Return to Home of the monthHome of the month

New room for living

  • Article by: JIM BUCHTA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 15, 2006 - 11:10 AM

The floor plan of this 1990s house had an 1890s layout.

The facade of Frank Zink and Katie Resch's 11-year-old St. Paul house blended into its centenarian neighborhood, but the floor plan was no match for their modern lifestyle with a dog and two small children.

The floor plan of this 1990s house had an 1890s layout plucked from an era when houses were designed for families with cooks rather than families that cook -- a conceit that has been repeated even in much more modest abodes.

But while many of today's home buyers are charmed by the aesthetics of antique houses, most favor a big kitchen and casual eating area over a maid's kitchen and formal dining room.

"Open planning, which a lot of people are interested in today, works well for the way people really live," said Todd Hansen, the Minneapolis architect who was commissioned to help rescue the couple's design-challenged house. "People want to be in the same space as the person preparing food and supervising homework."

Inside the Zink/Resch house the foyer, study and dining room were connected by a long, dark hallway that led to a small combination family room and kitchen at the back of the house.

Zink, who works at home occasionally, appreciated the private study, but not the formal dining room, which was being used as a playroom. And the combination family room/kitchen at the back of the house? Not so great.

Adding space wasn't an option.

There was no room to expand to the side and not an inch to spare in the small back yard. Zink and Resch weren't willing to sacrifice green space for living space.

The solution?

Reconfigure the existing floor plan, add architectural details that increase its livability and bring in more light through the south-facing windows.

"People should try to think outside of the box, but in this case thinking within the box creatively is what helped create the solution," Hansen said.

Here's a glimpse of what Hansen did to transform the October Home of the Month from a traditional problem into a modern delight:

5 ways to make a great room great

Eliminate rooms that don't get used. Todd Hansen removed two walls that separated the dining room-cum-play room from the family room to create a larger family gathering space and dining area. When Hansen removed those walls, he had to replace their structural function with a column that does double duty: it holds up the second floor, but it also anchors the corner of the family area. Transferring the weight that used to rest on those walls to a single post required additional support in the basement under that new post.

Define your spaces. While open living spaces are popular, they can lack intimacy and shape. The sitting room and kitchen, for example, have coffered ceilings that subtly outline the shape of the corridor, living room and kitchen.

"It gives a sense of scale to the ceilings so it doesn't feel like they go on forever," Hansen said. "They articulate the size of the room and that lends more intimacy and makes it feel more comfortable."

The beams are not a symmetrical grid. One runs along the length of the bench, another runs along the edge of the corridor, and a series of beams cross them at equal distances, giving greater weight to the center of the room.

Hidden storage. Open floor plans can make houses feel more light and spacious, but they also can rob you of storage. Hansen designed a built-in bench that's more than 30 feet long and does triple-duty as banquette seating for the dining area, a window seat in the sitting room and loads of drawer space for toys and more.

  • about this series

  • The Home of the Month program is a partnership between the Star Tribune and the Minnesota chapter of the American Institute of Architects. It features architect-designed houses selected by a jury of experts. The houses represent a range of prices, styles and locations.
  • related content

  • Gallery: Before and after photos

    Wednesday April 12, 2006

  • A glance at the project

    Friday September 30, 2005

    Project goal: Transform a traditional floor plan into a more modern, open living space.Architect: Todd Hansen, Albertsson Hansen Architecture, www.aharchitecture.com.Clients:...

  • more from this series

  • AIA MN Home of the Month: Reinventing a classic

    An early 1900s house – overlooking Lake of the Isles and designed by Harry Wild Jones – gets a worldly, modern...

  • Reworking the floor plan of a Minneapolis Dutch Colonial

    AIA MN Home of the Month: A few subtle shifts transform an “awkward” floor plan in an earlier addition, improving flow...

  • Home of the Month: This year's winning Minnesota projects

    This year’s Home of the Month projects range from small additions to big extended-family retreats.

  • Modern, flat-roofed home breaks mold but still blends with Seward neighbors

    A modern flat-roofed home breaks the mold but still blends with its neighbors.

  • A contemporary Deephaven house is reimagined

    A renovation of a 1980s contemporary ranch home mixes a modern spirit with family-friendly comfort in the AIA Minnesota Home of...

  • Home of the Month: Camping inspired Eagan house design

    A challenging, hilly site didn’t deter an Eagan couple from building a house inspired by gathering around the campfire.

  • Outdated 1960s home gets a makeover

    AIA Home of the Month: An outdated 1960s two-story house in St. Louis Park gets a modern reboot to maximize light...

  • Vintage St. Paul home is remodeled in character

    A St. Paul couple took cues from the past to repurpose and update existing spaces in their nearly century-old home.

  • Home of the Month: Rambler redux in Edina

    An Edina couple bucked the teardown trend, using a neglected rambler as a template for their updated home.

