On the waterfront (Iowa)
To spare the roots of 100-year-old oak trees, sections of this new house were cantilevered from recessed foundations.
Inside, the view of West Okoboji Lake dominates, but a tufted Malhoun sectional from Ligne Roset, upholstered in a bright Maharam fabric, and a trio of Primary poufs, as well as a Nani Marquina Seagrass rug (all from Design Within Reach), provide lively color. The three-panel painting is by Christina Narwicz.
The living area—with its Glo-Ball floor lamp by Jasper Morrison for Flos—floats above the grade
The living, kitchen and dining areas form a single great room; a 10-foot-square “light well” over the kitchen culminates in a room-size skylight.
In the kitchen, polished concrete floors meet rubber, which is softer underfoot, and a custom island fashioned of Baltic birch plywood topped with stainless steel (Pam stools are from Ligne Roset, gracefully arching faucets from Dornbracht).
In the kitchen, the custom cabinetry is clad in an Abet Laminati laminate (the custom table is white oak; MVS chairs are from Vitra).
The bright-orange bathroom belongs to the three Smith boys. Like the others, this bathroom features Boyd “sconces” that are made of fluorescent bulbs behind etched mirrors.
A stand of old oak trees surrounds the house.
The architects used the same materials in each of the bathrooms, but in a different palette (floors in each room are concrete warmed in color with beige pigment and in temperature with radiant heating).
A spectacular “water drop” headboard was computer carved from Baltic birch plywood.
The room also features Eero Saarinen side tables and an Arne Jacobsen Egg chair and ottoman (from Fritz Hansen), covered in Kvadrat’s Oda from Maharam.
Outside, the master bedroom is outlined by a slatted lattice (drapes are hung on chains from a recessed hospital track).
The storage unit behind the headboard was custom designed by Min/Day.
The Smiths considered letting the home’s ipê siding fade to gray, but they liked the color of the wood so much that they had it treated with an oil-based sealer called Penofin. Asked if there is anything they would change about the house, the owners name the round concrete pavers set into the grass; they’re tricky to walk on because they’re different sizes.
The stairway was designed without risers, allowing light to flow through the space. The window is covered in translucent laminate to obscure views of a neighbor’s house, a few feet away.
One of the largest spaces in the house—a common room for the couple’s three sons—is sheathed (and even partly furnished) in oriented strand board (OSB), a mix of wood chips, wax and resin that is usually hidden from view. “We liked juxtaposing the rough texture against the clean lines of the architecture,” observes Jeff Day. The architects learned that the surface is so visually dynamic that the finish nails that were used to install it practically disappeared. The room also contains items not meant to blend in, including a Vega sectional sofa from Design Within Reach and a Knoll Womb chair and ottoman.
In the living room, a pair of rugs sewn together—Seagrass by Nani Marquina (from Design Within Reach)—suggest an indoor lawn. Omaha’s Colley Furniture Studio made the boatlike coffee table, designed by the architects, from white-oak boards.
Cantilevered rooms make the house feel as if it’s floating.
A second-floor balcony is partly shielded by standard industrial-steel grating, turned vertically and welded into a frame for a hightech filigree effect (wood is Brazilian ipê).
An angled window on the side of the house illuminates the “light well” above the kitchen work area. Fluorescent bulbs, installed between the window and an interior layer of polycarbonate, turn the light well into a glowing lantern at night.
A second-floor hallway (leading to the master bedroom) looks into a dramatic ten-foot-square light well over the kitchen work area. The “interior window” is just one of the ways the architects connected the two levels of the home.
The architects assigned a different monolithic color scheme to each bathroom in the house. Natural light further saturates the lime green translucent materials in this bathroom, that’s located in the guest wing.
This large window, located on the side of the house, echos the asymmetrical skylight that illuminates the kitchen.
Instead of traditional paving stones, the architects designed a path of playful circular and rectangular shapes.
This second floor railing, constructed of painted steel bar grating, counterbalances the smooth polished concrete wall as you enter the house.