This house was built as a weekend home for a family desiring to escape from their urban Chicago high-rise living and be immersed in nature and sunlight, in all seasons. The design was informed by the large double lot site surrounded by beautiful mature oak trees, one block away from the lake. Orientation to the south sun was very important to offset extended periods of gray weather. In response, this contemporary house is composed of 3 volumes that organize the site between the rustic south half and the domesticated north half, with the primary living space straddling the middle to unite both environments.
From the living and dining room, the south view provides generous access to sunlight and views of the mature trees, with the irregular landscape manipulated to enhance the casual picturesque qualities. The north view, by contrast, reveals a more formal organization for outdoor activities with a broad level lawn, rectilinear pool, 2 story screen porch, and a furnished outdoor room with a fireplace.
The one story guest wing with a green roof shields the north outdoor environment from the street and the surrounding evergreen trees provide enhanced privacy. The family room and bedrooms are placed on the 2nd floor with generous access to south sunlight and are visually connected to the north with a balcony perch suspended within the 2 story screen porch.
The Owner was integrally involved in fine tuning the spirit of the house, particularly with finishes and furnishings. The bright palette of smooth white stucco, white stained flush wood siding, and weathered zinc metal cladding are contrasted against the lush green landscape. Operable window sashes are colored citron yellow and patterned tiles are randomly placed within the stone paving adding a touch of casual whimsy. As an extension of this theme, patterned tiles are randomly placed within the exterior and interior stone paving, floors and walls, in homage to the 1930’s era craft artisan Edgar Miller. The furnishings and art complete the theme with equally creative selection.
Architect – Wheeler Kearns Architects
Structural – Enspect Engineering
Construction – Burlingame Builders
Landscape – Green Mansions
Photography – Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing