Compelled by sentimentality and the knowledge that the former owners (a farm family) would be retained to work the land, our Chicago clients charged us to convert this 26-acre Michigan farm into an expanded family compound while preserving as much as was practical of the original farm house.
This modest 1½-story structure was crudely constructed. Metal clapboard covered the original simulated brick asphalt shingles, and the eight-foot ceilings on the 1st floor were oppressive. The land rose at the rear of the house where assorted outbuildings in varying stages of disrepair peppered the landscape. The most disreputable, crowded close to the farmhouse blocking expansion to the rear. After serious soul searching it was agreed to take down these crumbling structures saving the most reusable, which were aligned along an east-west axis. The most reasonable reuse of the low ceilinged existing farmhouse was as a bedroom wing. Two guest bedrooms with baths filled the first floor as lofts with accompanying baths for grandchildren did the attic. The master bedroom was hyphened from the main house by a flat roofed section that gave one loft a deck and access to a playhouse in the bedroom attic. A variance permitted the extension of a porch into the front yard engaging the existing gable.
This form set the proportions for the rear addition a 1½-story great room bridged by a steel walkway to the sixth bedroom tucked above the living room and overlooking the sunroom and screened porch. The choice of modest practical materials completes the Midwestern metaphor. Corrugated metal panels clad the complex, vertically placed on the new, horizontally on the old. The whole is covered in checkered asphalt shingles carrying on a local tradition of eccentric roofing. Packed into 3,500 sq. ft. the old/new farm shelters another family while putting food on neighborhood tables.