Architects share trends, tips to make your home a perfect fit

  • Article by: LYNN UNDERWOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 20, 2014 - 8:14 AM

What would make your home a perfect fit? Architects weigh in on trends, tips and strategies.

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Decisions, decisions. Whether you’re building a brand-new home or pondering a kitchen makeover, there are dozens of big and small details to lose sleep over.

During “Right at Home,” an evening of residential architecture and design presented by AIA Minnesota and the Star Tribune, leading local architects will explore smart remodeling and design approaches to help you create the home you’ve always wanted.

The architects will show examples of how they solved some of their clients’ space and function issues, as well as the latest in home design. Plus, you’ll get a sneak peek at the Home of the Month winning residential projects to be featured in the Star Tribune over the next year.

We’ve enlisted architects Marcy Schulte, Sarah Nettleton, Geoffrey Warner and John Vetter, who are taking part in Thursday’s panel discussion, to share their perspectives on hot home trends and the most popular projects, sustainability and making the most of your budget.

Gensler, Minneapolis

Sarah Nettleton Architects, Minneapolis

Alchemy Architects, St. Paul

Vetter Denk Architects, Milwaukee


Q: What’s hot in kitchens?

MS: Everyone wants an eat-in kitchen and a large working island because there are more social activities around food, wine and cooking. We often knock down walls and open up the kitchen to the family room or other spaces. We turned a separate kitchen and dining room in a 1980s builder home into one big room.

SN: Kitchens are the No. 1 remodeling project because it’s the part of the house that feels the most dated and typically done in the style of the era the home was built. What people want today goes back to the farmhouse idea of the kitchen as the heart of the home — with cooking on one side and a big table for seating on the other side. Now it’s updated with a center island, easy pullout drawers and walk-in pantries. Today’s kitchen fits more seamlessly aesthetically with the rest of the house.

GW: The party always happens in the kitchen, and people want it open to the rest of the house. Big center islands give you enough room to spread out, cook and work on a laptop. We use a lot of stock Ikea cabinets — they’re cost-effective, and people like the clean look. Granite is still popular because it’s cheaper now. But a lot of people are attracted to salvaged marble — it’s softer and can stain, but they like the tactile qualities.


Q: What’s the latest in bathroom design?

MS: Layered lighting is key for putting on makeup, shaving and ambient lighting. Radiant in-floor heat adds a spa feel. The full-glass-door shower is taking precedence over the tub.

GW: People now know what a dual-flush toilet is. There’s so much more to pick from and better design quality in water-saving features. And if we’re limited on space, we’ll put in an oversized step-in shower and give up the bathtub.

JV: Bathrooms are more open, with natural light and often have views of nature from a tub or sink. We put in integrated “furniture-like” cabinetry highlighting separate sink areas. The vanity cabinet appears to float off the floor with lighting underneath. People invest in really terrific showers with multiple heads.


    What: A panel discussion by local architects about home design and remodeling, and presentation of this year’s AIA Minnesota Home of the Month winning residential projects.

    When: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thu.

    Where: International Market Square, 275 Market St., Mpls.

    Tickets: $18 in advance, $20 at the door, includes hors d’oeuvres buffet. Cash bar. Register by phone, 612-338-6763 or by e-mail (

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