A Kit Home Purveyor Starts by Designing His Own Danish-Inspired Prefab in Michigan
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A Kit Home Purveyor Starts by Designing His Own Danish-Inspired Prefab in Michigan

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By Lucy Wang
Hygge Supply founder Kelly Sean Karcher builds a sustainable kit home in Michigan’s Lake Leelanau community.

When Kelly Sean Karcher renovated a century-old farmhouse near Lake Michigan and listed it on Airbnb, he was surprised by how much people loved the house.

"I had no idea people would find the house to be so special, but it sparked something in me to want to create unique, high-design homes that people could stay in and experience," says Karcher, who then created Hygge Stay, a short-term rental management company for his renovated properties. Ultimately, after an inspiring revamp of a Wayfarer kit house, Karcher founded Hygge Supply, a contemporary kit home company.

The two-bedroom Lake House is the first home completed by Hygge Supply, a kit home company that champions sustainable, affordable, well-designed homes.

The two-bedroom Lake House is the first home completed by Hygge Supply, a kit home company that champions sustainable, affordable, well-designed homes.

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Hygge Supply Cottage Combo #1
Hygge Supply Cottage Combo #1
The Hygge Supply Cottage Combo #1 configures a Large Cottage unit as a living and dining area, connected by a glass breezeway to a Small Cottage sleeping pod, in an arrangement of layouts.
Hygge Supply Small Cottage
Hygge Supply Small Cottage
The Hygge Supply Small Cottage is inspired by the same concepts as the Hygge Supply Homes but offers an option on an alternative scale.
Hygge Supply Cottage Combo #4
Hygge Supply Cottage Combo #4
The Hygge Supply Cottage Combo #4 configures two Large Cottages directly connected to one another, in an arrangement of layouts.

"My intention was to create a simple and inexpensive way to build a home with a high-design concept that could also be built relatively quickly," Karcher explains. "It made sense to create a system for the build concept, employing a panelized structural design with prefabricated pieces and parts for rapid assembly."

Metal structural insulated panels (SIPs) informed the rectangular shape of the home. "Every single surface of the home could be cut out of a flat rectangle," says Hygge Supply founder Sean Karcher.

Metal structural insulated panels (SIPs) informed the rectangular shape of the home. "Every single surface of the home could be cut out of a flat rectangle," says Hygge Supply founder Sean Karcher.

For the proof-of-concept house, Sean purchased a lakeside property—"It was the least expensive piece of property on the lake because of its wetland nature," he adds—and designed a 1,500-square-foot, prefabricated dwelling integrated into the marshy landscape. Dubbed the Lake House, the modern design takes inspiration from Philip Johnson’s Glass House and Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House.

In peak summer months, the rapid growth of wetland vegetation hides the home from view.

In peak summer months, the rapid growth of wetland vegetation hides the home from view.

Building in a wetland landscape with minimal disturbance was the biggest project challenge. "With approval from the Department of Environmental Quality, I was able to integrate the house into the wetlands using helical piers," Karcher says.

Building in a wetland landscape with minimal disturbance was the biggest project challenge. "With approval from the Department of Environmental Quality, I was able to integrate the house into the wetlands using helical piers," Karcher says.

What sets Hygge Supply apart from other prefab home companies are its minimalist, Danish-inspired aesthetic, sustainable materials, and contemporary approach to kit home construction. 

"Though we use prefabricated and modular pieces in the homes, the houses are still a package of goods which are delivered to be constructed on-site," notes Karcher. "This allows the customer to basically proceed with any financing and permitting as if they were building a traditional home."

Bathed in natural light thanks to walls of windows on either side, the airy, open-plan living area takes up nearly half of the home's footprint.

Bathed in natural light thanks to walls of windows on either side, the airy, open-plan living area takes up nearly half of the home's footprint.

Vintage Toledo Metal Furniture Co. chairs are combined with a round dining table. The console was purchased at a garage sale.

Vintage Toledo Metal Furniture Co. chairs are combined with a round dining table. The console was purchased at a garage sale.

A hallmark of Hygge Supply houses, highly durable metal SIPs feature foam cores with high R-values (50+) and allow for floor-to-ceiling windows and a panel exterior wall system. 

Tinted radiata pine panels wrap the light-filled living area, which is furnished with a Spectra Home Furniture sofa, a leather lounger, and an Overstock rug. In the kitchen, Hygge paired their custom cabinets with Bosch appliances.

