Building and buying

A modern home for the whole family

Sira Huwiler-Flamm

Denise and Michael have created a family nest in the countryside that they will be able to live in with their three sons for years to come – it includes a small wellness oasis and a colorful orchard.

Denise and Michael are standing in front of their dream house. The facade is covered with wood and blends perfectly into the green surroundings.
© Natascha Vavrina

In this article

Property hunting: a plot of land with a view

Denise (40) and Michael (44) met during an evening out eight years ago. “The first apartment we shared was in a classic multi-family unit,” recalls Michael. It had 4.5 rooms, which was more than sufficient for the couple and Denise’s son Nico (10) from a previous relationship: everyone had their own bedroom. But when Liam (now three and a half) was born, it became a bit cramped. “We’d always dreamed of having our own house in the country.” And for Michael it was clear: “I wanted to plan our own family nest and build something I could be proud of. Just like my father did for us back then.”

They started looking for land in the vicinity of Bern – and found the ideal plot in 2017 in a small town on the south-eastern shore of Lake Murten: approximately 850 square meters with an unobstructed view, right next to an orchard full of old trees. “We had so often imagined a large home with plenty of room for socializing in the evening,” explains Denise. “The plot of land was perfect – and the view of the surroundings was like a beautiful landscape painting – we jumped at the opportunity.”

The family enjoys spending time together outside on the forecourt of the house. Ten-year-old Nico plays basketball with Dad Michael, while Liam prefers to observe bugs – and Mum Denise watches her men contentedly.

The forecourt of the house is full of possibilities. Ten-year-old Nico likes playing basketball with his Dad, while Liam prefers observing bugs.

Planning: close to nature and prepared for all eventualities

As a graduate civil engineer, Michael planned the project with the help of his brother, who is a partner in an architecture and construction management firm. “It was important for us to consider all the possible developments associated with a lively family life.” Enough space for another child, a separate apartment to rent out to bring in a bit of extra money if times get tough, and the possibility to adapt the house dynamically to each stage of life.

“We have already thought about retirement-friendly living,” says Michael. The entrance is at ground level, the doors and stairs are wide enough for a wheelchair to fit through, and a stair lift could easily be retrofitted. The spacious showers in the two modern bathrooms are level with the floor and free from obstructions. “This will give us peace of mind for decades,” emphasizes the family man.

Creating a cozy kingdom for everyone

The idea was not only to make their home practical, but comfortable too: local light-colored woods lend a cozy touch to the asymmetrical modern building, both inside and out. Combinations of concrete, wood and lots of glass form contrasts. “The larch wood cladding on the facade ensures that our house blends perfectly into the green surroundings,” says Michael proudly. “Inside we have used real wooden boards throughout, as well as wooden window frames to give a sense of warmth.”

In the living room, large panoramic windows offer a view into the distance. They flood the room with light.

Plenty of light and a view into the distance: the parents especially love the large panoramic windows.

Liam’s bedroom is filled with toys and children’s books. A small tepee and a blue rocking elephant are not only decorative, but fun too.

Everyone has their own separate domain: Liam proudly shows his robbers’ den to every visitor – complete with tepee and blue rocking elephant.

Nico’s room has a piano, a desk and a bed. Above the bed hangs a cool print of a chimpanzee wearing headphones.

Nico’s room contains a piano and lots of evidence pointing to the schoolboy’s love of music.

A lot has happened since the shooting for the video embedded above: with little Mika, the family of five is now complete: “We don’t have to save space anymore, all three boys can have their own room here,” says Denise happily. Schoolboy Nico and little Liam can retreat into their own realm whenever they like or play together in the big garden. “That makes us happy as parents too,” smiles Michael. “Liam is right in the middle of a phase of wanting to show off his room to every visitor.”

The family gathers around newborn Mika.

Denise and Michael with their children Nico, Liam and Mika.

Even Michael, an independent project manager and management consultant, finally has enough space for his own office in the basement. “This is my favorite room in the house with its large windows and my original Chesterfield furniture,” he says. “But who knows, we’ll stay flexible, and maybe one day it will be Nico’s room when he’s a teenager.”

Dad Michael has set up an office in the basement. Chesterfield furniture and large windows provide coziness and light.

Dad Michael also has his own kingdom: he has set up an office in the basement. Chesterfield furniture ensures coziness, while large windows let in light.

Allowing the family nest to grow

The central living, cooking and dining room of the house is Mommy Denise’s favorite place: eight-meter-high ceilings and huge panoramic windows with a view into the distance make the impressive room bright and homely at the same time. A fireplace emits warmth, while a glass mezzanine ensures modernity and openness.

The open kitchen has eight-meter-high ceilings. A glass mezzanine overlooks the cooking island and the huge old wooden table.

The open kitchen with its huge old wooden table is Denise’s favorite place. The family loves to entertain guests and fill the room with life.

A virtually free-standing bathtub and a small sauna turn the parents’ bathroom into a wellness oasis at home.

A virtually free-standing bathtub and a small sauna (left) turn the parents’ bathroom into a wellness oasis at home.

The top floor of the house is the parent’s floor: a bedroom, a walk-in closet and a bathroom with a large bathtub and a small wooden sauna are ideal for relaxation and wellness at home. “This summer we treated ourselves to an all-year swimming spa in the garden,” says Denise happily. “The large whirlpool measures five by two meters and can be heated to 40 degrees – the whole family can fit inside!”

Enjoying and sharing conviviality

In the warm months, the family prefers to barbecue meat and fresh vegetables over the large fire bowl in the garden. “And we have all discovered gardening for ourselves,” Michael says. “The conditions are ideal in this sunny location.” Raised beds with fresh herbs, raspberries, blackberries, as well as climbing grapes and kiwis, plus lots of trees such as pears, plums, figs and cherries, have already yielded delicious fruit in the first year. “Even the boys have their own fruit trees, which they look after and cultivate proudly.”

The family grows fresh herbs, fruit and vegetables in raised beds and pots in their own green garden – with a view of the old trees in the neighboring orchard.

The family grows fresh herbs, fruit and vegetables in raised beds and pots – with a view of the old trees in the neighboring orchard.

Digging in the garden is one of Michael’s favorite ways to relax. And Denise immediately transforms the freshly harvested fruit into cakes and pastries which exude a deliciously sweet smell of homemade baked goods. “Fruit crumbles, in any variation, taste best.” They then enjoy the delicacies at their huge dining table made of old wood. “Or serve them to lots of guests,” says Denise. “We love being at home and spending time sharing good food with the people who are close to our hearts.”

A place to flourish

The family has found their home at last. “Our mortgage gives us ten years of security to enjoy our home with peace of mind,” says Michael. “With three growing boys, that’s worth a lot, and we’re very grateful to have such a beautiful family nest.” But of course, a house is never finished.

“We’ll definitely continue to work on the garden in the coming years,” says the amateur gardener. And the family also wants to upgrade in terms of energy efficiency: “The heating system already heats our living area, which measures approximately 200 square meters, with the help of a geothermal probe,” says Michael. “In the next few years, we’d like to purchase a photovoltaic system as well.” They took this into account during the initial construction phase: the necessary structure has already been prepared in the basement and on the roof.

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