The Hills

NOD TO NATURE

Every one of our custom projects has a story and The Hills’ narrative was compelling from the start. It took us less than 10 minutes to cancel our remaining showings and strategize what would turn out to be our first above-asking price offer. We wouldn’t risk losing this architectural goddess. She felt priceless.
Her original mid-century modern structure was conceived in 1951 by Michigan architect Richard Robinson. Her open concept layout and innovative counter seating were among the first in Ann Arbor. And the home’s placement on her half-acre lot — maximizing sun exposure in the winter for warmth and minimizing it in the summer for cooling — was an early consideration for sustainability. A ‘70s addition brought a wall of glass to the entire front of the home and gave The Hills its striking road appeal.

From the start, the home felt grounded in nature. The floor to ceiling windows gave way to towering pines and woodsy paths that surrounded The Hills. Shortly after we closed, we unearthed pavers representing the four seasons in Chinese characters. It was this nod to nature that drove our design.

The Journey

So, what do you do with a house that showcases 60-plus windows? You add more windows, of course. Nature provided our inspiration from every view, but in particular drew us to the secluded retreat behind the home. To transform the interior and exterior into interchangeable spaces, we added a vintage greenhouse, featuring a 12-foot glass and metal garage door that allowed for indoor/outdoor gatherings. Natural finishes were also an important consideration in our design.

While our goal was to develop an edgier “modern mid-century modern feel” that so many homeowners desire, we also wanted to preserve several of the home’s authentic characteristics. Lending to the edgy: Horizontal metal railings, black window frames, cement counters combined with a quartz island, oversized commercial appliances and a generous use of glass. Our throwback features: the asymmetrical fireplace, mid-century beams and the re-establishment of the original open concept kitchen.

Who knew when we started this massive project, our lives in the aftermath would be forever changed. We worked through the spurts and stalls of Covid-19, whose influence you can see in many of our final design decisions. One of the most significant additions was a glass-enclosed office to accommodate a new need to work from home, while still maintaining the serenity of the surrounding nature.

The Hills grabbed the attention of both locals and national media. It was featured by For the Love of Old Homes and served as host for the Ann Arbor Symphony’s first virtual concert.