Approached to design and implement a new estate on the shores of Lake Geneva, Pierce Builders, Lake Geneva, Wis., began this transformation by turning a late ’80s masonry detached structure into an English cottage name The Hollow. With a home and a detached structure on the property, the plan was to remove the existing home to create a new primary residence, and tie into the new home the detached structure, currently used as a garage, an exercise area and home office. Working with one of its design partners, Pierce Builders created a way to bring this project into view.
The primary home is based off an English manor style of architecture. It is a fairly grand sized home both in scale and footprint. Keeping true to the English theme, Pierce Builders wanted the out buildings to be as such as well. Between the designers and builders, they came up with the Cotswold look as a nice complement to the primary house being built.
The best design lead in this case, was the homeowner. The homeowner did a very good job of researching as well as the architect and Pierce Builders. The homeowner came up with a picture of a home, and immediately the architect and Pierce could run with that concept rather quickly.
The homeowners did have a couple of requests though. First, the team was asked to make the masonry structure blend with the surrounding trees and forestry. While converting the detached structure into an English countryside style building, the interior of the building needed to be designed as an entertaining area for guests and friends.
Second, the team needed to stay as historically accurate as possible on the budget given, which included building the exterior to appear as if aged by time to create a notable replica by installing all natural exterior products. The team would also have to custom fabricate as many items as possible to achieve a true “one of a kind” building.
“It was a goal to drive onto the estate and at first, not to see the entertainment home, and second, when you see the entertainment home not to see the primary home,” says David Pierce, president of Pierce Builders. “That was a bit of the design challenge. We had to fit in a road and maintain a hidden view. Although we had 3.5 acres to work with the lot is only 127 ft. wide.”
The team changed the topography of the land to accommodate the structure to blend and hide it into the hills they created.
This would allow them to pull off this project from a conceptual picture to a final product.
The first tough problem was getting the brick off. The outside remodel of the structure began by taking the exterior down to the original cinder block building and then adding a modern brown coat. After that, the team switched to lime-based traditional stucco to re-create the staining and the time period look. The final was a blend of stucco and stone.
“I’m pretty adamant about making something look as historically accurate as possible,” explains Pierce. “So the design challenge on the outside was to get the stones at a lower level in depth than the stucco. The true European version of this type of structure is a stone house with stucco applied to patch and repair. As stucco falls off, it exposes the stone below again. Unfortunately, I see bad renditions done when the stone is at a higher level than the stucco. It is easier to do in today’s methods but not accurate.”
The second problem would be to hold up all the spancrete floors and make some pretty severe window and door alterations throughout the structure. One of the coolest things the team added to the detached structure was the old front door to the existing home. Because they weren’t able to save the original home, Pierce tried to save as much as they could from the old home including a pine tongue and groove door from 1932 with Tiffany glass in it.
“We were able to take that door down, rebuild it, reshape it, shrink it, and use the original hardware and the original Tiffany glass,” explains Pierce. “That is how the front door to The Hollow came to be.”