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TEA2 worked with city officials to re-contour the site into an amphitheater bowl, maximizing views to the beach while creating a tranquil haven. The boathouse roof and form echo the screened porch.

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The circular nodes and gently curving stone wall create a grand gesture on the scale of the home and site—creating different outdoor spaces as well as inviting and directing guests to the water’s edge.

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Typically, the base of a historical house might have been limestone. Darker stone creates dramatic proportion and hierarchy, and anchors it to the land. Windows framed in black, rather than the traditional green or cream, provide a modern, stately touch.

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How do you add a large garage without upstaging the home? We extended the eaves far in front of the garage to give it a recessed, respectful feeling. A walkway links the structures, creating a “courtyard” that will be complete as trees fill in the third wall.

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A standing metal roof along the ridge hides the vent and tempers roof proportions. Deep, narrow pilasters between windows create rhythmic interest. Cabinet-grade quarter sawn oak, ebonized (rather than painted) telegraphs warmth and texture.

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Off-center windows reflect interior function as well as keep the home from becoming slavish to symmetry. Custom lights, built into the stone walls, echo the home’s architecture.

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Modern English Lakeside

Lake Minnetonka

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Kenwood Exterior

Shingle style is a less formal interpretation of many historical styles—with shingles wrapping the house and creating playful forms while unifying its elements. Here, shingles sweep from the wall to embrace the entry roof.

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Named Best In Show in the 2016 Blend Awards—a competition recognizing projects that blend harmoniously with the neighborhood. Not only are scale and form appropriate, but the detail expressed also resonates with turn-of-the-century neighbors.

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The home owners’ favorite feature: a unique and intriguing bay on the stair landing which provides a view down the street and an architectural “moment” from without as well as within.

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The trellis is an integrated extension of the architecture, creating and enveloping another “layer” of the house—an outdoor oasis in an urban neighborhood.

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Such a strong indoor-outdoor connection is rare with “historic” homes, but enhances livability and joy, and is well worth achieving.

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The owners wanted a porch that was warm, earthy and textural, yet felt light. Retractable screens help achieve this by hiding seamlessly within the trim, maximizing outdoor connections.

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We often use design to curate the view: Here, window walls look onto public and private green spaces while the fireplace wall invites south light and obscures a nearby home. This wall was also designed to accommodate a favorite piece of art.

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The homeowners wanted open but distinct and comfortable living areas, so we used “architectural furniture” to define space—in this case, custom cabinetry to separate dining and living rooms.

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A 16-foot island allows the kitchen to be one-sided yet highly functional for our client, a fabulous cook. French doors to the left provide light, views, and easy access to courtyard dining.

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Cabinet details echo the home’s exterior elements. The weathered finish integrates beautifully with the textural, casually elegant architecture.

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A shallow exterior bay with deep-set windows creates a light, bright nook that opens onto the porch, allowing le petit déjeuner en plein air.

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The kitchen is in the center of the open floor plan. To keep it uncluttered, we designed a unique pantry behind the range: Guillotine doors hide cooking essentials while making them accessible to both sides.

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The vocabulary of timbers and beams flows seamlessly from inside to out. Inside, oak beams are textured and pickled; outside they’re white: a sense of integrated architectural unity viewed from either side.

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The home’s thicker walls create substance and depth. Deep sills, cabinets, ledges and window seats are integrated into the windows—becoming vessels to receive and bounce light.

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Custom-curved wainscoting creates a home for the bathtub. Outside, a reflecting curve embraces a lovely planter—deeply recessed for shadow and privacy.

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Kenwood Shingle Style Cottage

Minneapolis, MN

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Originally planning to buy an existing home, the homeowner found nothing designed or built well enough. He called TEA2. Designed in concert with the desert, the home is both centerpiece and backdrop, setting off a stunning landscape.

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Most desert homes are an expanse of white stucco ending in sky. We look at it more holistically: solid versus void, light versus mass.

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The palette of materials all draws from the Sonoran Desert.

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The desert can be brutal on building materials. This pre-patina-ed copper cladding (we tested many finishes) proved resilient and beautiful.

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Instead of shutting out the light, the home skillfully embraces it. Millwork baffles control the sunshine that enters and animate beams of light.

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Curated “walls” define space, display the owner’s artwork collection, but leave the room feeling just a step from the desert.

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Magnet attachments under the display shelving allow easy access to LED lighting, ensure a tight fit and eliminate unsightly fasteners.

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The handmade, compound-curve, integrated ventilation register (bottom right) is itself a work of art—a marriage of function and beauty.

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Details, details. Minneapolis metal artist Peter Vanni brings to life our custom-designed light fixtures.

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Millwork baffle detail. The pattern play of light changes as sun crosses sky, creating an ever-changing experience with the desert sun.

