Project Profile: Contemporary Door County Home on Lake Michigan

Project Profile: Contemporary Door County Home on Lake Michigan

POSTED ON in Wisconsin

Lake Michigan Home using Pella Windows and Doors.

When you have a place on the picturesque shores of Lake Michigan in Door County, you want to make sure you can soak in the beautiful views as much as possible.

This striking new home on the lakeside of the Door Peninsula was designed and built by two Pella Windows & Doors of Wisconsin customers: home designer, Mitch Wise and DeLeers Construction.

When we asked them about this project, we discovered the initial idea for the home was the complete opposite of what you'll find on the property today.

Getting to the Contemporary Concept

Beautiful Lake Michigan View thanks to Pella Windows.

Beautiful Lake Michigan View.

This Lake Michigan home features a contemporary design, which means there are a lot of clean lines, high ceilings, open spaces, and plenty of large windows.

"It's all about the inside relating to the outside," home designer Mitch Wise explains. "And, I think this location was ideal for that because we wanted to take advantage of the water as much as possible."

Wise is a former Sturgeon Bay restaurant owner and chef who is very familiar with the Door County area. He says contemporary architecture can be found all over the peninsula, it's just that it is often "hidden away." However, the owners of this lakefront property had a different style of home design in mind when the project began.

"Originally, they wanted something very cape Cod, kind of coastal," Wise says.

The owners had seen another Door County home that DeLeers built, and they really liked the look, but DeLeers Project Manager, Jerry Jilot, says things took a turn in a different direction as plans were made.

"Somehow through the discussion Mitch said, 'I'd like to explore some other designs with you,' Jilot says of the switch to a more modern look. "All of a sudden, it kind of caught fire and they liked the idea."

"Because it's their second home, it's different from what they normally have," Wise adds. "They were willing to take a chance on me and get out of their comfort zone."

The switch to a contemporary home design had a positive impact on the projects budget, too

"With contemporary homes, sometimes you are able to get a much more high-end look, but not necessarily for a higher dollar amount as when you try to duplicate an older home," Wise says.

Bringing Together the Old and New

Fireplace with reclaimed stone in the background and a view of the lake. Fireplace with reclaimed stone in the background.

Another part of the project that changed early on was a plan to use the old home's existing

"We were able salvage a lot the stone off the existing house and reuse that during construction. We took out all the wall paneling and repurposed that," Wise says. "So there's an element of the old home there, it's just brought into this era."

One of Mitch Wise's favorite design aspects in this home is a fireplace made of reclaimed stone from the old home. It also features a free-floating concrete hearth and mantelpiece.

Construction Challenges on the Lakefront

Scenic view of Lake Michigan home.

View of Lake Michigan from one of the home's rooms.

While the location of this Door County home is undeniably scenic, it also came with some difficult demands.

The team from DeLeers had to be sure to follow all the local codes and ordinances that come with any Door County construction project, especially along the lake.

"Wetland delineation, high water marks, all of those things really drove where this house could be located on the property," Jilot says, but in the end, DeLeers managed to cut through all the red tape.

Forces of nature provided a different set of challenges in both construction and design.

"Working on Lake Michigan in June, there were some days we were wearing winter jackets. It takes a while for things to warm up over there," Jilot says.

Snowy Wisconsin winters along Lake Michigan can be especially brutal, and the flat roof that comes with contemporary look called for some unique engineering. Jilot explains that water doesn't flow off the roof, it flows into the roof and then out through a drainage system of internal piping. The roof was also designed to help prevent issues with melting and freezing.

"You get some pretty nasty storms off the lake, driven rain and snowstorms. But everything in this home is designed to take it,"Jilot says. That includes the windows.

Why Pella® Windows  Were  Right for This Project

Living room, highlighted by Pella's Impervia® windows.

Living room, highlighted by Pella's Impervia® windows. 

Pella Sales Representative, Bill McGavock, worked closely with DeLeers and Mitch Wise to help provide the right windows for this project. Weather was definitely a factor, which is why this home makes use of Pella's Impervia® line of fiberglass windows.

McGavock says Impervia® windows are made with an extremely tough type of fiberglass known as Duracast®, Pella's patented fiberglass technology.

"They were a good choice," McGavok states.

Jilot and Wise agree that Impervia® windows from Pella provided the right fit for this home. 

Bedroom Lake Michigan home with Pella installed windows.

A bedroom in the home

"The Impervia® black windows just went with the design of the home. There are no interior casings on the windows. It's very clean, sleek, and simple with nice straight lines. That fit in well with what Mitch was trying to achieve," Jilot says.

"I used transom windows that start right at the ceiling line and come down two feet," Wise says of his design. "So, even in a mudroom area or a roadside bedroom, we were still able to use taller transom windows to bring in light while capturing trees and light without seeing things you don't want to see."

Wise also says contemporary homes are designed to be low maintenance and reduce clutter. Jilot says DeLeers always recommends low-maintenance features when building homes, and fiberglass windows were a product that fit the bill.

"The Impervia® windows are about as maintenance free as you can get," Jiot says.

McGavock points out that Pella's windows can be trusted for all sorts of weather. 

"They are put to the test ," McGavock says. 

Energy efficiency was another factor, and Pella's ENERGY STAR® rated double-pane windows will help on this project. The insulating glass is filled with argon gas and has low-e coatings. McGavock, says this helps reflect indoor heat back into the home during winter and reflects outdoor heat away from the home during summer.

It's worth noting that these features and options were selected specifically to handle Wisconsin weather. "What works in Florida is not the same sort of double-pane glass that works in northern Wisconsin,

McGavock says. "So Pella offers many different types of dual pane glass to fit the needs of the particular region."

Looking Back on a Job Well Done

Finished Lake Michigan Home, Pella Windows & Doors of Wisconsin.

Finished product

Now that the project is complete, all three companies can reflect on the process of building a home they can be proud of and that the homeowners can enjoy.

"The owners loved the new place," Jilot says. "They loved the setting, and it was a very successful project for everyone."

For Wise, it was the first contemporary home he's designed in some time, and he says enjoys designing secondary homes for his clients.

"That's fun for me because I get to play around with my creativity and push the boundaries. No two houses I design are the same," he says.

MacGavock is simply proud to have played a role in helping the project come to life, and tells anyone who will listen to check out the pictures online.

"It's always a pleasure working with contractors like DeLeers and designers like Mitch," he says. "In the end, I always feel it's our customers who do the amazing work. If you let these guys do what they do best, you get a project like this home."

Jilot says there's a reason DeLeers continues to work with Pella, and it's more than just our windows and doors.

"There are a lot of quality windows out there today," he says. "But, service really makes the difference. That's what keeps us coming back to Pella."

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