While everyone enjoyed all four beautiful homes on the Reinvention 2012 house tour last week, the one people really couldn’t stop talking about was Crab Tree Farm. This historic dairy farm in Lake Bluff, Ill., has a new guest house, swimming pool, and detached pool house designed by Vinci | Hamp Architects, which we toured along with some of the original S.S. Beman-designed agricultural buildings.

The guest house’s long, barnlike main living area looks out over such a pastoral swath of farmland that it was hard to believe we were just outside Chicago. Over and over, tour-goers mentioned the sense of calm they felt while in this space, which makes a pretty compelling argument for the influence of nature on our psyches. (The uncluttered palette of white walls and ceilings, large expanses of glass, and a wide-plank wood floor certainly helped as well.)

The guesthouse also boasts a four-story observation tower, from which I took the photo at left. Many thanks to the property’s generous owners and to John Vinci, FAIA, for facilitating our visit to this extraordinary place.