Here's a way to get attention for building or remodeling a house that doesn't stand out.

The BLEND awards is a unique program that recognizes homeowners, builders and architects whose projects respect the existing design and scale of homes on surrounding blocks.

BLEND (an acronym for Buildings and Landscapes Enhancing the Neighborhood through Design) was launched five years ago as a reaction to the monster houses and additions that were taking over some Minneapolis neighborhoods.

Organizers are looking for good examples of thoughtfully designed new homes, renovations and landscape improvements completed in the past five years. And this year, the program has expanded to include all of Minneapolis, not just the southwest neighborhoods.

"We've received inquiries from architects and homeowners from all over the city," said Phil Rader, an architect who lives in the Fulton neighborhood and BLEND founder. "We just had to make sure we could handle the submissions before expanding."

Past BLEND winners include a 1920s bungalow's master-suite addition and a midcentury-modern rambler renovation, which was featured in the Star Tribune in October.

A jury of industry professionals (including interior designers, architects and real estate agents) and city residents will select the winners. The submission fee is $50; deadline is July 29. On Sept. 15, BLEND organizers will hold an awards ceremony and five-year celebration party.

"There's still a level of interest, even though there's not the overbuilding there was five years ago," said Rader. "We hope to bring other Twin Cities communities on board and pass on our ideas and work to them."

More information is available at

Lynn Underwood • 612-673-7619