Color and light splash as playfully as water in
this scaled-down indoor water park.
Sometimes the missing piece of one’s dream home
puzzle is found years later — even after the picture seems perfect.
Over the past 20 years, a Cedar Grove couple fell in love with a 7-acre
prairie property located along a semi-private road on Lake Michigan.
They nurtured the property’s original home, remodeled it into a
10,000-square-foot, Colorado-like contemporary lodge, and then realized
their growing family required additional space.
Louise Hillegass says she and her husband, Pat, wanted to accommodate
family visits for their seven children and soon-to-be 13 grandchildren.
They called on Milwaukee-based Deep River Partners, Ltd. — and architect
Nick Blavat, in particular — to design a guest house on the site of the
property’s eight-stall horse barn. His clients’ early thoughts of
converting the barn to a bunkhouse were dashed when it was determined to
not be structurally sound. That hiccup grew the dream into a two-story,
contemporary guest house with four bedrooms, including a master bedroom
on each floor, sleep rooms with fold-up beds, a great room loft,
strategically placed large windows and skylights, and a three-car
Comfortable, contemporary style extends to the main
living space, with a cleanly designed fireplace, custom dining table and
durable furniture dressed in vivid accents.
A centerpiece for luring family to stay is a
resort-like pool-spa-play arena. Blavat and the Deep River team
designed the area with the help of local concrete specialists. “The
family wanted an area for a variety of activities, so we designed it
for volleyball and basketball as well as for swimming,” Blavat says,
noting the pool is no deeper than 6 feet at its deepest point. “We
also added LED lighting strips with changing colors.” A combined
video and surround sound system keeps family members of all ages
Features extend well beyond the aquatic. A two-sided linear fireplace,
which divides the main living and dining space from a hall-end entry
area, accentuates the domicile’s modern expression. That expression is
also woven throughout most rooms and their clean, white lines, and an
industrial-esque handrail lines the home’s staircase.
An expandable, custom-made dining table allows for seating of up to 16,
and the home’s primarily neutral palette is sprinkled with bolder pops
of color in pillows, area rugs and framed artwork.
Blavat says the challenge was to create a space that provided a
distinctly different ambiance — and yet still linked itself to the more
lodge-like main house.
“We didn’t want to repeat the same (design),” he says. “We wanted it to
be a sequel. It’s really a new interpretation of a barn. It was
important to position the guest house so that it is (still) part of the
Cement board and boldly painted trim help carve out
a new, millennium-forward farm house that pays homage to the horse barn
That link is accomplished, he notes, with pedestrian
footbridges between the homes. In fact, the landscaping was
carefully planned so that dry riverbeds for rain runoff are as
attractive as the property’s gardens, walking and bicycle paths and
tennis and basketball courts.
Furthermore, the guest house was purposely positioned behind the
lakeside main house to take advantage of similar views. “You can get a
peek at the lake in the summer, and a lot more of it in winter,” Louise
says. “We also get a lot of views of the surrounding wooded areas.”
Those views and this
particular property were important factors two decades ago, when Pat
came across the locale on his way to seeing another property. It fondly
reminded them, Louise says, of their years spent growing up in coastal
Florida and wooded Tennessee. “We just knew this would be home,” she
adds. “We moved here, heart and all.”
How to Re-Create the Look
Nick Blavat helped his clients construct a full-service guest house in a
reimagined barn clad in
prepainted, cement-board vertical siding. The siding manufacturer is
James Hardie, and the model name/number is Sierra 8.
linear, two-sided fireplace in the great room is a Clear 130 Tunnel gas
fireplace by Ortal. www.ortalheat.com
»The bamboo flooring
used throughout the guest house is from a private label manufacturer and
is available at Waukesha-based Schmidt Custom Floors Inc.
»In the great room,
the sectional and ottoman are available through
Minneapolis-headquartered Room & Board, roomandboard.com, and the Arhaus
recliner is available at www.arhaus.com.
River Partners, Ltd. designed the pool and water features with northern
Illinois-based Platinum Pools,
www.platinumpoolcare.com, and Madison-based Custom Metals, Inc.,