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Client Perspective

“The perfect balance between the materials used can't be overstated. There is a richness yet simplicity to the design, which make for a very comfortable living space. We love our home! ”
- Dianne S., Arizona

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Sonoran Modern

Arizona

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TEA2 was enlisted to replace a clumsy, many times-remodeled lake house with a gracious, character-filled home. The priority was quality and aesthetics over size. Here, a careful choreography to minimize the garage and invite guests through the side yard.

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When the garden is fully grown, the path will feel like a lush invitation to home and lake. Deep eaves, cedar clear-finished soffits, and details like the rain chain suggest a subtle Asian influence.

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The oversize 3” Douglas fir door, wall of windows and greeting of the stairwell make for a memorable, sun-splashed entrance.

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The homeowner wanted to use materials that felt authentic, respectful, and conveyed a narrative. For instance, the patina of the floor harkens back to his early days working in a flourmill.

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Ovens and freezer drawers were placed in the pantry, freeing up space for storage under the cooktop and reducing the need for confining kitchen walls. The variety of finishes and asymmetrical lines contributes to a friendly informality.

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The breakfast nook at the end of the room does double duty, creating coziness amidst the open floor plan and serving as a light receptor for the space.

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The island begins a conversation with the white oak fireplace wall, blurring lines between kitchen and living area. The rug isn’t a throw, but a carpet inset into the floor—no straightening required.

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In a more formal room, the fireplace wall would have been symmetrical. But to create an informal cottage feel, we offset the bluestone fireplace and paired it with a concealed TV and different cabinets on either side.

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Subtle nods to the nautical are found throughout the home—including in this leaded-glass window wall. The art glass both screens a neighbor’s house from view and glows in afternoon light.

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A dormer window stretches the length of the upstairs hallway, animating the entry stairwell with light.

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The homeowner liked the idea of irregular ceilings, reminiscent of grandmother’s attic. Recessed bookshelves flank a fireplace to create a cozy reading area. Deep window boxes add a pop of color.

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Excelsior Bayside Cottage

Excelsior, MN

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This spacious home was designed to convey a smaller, charming cottage on a knoll. Built on a narrow ridge, we aligned main rooms with lake and marsh views front and back, with supporting spaces to the side. A multi-car garage is tucked from view.

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The combination of teak and leaded glass is set in curves to echo other architectural curves and sweeps—creating a graceful and inviting entry.

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The bluestone base is “dry-stacked” using tight mortar—a complement to the lighter, glass-filled structure above. The dark foundation reduces perceived height and grounds the house to the land.

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Each story’s look reflects its purpose: The basement is solid and supportive (yet has abundant windows). The first floor is full of glass, light, and sweeping views. And the master suite, tucked in the roof, affords spectacular vistas through gables and dormers.

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The terrace of our dreams: partly covered, with columns framing broad and tall views, to combine the best of indoors and nature—creating a magical place.

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Highly divided transom windows over more open-paned glass lend character while preserving the view.

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We designed the dining room around a beloved heirloom cabinet. Graceful stairs enhance the room’s character, as do hand-scraped floors.

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Not just a “cell within a box,” the sun-filled kitchen commands a 270-degree view from marsh to lake, and sightlines to living and dining spaces.

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Even the simple act of washing is enriched by abundant light spilling over the basin, stone and woodwork.

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We used inset tile in the master bath to create a mosaic tile “rug.” Built-in glass cabinets provide airiness and balance to the room.

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We use features like this curving dormer to create little “moments” both in the home and on the roofline. Here it allowed us to gracefully “cut the corner” between rooms as well as roof gables.

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People long for homes that meet their size needs but feel like comfortable cottages, at home in their environment. It’s possible to have both.

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Minnetonka Shingle Style

Minnetonka, MN

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The drive rounds a boulder outcropping and this unique estate is revealed. Windows align for a peek at impending vistas, and the tower hints this is no conventional house: 15th Century English design was made current with modern space, light, detailing.

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Wrapped in glass, the family room was intentionally sited to bring in spectacular valley and lake views on one side, and warm southern light on the other. Wood beams were spliced and artfully wrapped with metal strapping to achieve the needed length.

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Thick, stone homes can feel like fortresses—but here, the blend of wood and plaster create both warmth and brightness, and floating stairs convey openness.

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The dining room is defined by its floor level and coffered ceiling. Cascading the rooms down the hillside allows each to have a spectacular view of the valley and lake beyond.

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The working office has sunny exposure to the front of the home, and a clear sightline—over stepped-down dining and living rooms—to the valley and lake.

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The great room faces north for the view and receives morning sun through a myriad of windows to the east. Sunsets are enjoyed from a side terrace to the west.