Tinted radiata pine panels wrap the light-filled living area, which is furnished with a Spectra Home Furniture sofa, a leather lounger, and an Overstock rug. In the kitchen, Hygge paired their custom cabinets with Bosch appliances.

All Hygge Supply homes, including the Lake House, are heated with highly efficient radiant floor heating. The homes also come with a fully integrated tech package for remote home automation.

All Hygge Supply homes, including the Lake House, are heated with highly efficient radiant floor heating. The homes also come with a fully integrated tech package for remote home automation.

The steel-framed structures are pre-assembled and pre-cut in the factory for zero-waste assembly on site. Zero-VOC powder coat finishes are applied to the exterior and custom cabinets, while eco-friendly products and brands are sourced as part of the company’s commitment to sustainability.

A hallway with floor-to-ceiling custom cabinetry separates the living areas from the two bedrooms. The hallway also contains a small workstation.

A hallway with floor-to-ceiling custom cabinetry separates the living areas from the two bedrooms. The hallway also contains a small workstation.

Long light-filled hallways on either side of the house connect the living area to separate entrances to the two bedrooms.

Long light-filled hallways on either side of the house connect the living area to separate entrances to the two bedrooms.

Shop Hygge Supply Homes
Hygge Supply Cottage Combo #5
Hygge Supply Cottage Combo #5
The Hygge Supply Cottage Combo #5 configures three Large Cottages directly together, in an arrangement of layouts.
Hygge Supply Large Cottage
Hygge Supply Large Cottage
The Hygge Supply Large Cottage is inspired by the same concepts as the Hygge Supply Homes but offers an option on an alternative scale.
Hygge Supply Cottage Combo #3
Hygge Supply Cottage Combo #3
The Hygge Supply Cottage Combo #3 configures a Large Cottage directly connected to Small Cottage, in an arrangement of layouts.

Completed in approximately six months, Lake House is Karcher’s personal home, which he shares with his partner Christen and their dog Lucy. "I had a vision of being able to duplicate it as a kit home, and the rest is history," says Karcher. 

Tinted radiata pine ceilings, walls, and flooring partly envelop the guest bedroom for a cozy feel.

Tinted radiata pine ceilings, walls, and flooring partly envelop the guest bedroom for a cozy feel.

Sliding pocket doors, such as this one for the guest bathroom, are installed throughout the house to save space.

Sliding pocket doors, such as this one for the guest bathroom, are installed throughout the house to save space.

A peek inside the guest bathroom. Hygge Supply custom-designed the home's cabinets, vanities, and islands. The pendant lights are from Color Cord.

A peek inside the guest bathroom. Hygge Supply custom-designed the home's cabinets, vanities, and islands. The pendant lights are from Color Cord.

A look inside the master bedroom dressed with a custom curved platform bed with a gray felted wool headboard by Hygge Supply, West Elm duvet with a down comforter, and IKEA linen pillows.

A look inside the master bedroom dressed with a custom curved platform bed with a gray felted wool headboard by Hygge Supply, West Elm duvet with a down comforter, and IKEA linen pillows.

A Signature Hardware soaking tub overlooks views of the wetlands in the master bath.

A Signature Hardware soaking tub overlooks views of the wetlands in the master bath.

The toilet is concealed behind a wooden sliding door in the master bath.

The toilet is concealed behind a wooden sliding door in the master bath.

Hygge Supply designed the large, circular mirror and the custom vanity with Delta fixtures.

Hygge Supply designed the large, circular mirror and the custom vanity with Delta fixtures.

The showers are lined with Carrara subway tile from TheBuilderDepot and a wooden slat floor.

The showers are lined with Carrara subway tile from TheBuilderDepot and a wooden slat floor.

Kelly, Christen, and their dog Lucy seen standing in front of their home in summer.

Kelly, Christen, and their dog Lucy seen standing in front of their home in summer.

An initial floor plan of the Lake House. Minor adjustments were made to the plan during design and construction.

An initial floor plan of the Lake House. Minor adjustments were made to the plan during design and construction.

Read more about Hygge Supply.

Related Reading: 

The Ultimate Guide to Prefab: 65 Resources by Location, Construction, and Price

A Corrugated Steel Prefab in Australia Throws a Curve

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Hygge Supply / @hyggesupply

Project Manager: Kelly Sean Karcher 

Structural Engineer: A.S. Engineering Services

Cabinetry Design/ Installation: Hygge Supply

Photographer: Diana Liang