Accentuate the Light

This modern, high-efficiency home on The Arb in Ann Arbor is a dream, from sunrise to sunset // Photography by Jeff Garland

When Stephanie Kahl-Burnstein and David Burnstein returned from living and working in the Cayman Islands to be close to his parents in Ann Arbor, the couple couldn’t find a house nearby that fit their needs. So Burnstein’s parents said they could build on the land in front of their home.

It was a wonderful solution, not just because the proximity would allow the couple’s kids to get to know and enjoy their grandparents, but also because Burnstein has so many fond childhood memories of playing in the ravine near the Nichols Arboretum, which his parents’ property abuts.

The couple had never built a house before — but they had a long list of wants and needs.

They sat down with Brad and Theresa Angelini, of Angelini and Associates Architects in Ann Arbor, and gave them their wish list. The couple previously lived in a Mid-century home, and spelled out what they liked and disliked about that type of design.

Into the Forest
The views of the woods are absolutely remarkable.

Let There Be Light

Big windows are fantastic, and Stephanie Kahl-Burnstein loves that aspect of her home. “We can see all four seasons, and it really opens up the space,” she says. But, she adds, sometimes they need to be covered. Here’s a peek at her world of windows:

• “We put blinds in the main areas and bedrooms for privacy, but rarely do we close them. It makes us feel that privacy is still under our control.”

• “Make sure the property is set back from the road so you have enough privacy for so many windows — our windows that face the road are elevated, so you can’t see in.”

• Kahl-Burnstein’s favorite window is high above her bed. “I look up and see movement in the trees. It’s like living in the woods.”


Practical & pretty
Cat nap in the reading nook, anyone? The couple didn’t want any areas that would take up space and not be used.

After living in the Caymans, one imperative was harnessing natural light. “They wanted a home that would follow the sun throughout the day and the seasons,” Brad Angelini says. Because the home would be built on a densely wooded lot with light from above and no direct sunlight, the job entailed tilting the roof in a way that would maximize natural daylight by reflecting the light into the space from the ceiling.

Another challenge was to maximize all of the rooms in the house; the couple didn’t want any areas that would take up space but be infrequently used. Energy-efficiency was also a high priority. Finally, each of their three kids’ bedrooms had to be exactly the same size — no arguing allowed!

“It was a tight budget with no wiggle room,” says Brad Angelini, who adds that building on the property itself, which already held a classic home that’s been an Ann Arbor landmark since 1870, was a hairy proposition.

Game for Fun
The homeowners wanted to incorporate spaces for family time, including this ping-pong area off the stairwell.

“I couldn’t hide that house,” Brad Angelini says, adding that it’s part of Ann Arbor’s tradition.

“The living spaces occupied a long rectangle perpendicular to the existing home on the site,” he explains. “The mid-ground views from both homes were to the open space between the structures and the long view was into the woods.”

Kahl-Burnstein, a teacher, found all the products for the interior (except the kitchen cupboards, which were ordered by the Angelinis). “That was my summer job,” she laughs. “I scoured magazines looking for seating and other pieces that could withstand a house with cats, dogs, and kids. It all started with my orange Bertazzoni stove, which dictated the décor of the main living area.”

Orange pop!
The color orange is seen here and there in many areas of the home.

She says the open-plan kitchen and living room are where everyone spends most of their time. “Theresa Angelini designed the layout. I chose gray cabinets with grain; gray was the neutral. We knew we could add pops of color throughout, like orange with blue and gray.”

A cantilevered deck overlooks the ravine where Burnstein played as a child. Indeed, that ravine, with its abundant flora and fauna, makes the view through so many windows — some that wrap around corners — utterly magical.


Architects and Interior Designers
Brad and Theresa Angelini, Angelini & Associates Architects, Ann Arbor,

Chairs, Deck – Grandin Road
Tables, Deck – World Market

Artwork –Gorge and Waterfall by Amanda Miller, Australia
Ceiling Treatment – 1×4 Douglas Fir Pre-Stained Natural, T&G
Chairs, Accent – Mies van der Rohe, Knoll
Fireplace – Heat & Glo
Floor Treatment – 2.25-inch White Oak Select
Lighting, Ceiling – Recessed Downlight, Juno Lighting
Ottoman – Mies van der Rohe, Knoll
Pillows, Accent – Hanna Andersson Home
Pillows, Colorful – All Modern, Crate & Barrel, Novi
Rug – FLOR Carpet Tiles
Sofas – Bloom Sofa and Loveseat, Dove Grey
Tables, Nesting – Joss & Main

Pillows, Accent – Anthropologie, Ikea
Bench, Built-In – Beechwood Building + Design, Chelsea
Mat, Woven – FLOR Carpet Tiles

Backsplash – Sofia Colorway Cement Tiles, Sabine Hill
Bar Stools – Poly & Bark
Cabinets – Vertical Gulf Shores Laminate, Brookhaven Cabinetry
Ceiling Treatment – 1×4 Douglas Fir Pre-Stained Natural, T&G
Chair, Desk – Chair, Poly & Bark; built-in desk, Vertical Gulf Shores Laminate, Brookhaven Cabinetry
Chairs, Dining – Walter of Wabash
Countertop – Caesarstone
Floor Treatment – 2.25-inch White Oak Select
Hood – Zephyr
Lighting, Bar – Dot & Bo
Lighting, Table – Dot & Bo
Oven – Bertazzoni, Big George’s Home Appliance Mart, Ann Arbor
Table, Dining – Walter of Wabash

Flooring – Concrete Look Vinyl Tile on Concrete Slab
Hutch, Wooden – Ikea
Ping-Pong Table – Redline Sports
Stair Treads – 3.75-inch Thick Architectural LVLs Mounted on Steel Plates
Windows – Integrity All Ultrex, Marvin Windows

Trunk Show
Old trees seem to embrace and protect the thoroughly modern home. The foliage complements its colors.

Exterior Ceiling, Front Porch – Douglas Fir Flooring C and Better, Vertical Grain
Exterior Finish – Stucco Pattern, Hardie Fiber Cement Panels, Fry Reglets at Edges
Soffits – 5/16-inch Smooth Hardie Panel
Windows – Integrity All Ultrex-Fiberglass with Boral Casing, Marvin Windows
Wood Accents – Western Red Cedar T&G Siding A and Better, Pattern WP-4.25-inch V2E Smooth Side Out

Builder – Brian McLaughlin and Jim Fileccia, Beechwood Building + Design, Chelsea
Electrician – Masson’s Electric Inc., Adrian
Excavation and Stonework – Knight’s Excavating, Pickney; Tanner Excavating, Ann Arbor; Custom Landscapes, Ann Arbor
Framer – Custom Concepts, Clinton
Heating and Cooling – H&H Heating & Cooling Inc., Ann Arbor
Interior and Exterior Stone Wall –  Custom Landscapes, Ann Arbor
Painting – Tom Sattavara Painting, Pinckney
Plumbing – Roberts Plumbing, Ann Arbor
Project Architect – Kelsey Jensen, Angelini & Associates Architects, Ann Arbor