A Minimalist, Scandinavian-Style Home Rises on a Flourishing Wisconsin Prairie

Three connected, pitched-roof volumes comprise a new home for retirees on 19 acres in Southeastern Wisconsin.

When a husband and wife sought to retire from their antiques business in Chicago, they decided to purchase 19 acres of rolling prairie in southeastern Wisconsin, near the city of Lake Geneva. The wife had been a landscape designer in a previous career, and she sought to rehabilitate the acreage to its native state.

The home would be connected to the landscape as well. "Their dream was to build a one-story house that was emerging out of the crest of this prairie," says architect Jeff Klymson of Collective Office—the firm that guided the couple through the process of designing and building their new home.

The clients bought nineteen acres of land in 2016, and they have been restoring the prairie ever since.

The 4,286-square-foot home is comprised of three connected pitched-roof volumes that rise from the sweeping landscape.

The owners wanted the primary living spaces allotted over one level, to make the home more conducive to aging in place. "This was a really beautiful site, and it didn't want to have a monster building," says Klymson. To avoid that, and to "minimize the gesture on the site," the firm designed three connected pitched-roof volumes, each of which contains a key component of the floor plan. The middle section hosts the living, dining, and kitchen areas, with the bedroom wing to one side and a garage/screened porch opposite.

The volumes are wrapped in black standing-seam metal with custom 24" Alaskan yellow cedar siding for contrast.

The bedroom wing steps out to the pool. Cor-Ten steel encases the doors and windows, and forms the custom cantilevered canopies.

The interiors are modern and minimal, with wide-plank maple floors, white walls, and windows filled with prairie views. It was important to the clients that the home feel eminently "human" and livable, without an abundance of manufactured finishes. To that end, the architects opted for a 45-degree pitched roof with a soft curve where the sloped ceiling and wall meet so as to avoid "hard geometries." The finishes—like the Cor-Ten steel—are durable, but will reveal patina over time.

"Versus a flat ceiling or a flat roof, when you have that vaulted ridge above you, it creates a completely other type of interior experience for the client, which we find people love, we love ourselves, and it is much more human," says Klymson.

The kitchen features custom white oak kitchen cabinets stained light gray and Caesarstone rugged concrete countertops.

Of the counter material, Klymson says, "It's really one of the best Caesarstone products that I've seen out in the market."

The firm specified a museum reveal around the windows, doors, and cabinetry, as well as over the flush baseboard. This keeps the scheme minimal and creates a "very simple tracery where you have a punctuation in the architecture, and then you reveal back to the soft white drywall walls," says Klymson.

The partial basement holds storage and an entertainment room. A skylight over the stairs floods the area with natural light.

A pole barn was also built on the property to house equipment and beehives.

Related Reading:

20 Modern American Farmhouses That Update Tradition 

18 Black Gable Houses

8 Barn Houses For Modern Living

Project Credits:

Architecture: Collective Office / @collective_office

Builder: Scherrer Construction

Structural Engineer: Louis Shell Structures

Landscape Design: Collective Office, DT Designs, Midwest Prairies, and Pioneer Landscaping

Lighting Design: Collective Office

Interior Design: Collective Office

Cabinetry: Burmeister Woodwork


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