In the early 1900s, concerned that the Village of Kohler would become a “congested metropolis”, Walter Kohler hired the Olmsted Brothers to layout the overall Village. They devised a 50-year plan for controlled growth and created a “garden community”. The Village is currently growing within its second 50-year master plan, developed by John Lillesand, Herb Kohler, and Vern Swaback of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

The long standing residential design philosophy in the Village has been that each home is made more beautiful by the presence of the others. There is a relatedness within the community scale while encouraging variety at the individual scale. This historic precedent will be followed in developing Clearings.

Clearings is a neighborhood for the future, designed with a sense of the past – and a clear understanding of the traditional Midwestern home and lifestyle. Socioeconomic diversity is promoted by providing a range of lot sizes which in turn promotes a variety of home sizes.

The Clearings Design Guidelines are intended to be a framework for residents, designers, and builders to understand the urban and architectural goals of this neighborhood within the Village of Kohler.

While these guidelines represent as clearly as possible the recommendations of the Design Review Committee, the decisions of the Committee will always have precedence over the written guidelines.



  • Minimum living area must not be less than 1500 sq. ft.

  • Minimum setback requirements are: front, 20 ft.; side, 10 ft.; rear, 20% of lot depth depending on lot configuration. (See figure 1A). While setback requirements are minimal, varying setbacks are encouraged.

  • No building shall be constructed which shall be substantial duplication of another previously approved or constructed building, unless in the opinion of VR&D’s Design Review, such duplication would not be a detriment to the previously approved or constructed building.

  • All garages shall be side entry, front entry, or rear entry. In all examples, the garage may not protrude in front of the house. Side entry garages must be set back a minimum distance of 25’ from the property line to allow for vehicle maneuvering. Front entry and rear entry garages must be setback 50% of the depth of the main body of the house from the front elevation of the house. (See Figure 1A). Refer to the architectural section for further design features regarding garages.

  • Building Coverage shall not be greater than 25% of the lot area.

  • Mail kiosks shall be provided within the Clearings. Homeowners are responsible for the maintenance of their mailbox kiosks. The kiosks will be sided and maintained in a neutral tone.

Figure 1A




It is desirable that there be compatibility of scale, color, materials, or design motifs that will allow a project to blend into its setting. Selection of roof materials and color palettes can often be crucial in determining if a project fits the context of the area.

Driveways should be either dark-hued (dark gray, brown, black, etc.) color concrete, red or dark brick, or asphalt. The installation of traditional paving materials such as stone and brick are encouraged.

Roof Geometry: a minimum of 6/12 pitch on a single story house is required. Hip and gable roof configurations are preferred. No flat roofs are permitted.

Fences and hedges are discouraged, but if necessary, must be compatible with architectural features of house, color of house and landscaping. Fences and hedges must not exceed 42” in height and may not surround a property.

The General Contractor shall perform an as-built survey to ensure that the grading and house elevations conform to the grading plan.


Scale relationships must be carefully considered, and appropriate transitions provided where a change of scale is proposed or required. Stair-stepping building height, breaking up the mass of the building and shifting building placement can help mitigate the impact of differing building scales and intensities.

Buildings that are significantly taller or which otherwise differ in scale from their neighbors may be acceptable but they will require justification by the owner.


Building rhythm relates to the horizontal and vertical patterns expressed by architectural features such as cornices, columns, windows, doors, or variations in massing. Examples of building rhythm include horizontal and vertical banding with different colors or materials, groupings of windows, regular or repetitions of details, or consistent design and placement. Designers should employ several related rhythms to avoid repetitions of one, or very few elements throughout the building. New developments should respect rhythms established by adjacent buildings. Building rhythm will be addressed in design review.


External details in building facades, entries, stairways, retaining walls and other features provide visual interests, enrichment and texture to buildings. Each house should incorporate the use of strong vertical and/or horizontal reveals, off-sets, and three dimensional detail between surface planes to create shadow lines and break up flat surface areas. If large blank surfaces are proposed, they should be for some compelling design purpose, and the design should incorporate mitigating features to enrich the appearance of the project and provide a sense of human scale at the ground level that is inviting to the public.

