Sodon Lake House / Temescal Creative
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Manufacturers : Brizo, Elissa Passino, Gabriel Scott, Jensen Bridge, Living ceramics, Pella EFCO
Text description provided by the architects. When industrial designer, Martine Ilana, relocated with her family back to Detroit, Michigan, after living in southern California for over a decade, they knew that recreating the light and energy of Venice Beach would be critical to their new home. When they discovered that this 5,300 square foot, midcentury modern house had been uninhabited for nearly four years, it became obvious that they had to breathe life back into the property, as the house felt like a true sanctuary hidden among the trees, notably the 150-year-old willow just off the shoreline.
Tucked away on a steeply sloping site, the Sodon Lake House takes its name from the Dichotheric lake which it overlooks — one of three known natural lakes of this type in Michigan. When approached from the road, the mid-century modern home appears as a modest atomic ranch. When experienced from within, the home’s layout is revealed as a series of intermediate floor levels that create cozy areas for living, dining, sleeping, working, and entertaining. The young family of four quickly fell in love with this quirky interior which offers big panoramas of the lake and intimate framed views of the site and home itself.
The greatest challenge that the owners undertook was the need to complete the entire project (planning, design, permitting, and construction) in 12 months. They selected Iannuzzi Studio for their design sensibility, environmental stewardship, and a client-first approach, as well as their ability to work “on the fly” having completed several design-build projects. Using a California-inspired color palette, Iannuzzi Studio worked with Martine’s sustainable design firm, Temescal Creative, focusing on healthy and durable materials across the entire home’s renovation.
The design intention across the entire home was to maintain the original 1950s structure while updating its finishes and enhancing its footprint as inset into the landscape. The team covered the 1950s-era reddish-brown brick with an Exterior Insulation and Finish System (EIFS) which significantly bolstered the home’s insulation values while a white finish was the first major step in bringing the lightness and energy the family desired.
Replacing decayed wood siding with a custom rain screen of unfinished cedar had a two-fold benefit. The main screen provides passive cooling and ventilation while cedar is naturally rot-resistant for longevity. Leaving it unfinished allows the home to blend into the wooded site. Water damage to the ceiling and walls was addressed by selecting a standing seam metal roof for its long lifespan and ability to be recycled. Rounding out the exterior is a mural of blue and crem-colored geometric tile strategically located at the end of a key sight line from the interior.
The remodeling and renovation of the interior were completed with a similar strategy. Prioritizing efficient circulation and access to daylight drove changes to the interior layout. Brightly colored surfaces, low-maintenance materials, and no-VOC finishes contribute to a healthy and uplifting environment. Where possible, the structural slab-on-grade was exposed, ground and polished ridding the house of unnecessary material finishes. Completed in 2022, the Sodon Lake House has been successfully restored and transformed into an artistic, chic, and uniquely warm abode for a family that embraces essential living.