Gazing out upon the glassy water, be it soaking in the stillness of a sunrise or that last bit of warm breeze before the sun sets, summertime on Lake Minnetonka begs the question: Can’t this last forever?
That feeling is one that John Kraemer & Sons takes to heart when crafting legacy homes — in particular, this lakeside modern marvel. “It’s a home base the family can live in forever,” says Vice President and Director of Sales and Marketing John Kraemer. Building with intentionality was imperative, and the clients didn’t have to think twice about who to trust. They’d worked with the award-winning firm on a previous renovation and were eager to bring that same expertise to a new legacy home.
The growing family was desperately in need of more elbow room, ideally in a secluded area with lake access. Soon enough, they discovered a seemingly made-for-them lot with Lake Minnetonka shoreline. “It has a very natural, untouched feel,” shares Murphy & Co. Design Architect and Lead Designer Dan Demeules. After scouting the site, he and his colleagues started to think about how to best use it to their advantage. A bluff drops off into the acreage, creating a unique challenge that yielded a beautiful result: main-floor access to the outdoors and a private, nestled-in pool and cabana area that contour the topography. “Utilizing the terrain gives the home a very rooted feel,” he adds. Southview Design supported this vision by curating a landscape to complement the sculptural structure of the home and its lakeside appeal.
A move into modern architecture was new territory for the clients, who wanted to maintain a more traditional aesthetic inside. Kraemer assured them that the exterior and interior can be stylistically different yet still feel cohesive. To capture this, the builder collaborated with Brandi Hagen of Eminent Interior Design on a focused palette of wood, stone and glass that spoke to both styles.
The lower level consists mostly of stone to reinforce the grounding elements, then the home becomes more expressive in wood and glass as the structure rises. Approaching the motor court and front entrance, exterior Fond du Lac stone acts as a curtain for what’s to come. The abode is outfitted with Marvin triple-pane windows, including a vertical arrangement that frames a floating three-story staircase inside.
The stair tower is perhaps most appreciated from the south side of the residence, where its grandiosity is on full display and is flanked by a butterfly roof. This specific feature has an air of California cool yet, when applied in durable, hearty redwood, gives off a Midwestern warmth. The rest of the roofing is markedly flat, making it perfectly suited for another item on the owners’ wish list: solar power. “Sustainability was a big piece from the beginning,” notes Kraemer. The solar panels power most of the electricity in the house — and do so without detracting from the architecture.
The sculptural structure soars above the shoreline, but inside, the house has a distinctive coziness. Every room is right-sized so you feel grounded no matter where you are. It’s a tenet upheld by Hagen through creative use of materials and dialed-in details. “The interiors are all about comfort and making it a casual space where friends and family feel welcome,” shares the designer, who also had an existing relationship with the clients. Hagen selected soft and honed finishes, like character-grade white oak flooring and Taj Mahal natural stone kitchen countertops, to achieve the traditional yet livable feel the owners were after.
Modern touches are expertly mixed in, particularly in how the floor plan meanders to reveal limitless vistas and connect with nature. A wall of windows from the great room and into the kitchen and dining room floods the spaces in natural light and provides west-facing views ideal for catching the sunset. “From the main floor, water is in pretty much every direction you look,” Kraemer articulates. “You feel like you’re floating on a boat in the middle of the lake.”
It’s a full-time retreat designed to function for the day-to-day and flex for a bevy of guests. No detail was overlooked, even in the second floor guest rooms boasting lake views worthy of a primary suite or in the lower level sport court featuring a Michael Jordan Jumpman logo emblazoned on the floor.
Also notable are the beams and thick trim throughout the house, a direct response to the roofline and high ceilings. This provides a sense of being tucked in — and who wouldn’t want to cozy up in the basement bar? It comfortably seats 17 people, each spot a leg-dangling invitation to take in elements like natural stone and redwood as well as an artful wine display. Just off the bar is a hybrid home theater that’s not completely closed off but can instantly become more private thanks to curtain walls. “Every detail is so functional and well-designed to flex,” Hagen confirms.
A step through sliding glass doors leads you to the pool terrace, where multiple lounging zones let you take in the beauty of the architecture, the private golf fairway and the lake beyond. The cabana adds an extra layer of fun, outfitted with Phantom screens, TVs and a full bar, making for a cool place to seek shelter from the sun. “That’s where you’d find me on a summer day,” Kraemer says with a smile.
And when the day is over, the family can retreat to their own sanctuaries. For the kids, that could be the playroom with a built-in slide. For the parents, it’s most likely to be the his-and-hers bathrooms or the sitting room off the primary suite, which both allow for spa-like respite before turning in for the evening.
While Minnesota summers may not last forever, Kraemer and team ensure that their homes and client relationships do. That type of endurance is reinforced by acute attention to detail, with as much emphasis on relationship building as homebuilding. And that’s something that outlasts any season — or season of life.