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All Natural Ravine House

The American studio Wheeler Kearns Architects has completed a one-story residence on a wooded lot outside of Chicago. It has black facades and large windows that blend in with the landscape. The Ravine House is quietly located on a wooded property where an older house burned down years ago. A ravine runs through the area.

The house was designed for two empty nests who wanted an apartment that encompassed the surrounding area. The couple – cyclists, nature lovers, artists – wanted to create a modest, one-story house that would support their active lifestyle and personal interests, and calmly grapple with the devastated grounds.

The design team started with a rectangular plan, then broke off the northwest corner and turned it down to form a detached garage. The area between the garage and the house serves as an entrance courtyard, which is adorned with local stones, birch trees and bundled plantings. The facade of the house is wrapped in vertical black metal cladding. In the inner courtyard, the walls are clad with robinia wood – the same material from which a slender column was made that supports an entrance roof.

The interior of the house has three different zones, all connected by wide passageways. Earthy materials have been used throughout the home, including oak for floors and walnut for casework. The rooms offer a mix of streamlined and eclectic decor.

One area contains a master suite and a painting / spinning studio, while another houses guest rooms and an office. The center of the plan includes an L-shaped kitchen, dining area and living room that enclose a service core. In the public zone, floor-to-ceiling glass offers a strong connection to the landscape. When you sit comfortably in the living room or stand casually next to the kitchen island, the view floats through large windows to rest on the cadence of the seasons. The color spreads in the autumn leaves or the light on fresh snow.

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