A Bold Move
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.
By Lisa Skolink | Printed with permission from Coastal Living Magazine
The endeavor came about more by chance than design, beginning with a family vacation on the western shore of Lake Michigan. “We were taking a walk, saw a lot for sale on the lake, and realized it made sense to build up here,” David says. “Our home in Evanston is north of Chicago, so the drive is easier.”
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.
“Carol told me, ‘David and I are both professionals and we can’t stand it when someone tells us what to do. So design something that you think is appropriate for us and we’ll go from there,’” Nathan says. 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.
This home is definitely expressive—interior designer Ann Hooe, who helped the couple with furnishings and finishes, chose its adventurous hue: Spanish Red. “Our first reaction was, ‘Wow! That’s a little bold,’” Carol says. But the home borrows much of its anatomy from classic American barns. “There are many historic red barns here, so the color ties our house in to the rest of the environment,” 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. (This house preceded LEED certification for homes.) 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. But 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.”