Combining elements of Nordic and Japanese design, Svart Hus was built to blend in with the natural world.

The sky across Kate Smith’s property is painted. Specs of white snow against deep green pines. Happy little clouds. The Aurora Borealis so pure, an artist could have created it just for her. She and her family are surrounded by beauty on their five acres of land in Door County, Wisconsin. It’s where they chose to plant the home called Svart Hus. A marvel of design that blends with the natural landscape and combines elements of Nordic and Japanese design to create a stunning home and workspace.

Design Inspired by The Land

Smith’s husband, Scott, grew up in Door County, so the family had an instant connection to the land. They chose their five-acre plot for its beauty, and knew they had to honor nature with a home that fit seamlessly among the prairies and pines. Thus began their journey to create a building that didn’t feel out of place.

From the beginning they knew the house would be black—Svart Hus in Swedish means “black house.” The design is simple. To create a space with clear areas for work and living, Smith designed, essentially, two boxes that are separate but connected.

Product Lines

Products Used

Project Team


Designer: k.smith | x

Builder: Form + One

Photographer: xoMe Studio

Dealer: Lampert Lumber

The goal was to make the whole house a calming space. They rely on natural light so there’s no need to use light fixtures until it’s dark outside. The interior features a monochromatic design with light gray walls and trim that is visually passive.

“The whole goal is to have people look outside,” Smith said.

Outside, the exterior is crafted with natural wood from Nakamoto Forestry, a Japanese company they chose for its sustainability, quality, and design. The products include a black-stained shiplap and contrasting lighter stained wood. The combination creates a clean and simple visual with a good patina that is rugged without detracting from the natural feel of the land.

Windows To Enhance Beauty

All the beauty outside inspired the interior. The Smiths wanted everything to flow and fit together, “like a puzzle.” This meant not only creating a cohesive thoughtful interior, but marrying it with the outer world, and windows were key.

They chose double hung windows from the Marvin Essential collection for the quality of design, craftsmanship, and ease of use. The two buildings line up so you can literally see right through from one side to the other, and an 8-foot Marvin Elevate Sliding Patio door allows for indoor-outdoor living. Black trim blends the windows seamlessly with the black design of the exterior and add wonderful contrast with the gray interior walls.

The window choice was also based on a challenge: The home has no air conditioning. This required a design with airflow that creates a cooling effect in the summer with windows that are strong enough to withstand strong prairie winds and whistling winter blizzards.

The design delivers, and the Smiths can enjoy their calming and relaxing space, regardless of the weather.

A Calming and Creative Space

In a space so comfortable, it can be hard to choose a favorite room. Smith laughs when she admits hers is the bathroom, with its subway tiles and calming interior, but really, she loves the whole space, indoor and out.

“I like everything about the house, because you feel like you're outside and there’s a quietness to it,” Smith said.

Everything in the Svart Hus fits. Whether you’re inside working or resting, outside playing, or yes, even in the bathroom, you feel right at home in the natural surroundings.

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