Field of Dreams

A modern cottage with echoes of classic farm architecture makes the most of its meadow

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Floor-to-ceiling windows are all about enjoying the rural Indiana landscape. The loading ramps of old barns inspired the “boardwalk” running alongside the house. “It rolls up from the ground without steps and rolls back down—pulling you out into the hills,” says architect Mark Weber.
Floor-to-ceiling windows are all about enjoying the rural Indiana landscape. The loading ramps of old barns inspired the “boardwalk” running alongside the house. “It rolls up from the ground without steps and rolls back down—pulling you out into the hills,” says architect Mark Weber. See more photos in our gallery below.
 

Northwest Indiana farm country doesn’t lack for long, bucolic views, but a pair of weekending homesteaders from Chicago managed to stretch their Hoosier vistas even further.

It began when the married couple fell in love with an eight-acre parcel that felt just right for reading, resting, and recreating. They dubbed it Camp Charlie after a beloved Wheaton terrier. Despite the friendly name, Camp Charlie came with a decidedly unfriendly house—such a shambles that there was no need for discussion. It was coming down.

That raised two questions. Not just what should the couple build, but with so much acreage, where should they build it? The solution was pure genius. Rather than plop a cottage down in the middle of the preposterously gorgeous meadow or hide it away beneath the dappling trees, they backed it right up into a corner of the property.

“Siting it almost to the edge opened up these beautiful long, long views from the house,” explains the architect, Mark Weber, of Wheeler Kearns Architects. “It’s the most all-encompassing view possible, and it leaves most of the property for enjoying. The land is more important than the house this way.”

That’s a bit of modesty on Weber’s part. The barn-red, 1,950-square-foot modernist house is both low-key and dramatic, its presence in the landscape a classic example of an architect listening hard to his clients. “We wanted to keep it natural and simple,” says the wife. “It’s really just who we are.”

There’s complexity within the simplicity, however. Weber explains that the house is actually made up of two 16-foot-wide buildings linked by a hallway. One side contains an astonishing Glass House–style living room and kitchen, along with a master bedroom suite. Its sibling holds the garage, a guest room and bath, and a casual open-air gathering space with a large fireplace and a western wall that’s screened from floor to ceiling.

“We love to build huge fires out on the porch in the fall and spring,” the wife says. “To be able to enjoy the elements, to feel a part of the meadow but still be inside the house? It’s wonderful and amazing.” And when winter inevitably blusters its way onto the scene? Sliding glass doors efficiently seal off the screened-in porch from the other rooms. “The house literally closes and opens up according to the season,” says Weber.

Regardless of season, the landscape is always a presence. The nearly transparent glassed-in living room and the porch obviously invite communion with the sylvan world outside, but there are also more subtle connections. Notably, in both halves of the house, simple varnished plywood that panels the ceilings continues outside as the underside of broad eaves, cantilevering out over the view. “It reinforces the length of the vista,” Weber explains. “It’s an homage to the landscape.” All kneel.

 

Photography: Nathan Kirkman
Styling: Diane Ewing

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