Sun’s End Retreat

Harbert, Michigan / United States of America

Overlooking Lake Michigan, the home is designed for a family seeking respite from city living and immersion along the quiet beach. The aesthetic of the project grew out of the client’s desire for a minimal, low maintenance, intimate retreat that can be enjoyed year round. 

Challenged by the pronounced, sloping, sand dune topography and large neighboring house to the east, the design entails two shifting volumes that maximize southern exposure, and create a vertical “sun court.” The home is positioned on the inland-side of a dune crest to maintain the integrity of the dune, and take advantage of the prow-like position for expansive views of the lake.

Given the close proximity to the road, a balance between privacy and transparency is mediated through a sequence of layered planes, textures and spaces.  The private “heavy” volume parallels the adjacent property, providing seclusion for the home. The public “light” volume parallels the lake, bridging the lake-side beach landscape and the road-side wooded landscape.  Building volumes form the sun court, which gathers natural light for the rooms below and above throughout the day.  A quiet sheltered environment is created which contrasts the wind, noise and the high energy environment of the kinetic lake.

Architect of Record

Wheeler Kearns Architects



General Contractor

Dunes Development


  • Enspect Engineering
  • Green Mansions
  • ECD Design LLC