  • North Woods nest is a sweet retreat

    A family getaway home near Grand Marais combines sustainability, “industrial chic” materials and tranquil wilderness vistas.

  • A sunroom addition on a Minneapolis home lets in the light

    A seamless sunroom addition mixes a modern aesthetic with Mediterranean style and satisfies a Minneapolis family's need for light.

  • A rural retreat lives large

    A Minneapolis couple's weekend country home in Black River Falls, Wis., makes the most of its minimal square footage.

  • A family creates a modern urban retreat

    An architect, his sister and his son formed a dream team to create a modern urban retreat -- the AIA Home...

  • Pepin retreat showcases beauty of bluffs

    For years, a city-dwelling couple had a favorite small-town getaway destination. Now, with a new weekend retreat there, they can escape...

  • AIA Home of the Month: Organic modern in Golden Valley

    An outdated 1980s “builder home” in Golden Valley gets a dramatic do-over. It's the AIA Home of the Month for May.

  • Modern Edina home is graphic by design

    A family’s sensibly sized modern home combines concrete, glass and comfortable spaces.

  • AIA Home of the Month: New England colonial in Warroad

    A new family home brings the spirit of colonial Vermont to northern Minnesota.

  • AIA Home of the Month: A reinvented rambler in Golden Valley

    A couple reinvent their 1960s rambler, infusing it with character and color, after it was destroyed by a fallen tree.

  • AIA Home of the Month: Simple dream

    A Ralph Rapson-inspired home embodies streamlined modern design but doesn't skimp on amenities.

  • House of green gables

    An eco-friendly home marries energy-efficient features with down-to-earth design in the latest AIA Home of the Month.

  • Retro refreshed

    A midcentury modern home, originally designed for a widow and her maid, was updated while staying true to its '60s sensibility.

  • La Crosse home is simply modern

    A not-so-big home is inspired by an architectural icon - the Barcelona Pavilion.

  • Home on the Ridge

    Instead of kicking back at a lakeside or woodsy retreat, a hobby farming couple chose to build a functional farmhouse, designed...

  • An island idyll on Lake Minnetonka

    On an island where time stands still, a local couple built a new lake home in keeping with the unique, closely...

  • Cutting-edge home is simply serene

    A graphic designer in Golden Valley collaborated on a big, cutting-edge project -- his own home.

  • Best of both worlds

    A new foursquare combines old-house character with modern functionality.

  • Creating a modern lakeside landmark

    A sleek Art Moderne survivor is updated for its 21st-century future.

  • AIA Home of the Month: River retreat

    A new getaway cabin echoes an older cabin's look, updated with the latest green technology.

  • Past perfect

    Homeowners loved their vintage city house but not its 1980s addition -- until they reinvented it with Craftsman character and modern...

  • All-American makeover

    A European family, transplanted to the United States, transformed a traditional Cape Cod into a spacious, modern home.

  • Minneapolis family open to change

    A growing family was ready to remodel their bungalow. But building a new home with energy-smart features and an open floor...

  • AIA Home of the Month: A farmhouse refreshed

    A rural family homestead gets updated for the next generation while staying true to its roots.

  • 1930s bungalow is reborn in Mpls.

    A Minneapolis couple reinvented their modest vintage home with a modern-style addition that blends the old with the new -- and...

  • St. Paul condo stays in character

    A condo in a Summit Avenue Tudor gets a renovation that maintains modern sensibilities while lovingly restoring the past.

  • Zen on the Zumbro

    A family's modern house near the Zumbro River in Rochester melds Asian elements, green features and universal design. It will be...

  • Rustic reimagined

    AIA Home of the Month: A Wisconsin lakeside retreat intermingles the rustic architecture of national park buildings with comfortable cottage-style character.

  • Living it up in a loft

    The desire for a rooftop retreat drove a unique remodeling project that combined two condo units in a historic Minneapolis loft.

  • A Superior setting

    A year-round home on Lake Superior captures the feeling of a woodsy getaway, but has all the amenities a busy family...

  • Modern family home

    A couple make a fresh start by building a contemporary-style house that capitalizes on a park-like setting in an older Minneapolis...

  • A better bungalow

    Minneapolis couple turned a 1970s tower addition into a family-friendly kitchen and bedroom retreat.

  • East meets Midwest

    A couple's yen for zen drove the design of their modern Asian-inspired St. Paul home.

  • A small house that lives large

    The renovation of a Cape Cod preserves the period charm but ramps up functionality.

  • Phases of the room

    Patience and perseverance drove the reinvention of a mid-century ranch house that now combines 1960s architecture with Asian influences.

  • Tradition with a twist

    A century-old Colonial Revival is transformed into a functional family home that's also a good fit for entertaining.

  • Eco-friendly escape

    A green-minded couple built an Up North getawaythat marries the look of a timeless European cottage with the latest environmentally friendly...

