Moving houses because you need more space for a growing family is a common enough practice. Not so typical is the need to move house because you require more room for an expanding art collection.
But that was one of the motivations behind the decision by the owner of this new house to start over. The widow, who has many grandchildren, also loved the idea of a single-level home with no stairs.
"When a friend, interior designer Sherry Koppel, suggested I build a new home, a light bulb went on," the owner says. "I could see we could create a much more airy, spacious interior to show off the artworks."
After interviewing several architects, the owner asked Dan Wheeler of Wheeler Kearns Architects to design the new house.
"The property is a corner lot facing two relatively busy streets and opposite several reproduction Tudor houses and typical Midwest builder homes," Wheeler says. "This house was always going to be different. We wanted to keep it as modest as possible, and super simple."
The house effectively turns its back to the street, presenting an uninterrupted cement board facade, punctuated by a simple garage door. On the left, the house steps back to reveal the front entry. Here again, the emphasis is on what lies beyond. The entry is through a walled courtyard, screened by a large door that creates a perpendicular wall when propped open.
"The high walls around the courtyard, appear as an extension of the siding panels," says Wheeler. "They help to make the entry more opaque while still letting a little light in between the panels. In a sense the courtyard is a decompression zone between the outside world and the inside of the house."
Wheeler describes the house as multi layered, much like an onion, with the various layers peeling back as you proceed through the entry.