Dubbed the “white glass box on the hill,” this dwelling literally checks all the boxes. The owner, a single woman moving from Chicago to the Twin Cities to be near family, wanted a small and striking house that was close to quaint downtown Afton yet surrounded by nature. After finding the perfect lot, she tapped Hendel Homes to begin the dream weaving process.
“The client didn’t need a lot of space, but she wanted it to fit the way she lives,” notes principal Amy Hendel, who enlisted James McNeal Architecture and Design. The team delivered just enough space with 2,000 square feet staggered among a series of modern, monochromatic boxes. Done in mostly black and white inside and out, the rooms include a primary suite, guest room, mudroom, mini office and great room, plus a large covered porch for entertaining.
Although grandchildren are among the frequent visitors, the heart of the home features a custom de Giulio centerpiece that Hendel calls “not your little kid kitchen.” This grown-up zone was made to precisely fit every item, with custom features and lighting at every turn. Iceberg quartzite counters are paired with dovetail custom cabinetry and trim work in cool stainless steel, nickel and mirror. Hidden panels in the backsplash remain streamlined when closed yet open up to a spice cabinet and pantry. Like the rest of the abode, everything is black, white and gray, a palette complemented by six-inch white oak floorboards, sliding doors and oversize windows that let the outdoors flow in.
“She loves nature and wanted large picture windows to frame the art outside,” Hendel says. While the setting is walkable to town, it’s also incredibly private, protected from road noise and full of big, beautiful trees and fields. Snippets of these views look more like snapshots when taken in from strategic windows set at eye level for watching sunsets or snowfalls from comfy armchairs. Given that the client also has an impressive art collection, the challenge became balancing window placement to showcase the natural beauty outside yet retaining enough wall space to display her paintings and sculptures inside. Once that was determined, it was a team effort to maintain a sense of calm and serenity.
To strike the right tone, Pamela Cariveau of Coco Perry Design chose organic textiles and neutral materials, from creamy tiles and ceramics to muted mohair and woods, to keep things modern yet quiet, complementing the surroundings. “It was important that the interior materials of this home create a dialog between architecture and nature,” she notes. “The subtle colors create a perfect frame for the surrounding landscape.”
While working with a restrained palette, the designer brought in some striking pieces that played up the existing art collection. One feat was the Bocci dining room light fixture from Filament that’s hand fabricated by draping sheets of thin porcelain over diffusers, resulting in unique shapes for each and every shade. “From the first moment I saw the renderings of this home, I imagined this cluster of porcelain pendants to complement the lines of the architecture and bring an organic playfulness to the space in the same way that her art lives in the home,” says Cariveau. “Much to my surprise, when it came time to unbox her art, I came across a Robert Vickrey piece in which the nuns’ habits looked much like the Bocci light fixture shades. This was one of those perfect visual moments that had not been planned!”
More playfulness pops up in accent rooms, from the paper tiger in the office to the patterned wallpaper in the powder room. The muted Schumacher wall coverings made famous in rocker Mick Jagger’s flat are adorned here with organic stone glass blob pendants — another opportunity to spin subtle colors and exciting shapes into a modern, artistic interior statement while not overpowering the beauty outside.
“I love how we created vignettes that marry art, artifact and architecture with the landscape,” Cariveau shares. “By carefully weaving the organic undertones of all the bespoke finishes, each space flows seamlessly to the next while maintaining a connection to nature.”