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Door County, Wis., Residence

Project Name

Door County, Wis., Residence

Project Status



1,875 sq. feet

Construction Cost



  • Nagle Hartray Danker Kagan McKay Architects Planners
  • Gray Construction



Room or Space


Living Room



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Project Description

2003 CHDA
Custom Home Under 3,000 Sq. Ft. / Merit Award

In a simple house, a single gesture can make all the difference. In this year-round second home on the shore of Lake Michigan, the inspired gesture is right overhead: a sweeping reverse-arch roof, surrounded by clerestory windows, that tops the main living space. The clerestory openings “throw light up against the ceiling and kind of bounce it around,” explains architect Jim Nagle, who designed the house for a long-time friend. The roof is supported by four laminated beams, which were fabricated locally at a very reasonable cost. “It was a very simple way to get a big bang,” Nagle says. “It's like having a sail up over your head.”

Nagle's program called for “a modest house, but something that fit in with the environment.” And at only 2,000 square feet, his straight-ahead Modernist plan is the very soul of modesty. Fitting in with the environment provides the entertainment here. “It's in the woods and it's right on Lake Michigan, sand beach out front,” says Nagle, who located the house to take advantage of the views without stepping all over the shorefront scenery. “We tried to nestle it back in the woods, so it doesn't expose itself to the beach.” The building's primary materials—fieldstone for the chimney, cedar siding, maple flooring, laminated pine roof beams—were all sourced locally.

Our judges gave the project high marks for the clarity of its plan and its appropriateness to the setting. They noted approvingly the building's openness to the lake, and the discreet outside entrances to the two baths, which allow swimmers to clean off before entering the rest of the house. But they agreed that the sweeping roof and the quality of light it creates inside the building were the crowning touches. “Putting that roof on it takes it to another level,” said one. “I wouldn't mind spending a weekend in that house.”
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