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Sustainable resources were important to our client. All of the mahogany—thousands of board feet—was sourced from old-growth trees felled by hurricanes.

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A floating bridge unites bedroom suites and a one-of-a-kind “tower” office, up the stairs to the right.

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The master suite is immersed in light and views from north and south.

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The glass-walled room that rises above the roof? The ultimate office getaway, designed so our client would have a soaring treetop view—a place to “get in my canoe,” as he put it, and think. Soon, it will also look over a pool and landscaping.

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Modern English Manor

Lake Waramaug, CT

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This Minneapolis couple decided to retire to horse country. They wanted a home that felt as if it had always been there, part of the bucolic landscape. Graceful, curving lines echo the surrounding rolling hills.

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A large overhang creates a kind of outdoor room, perfect for sitting, even in the rain. The multi-level terrace integrates the house into the landscape gradually—yet from every level, one enjoys a sense of prospect over the land.

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An organic, soft palette and natural materials like stone and wood help the home feel connected to the landscape. Deep-profiled eaves protect wood from weathering. Thick walls and wide millwork convey richness and permanence.

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The house is relatively long and thin where main spaces are, allowing views from horses and pasture on one side to woods on the other. A “rumble strip”—instead of a solid drive—maintains the connection between living room, woods, and distant pastures.

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A clear sense of quality without ostentatiousness is a hallmark of our work. Instead of a pretentious entry, we curved the eave line sensuously, creating an eyebrow that is subtly, gracefully, intimately welcoming.

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Profiled cove moldings, plus tongue-and-groove oak paneling under the eaves, add warmth and the play of light. Pegged wood “piers” do more than support the roof; they become a design element.

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Here, the lines of the roof, the support beams, and the rolling hills are echoed in a simple exterior side panel.

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From the front door, an arcade opens to the living room and views of fields beyond, while leading to kitchen and dining areas. Roof dormers animate the vaulted ceiling with light.

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The centerpiece of the long, main room, the fireplace needed to be substantial. To provide a casual counterpoint and connectedness, we used the same stone used outside. The vaulted ceiling and arching beams also echo the home’s exterior curves.

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A sequence of french doors opens to the east, providing ample morning light and a real connection to the landscape; while the house feels traditional, it lets in far more light and views than a traditional design would.

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The main, vaulted room extends over a baby grand piano—and beyond that, the kitchen. The homeowners wanted the kitchen to feel integrated but not completely exposed. Natural south light pours in through an interior glass ceiling.

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How do you design a kitchen that doesn’t feel overly kitcheny? By adding pantries for hidden storage, concealing appliances, using lines and materials that echo other parts of the home, and building cabinets that double as windows.

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Dormers cut into the roof edge light up the room. Here and throughout the home, cabinetry is quarter-sawn oak, pegged at the corners, with beveled frames. Casual architecture balances the homeowners’ more formal belongings.

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The homeowners love entertaining and have an evening card-playing ritual. Here, a circular room envelops a circular table.

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Cabinet-quality woodwork frames the office, with sinuous curves that quote the rest of the home. Lead caming and seedy glass french doors add texture and detail.

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Equestrian Country House

Medina, MN

Our client envisioned a contemporary row house on this long, narrow lot, but worried it wouldn’t fit the neighborhood. We were able to achieve both goals by combining modern lines with traditional elements in a scale appropriate to nearby homes.

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Old row houses are long and dark, all rooms lined up front to back. This open floor plan expands the space; a large skylight over the stair and variety of strategically placed high windows fill it with light.

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A floor plan this open requires serious stabilization. Custom wide columns conceal an anti-racking wood-and-steel structure—and become integral to the design.

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The homeowner needed storage space, and a home for his art. We collaborated with the client in designing unobtrusive cabinetry along the wall, which allows art to be layered in front.

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Not the dark, back-hall stairway you’d find in a traditional row house; this north wall is splashed by light from a south-facing skylight at the top.

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The design takes advantage of every inch of the site: The wall of kitchen windows provides bright views of the raised garden terrace positioned over the lower-level garage, and a cozy TV room is up the steps beyond.

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The north side houses powder room, entryway, and stairs—allowing living spaces to be in the southern, light-filled side. Clean lines and monochromatic stone provide a tranquil respite and expand the space.

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The stairs lead to a large, private rooftop space with Jacuzzi and outdoor fireplace overlooking the city lake.

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The Bermuda-style roof was custom made in copper. Even the vents and small gutter were carefully designed to disappear into the horizontal lines. Can you find them?

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The narrow, deep-set window creates a little “moment”—bringing in light but no view of the neighbor’s home, and picking up the rhythm of the horizontal railing and other windows. It’s the kind of detail we love.

