Modern Lake House
When Irving Stenn and Judith Racht found a sylvan, 14-acre site with a gently sloping dune edging Lake Michigan, they had to retool the elaborate wish list that they had been constructing to focus on what was important. "The landscape was so spectacular from every angle that we wanted as many windows as possible," says Judith, who owns a Michigan art and vintage furnishings gallery. The couple hired Chicago architect Laurence Booth to build something streamlined, low-slung, and mostly glass, yet not minimal or cold. And it also had to be maintenance free. "I didn't want spots to show, surfaces to stain, or finishes to wear off," says Judith. "You need a structure that can really take a beating from the elements and withstand erosion. So you have to use really smart, durable materials inside and out," Laurence says. Here's how they created a sleek retreat that's tough and low-maintenance—but homey, too.
Play Up Architectural Details
The architect used a high-rise aluminum window system built to handle storms, but added muntins for a classic touch. To keep the soaring ceilings from feeling stark and commercial, he clad them in oak and dropped them six feet from the structure's perimeter to create lower, cozier conversation areas.
Lay It Out
The intimate seating arrangement in the living room helps to ground the airy space, while the colorful pillows bring some warmth to the sleek lines of the leggy midcentury pieces.
Forge an Artful Entry
A bold tribal rug, sculptural bench, and earthy artwork make quite the welcoming party in the otherwise austere glass-and-concrete entryway. Outside, Laurence used alloy-coated steel siding because it requires no painting and acquires a lovely patina over time.
To make the baths low-maintenance, Judith installed panels of frosted glass around the water-prone areas, even in the showers. "They act like giant backsplashes, never show water spots or streaks, and are really easy to clean," she says. Her strategy was to avoid tile and grout, which can stain and require more attention.
Warm it Up
Concrete floors are carefree but can have a cold feel, even if they sport radiant heating, as these do. Oak paneling, which is used only in the master bedroom, sets the space apart from the rest of the house and joins a white wool shag carpet in adding unexpected texture. The platform bed is Judith's own design and features an upholstered headboard that reclines at several angles and can be dropped flat to expose the views behind it.
Mix and Match
Almost all of the furnishings are vintage pieces Judith had in her gallery, such as a wicker settee that drops down to become a bed. The coffee table was a shipping crate from a piece of art the couple purchased. "I thought it was so cool, because parts of it were painted purple and orange, so I put wheels on it, and we roll it out of the way when we open up the bed," says Judith.