Warm and inviting contemporary refuge overlooking Lake Michigan

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Designed by Wheeler Kearns Architects, this warm and inviting contemporary lake house in Chicago features unobstructed views of Lake Michigan. The 4,600 square foot residence takes its form from its site: “the base of the residence is rendered as a solid mass, forming a plinth that grounds the house on its prominent corner location,” states the architects. The home occupies just a portion of the wooded property, as the homeowners wished to leave it mostly intact.

The base of the dwelling is carved into and becomes more open towards the lakeside of the house. The two-story structure was designed to maximize the views of Lake Michigan, especially from the living room—where expansive windows frame the views. “A split-level floorplan creates spaces of various scales and experiences that share in the east view towards the park and lake,” states the architects.

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Constructed in 2011, the structure is comprised of a split-faced limestone at its base. A double volume, floor-to-ceiling glass wraps the perimeter of the foyer, living and dining rooms. On the upper level, a wedge-shaped mass is clad in a smooth limestone, which encompasses the private zones—two spacious bedrooms. There are several sustainable design features offered in this east/west facing home. This includes a rain screen, brise-soleil on west-facing windows, and solar panels on the partially sloped roof.

Interesting Fact: This residence received an award in 2013 for its stellar design. “AIA Chicago Distinguished Building Award, Honor Award”

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What We Love: This contemporary lake house features a spacious interior layout spread out over two levels. With maximized views over Lake Michigan, the living spaces feeling comfortable and inviting. The wooded site adds to the tranquility of this residence, despite is ultra-modern exterior facade… Readers, please share your thoughts on what you like or dislike about the design of this lake house.

Note: Have a look below for a couple more projects we have featured from the portfolio of Wheeler Kearns Architects.

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RELATED: Contemporary pad filled with natural light: Orchard Willow Residence

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RELATED: Fire Lane Retreat on the shores of Lake Michigan

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Photos: Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing

You are reading an article curated by: http://onekindesign.com/


  • past tense

    it is easy to see why this house won an award, it is warm and inviting as the moderators have noted. this place looks really livable, and has considerable curb appeal. although with only 2 bedrooms, this place doesn’t quite “cut it” as a family dwelling, which would probably limit the marketability of this house. in that regard, this house possibly falls a bit short when it comes to practicality.

    one element that i really like is the use of (what appears to be) aluminum clad wood windows, instead of (presumably thermally broken) aluminum that you commonly see in many of the modern designs presented in this blog. aluminum clad wood windows give you durability and low maintenance on the exterior and warmth on the interior (although i’m not a big fan of stained wood). i guess for most people it’s a tradeoff: go for the thin profiles of aluminum framed windows to achieve a more “modern” look versus the wider profiles of wood framed profiles to achieve more “warmth”. i like “modern”, but i bias toward the latter, i suppose.

    i would say that the house suffers a bit from the apparently narrow lot on which the house was built, giving the structure more of a “townhouse” kind of feel, but judging from the photos, i would guess that this house is located in evantson, illinois, where lots like this are quite typical for new construction.

    i guess the carpet on the stairs is a safety feature. maybe there is a greater likelihood of slipping when going downstairs on hardwood stairs. if so, that is a consideration that can be easily overlooked. hardwood stairs without the carpet look a lot better. in any event, i like the open stringer design for the stairs.

    speaking of overlooking stuff, i don’t see a hood above the gas cooktop. it must be well hidden because i can’t imagine that this house could have met code without a hood.