In Minnesota, there’s no competing with the lake. We plan our lives around the water — we even plan our homes around it. Expanses of glass blur the line between indoors and out, creating rooms that live big while letting nature take center stage. “Windows fulfill the promise of modern design,” muses Gabriel Keller, cofounder and principal of PKA Architecture. The firm’s recent Isles Modern project, in collaboration with Streeter Custom Builder and Pella Windows, is an exercise in sophisticated simplicity.
The clients were eager to balance time between their farm in southern Minnesota and a right-sized city home that lets them lead an active Minneapolis lifestyle. “They wanted a house that lived like a loft: a low-maintenance, open space that their grown family could enjoy in the city,” shares architect Tammy Angaran.
The house sits on a uniquely narrow lot along iconic Lake of the Isles Parkway and seamlessly ushers in some modern excitement amidst the neighborhood’s traditionally classic architecture. “We were respectful of the scale and character of the homes on either side,” notes Angaran, who matched the abode’s scale to its neighbors and opted for a neutral cream stucco exterior to create a coordinated look from the parkway. She worked in tandem with the Streeter team to add relief to the house’s rectangular form, playing with cantilevers and subtle shifts in material planes to create depth. A touch of cedar siding adds warmth and texture to the front façade and entry.
Windows were a key design element. “Since the lot is extremely narrow, we were mindful of window placement,” Angaran says. “We wanted the clients to be able to enjoy the lake views yet still have plenty of privacy.” To complement the home’s modern architecture and its efficiency factor, the owners selected Pella Architect Series – Contemporary windows.
“The expansive windows work hard to make the space feel open and non-constraining,” notes Streeter Senior Project Manager Jessica Bjorum. The three-story structure’s floor-to-ceiling glass evokes an almost modern treehouse effect, aided by sliding glass doors that allow natural light to pour in.
“In Minnesota, looking through our windows creates a sense of art that changes with all four seasons,” adds Pella Architectural Consultant Emily Neubarth, who worked on the project. “Pella’s industry-leading contemporary design, with its minimalist hardware and modern finishes, complements the modern aesthetic of the home.”
The loft-like solution perfectly suits the steep site and the clients’ desire for a clean, continuous layout where each room opens to the next. The integrated kitchen is in the center of the action, flanked by the dining area and living room — not to mention surrounded by panoramic vistas. Thanks to sliding glass doors, an outdoor patio feels like an extension of the open floor plan. Upstairs, the owners’ bedroom suite boasts a balcony perfect for taking in the lake views, while two guest bedrooms with a shared bath provide comfortable accommodations for visitors. Since moving in last fall, the clients can attest that every inch of the 4,000-square-foot residence is properly utilized thanks to the team’s purposeful design.
The owners selected modern, minimalist furnishings from Roam Furniture & Lighting to enhance the home’s uncluttered calm. To ground and unify the openness, the team chose a pared-down palette of materials, including wood, concrete and blackened steel. The neutral interiors highlight architectural elements and act as a blank slate for displaying the owners’ extensive art collection. “The cabinetry, fireplace and staircase pick up that loft character, while also informing edges and boundaries,” Angaran explains.
The dramatic staircase, in particular, doubles as a work of art and elevates the clients’ daily life. “Both the interior and exterior staircases look so simple, but they required a lot of planning,” shares Streeter Director of Field Operations David Bohnsack, noting that the concrete steps in front were laid before any other structures were framed. “It speaks to the skillful collaboration of the entire team.”
“Streeter is a true collaborative partner,” Angaran remarks. “We’re always willing to listen and learn from each other, which enables us to find the best solutions for our clients.” You can see the collaborative efforts for yourself this fall, when this modern marvel will be showcased on the AIA Minnesota Homes by Architects Tour.