Camp Spirit Lake / Amy Carman Design + Vetter Architects
Text description provided by the architects. Camp Spirit Lake is a modern guest lodge located within this Chicago family’s multi-acre compound in Wisconsin’s scenic Northwoods. Surrounded by a forest of oaks and white pines, the home is perched on a bluff overlooking a pristine lake the family has been visiting for generations. It is part of a larger generational family retreat consisting of a main house, an artist studio, and two boathouses. Rooted into the hilltop, the new guest lodge captures views of Spirit Lake, while respecting the scale of the new boathouse below.
The main level is divided into two wings or pavilions consisting of a living hall and three uniform guest suites. The living hall and guest suites are offset and connected by a gallery corridor, providing a 125-foot sightline that frames nature on either end. A series of first and second-story pavilions are designed to be intimate for small gatherings and functional for large-scale reunions and social events.
Glass, wood, and stone are seamlessly woven together from inside to out, as they reference the primary building materials of the Northwoods. A custom wood door and window systems create a strong architectural connection to nature, while selected furnishing and interior cabinetry create a thoughtful and modern nod to Wisconsin’s Northwoods camp style and heritage. The masonry in this modern home is an unexpected connection to the past, inspired by the stone silos and barn foundations that can be seen across the region. Rough-cut fieldstone set in thick, hand-troweled mortar stretches across the exterior’s south façade and connects with the interior two-story central fireplace.
The interior of the main living space is a modern nod to Northwoods camp. Walls are clad floor-to-ceiling in rift-sawn white oak and a wood-burning fireplace anchors the main gathering space. Handprinted cement tiles in the half bath are patterned after Native American kilim rugs. A stunning twelve-foot solid walnut dining table by Chicago-based furniture maker Mike Dreeben is designed for big family meals and is topped off by the sculptural metal spears of a David Weeks chandelier.
Three identical guest suites are outfitted with the modern amenities of a boutique hotel. Each has a built-in desk and wardrobe, a fully-appointed bath, a cozy seating area, and custom-made beds and nightstands. A private lakeside walk-out completes each guest suite.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of this house is the spectacular lower level. The rustic refinement of the first floor gives way to all-out fun below grade. Two full-length automated bowling lanes make for easy family tournaments, while a full-size movie screen provides a real-time window to the outdoors. An outdoor camera on the boathouse streams a live view of lake happenings and dock arrivals directly to the lower level. The owner calls it her “surveillance art.” Friends can gather at the long zinc countertop in the bar or play vintage pinball in the arcade. The built-in cabinetry is constructed with a combination of perforated metal doors and open display, showing off the owner’s collections and objects of family lore.