An Evanston couple took a chance on an architect, a style, and the other side of the lake when they built a second home in Wisconsin.
Carol Klobucar, news director at Chicago’s CBS 2, always dreamed of a second home that looked “lodge-y, with logs and stones.” Her husband, photojournalist David Klobucar, envisioned building on a parcel of land to the east, “preferably on the water in Michigan,” he says. But sometimes, you don’t know what you want until you get it. Instead of buying a rustic Michigan retreat, the couple built a contemporary green house in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Today they agree that it’s exactly what they wanted. “No place could be more perfect for us,” David says
Initially, they planned to build a winterized home that played to the views. “Then we realized this could eventually be our
retirement home,” David says. With energy costs on the rise, the couple decided to go green and take advantage of new technology.
“Sunlight is free, so we might as well try to use it!” David says. To do so, they hired Evanston architect Nathan Kipnis,
who specializes in environmentally friendly design.
The soaring, 2,600-square-foot glassy structure he proposed was “way more modern than we expected,” Carol says. But they loved it. “When it’s a vacation home, you’re willing to take more risks and be expressive,” she says.
The barnlike shape does more than mimic the area’s architectural vernacular. “Curved roofs aid airflow for natural ventilation,”
Nathan says. He improved on this model by adding a tower between the double-height living area and the two-story bedroom wing.
Opening the windows on the lower level draws cool air up the center tower to the second-floor bedrooms, forcing warm air up
and out through remote-controlled windows. Ceiling fans expedite the process. “The place doesn’t need air-conditioning,” Nathan
says, though the couple installed it in their master suite for insurance.
Nathan loaded the structure with green features to make it worthy of its EPA Energy Star rating. Large banks of windows capture natural light, and the southern exposure takes full advantage of sunlight for solar gain in cool weather. During summer, leaves on the trees shield the house from direct sun.
Other green features include Energy Star–rated appliances, low- or no-VOC finishes, and fluorescent light fixtures. Nathan selected bamboo for cabinets and some floors, and bath tiles with recycled content. Even some of the home’s insulation contains Midwest soy oil instead of Mideast petroleum. There’s a high-efficiency hydronic boiler to produce in-floor radiant heat and, for extra warmth on winter weekends, a wood-burning stove in the living area.
In case David and Carol decide to retire to their lakeside retreat, the house’s roof is wired for solar panels, which could
make the structure more energy-independent and economical. In the bath, Nathan installed a sun tube in the ceiling. The reflective
tube redirects sunlight from the roof, saving energy and money on electric usage. He also included a cedar sauna, which seems
like a splurge but ended up being well worth the added expense. “It’s the quickest way to warm up on a winter day,” Nathan
says. “And it proves that fine living mixes well with green design.”
With one good construction experience under their belts, the couple hasn’t ruled out building another home. “Green, of course,” Carol says. “Now I wouldn’t build any other way.”