Avid horticulturalists, these clients sought the rarest of gems – a fully sunny property on Chicago’s Northshore. Thanks to tree protection ordinances, finding an open property proved to be a challenge. Clearcutting a site was in direct conflict with the project’s ethos. Five years of searching led to a site steps from Lake Michigan and Wilmette’s town center and commuter rail.
A 29-foot span of south facing glass opens – almost shockingly for this context - onto the back garden. An extension of the exterior walls and roof shelters this elevation from direct sunlight during the summer and from the sights of nearby neighbors year-round. Orienting the house to the rear yard meant positioning the garage at the front of the property, rarely a neighborly gesture. The telltale volume of the garage is obscured by extending its north wall eastward and punching in an opening which leads into a semi private entry court.
The house materials were kept modest – white stucco, neutral toned cement board lap siding, and black Richlite panels. They serve as a quiet backdrop to the colors, shapes, layers, and textures of the plantings. Two key elements define the interior. A solid dark volume anchors the living area. Clad in the same Richlite as the exterior, the massing includes a fireplace, oxidized steel shelves, and a hidden closet. In contrast, the kitchen and dining zones are backed by a light infused composition of an open tread staircase and shelving built from standard 2x4s and 1x3s. All in white.