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Family Builds A Polar Vortex Ice Lounge On Their Howard Street High-Rise Balcony: ‘The Kids Love It’

A local family turned the recent winter storm into the "perfect opportunity" to create the ice furniture.

Jacob, (left) Maciek and Alexandra hang out at the ice sculpture on their Evanston balcony.
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EVANSTON — High above Howard Street sits an ice lounge so exclusive it’s only accessible by one family.

Martina Brkljacic and her family used the recent winter storm to create a table and chairs entirely out of ice. The furniture sits on the balcony of their 18th-floor apartment on the Evanston side of Howard Street, which features a sweeping view of the North Side.

The icy furniture set is an extension of a project that began last year, when Brkljacic and her stepchildren used a cold spell to build an elaborate igloo colored with food dye.

The family wanted to try something different this year and came up with the idea for a table and chairs.

Brkljacic, Maciek Niewiadomski, 9-year-old Alexandra and 11-year-old Jacob took multiple days to complete the furniture set, finishing it Tuesday.

“We all love winter activities,” said Maciek Niewiadomski, who was skiing with his children Wednesday. “The kids love it, and they have stories to tell their friends.”

The project required about 100 bricks of ice. The family gathered snow, brought it up to their high-rise apartment and mixed it with cold water in shoebox-sized plastic containers. The mixture froze into ice after a few days.

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A table and chair set made of ice overlooks the Chicago skyline.

The making of igloos and furniture out of ice is a way for the family to stay active and get outdoors during even the coldest parts of the calendar, Brkljacic said. It was inspired by hotels made of ice that can be found in some Nordic countries.

“You’re always trying to find certain ways to keep them off of screens,” said Brkljacic, a teacher at Chicago Math and Science Academy in Rogers Park and author of a blog on family friendly DIY activities. “It’s hard to encourage them [to start], but once they come out, they can’t stop.”

The ice furniture is likely to melt in the next few days, but the family is already planning for their next sculpture series for the inevitable next polar vortex.

“These keep getting better and better,” Brkljacic said.

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