Clearwater Lake Retreat Northern Wisconsin, USA residence architects, Contemporary US holiday home photos

Clearwater Lake Retreat in Northern Wisconsin

November 10, 2023

Design: Wheeler Kearns Architects

Location: Northern Wisconsin, United States

Clearwater Lake Retreat Northern Wisconsin USA

Photos by Steve Hall

Clearwater Lake Retreat, USA

An esteemed graphic designer from Chicago has realized his dream of building Clearwater Lake Retreat, a fishing retreat on a secluded lake in Northern Wisconsin.

Clearwater Lake Retreat Northern Wisconsin

Clearwater Lake Retreat Northern Wisconsin USA

Located on a flat clearing within a 2.5 acre heavily wooded site sits a new single-story modernist structure, carefully positioned to maximize views and its connection with nature. Floor-to-ceiling glass spans between two heavy stone walls that anchor each end of the concise, rectilinear form. A shallow, butterfly-shaped roof hovers overhead, sloping upwards ever so slightly to accentuate the views out towards the lake and forest while also extending past the glass walls to create a covered porch on two sides.

Clearwater Lake Retreat Northern Wisconsin

Clearwater Lake Retreat Northern Wisconsin

Inside, spaces are at once functional and universal. The program includes a large communal space for cooking, living, and dining, two private bedrooms, and a central core volume that conceals a mechanical room, two bathrooms, and storage. All areas are heated by hydronic floor heat and radiant tubing in the three-foot thick masonry walls.

Clearwater Lake Retreat USA

A wood-burning fireplace is integrated into the living room’s stone wall, providing a traditional rural focus and an extra heat source. In warmer months, the rooms are naturally ventilated and cooled, relying on operable windows and shade from the tall trees.

Clearwater Lake Retreat USA

Accents of wood, stainless steel, and white painted walls and ceiling complement the simple palette of black metal frame windows, concrete floor, and horizontally stacked stones of varying shades of gray.

Clearwater Lake Retreat USA

Artificial illumination is limited to a small amount of recessed lighting in the living area and highlighting work surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom; small floor lamps light the bedrooms.

Clearwater Lake Retreat Northern Wisconsin

Surrounded by a forest of maple, aspen, red oak and pine trees, light filters into the home through the expansive glass walls creating a year-round dappled sunbath. It’s a long-time vision come to fruition and a perfect escape to nature from a busy city life.

About Wheeler Kearns Architects

Based in Chicago, Wheeler Kearns Architects – is a collective practice of architects devoted to creating places that embody their clients’ purpose, energy, and vision. The 18-person firm designs inclusive spaces for mission-driven organizations in education, the arts, and social services.

Since its founding in 1987, Wheeler Kearns has twice been named by a national jury as AIA Chicago’s Firm of the Year. The award honors sustained outstanding achievement and excellence in a body of work produced by a firm over time. Learn more at

Clearwater Lake Retreat Northern Wisconsin USA

Photographer: Steve Hall

Clearwater Lake Retreat, Northern Wisconsin, USA imahes/information received 101123 from Wheeler Kearns Architects Chicago, IL, USA

Location: Northern Wisconsin, United States of America

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