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
See more photos in our gallery below.
1. In the living area, a wood stove and radiant heat in concrete floors keep things warm. “The structure and rhythm of the window frames and mullions hold you in against the long views and make this large room feel very cozy,” Weber says. Stainless steel kitchen cabinets extend into the living room, where they morph into storage, then continue out to the terrace to become a staging area for barbecues. 2. “Our original vision was to make a modern barn, so Mark suggested we stain it red,” says the wife. 3. Weber says he designed the master bathroom to have one big trough sink instead of two smaller ones, for a less fussy appearance. 4. The front of the smaller building is visible out the kitchen windows. 5. The kitchen island becomes a dining table at the far end. The refrigerator and pantry are built into a white-painted wall of storage. 6. A view of the house from the meadow.
Photography: Nathan Kirkman
Styling: Diane Ewing
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Architecture: Mark Weber, Wheeler Kearns Architects, 343 S. Dearborn St., 312-939-7787, wkarch.com. Screened-in porch: Hide rug, Zeeba Home, Merchandise Mart, 312-467-7006. Pumpkin ottoman and Reve D’edo wooden bowl with red interior, Ligne Roset, 440 N. Wells St., 312-222-9300, ligne-roset-usa.com. Eames walnut stool, Design Within Reach, 10 E. Ohio St., 312-280-4677, dwr.com. Book, Jeff Koons by Eckhard Schneider, Branca, 17 E. Pearson St., 312-787-1017, branca.com. Wooden vessel, CAI Designs, Merchandise Mart, 312-755-9163, caidesigns.net. Bedroom: Bamboo quilted coverlet and sheets in silver birch, gray Scotland parquet shams and gray quilted boudoir pillow, Ruggeri Gallery Home, Merchandise Mart, 312-755-0626, ruggerigallery.com. Saarinen side tables, Design Within Reach. Clock and J. L. Coquet wineglass in smoke, Elements, 741 N. Wells St., 877-642-6574, elementschicago.com. Leather flip notepad, Branca. White lacquer box, Ligne Roset. Gray pin-neck vases, Susan Fredman at Home in the City, 350 W. Erie St., 312-587-8150, susanfredmanathome.com. Kitchen: Extensia fruit bowl and Bonbonne amber vase, Ligne Roset. Christiane Perrochon gray bowl, Elements. Seating area: Zanzabar woven leather ottomon, Ligne Roset. Red lacquer Tam Tam table, Branca. Bathroom: Black stand by Ron Gilad with Mareminerale, scented wool sphere, and Blade soap dish in teak, Luminaire, 301 W. Superior, 312-664-9582, luminaire.com. Black plaid vase, Susan Fredman at Home in the City. Exterior porch: Adirondack chair and red pillow, Barlow Tyrie, Merchandise Mart, 312-527-2397, teak.com. Red lacquer Tam Tam table, Branca. Amber glass, Ligne Roset.