When a local couple purchased a cottage on Silver Lake in Rockford, they immediately began dreaming of a new space that would provide both intimacy and family entertainment.
Their goal was to take advantage of the rolling topography, as well as the tremendous lake views, to provide a welcoming yet subtle homestead. To accomplish this, they engaged Mathison | Mathison Architects (MMA) to design a home that responded to the land, water and surroundings.
The existing cottage felt disconnected from the lake, with dark spaces, low ceilings and a garage that awkwardly split the home and lot. MMA recommended placing the new home at a lower elevation, bringing the main level closer to the lake and reconfiguring the driveway to provide a modest, single-story appearance from the road with the four-stall garage to the side and out of immediate view. The deep, low-slung entry would open to wide, expansive lake views from the interior, while a striking roof overhang, visible from the lake, would extend this view to the sky and allow for light to flood the home.
The homeowners desired primary living spaces that felt intimate and cozy when it was just the two of them at home while also having ample space for their aging parents, new grandchildren and many visitors.
MMA tackled this dichotomy in several ways. First, with the couple expressing a family love of both kitchen and hearth, they designed the main floor to surround the wood-clad kitchen, while a large stone fireplace divides the relatively open floor plan into cozy nooks: a dining area and living room — all with expansive views of the lake.
A unique cedar trellis brings intimacy to the kitchen while not disrupting the high ceilings and clerestory light throughout the rest of the main floor. The main floor also features a second en suite bedroom so the homeowners’ aging parents can avoid stairs. They wanted this living space on the main or street level to still feel connected to the lake below, so a wide, central staircase allows guests to quickly make their way toward the lake, bypassing much of the interior.
MMA designed the lower level, which takes advantage of the property’s slope, for entertaining and hosting. It features family bedrooms, a kitchenette, a fitness room and an entertainment space. Guests enjoy privacy on the lower level while also having easy access to the water.
The lower level footprint extends further toward the lake than the upper level, providing the opportunity to include a main level patio without blocking light for the floor below. The lower level offers easy access to the outdoor seating areas, fire pit and hot tub. One lake-specific feature is a rear-facing garage where the homeowners can easily pull their aquatic toys — like sailboats or kayaks — indoors when needed.
The materiality of this home is unique. The homeowners wanted a simple, durable palette of warm natural materials throughout the house. In addition to the cedar ceilings, many of the walls, including the pantry, are wrapped in walnut. Stone is a central feature at the fireplace wall, extending into the lower level and outside, while blackened steel provides accents around the home.
The homeowners poured much thought and love into this lakefront home that they plan to enjoy for years to come and eventually pass on to the next generation. MMA was honored to come alongside and help make those dreams a reality.
To learn more and see project images, visit mathisonarchitects.com/work/silver-lake-east/.