This Danish-Style Farmhouse Unites a Family with Nature

A Michigan family of six builds their Scandinavian-inspired dream home, complete with large spaces to match their playful personalities and walls of glass to bring the outside in.

September 30, 2019

Located in a clearing once occupied by the Kalamazoo farmers market, this home’s striking facade is enveloped by its wooded setting. The bold, inky exterior is balanced by a minimalist interior, allowing the home’s organic surroundings to draw the eye outward through large-scale glasswork.

Homeowners Liz and Kevin Hoekzema, who are residential builders and designers and owners of KLH Custom Homes, have plenty of experience with the construction process. Yet, when designing their own home, the duo followed an instinct to do things differently. “We’re always thinking about how we can bring in little surprises—taking a space that would otherwise be ordinary and giving it a little twist and a creative spin,” says Liz.

As a residential designer, Liz is driven to create spaces that are both unique and playful–a philosophy she wholeheartedly embraced when building a new home for her family.

The couple gave a lot of thought to the materials used and the relationship they wished to create with nature. “We wanted a minimal, modern interior that just flows outside,” comments Kevin. “We also wanted to focus on the view through to the outdoors—increasing the connection with nature and having natural light stream in,” adds Liz. One way the couple accomplished this goal was by maximizing sightlines to the greenery outside with large-scale windows and doors from Marvin.

An aerial shot of the property showing the house nestled in a clearing. The dense wooded surroundings inspired the couple to prioritize exterior views in the home’s design.

Throughout the home, large picture windows frame views of the greenery outside, including glimpses of a 150-year-old oak tree the couple worked hard to save.

With four active kids, large expanses of glass throughout the home’s open floor plan also allows Liz and Kevin to have open sightlines. “We love that in the design of this home we were able to factor in ways to see our kids whether they are in the yard or upstairs,” says Liz. “We wanted to design a unique house plan that would allow us to stay connected to them,” she adds.

The large windows continue into each of the bedrooms, where they frame picturesque views of the landscape.

The couple incorporated other unexpected views of the outdoors, including a glass-encased floating breezeway that connects the garage and main house. The everyday experience of walking across the walkway is enhanced by floor-to-ceiling windows along both sides. “When you get really intentional about directing the eye in a certain way, it feels like you are painting a picture with the nature that’s there,” says Liz.

“When it came to designing the inside of the home, we wanted to have your eye continue on through the glass instead of landing on a lot of details,” comments Liz.

A small breezeway connects the garage with the main house. The ground is dug out underneath this part of the structure to give the appearance of it effortlessly floating across.

The goal to keep her family connected with nature is also what attracted Liz to the streamlined style of the selected windows and doors.

“The design is so sleek and simple that it’s not
stopping your eye from carrying forth into the
view of nature.”

Liz Hoekzema

As a local builder, Kevin also knows that energy efficiency is an important consideration. “Especially in our harsher climate where it can be -20° up to 100° F, as well as really humid, dry, and windy, Marvin has just been a really solid choice,” he adds.

A large Multi-Slide door allows easy access to the patio. The couple chose long rectangular stepping blocks in the exact width of the door to further enhance the view outward.

“We wanted to make sure we could be inside or outside all the time, with open windows, open doors—all flowing right outside to the pool area,” says Kevin. Liz also loves how the entire family has embraced the indoor-outdoor lifestyle: “The kids open the slider door and go right out to the pool, basketball court, or wherever, and it really feels like we are home.”

Any chance they get, the active family takes a dip in the backyard pool, often with a running start from sliding doors to the living room.

After living in the house for almost a year, the couple realizes how much the space inspires them in their everyday work. “Our clients are able to see how we were adventurous in designing for ourselves, and how there’s a lot of joy in that. Now, they feel more comfortable taking risks themselves,” adds Liz.

This article originally appeared in Dwell. All photos by 22 Waves Creative.

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