Fennville, Michigan


Set in rolling farmland near Lake Michigan, this property offers the owners a rural retreat two hours from Chicago. The grounds had been neglected and the original one-story farmhouse was overshadowed by a two-story garage added in the 1970’s. Undeterred, the new owners appreciated the natural beauty of the land and recognized that it was environmentally responsible to reuse the existing structures.


The design concept was to renovate the existing property to create a contemporary home that reinterprets of the architectural vernacular of local farm structures. Program requirements included a complete reworking of the interior and the addition of a 900sf great room. The renovation transforms the interior from dark and compartmentalized to a light-filled, open design. The revised floor plan locates the master suite, bath and study in a private wing, while two guest rooms, two bathrooms, and the kitchen occupy the original farmhouse.


The great room, a double-height space with expansive glass, links the two existing structures and balances the composition of the new home. The great room becomes the gathering space and includes a new screened porch with outdoor fireplace. A cantilevered deck merges gracefully into the surrounding landscape.


Sustainable design elements include use of recycled materials, high efficiency mechanicals and a tight thermal envelope, and attention to water conservation. The south façade has recessed windows and metal louvers for passive heating and cooling. Additionally, cross-flow ventilation promotes natural cooling by allowing prevailing breezes to enter floor-level windows while hot air is exhausted through power-operated clerestory windows at the roofline.