Rear building elevations, especially those facing adjoining residential areas should be aesthetically enhanced with materials to match the front of the building. Exterior side yard setbacks should be treated with the same quality of design and materials as the front setback area and front building elevations.


Materials and colors in the area of the project should be considered when selecting the materials and colors used in the proposed project. Materials and colors can unify an area through the use of a clearly defined palette. Colors and materials should be selected for compatibility with the site, as well as compatibility with the neighboring area, white included.

All sides of a structure should exhibit design continuity. There should be no unimproved side to a structure. For instance, a material should be carried around all sides of the building, not just along the front.


Buildings and windows should be located to maximize the possibility of occupant surveillance of entryways, recreation and laundry areas. Children’s play areas should be sited to allow for clear parental monitoring.

Relentless grids of repeated windows should be avoided. The patterns created by the window and door placement can help add variety and interest to the design.


All air conditioning equipment must be screened from view. Gas meters, and electrical meters should also be screened from public view wherever possible. (See Landscape Guidelines)

All garbage cans, air conditioning condenser units and other utility functions must be screened. This may be accomplished with low walls, or landscaping.

Rooftop antennas and towers are not permitted. Satellite dishes, which can be no greater than 18 inches in diameter must be screened.

All utilities must be underground.


All natural building materials: stone, brick or wood, composite siding (wood fiber) or cement board siding that has the same dimension and texture as real wood are acceptable materials. Stucco and other exterior insulation finish systems (EIFS) are acceptable and may be used in combination with the above materials. Varying wall patterns can add interest to facades. Board and Batten, shingles, and trim bands can add interest and are encouraged. No exposed metal fireplace flues shall be permitted. A pre-finished metal or masonry shroud is required.

Finished roof construction: cedar shake, slate, fiberglass, asphalt dimensional, composite shingle and metal shingle are allowable materials as long as they are of a dark color range which will help unify all of the homes with each other.


A minimum of three exterior colors must be used. They should be different from, yet complimentary to the neighboring homes.

Homes on the east and west boundaries of Clearings Phase I should primarily be dark in tone. Many of these homes will be on larger lots and against trees. The darker tones will help them blend into their environment. Specifically, lots 1 through 6 and lots 49 through 58 would benefit from this color scheme. Colors such as HardiePlank’s Iron Gray, Countrylane Red, Evening Blue, and Mountain Sage are encouraged in this portion of Clearings.

Homes along the north side of Clearings Phase I should have a minimum of 75% of their exterior materials in either brick or stone. These largest lots will be best suited to homes with grander materials. Specifically, lots 64 through 72 should have these materials.

Homes that are within the center of Clearings Phase I should primarily be lighter in tone. Lighter tones will unify these moderately sized homes. Colors such as HardiePlank’s Artic White, Cobble Stone, Light Mist, and Woodland Cream will all work well in this portion of Clearings. Specifically, lots not mentioned in the paragraphs above would work well with these colors.

High contrast colors are allowed for shutters, windows, and doors, especially on masonry homes. Exterior cornerboards should blend into the primary body color and not be an accent trim color. The trim color is typically reserved to accent windows and doors.

Flues, vents, gutters, downspouts, flashing, (except copper) etc. must be painted to match the color of the architectural component from which they project.

Garage Doors shall be the same color as the primary color of the house, except in masonry homes, the garage door should be a complimenting accent color. If garage doors are front entry, the door should be recessed into a deeper jamb. Deeper roof over hangs at garage doors are encouraged.


All exterior lighting shall be soft and indirect, with light sources aimed away from neighboring properties. In general, directional spotlights or floodlights should be avoided in favor of solar path lights and up-lighting used in conjunction with landscaping.



