Some people feel most at home in a traditional 19th-century house with a few 21st-century updates. Others dream of a completely new and modern space with state-of-the-art features from floor to ceiling.

The ideal weekend “cabin” can have just as as many variations, from a big, extended-family gathering spot in the North Woods to a tiny rural retreat.

These homes and more are among the architect-designed projects that were selected as winners of this year’s Home of the Month award, a partnership between the Minnesota chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Star Tribune.

A panel reviewed nearly 50 submitted projects to choose 13 winners (one extra this year because next year’s event will be a month later, in April instead of March).

Here’s a preview of the projects you’ll be seeing the first Sunday of every month, starting in May, in the Sunday Homes section. You’ll find interviews with the architects and homeowners, plus lots of photos, with plenty of ideas and inspiration to help you create your own dream home.

Summit hill renovation

Project: Owners of a 1915 shingle-style house in St. Paul loved the charm and character of their home, but an earlier renovation had left them with a dysfunctional kitchen and a mid-century look that didn’t fit the character of the house. A new kitchen, eating area and mudroom updated the vintage home for modern living.

Design team: Mark Larson and Amanda Kay, Rehkamp Larson Architects

Abear/etzell residence

Project: A 1960s home in St. Louis Park, with a closed-off kitchen and a rarely used dining room, was opened up to bring in natural light and maximize views of a wetland.

Design team: Geoffrey Warner, Alchemy Architects

Whispering way

Project: Challenging terrain and difficult access had left a site undeveloped for several years. But after extensive mapping of trees, topography and macro and micro climates, an architect discovered a buildable scenario where others had not.

Design team: John Dwyer, John Dwyer Architect.

Tyrol Hills Modern

Project: A 1980s suburban “builder home” was transformed into into an open, modern space to accommodate contemporary family life. The design team utilized the downfall of the home — a huge roof with oversized trusses — to its advantage, removing interior walls and low ceilings to make use of wasted space.

Design team: Lars Peterssen, Gabriel Keller, Kristine Anderson and Andrew Edwins, Peterssen Keller Architecture.

Deephaven house

Project: A contemporary 1987-built home in Deephaven was completely re-created within its original footprint to accommodate a family of four, with new surfaces and a reconstructed fireplace that serves as the focal point between a formal sitting space and an informal family room.

Design team: Tim Alt, Chad Healy and Roger Cummelin, ALTUS Architecture + Design.

Urban family oasis

Project: A modern urban oasis was designed by an architect for his sister, and built by his son, using sustainable design principles. An open layout and saltwater pool make this an appealing spot for family gatherings.

Design team: Charles R. Stinson, Larry Glenn, Chuck Thiss and Douglas Fletcher, Charles R. Stinson Architecture + Design.

Modern Mediterranean

Project: A Mediterranean-style home between city lakes was remodeled to bring sunlight and “visual calmness” to the interior, while keeping the exterior consistent with the original architecture.

Design team: Dan Nepp and Chris Strom, TEA2 Architects.

Edge house

Project: On a Wisconsin site that faces farmland to the north and a river bluff to the south, homeowners wanted a weekend retreat that echoed a small farmstead.

Design team: David O’Brien Wagner and Chris Meyer, SALA Architects


Project: The homeowners were seeking a year-round getaway that could accommodate both cozy couple weekends and big extended-family gatherings. The site, which included dense woods, a secluded lake and a large cedar tree that the owners wanted to preserve, inspired the design of the home, while sustainable strategies reduced its impact.

Design team: David O’Brien Wagner, Sara Whicher, Chris Meyer and Sara Maas, SALA Architects.

Kleinman-Santosa residence

Project: City dwellers wanted to respect their neighbors and their smaller, older homes. The couple’s new two-story home is set back to provide space for a terrace and garden in front. Geothermal heating and passive solar design add sustainability.

Design team: Gar Hargens and Laura Whipple, Close Associates.


Project: A compact 890-square-foot retreat on 60 rural acres was perched on a hill to welcome the landscape into the home on one side, while sheltering it from the elements on the other.

Design team: Meghan Kell Cornell and Eric Ludwig, Kell Architects

Slow cooker

Project: A dark, compartmentalized kitchen was transformed into a light-filled, inviting family space on a tight budget, without altering the home’s original footprint.

Design team: David O’Brien Wagner and Chris Meyer, SALA Architects


Project: On a tight budget and timeline, a neglected rambler was reimagined to eliminate unusable space and define new areas for various activities.

Design team: John Dwyer, John Dwyer Architect; Jackie Millea, Tom Westbrook and Audra Emerson, Shelter Architecture.