  • Clean and green

    An Orono couple's whole-house renovation is in harmony with their eco-friendly lifestyle and modern sensibilities. See it for yourself at the...

  • Rustic redefined

    A timber-frame weekend retreat breaks the mold by combining classic Douglas fir with contemporary walls of glass and cool steel accents.

  • Updated A-frame cabin

    Architect Andrea Peschel Swan designed an updated cabin on Lake Mille Lacs where her family can get away and do what...

  • Coming home

    A three-story renovation retools a Deephaven Colonial for the second-generation homeowners.

  • Urban farmstead at home in Linden Hills

    A Minneapolis architect's Dutch Colonial renovation captures the simplicity of farm life in the middle of the city.

  • Mixed metals

    A St. Paul architect's one-of-a-kind bungalow renovation is an amalgamation of warm wood and shiny steel that preserves the home's character...

  • New home evokes character of vintage homes

    A Minneapolis couple's family-style home evokes the finely crafted character of Grandma's house but with today's functionality.

  • Sky-high style

    A St. Paul architect's second-story addition captures the connected-to-nature feeling of a rooftop patio but with a distinctly modern edge.

  • 'Daring option' becomes reality

    Husband-and-wife architects took a novel approach to the modern addition on their traditional creekside home.

  • Hybrid cabin

    Architect Christian Dean's modern interpretation of a traditional log cabin features a high-tech green roof, rusted steel accents and glass walls.

  • Bigger, better, greener

    A St. Paul couple redesigned a traditional home for their family to make it more modern, more livable and more energy-efficient.

  • Farmhouse revival

    Rural retreat captures the simple spirit of the farm with an eye on modern sustainability.

  • Back to nature

    When they were kids, Jennifer and Pascal Dalseth spent lazy days canoeing, fishing and building bonfires on separate lakes in the...

  • Creating a cottage

    A well-planned redesign transforms a blah bungalow into a charming cottage with room for a family of five.

  • A+ CABIN

    Architect Marcelo Valdes' compact cabin melds an efficient use of space and resources with finely crafted interior details.

  • Streamlined design within reach

    A European couple brings their love for functional modernism to Minnetonka.

  • Prairie restoration

    Design professionals David Heide and Michael Crull updated their Prairie-style home for the future while keeping an eye on the past.

  • Island time

    A unique Madeline Island getaway becomes a full-time retreat.

  • "Just right"

    A back-of-the-house bump-out created enough space to give this St. Paul family a new bathroom, kitchen and bedroom.

  • Curved appeal

    A shapely screened porch connects the two halves of this breezy weekend house in Wisconsin.

  • January 2009: The not-so-wee House

    Architect Geoffrey Warner hopes to make factory-built housing more popular by focusing on sustainability and smart design with his modular weeHouses.

  • Barn meets loft

    Emmet Klocker wanted an edgy, urban space, but didn't want to leave his rural roots. The solution? A 2,300-square-foot house with...

  • Empty nest, open arms

    This riverside residence was built for empty-nesters, but it was designed with family members and friends in mind.

  • A divine design

    This month's Home of the Month selection is a study in simple forms and creative design solutions.

  • Towering achievement

    Architect Wayne Branum faced a difficult challenge: Designing a house for himself that connects him to the land and his art.

  • Modern love

    Minneapolis architect Mark Larson's clients were smitten withthis unusual North Oaks house, rumored to be built for a bachelordoctor who was...

  • Urban edge in the country

    Leanne Stremcha s roots in Northfield, Minn., run deep. Her great-grandparents homesteaded there, she s lived there most of her life...

  • Attic inspiration

    Outgrown your house, but don't want to move? This month's Home of the Month selection shows you how to revamp a...

  • A new angle

    How do you build a house that doesn't turn its back on the landscape? The latest Home of the Month selection...

  • Milled for retirees

    This riverfront condominium with a bird's-eye view is a lesson in universal design.

  • Like-new house fits an old block in Minneapolis

    A Minneapolis family faced a familiar problem: Reinvest in their cramped and boring house, or move to a bigger, better house.

  • 'Superior Split lives up to name

    Cracked down the middle and twisted about by a Lake Superior squall? No, built by a father for his daughter and...

  • A roomier rambler

    After a first-time home buyer yearned for more light in his 1960s St. Paul rambler, a whole-house transformation gave him that...

  • Updating the dated

    Our latest Home of the Month selection demonstrates how a new center island can carry an outdated St. Paul house into...

  • Up on the farm

    Architect Wayne Branum's instructions were to design an economical house for a 155-acre site in rural Wisconsin, one sympathetic to its...

  • The transformation

    The Transformation: How architect Mark Larson improved the function of this boxy, multi-level house without adding an inch of space to...

  • Updated A-frame cabin

    Architect Andrea Peschel Swan designed an updated cabin on Lake Mille Lacs where her family can get away and do what...

  • See the full series pageFull story

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How much are mosquitoes bugging you this summer?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close