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Tropics-inspired, Country-approved
Rural Cedarburg 'farmhouse' features beach-like amenities

Photos by Doug Edmunds

February 2013

After years of living in a 100-year-old farmhouse in rural Cedarburg, Tom and Jeri Johnson were ready to move — but not too far. "We gave some consideration to finding a home on a southern beach, but while my wife wanted a new home, she made it clear that we were going to stay close to our children and grandchildren," Tom Johnson says. A vacation to the island of Anguilla provided some ideas about how to combine the couple’s fondness for the tropics’ sun and water into their new Wisconsin home.

Tom and Lisa Moore of Moore Designs were hired to design and build the Johnson’s new house on property purchased down the road from their former residence. "We wanted to achieve the look and feel of an old stone farmhouse, making it appear as though the house had been added onto over the years," says Lisa Moore. They succeeded. "It looks so authentic that many people ask if it is part of an original farmstead," Johnson says.

The house blends old and new, featuring an open concept for the main living areas of the house. "We decided to combine the kitchen, hearth room, dining and living rooms as well as a playroom into one living space. Jeri loves to cook, so the kitchen was designed with the cook in mind. We used a large main island and a smaller prep island between it and the cooktop area. We also included a working pantry much like old farmhouses used to have, where food prep as well as cleanup could take place, separate from the main kitchen; a great place to hide dirty dishes from guests," Moore says.

"There’s lots of room for the entire family to get involved in making meals or just spending time together," Johnson says. The outdoors becomes part of the kitchen ­— sun or snow — by way of a 24-foot wall of glass doors and windows that opens completely to an oversized four-season sunroom. A year-round indoor pool or swim spa is adjacent to the sunroom, featuring an Endless Pool system that provides variable water current. The lower level features a craft room for Jeri and a music studio for Tom as well as family space for watching the big game or a movie.

The master bedroom suite complete with sitting room, fireplace and a large, well-appointed master bath is a retreat for the couple. "Since the swim spa was part of their criteria for the master suite, we made it accessible to the couple from their master suite. There are no concerns about privacy, however. With a flip of a switch the glass wall between the master bath and swim spa turns opaque," Moore explains. This technological device and many others in the house were the brainchild of Tom Johnson, who has a love for technology and for being green conscious and energy smart while preserving the look of an old family homestead. 

High Tech and Green

This high style farmhouse is a long way from oil burning lamps and cooking over the hearth. Owner Tom Johnson included many technological as well as green-conscious elements.

• Geothermal heat pumps were used to heat and cool water and air. "Simply stated, heat pumps move heat to cool and/or cool to heat. This allows us to use energy efficiently throughout the year," Johnson says.

• Control4 is used for general home automation — to remotely control and configure all lighting, control gas fireplaces, window shades, security system, route any audio/video source to any or all audio/video destinations in the house.

• Electrochromic glass is used in all windows between the swim room and the master bath to switch between clear and opaque.

• Miratec, made from only new growth trees and waste wood products, was used to side the home and barn exterior.

• All exterior wall, roof and floor sheathings are OSB, which is made from new growth sustainable timber.

• Attic insulation is made of recycled newspapers ground up and treated with fire retardant, providing a great insulator while also deterring air infiltration.

• All finish products from plasterwork to millwork, stone tile and floors are considered sustainable products.

— JoAnn Petaschnick



This story ran in the February 2013 issue of: