20 Modern Homes From the Midwest

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By Erika Heet / Published by Dwell
Wide-open spaces, welcoming attitudes, and a healthy respect for modernism—the American Midwest has much to offer.

Here are 20 modern homes that hail from the Heartland.

20 Modern Homes From the Midwest - Photo 1 of 20 - Designed by architect Jeffery Poss, the tea hut is the first of what Kalanzis and her husband, Bill Cope, hope to be several sculptural structures on their property, which comprises a forested grove to the east, a former tree farm on the west, and the main house and hut in the middle. 

Designed by architect Jeffery Poss, the tea hut is the first of what Kalanzis and her husband, Bill Cope, hope to be several sculptural structures on their property, which comprises a forested grove to the east, a former tree farm on the west, and the main house and hut in the middle. 

20 Modern Homes From the Midwest - Photo 2 of 20 - Residents are allowed a small swath to plant gardens. "A lot of credit is due to the landscape architect," says Barlow, and "Mies's floor-to-ceiling windows make the spaces feel open, while at the same time the canopy of trees makes you feel protected. It's a private, quiet, green oasis within spitting distance of the freeway, and you'd never know it."

Residents are allowed a small swath to plant gardens. "A lot of credit is due to the landscape architect," says Barlow, and "Mies's floor-to-ceiling windows make the spaces feel open, while at the same time the canopy of trees makes you feel protected. It's a private, quiet, green oasis within spitting distance of the freeway, and you'd never know it."

20 Modern Homes From the Midwest - Photo 3 of 20 - Tom McMurtrie and Genia Service with their five-year-old son, Gary.

Tom McMurtrie and Genia Service with their five-year-old son, Gary.

20 Modern Homes From the Midwest - Photo 4 of 20 - Lauren Ewing’s stylish, but unassuming shotgun-style house in Vincennes, Indiana, is set into a hill overlooking a field she has known since childhood. Read more about this home made of local materials here.

Lauren Ewing’s stylish, but unassuming shotgun-style house in Vincennes, Indiana, is set into a hill overlooking a field she has known since childhood. Read more about this home made of local materials here.

20 Modern Homes From the Midwest - Photo 5 of 20 - Eero Saarinen’s legendary Miller House opened to the public in May 2011 for the first time. The pathway from the pool to the house is paved with the same slate that clads the exterior walls. 

Eero Saarinen’s legendary Miller House opened to the public in May 2011 for the first time. The pathway from the pool to the house is paved with the same slate that clads the exterior walls. 

20 Modern Homes From the Midwest - Photo 6 of 20 - Built on a challenging hillside site and tucked behind a thicket of trees, the Bridgman, Michigan, house designed by Scott Rappe provides a modern weekend retreat for a Chicago couple. "One of my first responsibilities was getting the owners up to their house and essentially on one level. Because of the pie-shaped property, we needed to push the building up the hill to provide square footage for the program. By keeping the building perpendicular to the slope, using piloti on one side and a retaining wall on the dune side, we were able to insert foundations with minimal disturbance," says Rappe.

Built on a challenging hillside site and tucked behind a thicket of trees, the Bridgman, Michigan, house designed by Scott Rappe provides a modern weekend retreat for a Chicago couple. "One of my first responsibilities was getting the owners up to their house and essentially on one level. Because of the pie-shaped property, we needed to push the building up the hill to provide square footage for the program. By keeping the building perpendicular to the slope, using piloti on one side and a retaining wall on the dune side, we were able to insert foundations with minimal disturbance," says Rappe.

20 Modern Homes From the Midwest - Photo 7 of 20 - "They were really pushing for a traditional farmhouse," explains architect Matthew Hufft, of the Kansas City–based firm Hufft Projects. "But through the design process, they got more and more excited about modern."

"They were really pushing for a traditional farmhouse," explains architect Matthew Hufft, of the Kansas City–based firm Hufft Projects. "But through the design process, they got more and more excited about modern."

20 Modern Homes From the Midwest - Photo 8 of 20 - Dow Chemical put Midland on the map, but architect and local scion Alden B. Dow made it the most modern town in Michigan. Dow’s masterpiece is undoubtedly his home and studio in Midland. Designed in 1933 to be built in stages, the sprawling manse seems to rise out of a pond, its green copper roof and bright-white, geometric form seemingly birthed by the landscape. It’s a nearly perfect evocation of a guiding Dow dictum, "Gardens never end, and buildings never begin."

Dow Chemical put Midland on the map, but architect and local scion Alden B. Dow made it the most modern town in Michigan. Dow’s masterpiece is undoubtedly his home and studio in Midland. Designed in 1933 to be built in stages, the sprawling manse seems to rise out of a pond, its green copper roof and bright-white, geometric form seemingly birthed by the landscape. It’s a nearly perfect evocation of a guiding Dow dictum, "Gardens never end, and buildings never begin."

20 Modern Homes From the Midwest - Photo 9 of 20 - The modern Bracher house stands out in the more traditional Fairgrounds neighborhood outside the Dayton, Ohio city center.

The modern Bracher house stands out in the more traditional Fairgrounds neighborhood outside the Dayton, Ohio city center.