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Calhoun Contemporary

Minneapolis, MN

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Modern English Country House

Edina, MN

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The homeowners wanted a classical home with exuberant style. Classical profiles were researched; every column, cornice and wall was delineated down to the joint pattern. Integrating a stone façade with a wood-frame home was an unusual challenge.

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What looks like a sitting room is actually an outside loggia. This gracious entry space—where interior comforts meet fresh air—has a wonderfully inviting ambiance.

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The 40-foot, atrium-style grand salon is illuminated by a barrel-vaulted, metal-framed skylight inspired by Victorian railway stations. It required precision planning and engineering; a crane installed the frame as a single piece.

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The homeowners wanted a loft that “floated” between the grand salon and family room. By breaking the arched ceiling’s entablature and giving the room its own roof and distinct materials, we were able to create the effect.

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Suspended day beds further the sense of floating. The wall of windows looks out onto the arched skylight. Whimsical furnishings offset the classical architecture.

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The family room was designed around a Biltmore Estate-inspired triple fireplace and an 18-foot back-to-back patterned sofa, typical of the homeowner’s bold style.

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A sun-filled bay adjoining the family room and kitchen provides a more intimate—yet dramatic—dining area for the family.

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The kitchen is elaborate, sculpted yet functional: the back, a pantry space for caterers; the front, for daily use. Our sketches created the sculptural elements, realized by old-world style woodcarver Konstantin Papadakis.

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The rear loggia overlooks a picturesque, Italian garden-inspired landscape, and tall arched openings provide full views into the grand salon. Each traditionally set keystone weighs over a ton.

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Vanity and dressing areas are uniquely combined in one beautifully detailed room for her. Like the rest of the house, the closer you get, the more delights are revealed. The shoe room can be seen in the back corner.

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The pavilion-style pool inspires the feeling of a Roman bath. The gabled skylight uses a spun-fiberglass core to temper natural light and insulate.

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The large courtyard follows the Italian tradition, harkening back to a time before cars. The home’s elegance springs from combining a simple, graceful, symmetrical form with richly textured, deeply profiled details.

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Italianate Villa

Edina, MN

The homeowner wanted an architecture of substance and quality that didn’t feel flashy or ostentatious.

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Eyebrow windows and curved walls add a sensual fluidity and grace to the strong forms.

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Described simply, every great home is part “tree house” and part “cave,” providing both vistas and secure retreats.

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The wedge-shaped lot inspired a subtle curve in the design with “arms” that embrace the backyard.

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A flat roof zone with skylights—unnoticeable from the exterior— fills the interior with natural light and lifts the eye.

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The main floor was designed to showcase the homeowner’s large African art collection: art to hold art.

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The art itself becomes part of the architecture—making walls from open air.

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Highly designed and detailed millwork by TEA2, beautifully executed by Siewert Cabinet.

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Creating detail and character without being slave to an old style can be a challenge. Here, cabinetry and vanities feel historical, yet fresh.

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The bar design maximizes seating and allows a view. Careful research and testing led to a natural looking, wineglass-resistant wood finish.

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A lower level that feels nothing like a lower level.

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The home was featured in Architectural Digest. Pleased with the end result, the homeowner requested we design a second home.

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Edina Arts & Crafts

Edina, MN

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Linden Hills Cottage

Minneapolis, MN

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Situated in a ravine with a creek just yards away, this home required careful engineering and innovative design, including breaking the home into pavilions.

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Having multiple pavilions—these connected by a walkway—opens up multiple views, and allows water from volunteer springs to flow down the hillsides unimpeded.

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Nestled between steep cliffs, every bit of available light was leveraged. Here, main living areas share a wall of glass for an expansive view of the bluff across the river.

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Civil engineers were enlisted to calculate potential water load, and a drain system built under the entire house. The 100-year flood that came after completion left it unharmed.

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The pavilion on the left houses an office studio and five bedrooms, the master looking out over the picturesque ravine.

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The house wraps a stone courtyard, creating a cozy, outdoor room. With sunlight at a premium, clerestory windows bring in southern light and a view of the steep hillside.

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The kempas wood floor and suspended mahogany beams bring more of the outside in. Window walls on two sides bounce light about the main living pavilion.

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The homeowners wanted a warm, Frank Lloyd Wright-ian vibe—created with a central limestone fireplace, geometry of beams and windows, wood, and distinctive lighting.

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The progression of overhead beams connects living room, kitchen, and dining area. Windows at the rear of the pantry provide visual relief, seeing through to the other side.

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No gleaming white appliances here. The kitchen is as anchored in wood and warmth as the rest of the home, while bringing in light and offering views on both sides.

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The creek bends around the knoll where the house sits. A bay window provides an arresting view down the long axis of the creek and ravine.

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Bluffside Home

Mountain Brook, AL