The Yingst retreat is a secluded home tucked into a forested site just three miles from Sleepy Bear Dunes on Lake Michigan. The client commissioned Salmela Architect to build a tranquil space that respects the local environment and nurtures the extended family. Comprised of a main house, separate small garages, a sod-topped sauna and a chimney building, the 4,000 square foot retreat isn't modest in size, but it does harmonize with the surrounding beech forest.
Black outbuildings that act as truncated garages line the path leading to the main house defined by white masonry boxed in by two bookends of sorts. Inside, exposed timber columns lend a natural aesthetic to the design while also establishing long sight lines, and extensive glazing ensures that both morning and evening light reaches the open plan interior.
A fireplace in the living area provides warmth during winter nights and creates a connection to the outdoor chimney terrace. By far our favorite feature of this colossal home, however, which steps down toward the lake in tandem with the natural slope, is the sod-topped sauna. An extension of the main house, the small white block has a green roof and a minimalist interior that promotes ultimate relaxation.
Although the footprint is larger than we like to see for a family residence, this family has minimized landscaping and clear cutting, thereby preserving this special space for generations to come.