One creative Milwaukee couple finds inspiration in a house of glass
Local artists Nick Olson and Lilah Horwitz made headlines earlier this year for constructing a cabin with a wall full of windows, but their creative aspirations don't end there.
Quitting your day job to embark on a vision may seem ludicrous to some, but when an idea beckons to you enough, sometimes you have no choice but to comply.
That’s exactly what Milwaukee-based couple Nick Olson and Lilah Horwitz did in 2012, when they decided to fulfill their dream of building a cabin with a wall of windows in West Virginia. Horwitz, a Seattle native, explained that the idea to build a house of glass came up on one of her first dates with Olson, who is originally from Cedarburg.
In July 2012, the couple, both local artists, left their jobs to do just that.
“We were working as staff for the summer at an artist residency program,” said Horwitz.”Leaving was a good thing; we wanted to do a project together and it was the right time to dive in. Sometimes when you make a bit of a wild decision you can’t even let yourself be fearful or think too much about the unknown, we just went for it.”
The couple collected their windows over a couple of weeks driving and exploring the U.S. Horwitz said their only requirements were that each window had to be different, and that they had to be cheap or free.
“We collected most of the windows on a trip up to New York,” she said.
Less than six months later, in December 2012, Olson and Horwitz finished the cabin, complete with elaborate window wall. She says adding their own creative vision to the building process helped them build a space that is inspiring just to be within. “The space invites you to stay, be comfortable, and investigate the landscape, discovering how you can see the grandeur of the entire mountain landscape, while also inspecting how each window frames a different part of the view in its own way.”
And now that they’ve constructed the four walls of the cabin, Horwitz says, the two of them are beginning to discover exactly what it represents to them as a couple. “It’s Nick and I learning what it is to make a home together,” Horwitz said. “It is much more beautiful than I could have ever imagined and being in it is magical tenfold, because when I look around me I know that we made every part of it.”
Though the couple visits their cabin as often as they can, the majority of their time is spent here in Milwaukee, where they find a great deal of inspiration as well.
Olson has a variety of artistic interests, sometimes a photographer specializing in 19th century processes, and others a woodworker or sculptor. He recently has been working as a creative design builder for Greener Roofs and Gardens, a sustainable landscaping company.
Horwitz is a designer who also creates custom clothes, handmade art books and pottery. Since moving to Milwaukee, she has made two site-specific fashion collections, and has become a member at Creative Fire, a ceramics studio in Wauwatosa.
Olson and Horwitz are currently doing some West Coast traveling, but plan to design and build another small house/studio on a trailer that will enable them to slowly travel across the country while living and working out of it.
“We envision it as a way to share the experience of the creative spaces we make with a wider audience,” Horwitz said.
But they won’t be neglecting their first cabin, still there for when next they return to West Virginia.
“It’s more than a house,” Horwitz said. “It’s a home.”