Architect Steve Kadlec and designer Jason Hall were sure they knew what they wanted when they began hunting for a weekend retreat in northern Indiana: a modern glass house in the woods. But sometimes you don’t realize what you’re looking for until it is, quite literally, right in front of you. That’s exactly what happened when Kadlec and Hall discovered a traditional, Shingle-style residence on a forested lot, complete with an overgrown English cottage-style garden. “There’s a real romance to the escapism of the house,” Hall says. “When you walk through the front gate and see it, you feel like you’re a million miles away.”
“It has a bit of a past,” muses Kadlec. He is, of course, not wrong: Originally one of four nearly identical log cabins built on the property in the 1940s, the structure was nearly consumed by fire in 1979 before being reimagined in the late ’80s in the Shingle style, with high ceilings, local Indiana flagstone flooring, and pine wall paneling and ceiling beams.
Clerestory windows flood the space with natural daylight, highlighting textural plaster walls with rounded corners. Although they are modernists at heart, the pair riffed off of the rustic elements. “The cabin had this specific character that we weren’t going to change,” Kadlec says. “We allowed ourselves to be a little bit looser and channel a different aesthetic than we might normally.”
The couple searched far and wide for furnishings, scouring vintage and antique shops. Their finds, which include a collection of midcentury studio pottery, are commingled with refined pieces from high-end showrooms. And although their styles have aligned during the course of nearly two decades together, that doesn’t mean the pair always sees eye-to-eye. “If I put three things out, Steve will come behind me and put two away,” Hall laughs. “The end result is a little more restful.”
That restrained approach characterizes the spacious open living and dining area, where a tailored sofa and a sculptural midcentury Egg chair by Arne Jacobsen surround a coffee table made from a large teak root. A Moroccan-inspired long-hair wool area rug feels “like a big sweater,” Kadlec notes. “Instead of using a lot of color, we played up the texture.” Such interplay reverberates throughout. A graphic black-and-white abstract artwork by Chicago artist Lincoln Schatz over the fireplace, for example, faces a set of whimsical antlers over the French doors on the other side of the room. There, bathed in natural daylight from a pair of skylights, a set of wood-framed dining chairs with leather seats complements a concrete table held together by gravity.
Employing a light touch, the designers made minimal changes to the kitchen, painting the formerly powder-blue cabinetry an earthy taupe shade, which is accented by new quartz countertops and updated appliances. Likewise, the adjacent screened porch is furnished simply with a pair of teak sofas and a stone-topped dining table underneath an oversize Japanese paper lantern. “When you’re outside at night, the house glows,” Hall observes. “People feel comfort when they walk in.”
Paneled in pine with a white-painted beamed ceiling, the master suite is equally cozy. A custom wall-to-wall headboard upholstered in a gray woven wool lends the space a contemporary edge. The sophisticated palette is echoed in the open second-floor loft, where two built-in twin beds flank a glass-topped desk.
During the summer, the couple and their guests often sit in the garden, which, like the house, was last renovated over 30 years ago. Landscape designer Julie deLeon enhanced groves of flowering rhododendrons near the entrance and alongside the enclosed patio out back. After clearing out dead and overgrown trees behind the house, she added a fire pit alongside newly planted and existing white birch trees. A mix of Whitespire birches, Canadian hemlocks and spruce trees enhance the sense of privacy. “It was very important to pay homage to what we inherited,” deLeon says. “This property had soul, and we wanted to pay attention to that.”
City dwellers for most of their lives, the couple and their dog, Dolly, spend nearly every weekend at their rural retreat, enjoying winters there just as much as– if not more than– summers. With nothing but time on their hands, they enjoy relaxing, reading and cooking. They even took up breadmaking, a process that takes all day. “When you come out here, you’re leaving distraction behind,” Kadlec says. “It’s made us realize what the weekend is for.”