Raising the Barn: Modern Home, Old-Fashioned Design

A contemporary Lake Michigan home relies on good, old-fashioned design—with a twist

| January/February 2008

  • Inspired by a country barn, this vacation home on Lake Michigan’s Sturgeon Bay stays warm during frigid Wisconsin winters, thanks to energy-efficient features such as radiant in-floor heating and an air-to-air heat exchanger.
    Photo By Barry Rustin
  • Beneath the bowed ceiling, bamboo cabinets and countertops made from a blend of concrete and recycled glass warm up stainless-steel, Energy Star kitchen appliances.
    Photo By Barry Rustin
  • Concrete countertops that contain recycled glass add drama to the master bathroom.
    Photo By Barry Rustin
  • In the winter, the Klobucars' curved ceilings direct warm air to the ventilation tower, where fans blow the heat back toward the home. Zoned radiant in-floor heating keeps toes toasty—but only in rooms where warmth is needed.
    Photo By Barry Rustin
  • The master bedroom occupies its own wing, one of four distinct areas in the house that architect Nathan Kipnis designed for maximum energy efficiency.
    Photo By Barry Rustin
  • Fans in the house ensure that warm air from the lower-level, high-efficiency stove rises to the second-floor office, where floors are readily renewable bamboo and the view is endless.
    Photo By Barry Rustin
  • To combat cold winters on Lake Mighigan, an energy-efficient wood stove in the family room warms the air throughout the open space. "You're not wasting any hot air in this house," architect Nathan Kipnis says.
    Photo By Barry Rustin

With its many panes of glass and varied roof lines, Carol and Dave Klobucar’s house on Lake Michigan’s Sturgeon Bay is very 21st century. At the heart of this Energy Star-qualified Wisconsin vacation house, however, are design concepts as old as the horse-drawn plow—and it’s those ancient ideas that make this red house green.

“If you go back in time, nearly all architectural elements were a direct response to climate influences,” says architect Nathan Kipnis, the Chicago-area architect who designed the 2,600-square-foot home. “These elements included roof shape, building orientation and window types. The local materials also influenced what was possible or practical. We took the best of those concepts and put them into this house.”

For the Klobucars, finding a green architect like Kipnis was the key to building in a way they’d long pondered, but didn’t necessarily understand. “I’ve always been interested in conservation,” says Carol, vice president and news director at Chicago’s WBBM-TV. “It just seems like the right thing to do.”

Starting at square one was daunting to the couple at first. “You can educate yourself on green issues, especially through the Internet,” Carol says. “But learning on your own can be tough, so we were happy to find an architect who was a strong advocate and taught us the best environmental practices out there.” 

Keeping cool with natural ventilation 

Kipnis still recalls with excitement the first time he saw Carol and Dave’s lakefront property—nearly an acre of land with lake views and private woodlands. “I was floored,” he says. “It is really amazing.”



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