a Milwaukee architect helped a Portage-based couple move to Madison to
better suit their careers, he also assisted in their transition from an
1880s Victorian/Italianate to a new millennium modern.
specializes in designing residences that not only exhibit ultra-clean
and modern lines, but also pay homage to their surroundings. Those
elements appealed to Kevin and Erica St. Angel following their
purchase of a
third-acre lot in one of Madison’s most coveted neighborhoods, within
the beauty of the nearby University of Wisconsin Arboretum.
residence captures the modern feel of multiple, stacked components built
from sustainable materials, allowing the less than 2-year-old structure
to meld into the
environment as though it has been there for decades.
the house to look like it has always been there," says Erica, who
explains that thousands of hours of research went into selecting just
the right location and arrangement for the 40-something couple’s
lifestyle. In fact, she says they wanted a home that could convert to a
one-floor living arrangement as they get older — one where they did
not have to rely on steps and that could accommodate a live-in
textures include a charcoal soapstone island and lacquered white
cabinets. Mahogany walls line a corridor on the left, extend to a
serving bar and walk-in pantry, and then wrap around to the right
down a hallway to the front door.
For now, they
enjoy a 3,000-square-foot, bilevel home — expandable to three levels
— that features three bedrooms, an office.
specializes in clean, modern design, says he is aware that modern can be
seen as cold and impersonal, so he describes his approach as providing a
"warm, modern" environment.
stairway is a blend of wood materials milled from trees on the
property, including white oak treads with black oak landings.
"We wanted it
to have a warmth and intimacy," he says. "For example, instead
of windows, we discussed transparency — ways to harvest light within
philosophy in this home is a cantilevered section out to the natural
setting. A series of large panels bring in light and offer back views of
a wide variety of wildlife and trees — a stark contrast to minimal
windows facing the front.
"Like all of
our projects, we are influenced by the site," Bruns says. "We
saw all of these beautiful trees and kind of looked at it as a sort of
adventure — a tree house."
home’s front hallway and oversized cedar front door are framed
by a cherrywood ceiling extending outside, mahogany walls and
Bruns used a
variety of materials in his design.
were formed into shingles for external cladding. Mahogany, cedar and
cherrywood begin on the exterior and bleed inside to cover doors,
ceilings and walls. Stairs are constructed from white and black oak
trees. Concrete ground down to aggregate flows over a heat system so
that it’s warm to the touch. A soapstone island adorns the kitchen.
Natural stone surrounds and extends inward from the exterior and offers
a majestic look to an inside/outside fireplace.
Though the home is
new, Erica says she and Kevin are just as mindful of history as they
were in the older homes they previously owned.
rehabbed those homes, we discovered a lot," she says. Paying that
forward means the St. Angels have left clues about the home for future
homeowners. Some of those may be discovered inside walls as well as in
notebooks they will someday leave behind. M
window-dominant master bedroom is an example of how architect
Stephen Bruns harvested light for various spaces. The design
provides a stunning look at the tree-laden grounds, while the
lower panels open for fresh air.
guest bathroom gets the full design treatment, with elements such
as a heated concrete floor and a petite window letting in light
while offering a view.
three-sided fireplace, which also extends outside, loosely divides
the living room and corner reading nook.