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Colorful Lake House built into slope

The Camouflage House designed by multi-award winning firm Johnsen Schmaling Architects is a rustic, woody home nestled in a similar setting – rustic and woody, here in Green Lake, Wisconsin. This lake house design echoes its forest surroundings, both in terms of its material palette and visual pattern. Exterior vertical panels take a cue from the slender, tall trees towering around it. Also inspired by the local tradition of lake homes and culture, this forest home is an architectural translation of its environment with wood, concrete and glass, and interiors that are open and welcoming, yet contemporary all at once. Of course, the views do a good job of inviting nature in.

Set on a slope, a single level peeks out over the hilltop, its subtle scale making a modest addition to this environment. But when viewed from downhill, a second (lower) storey makes an unexpected appearance from the hillside. This lake-side wall is made entirely of glass, offering breathtaking views, lots of natural light, and an open, airy feel.
Taking shape in a linear L layout, the house plan maximizes living space and natural views while creating a private courtyard entrance area. The courtyard leads you to the open breezeway between the house and garage – an organic entry to this earthy home.
According to the architects, “Throughout the house, the superimposition of natural and man-made wood components – natural cedar, resin-based wood veneer panels, glue-laminated posts and beams, exposed MDF paneling – illustrates the wide range of aesthetic and functional characteristics of wood, celebrating the material’s inherent tensions between durability and temporality, perfection and imperfection, nature and technology.” An ode to wood, the house features vertical untreated cedar panels, and wood veneer resin panels in a rainbow of natural hues. Alternating with glass panels, the irregular pattern copies the overlapping tree trunks all around.
The single storey side of the house deceives you into imagining a small space, but interiors are surprisingly spacious.
The angle of the slope also allows for added privacy, with nothing looking in through the glazed facade but the lake and the trees.
Interiors glow warmly through the glass, turning this glass house into a beacon of light among the woods.
With exposed timber, wood wall panels, and living spaces centering on a fireplace, interiors enjoy all the comforts of a traditional home, only with a modern flair.
The upper level kitchen, dining and living areas occupy an open concept space. Folding glass doors open the area onto a screened porch, inviting the lake breeze in and residents out. A set of stairs leads down to the lower level, where the sleeping quarters offer these same lake views through glass walls, only with the benefit of added privacy.
Vertical posts accentuate the high ceilings, boasting exposed wood beams. Between the beams, massive windows visually expand living areas beyond the walls.
The earthy material palette includes exposed concrete walls running from outside in, connecting indoors and out through a thin pane of glass.

Johnsen Schmaling Architects


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