOR IMPROVEMENT
As much as Hartman enjoys her home now, she’s been tweaking a few aspects of it to make it truly her own.
She’s painted the downstairs a warm yellow ochre. She’s refinished the dark wood floors. In the fall, she repainted the master bedroom a dusty blue and updated it with a new area rug and blinds. She hopes to add new bedding to the master this winter.
“But like everyone else, we have to budget,” she says. “So it will get done in pieces.”
Another big upcoming project: Outfitting the spacious top floor.
“It’s kind of a blank slate,” Hartman says “The third floor just feels like a tree house. You have the treetops, you can see the city, the downtown.”
Indeed, the various windows on all four sides—as well as the ceiling—of the home’s top floor offer pleasant views and bountiful natural light. The wood plank flooring and neutral wall color also add to the natural feel. The space includes dormer windows, slanted ceilings and a full bath situated off to one side.
“I want it to be a fabulous guest quarters where there’s also some living space,” she says. “That’s my goal.”
After the spring thaw, Hartman expects to turn her attention outside.
“We’re really going to work on the landscape and the curb appeal,” she says, noting the front will likely take priority, but the bricked-in courtyard off the kitchen and den will also be spruced up. “Our goal is to have people feel as if they’re walking through a garden.”
That, she adds, is a multiyear goal, too.
“We’re really happy here,” Hartman says. “We look forward to many years of being a neighbor.”
Nancy Byron is a freelance writer, editor and publicity consultant living in the Dublin area.