Much has been written about how the quality of life in the Village of Kohler is a result of the harmonious integration of man’s activities and the natural environment. This is certainly no accident, but rather the culmination of the steadfast adherence to a carefully developed Master Plan, a continuous planning process, community pride and ongoing stewardship.

Well executed landscaping enhances the appearance and adds value to individual homes. It also can offer privacy through screening, noise abatement, shading, atmospheric purifications and wildlife habitat. The collective effect of having all properties attractively landscaped will be the establishment of strong visual unity and character relating the neighborhood to other parts of the Village. With the intent in mind, these guidelines are set forth to suggest appropriate landscaping methods and landscape materials applicable to all lots.


Existing wooded areas are to be preserved. On wooded lots, some trees may have to be removed to accommodate home construction. It may be prudent at the same time to remove any dead trees or dead branches, however, an extensive tree removal will not be permitted. Other remaining trees should be protected during construction. The drainage patterns of each lot shall conform to the master-grading plan established for the neighborhood. This will ensure that all storm water is directed appropriately to designed inlets and that ponding does not occur on any properties.

Landscaping which tends to emphasize property lines or make an obvious division between property lines is not permitted. The desired effect is one in which the overall landscape massing flows smoothly between structures and a sense of open space is created by vistas which extend beyond individual lots.

All portions of lots exposed to public view should be completely landscaped to present a finished appearance. Triple and double frontage lots and corner lots, therefore, may require more extensive landscaping than others. Landforms (berms) can add visual interest and provide sound and visual screening where needed.

Berms should have flowing contours and appear natural. Small, isolated berms appearing as “lumps” in the lawn are not permitted.

In order to provide for continuity of the landscape along the road in Clearings, shade trees have been planted adjacent to the street for every 40’ of lot frontage. The size and species of trees has been determined by the Landscape Designer as part of the neighborhood landscape design process. These trees must be protected from damage during the home construction process and may not be removed or relocated without written permission from Kohler Company.


All plantings installed shall be hardy and adapted to the local region. Plantings should be properly sited; taking into account their cultural requirements and ultimate size. A Guide To Selecting Landscape Plants For Wisconsin (University of Wisconsin Extension Programs, publication A2865) is an excellent reference on this subject.

Installed plants shall be of the following minimum sizes:

  • Shade trees: 5” caliper

  • Ornamental flowering trees: 5’ height

  • Evergreen trees: 8’ height

  • Tall-growing Deciduous & Evergreen shrubs: 3’ height

  • Medium height Deciduous & Evergreen shrubs: 2’ height or spread

  • Low-growing Deciduous & Evergreen shrubs: 18” height or spread

  • Groundcovers: 3” pots

  • Perennials and ornamental grasses: 1 quart pots

All shade trees, ornamental trees, evergreen trees, and shrubs shall be balled and burlapped or container grown.

Landscape areas not devoted to planting beds and paving shall be sodded or seeded to lawn grasses.

As part of each owner’s landscaping activity, a minimum of 6” of topsoil shall be spread and fine graded over all landscaped areas. To prevent soil erosion during construction, silt fencing shall be installed at all necessary locations on each lot to contain all soil on site.

Any landscape lighting shall be from concealed fixtures, with no unpleasant glare spilling over into adjacent properties.


A landscape plan shall be developed for each building site that delineates the following information:

  • Scale (1/8” = 1’ min.) and north arrow

  • Lot designation and property lines

  • House location on lot (first floor plan show)

  • Paved areas (including materials and details)

  • Drainage patterns and spot elevations

  • Garden structures (including details)

  • Landscape lighting (including details)

  • Existing utilities, utility appurtenances, and easements

  • All plants (including quantity, species, scientific nomenclature – including genus & species, size and spacing)

  • Delineation of all planting beds (including edging & mulch)

  • Ground layer treatment (such as lawns, etc.)

  • Sufficient explanatory notes to clarify design intent

  • Author and date

Upon approval, the landscaping may be installed. A follow-up review will be conducted upon completion to assure compliance with approved landscaping scheme.

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