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Serene Sanctuary
While giving this Fox Point couple the privacy and tranquility they desire, this modern refuge also boasts a beautiful entertaining area.


May 2018

Nestled in an array of lush greenery for a mix of privacy and serenity, the attention-grabbing
green paneling on the exterior of this modern home is a yearlong reminder of bright summer days.

Homeowners renovate with their long-term house needs top of mind, such as room for children to grow or home offices for big job jumps. Architects and founding principals of Johnsen Schmaling Architects, Brian Johnsen and Sebastian Schmaling, say this 3,380-square-foot home with a 1,400-square-foot lower-level walk-out was built from the ground up and designed with the impending gloomy Wisconsin winters top of mind.

Looking at the modern glass abode, one can’t help but notice all the greenery in both the exterior and interior, and the lush landscape. Johnsen and Schamling took the landscape, as well as the potentially dreary winter weather, into consideration when designing this contemporary home for a Fox Point couple who were open to new ideas.

In addition to the consistent color scheme of green paneling both outside and inside as a call to bright, green summer days, the team also took advantage of the views and natural color palette by using plenty of large picture windows and lift-and-slide glass doors.

“We experience up to eight months of potentially very gray, dreary, dull days, so those panels are really this idea … (of) trying to maintain maybe a prolonged psychological euphoria of the happier months of the year by having this color pattern reflected both on the exterior and the interior,” Johnsen notes.

This modern respite was designed with plenty of glass to give a sense of continuity to the space.

Dark flooring and sharp angles give this bathroom a contemporary look.

“We used glass to really maximize the view to the exterior so you don’t have a wall; you don’t have a lot of fussy railings,” he continues. “We used a low iron glass in all the railings and all the glass components you see in the house to maximize that view ability to the landscape.”

One of the features that incorporates both the greenery and the love for glass is the third floor observatory area, complete with a green roof and an observing room with lift-and-slide glass doors to maximize the view. The green roof is composed of a sedum mixture that leaves the roof a lush green grassy appearance in the summer months and turns to a vibrant red in the fall. It was also a sustainable decision – as it manages drainage with rainwater – as well as an aesthetic to tie together the theme. The lift-and-slide doors allow for a nice breeze while enjoying the view. 

“You get this 12-foot-wide opening that you have a six-foot panel that will basically open up to the outside, so you get this amazing cross-ventilation and fresh air in the house as well as maximizing your views out into the landscape,” Johnsen says.

Classic colors and functional furnishings make this sleek office a haven for busy professionals.

The homeowners had two contradictory desires with their home: the desire for privacy and serenity and the desire for a space to host social events. The result was a “T” configuration that delivered a public entry area for visitors and their vehicles, and a shielded green space in the back for maximum privacy.

The public area shows off a wood exterior wall that is actually a garage, purposefully hidden with a flat wood siding that Johnsen and Schmaling enhanced with lighting and shrubbery. That wooden feature carries into the house with the wood band in the main living space that conceals both the media cabinet in the living room as well as the pantry in the kitchen. The feature gives the stretch of rooms a sense of coziness, while the open concept was intended for a free-flowing, uninterrupted space.

Though they had some initial design hiccups with the slope in the landscape, the team used the natural terrain to create a beautiful sunken terrace off the main floor.

Enveloped in wood paneling and warm tones, this kitchen provides a welcoming and
cozy gathering area.

“I think the slope was one of the bigger challenges to try to maximize the ability to get this walk-out on the lower level and to get (a) nice space out of it,” Johnsen says. The sunken terrace is wrapped by a perimeter seating area, as well as some LED lighting to subtly wash the walls and highlight the space, and is completed with a fire pit.

Johnsen says one of the best aspects of the project was working with people who were open to the team’s design ideas as well as seeing the home come together.  “You can draw all you want on paper but it’s very rewarding to get it constructed as you envisioned it and to have the space available to them for living and stuff.” 

Resource Center: How to Re-Create the Look

»Large lift-and-slide and pivot doors from Quantum Windows & Doors Inc. enhance the viewing experience and enable a relaxing cross-breeze while in the loft area.

»Brian Johnsen and Sebastian Schmaling consulted Hanging Gardens before adding the green roof, which was installed and maintained by The Green Team of Wisconsin Inc., and adds a unique eco-friendly roof.

»Large format porcelain Caeser floor tile from Childcrest Tile & Stone adds an elegant and modern touch.

»The kitchen boasts custom rift-sawn white oak cabinetry, along with other select Johnsen Schmaling designed furniture pieces by GEN III Woodworks, giving the home a one-of-a-kind feel.

»The three-sided observatory fireplace from Ortal combines functionality with

This story ran in the May 2018  issue of: