Built on a challenging hillside site and tucked behind a thicket of trees, the Bridgman, Michigan, house designed by Scott Rappe provides a modern weekend retreat for a Chicago couple. “One of my first responsibilities was getting the owners up to their house and essentially on one level. Because of the pie-shaped property, we needed to push the building up the hill to provide square footage for the program. By keeping the building perpendicular to the slope, using piloti on one side and a retaining wall on the dune side, we were able to insert foundations with minimal disturbance," says Rappe.
To clad the garage, Rappe opted for thermally treated poplar by Cambia. While it has a similar look to ipe, the wood is more durable, needs little maintenance, and is more affordable. The warm tone contrasts the aluminum siding Rappe used on the upper portion. "The home has a slim profile," he says. "We wanted to change the material on the garage level to give the impression that it's long and low."
The bank of windows on the rear facade faces a lush hillside. "The prototypical country house wants to look over and out on the land," says Rappe. "This house looks at the slope upward. It makes for a different sense of space." Rappe was very careful to ensure that the house would not be visible from the existing properties and that neighboring houses would not be visible from within his design. "We wanted to do a home that was attractive to our clients but not too obtrusive to neighbors," he adds. "We wanted to be good modernists."
The restrained interior features a custom kitchen with dark cabinetry. Rappe designed it to receed into the space, allowing the views from the window and light streaming through the clerestory to steal the show. He wrapped the island in marble and selected Bosch appliances.
The residents hope to retire in the house, which led Rappe to consider their mobility in years to come. To that end, he restricted the main living space to one level, kept the light switches and cabinet pulls at a low height, and used handles instead of knobs on the doors. "It's always good to default on the side of universal design," he says. Kathleen Hess helped the residents select the furnishings.
The bedroom features floor-to-ceiling windows. The flooring in the room, as throughout the house, is bamboo.
Kuklinski + Rappe custom designed the bathroom vanity stand. The house's general contractor, Olson Brothers Construction, fabricated the piece. The faucets are by Jado and the sink is Kohler.
See another modern retreat in the woods here.