Modern Marries Conventional at a Chicago'Shotgun' Home

I’ve long admired the work of the husband and wife architect team of Stuart Cohen and Julie Hacker. Like this other great architect on Chicago’s North Shore, Howard Van Doren Shaw, Cohen and Hacker have assembled some remarkable houses in Chicago and its environs. While the majority of these houses have been large manor houses, some are smaller, like the project featured here, which they call the Shotgun House.

Constructed for a couple with older kids, this home works as a one-story home the majority of the time but can expand when kids and others see. By placing the extra bedrooms and baths on the second floor, Cohen and Hacker were able to keep the first floor compact.

One of the things I’ve always liked about the couple’s job is their ability to apply conventional architectural forms and details to contemporary spatial concepts. The spacious floor plan within this project is divided not by walls but by trim, colour and varying ceiling heights, articulating the strategy in their book, Transforming the Traditional.

Let us see how everything comes together.

Stuart Cohen & Julie Hacker Architects LLC

A narrow lot yields a narrow and linear, or shotgun, strategy. The second floor is nearer to the road to give the home more existence. To the west (the ideal side of this photograph ) is a large forest preserve.

Even though the lot is narrow and the building’s footprint is small, the neighboring woods preserve allows for nice views and light.

Stuart Cohen & Julie Hacker Architects LLC

The entrance is at the more substantial two-story area. This allows the entrance door to be shining, providing shelter as well as giving the entrance area more existence. The brief column holding up that corner rests to a garden wall, a fun mannerist detail.

While the home has conventional architectural components, like the gable roofs, in addition, it utilizes these components in more modern manners. By way of instance, the bank of 3 windows on the second floor turns the corner. The result is a solid corner, as might seem in conventional architecture, nor a completely open corner, as may appear in contemporary architecture.

Stuart Cohen & Julie Hacker Architects LLC

The linear one-story program is evident from the trunk. This is the point where the owners actually live. The back deck is accessible from the master bedroom. The large screen wall with an ox-eye window filled with latticework provides privacy in the master bath just on the opposite side of this wall.

Stuart Cohen & Julie Hacker Architects LLC

Much like Cohen-Hacker houses, the insides are well crafted and detailed. And while the exterior is an upgrade of the traditional American shingle style, the inside is absolutely a modern upgrade of Language Arts and Crafts. In the vaulted ceilings into the oak paneling, from the window seats and double-height windows into the William Morris breeding background, the inside is a celebration of the best of this style.

As well as the insides are where we see how conventional architectural trim is used to define modern spaces. By way of instance, while the living and dining area has a vaulted ceiling and tall windows, the kitchen features a lower ceiling. A plate rail, which doubles as a display shelf for the owners’ collection of duck decoys, supplies, as Cohen points out,”a location for the ceiling to rest.”

Stuart Cohen & Julie Hacker Architects LLC

A view from the library into the dining room and entrance hall just beyond shows how the trim factors are exploited to help define the personality of every room. Whereas the main living area includes rift-cut oak in a cerused finish, the entrance hall and library are all painted. Along with a room divider between the kitchen and living-dining place is open on either side — perfect for both spatial definition and displaying treasured objects.

Windows along the west wall of the home are tall and broad to make the most of natural lighting and views out to the forest preserve.

Stuart Cohen & Julie Hacker Architects LLC

The paneling, trim and built-in cabinetry throughout the main living room are made from the exact same rift-cut oak, making the plan of this kitchen integral to the design of the whole living area.

And only because there are overtures to an Arts and Crafts aesthetic does not signify that the home does not reside in the 21st century. Hence the oak cabinetry with mounts and other conventional details live side by side with stainless steel hoods and refrigerators.

Stuart Cohen & Julie Hacker Architects LLC

Just as the library includes painted trim, so do the master bedroom and bathroom.

Some separation between the mirrors supplies that traditional look and feel while making sure there’s a lot of lightness and brightness. The vaulted ceiling also goes a long way toward creating such a bright and spacious bath.

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