20 Modern Homes From the Midwest - Photo 10 of 20 - The exterior of the Field House, designed by Wendell Burnette Architects in Ellington, Wisconsin.

The exterior of the Field House, designed by Wendell Burnette Architects in Ellington, Wisconsin.

20 Modern Homes From the Midwest - Photo 11 of 20 - Nestled into the hillside and largely concealed from view, the Douglas House is accessed via a footbridge that leads to the house’s uppermost level. Upon entering, the visitor descends to the lower floors via a winding staircase.

Nestled into the hillside and largely concealed from view, the Douglas House is accessed via a footbridge that leads to the house’s uppermost level. Upon entering, the visitor descends to the lower floors via a winding staircase.


20 Modern Homes From the Midwest - Photo 12 of 20 - The Coffou Cottage sits in an L-shaped configuration at the end of a private road. This image shows how red cedar is utilized to create thin slats along the facade, as well as horizontal and vertical board-and-batten siding.

The Coffou Cottage sits in an L-shaped configuration at the end of a private road. This image shows how red cedar is utilized to create thin slats along the facade, as well as horizontal and vertical board-and-batten siding.

20 Modern Homes From the Midwest - Photo 13 of 20 - El Dorado Inc designed this 4,500-square-foot house for Dave Byers and his family. Byers is a structural engineer who has collaborated with the firm on multiple projects. The residence is located in the prairie southeast of Kansas City.

El Dorado Inc designed this 4,500-square-foot house for Dave Byers and his family. Byers is a structural engineer who has collaborated with the firm on multiple projects. The residence is located in the prairie southeast of Kansas City.

20 Modern Homes From the Midwest - Photo 14 of 20 - Lauren Ewing’s stylish but unassuming shotgun-style house in Vincennes, Indiana, is set into a hill overlooking a field she has known since childhood.

Lauren Ewing’s stylish but unassuming shotgun-style house in Vincennes, Indiana, is set into a hill overlooking a field she has known since childhood.

20 Modern Homes From the Midwest - Photo 15 of 20 - The residence is built on the same lot as the William Theisen mansion, a sprawling 20,125-square-foot house that was the largest in Omaha when it was completed in 1983. A family currently resides in the seven-bedroom, five-bathroom house, which features a swimming pool located on the western side of the house.

The residence is built on the same lot as the William Theisen mansion, a sprawling 20,125-square-foot house that was the largest in Omaha when it was completed in 1983. A family currently resides in the seven-bedroom, five-bathroom house, which features a swimming pool located on the western side of the house.

20 Modern Homes From the Midwest - Photo 16 of 20 - Kansas City architecture firm Kem Studio renovated a house on Kansas City's historic Janssen Place.

Kansas City architecture firm Kem Studio renovated a house on Kansas City's historic Janssen Place.

20 Modern Homes From the Midwest - Photo 17 of 20 - The skylight boxes are clad in lap-seam metal panels, which Wheeler describes as an economical material choice.

The skylight boxes are clad in lap-seam metal panels, which Wheeler describes as an economical material choice.

20 Modern Homes From the Midwest - Photo 18 of 20 - Front view of the FlatPak House in Minneapolis, Minnesota. When the architect first told his wife about his idea, she said, "It’s about time you focus on a house for me!" He continues, "It’s like the old story about the cobbler whose kids have no shoes."

Front view of the FlatPak House in Minneapolis, Minnesota. When the architect first told his wife about his idea, she said, "It’s about time you focus on a house for me!" He continues, "It’s like the old story about the cobbler whose kids have no shoes."

20 Modern Homes From the Midwest - Photo 19 of 20 - Geoff and Joanna Mouming’s compact modern farmhouse is the first permanent structure at Yum Yum Farm in Wellman, Iowa. On the field that stretches out before it, organic vegetables will soon make attentive farmers of the Moumings. 

Geoff and Joanna Mouming’s compact modern farmhouse is the first permanent structure at Yum Yum Farm in Wellman, Iowa. On the field that stretches out before it, organic vegetables will soon make attentive farmers of the Moumings. 

20 Modern Homes From the Midwest - Photo 20 of 20 - The deck is designed for all seasons. In the blazing summer sun, people can hang out under covered areas. In the winter and at night, a basalt-and-steel fire pit, powered by natural gas, keeps everyone warm. Burgum was conscious to go for an open flame rather than infrared heaters since it encourages people to gather around as a group for conversation. "When the sun goes down and the chill comes in, you can turn the fire on and it extends the evening," says Burgum. The privacy screen is lit with energy-efficient LED bulbs. Native plants and grasses soften the space and were selected for their hardiness and for being low-maintenance. The railing is ipe and the floor tile is natural basalt.

The deck is designed for all seasons. In the blazing summer sun, people can hang out under covered areas. In the winter and at night, a basalt-and-steel fire pit, powered by natural gas, keeps everyone warm. Burgum was conscious to go for an open flame rather than infrared heaters since it encourages people to gather around as a group for conversation. "When the sun goes down and the chill comes in, you can turn the fire on and it extends the evening," says Burgum. The privacy screen is lit with energy-efficient LED bulbs. Native plants and grasses soften the space and were selected for their hardiness and for being low-maintenance. The railing is ipe and the floor tile is natural basalt.