Designer Michael Anschel found the perfect candidate to test the emerging Minnesota GreenStar building program — his own house.

Anschel, principal at Otogawa-Anschel Design Build, bought the “typical 1920s Arts and Crafts bungalow” with his wife in 2003 with the intention of remodeling and updating the 720-square-foot dwelling. Anschel knew the compact home, which sat on a corner lot in Minneapolis’ Victory neighborhood, had expansion potential. Plus he could walk to work. “It was in excellent condition, with all the original materials,” he said. “And had a great south view for passive solar heat.”

Over the next three years, Anschel designed a kitchen addition and built a new second story, more than doubling the home’s size. “I wanted to take an old house, give it new life and make it big enough for a family of four,” he said. “And have it be healthy, energy-efficient — and have low utility bills.”

In 2006, Anschel put his firm’s mission and building methods to the test. He spearheaded the development of the pioneering Minnesota GreenStar certification program, a set of green-building guidelines aimed at increasing durability, energy-efficiency and indoor air quality in new and remodeled homes. His Minneapolis bungalow became one of the six pilot homes evaluated before the program was launched.

“We pulled a lot of the best practices from Otogawa-Anschel for the GreenStar program, and wanted to test some of them to make sure the program credits matched up with what we believed was good green building,” he said. Today GreenStar is run by the GreenHome Institute and has expanded to seven states.

But as a new homeowner in 2003, Anschel was more focused on having a kitchen with more than one counter to make meals. The day after he moved in, he had a hole dug for a 110-square-foot bump-out off the side of the house. Anschel designed the new G-shaped peninsula-style kitchen to “give the cook good working space,” he said. It features a remnant granite counter with a hand-polished wavy edge, a signature in many of Anschel’s projects. Wide-plank walnut floors are combined with maple cabinets and a backsplash composed of reclaimed tile from North Prairie Tileworks.

For the next remodeling phase, Anschel tore off the second floor and built a vaulted second story, clad in fiber-cement siding, which extends out over the kitchen. It houses a family room with a library and two bedrooms, including a master suite outfitted with skylights.

The suite boasts amenities that many homeowners want today, such as a walk-in closet, attached bathroom with a heated floor and oversized shower. Anschel splurged on a luxe Toto Neorest toilet that has a heated seat, which he discovered while living in Japan.

In the family room, French doors open to a sheltered low-maintenance composite deck to draw in the breezes. Outfitted with a hammock, it’s a favorite napping spot.

Anschel designed the layout of the second floor to be a hybrid of contemporary and traditional styles. “The high-vaulted ceilings and large master suite have a more contemporary flavor,” he said. “The millwork and reclaimed materials keep it rooted in the old world.”

He also updated and improved the main floor, including enclosing the front porch and installing new swing-in windows, but kept the original beadboard ceiling. “After work, I sit on the front porch, have a glass of wine and read the mail,” he said.

After Anschel’s transformation, the four-bedroom home is now 1,500 square feet. It’s also more energy-efficient and sustainable for the next generations of owners, thanks to green materials and products such as spray-foam insulation, high-efficiency furnace, dual-flush toilets and eucalyptus flooring. The new roof is made of durable, long-lasting steel. Low-VOC paints and finishes cover the surfaces for healthier indoor air. And a low-mow, eco-friendly yard includes native-plant rain gardens to filter stormwater.

Many features of the Anschel home renovation were progressive years ago, but with a strong green building movement, they’ve become mainstream today. “A steel roof was unusual in 2006 — but you see it all over now,” he said.

Anschel is selling his pioneering bungalow because he’s experienced some life changes and today is living with his family in south Minneapolis. “I’d like to find a buyer who will love it and take care of it,” said Anschel. “It’s a special place.”


Robin Voreis of Keller Williams Intregrity Lakes has the listing, 612-759-1878, Take a tour of the home from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 24.