Overall exterior view from Lake Michigan. Photography: Scott McDonald©Hedrich Blessing

Dunes Compound

Empire, Michigan

Images: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Area:  4,000 square feet

Publications:  Chicago Magazine, October 2008; 21st Century Houses, 150 of the World's Best, Images Publishing, Australia, 2010

Site & Program:   This residential compound, tucked into the Michigan sand dunes on a densely wooded site, takes advantage of western lake views as well as vistas up and down the shoreline.  This is the owners’ second home and it includes ample guest quarters for their grown children and grandchildren.

Design:  Three pavilions break down the living quarters into public, private, and guest realms.  The focal point is a two-story living room with large windows and a deck extending the living space outdoors.


Bedroom quarters are to the north, guesthouse to the south, and a sheltered entry courtyard/garage to the east. In keeping with the sense of transparency throughout the house, the entry provides views down a covered walkway, through the house to the lake beyond.

Exterior materials include slate fireplaces, fir framed windows and doors, and gray, weathered, cedar siding which was placed either vertically or horizontally to break down the massing. Sun screens protect the west and south elevations while adding visual interest. Interior finishes feature maple floors, ceilings, doors, and wall trim in accordance with the owner's desire for a warm, yet modern environment.


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