the main house, Vetter uses exposed Douglas fir to connect the
interior and exterior living spaces.
How do you
create a home that’s big enough to entertain 50 people yet feels
warm and cozy for two? That’s the challenge architect John Vetter
faced when he was commissioned to build a Waukesha County lake home.
The answer came
to him the first time he stood on the property and surveyed the gentle
slope of the land and the lake below. "One thought immediately
came to mind: camp. The ground was perfect for a modern Northwoods-style
camp," says Vetter, founding partner of Vetter Denk Architects
Inc. "The slope allowed us to play with different levels and the
size of the property meant it could be spread out like a camp. The
clients loved it and bought into the concept right away," he
already worked with the owners on two projects on the lake, but for
various reasons both fell through. "Thanks to the trust and
respect we already had for each other, we hit the ground
running," he says. The project moved quickly, breaking ground
just seven months from Vetter’s first site visit. It took two years
from start to finish.
and interior blend in the lower level of the recreation
"barn" where the walls are formed with board form
concrete and clear cedar tongue and groove paneling, the same
material used for the exterior siding.
no way this could have happened without the cooperation of the
owners," Vetter says. "They left all their preconceived
notions at the door. Sure, they had their list of requirements, but
they were very open to creativity.
that great architecture can only happen when there are great owners
involved, and we certainly had that."
The camp look
was the guiding principle for the project, from the choice of
materials to the design of the buildings. "Like good recreational
architecture, the entire project is highlighted by honesty in design
and use of materials. Board-form concrete, limestone, Douglas fir,
steel and glass, the material palette is very rich and stands on its
own. Nothing is covered, or gratuitous."
the architect and owners insisted on honesty in the use of
materials. The palette for the entire project is made up of board
form concrete, exposed limestone, Douglas fir, steel and glass.
that to give it a true Northwoods lodge feel, he would design a series
of interconnected buildings knitted together by a landscaped courtyard
and numerous outdoor living spaces. The final design is not one house,
but four primary pieces that flow down the slope toward the lake.
sleeps up to 20, and three guest cottages feature a kitchen, sitting
areas and private covered porches. In between the main house and guest
quarters is the party barn, where much of the entertaining takes
place. In keeping with the theme, the two-story building features a
restored bar originally from a Wisconsin supper club.
second floor of the Party Barn features a restored bar bought in
Chicago that was originally from a Wisconsin supper club.
The final piece
of the puzzle is the main lodge, which houses the master suite. The
space is highlighted by a large chef’s kitchen that opens to a
dining area lined with huge floor-to-ceiling glass doors. Outside is a
trellised portico with unbeatable lake views. The living room is also
surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows and highlighted by a
22-foot-high exposed limestone chimney. This double-sided fireplace
also serves as the centerpiece for the pool patio.
breaking up the building into separate pieces the home is big
enough to entertain large family reunions but still feels cozy
when used by just the owners.
Like a camp,
there are numerous outdoor living spaces. The pool patio is the center
that holds all the pieces in place. The outdoor spaces also include a
kitchen, a shower, a bathtub and private porches and balconies.
"Intermediate spaces are the hallmark of the home," Vetter
says. "We wanted a free flow between indoors and outdoors, so we
included a lot of oversized glass sliding doors that also give it the
airy casual feel that fit the owners’ lifestyle," he says.
the main house, great emphasis is placed on easy flow from the
interior to the exterior. Here the kitchen and dining area open
directly to the covered trellised porch which has the home’s
best lake views.
By breaking up
the home into pieces, Vetter was able not only to keep it cozy, but to
make it big enough to host large family reunions — one of the owners’
requirements. "Visually, the camp concept gives it better scale.
It makes it look humbler and far less ostentatious than a more
conventional one-piece building of similar size would," he says.
below: Satisfying a need to entertain and offer guests their own
space, Vetter added three guest cottages that share a common
living area and kitchen but each has a private covered balcony.
Vetter says he’s
pleased with the pool and the flow of the main lodge, from the kitchen
to the dining room to the outdoor trellised room. "One of my
favorite spots, however, is a private covered porch off of the
courtyard. It doesn’t have a lake view but it’s the perfect
intimate spot for relaxing," he says.
compete with the beauty of nature but we can do our best to frame it.
Here I think we’ve done a pretty good job," he says. M