Q&A w/ Jim Gempeler, 1853 Hwy 92

Modern Home Tours is coming to Madison! On Saturday, April 6, we’ll be checking out a plethora of beautifully designed homes, including 1853 Hwy 92. This home has a strong connection to nature, both aesthetically and with regards to sustainability. If you’re as excited as we are, then you might need a few more hints about what’s coming to tide you over. We did just that and spoke with architect Jim Gempeler of GMK Architecture Inc. and homeowners Robin Pharo and Tim Duerst to learn more about the design of the home to better prepare you to see it in person.

The home was designed with a connection to nature and the rural setting. What elements of the house reflect those influences?

  1. Rural design vernacular
  2. The house main axis which separates public and private areas of the house, originates, and connects to the signature rock outcropping of the site.
  3. Large areas of glass, shared by multiple rooms/areas that open up views to the site.
  4. Materials within the home sourced locally – Wisconsin cherry, 80% milled from trees removed from the lot.
  5. Barn metal, reclaimed from local farm.
  6. Colors chosen to reflect sand stone rock outcropping

What materials were you drawn toward using in the home, especially the local ones?

  1. Telephone poles
  2. Metal roof
  3. Red barn siding
  4. Local cherry for wall details and custom bar
  5. Counter tops made of recycled glass and reclaimed quartz

The home features both an entertainment kitchen and a working kitchen. What are the different purposes for these kitchens and how do they interact in the layout?

  1. Entertaining / service part of kitchen connected to breakfast / hors d’oeuvres
  2. Major Cooking / food prep / storage located farther away from public space
  3. Small office area also in kitchen for laptop access emails, web recipes etc.
  4. Commercial kitchen equipment in the working kitchen
  5. Movable table allows for group cooking/baking, which we used for the first time this Christmas.

This home was designed with the future in mind, both in terms of sustainability and technology. How did you go about designing for the future?

  1. Separation of public and private areas allows for changing uses/interests as children and people age, ownership changes, to minimize conflicts that so often arise with quiet bedroom above social spaces
  2. No load bearing walls on the first floor and only one in the lower level. All. Rooms can be reconfigured as needs change.
  3. Extra large floor trusses instead of I-joist so wiring and remodeling are easy.
  4. Master bath closet designed to add a full tub if needed in the future.
  5. Space designated for future elevator
  6. Each level can be used as separate self contained living unit depending on extended family needs.  (ie aging parent or rental unit)

What features of the house should tour-goers be sure to keep an eye out for?

  1. Separation of public and private areas created by axis of the entry bridge, corn crib wall/railing, and rear deck terminating at the stone out cropping.
  2. Shared glass areas that provide views out of multiple areas/rooms giving the feeling of more glass
  3. Interior volume that matches the signature gable roof lines of the exterior
  4. Automated energy saving sun screens and thermal curtains
  5. Remote automation systems
  6. Circular flow, allowing easy access to all areas of the house (and especially popular with kids as there are no dead ends within the house)
  7. The used of inexpensive materials that adds industrial details to the house – metals, barn hardware, etc.

To see 1853 Hwy 92 and other wonderful homes, be sure to get your tickets for the Madison Modern Home Tour.

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