River Bluff Residence

River Bluff is a 78 acre heavily wooded development site that stretches out along the bluffs overlooking the Galien River.  This waterway winds its way through the primal forests and farmlands of southwestern Michigan finally flowing into Lake Michigan through a wetlands nature preserve just shy of the Indiana border.

Our clients commissioned us to layout just 16 home sites on the property and at our suggestion wished to dedicate 35 acres along the river to the Chikaming Nature Conservancy.  Two cost effective spec homes were designed to establish the rural character of the property which abuts a working farm and to set certain design standards.  While vernacular in spirit each house pushes that envelope in both form and materiality.

Tigerman’s 2,550 square foot three bedroom home confronts visitors with its silo cum stair tower that links the two gabled barnlike structures.  Sheds with attached trellised parking spaces bracket the main buildings completing the image of a collection of farm outbuildings.  On the river side a double-decker screened porch connects the two.  Corrugated metal siding and concrete panels reinforce the industrial metaphor while the barn red windows and trim evoke historic precedent.

McCurry’s 3,400 square foot four bedroom home while incorporating the requisite two-car garage separates it by an entry link from the barnlike structure of the main building whose farm metaphor is reinforced by monitor windows and an attached single-story shed or “lean to.”  A practical yet sophisticated corrugated metal color palette along with periwinkle blue trim distance the complex from its more typical antecedents.  At the rear, a screened porch with second story decks and a stone terrace overlooks a bend in the river.

In this Zone 6 climatic region that skirts the lower east coast of our Great Lake, Maria Smithburg of Artemisia has planted hydrangeas, dogwood and other understory species that thrive in this hardiness zone not unlike that of Cape Cod and points east.