Drive through an older urban neighborhood and the odds are good you'll see a few Tudor-style houses.
The bigger ones evoke posh manor homes while the smaller ones suggest cozy cottages. But big or small, they share some architectural DNA — asymmetrical design with a steeply pitched roof, tall peaked gables and tall narrow windows.
Tudor architecture originated in England during the 15th to 16th century and enjoyed a burst of American popularity around the turn of the 20th century. By the 1920s, Tudor Revival homes were all the rage.
"Tudor homes are so historic for our area. There are so many in Minneapolis and St. Paul," said designer Bria Hammel, owner of Bria Hammel Interiors.
But there are not so many in newer suburbs like Lakeville, where most of the housing stock was built long after the Tudor Revival's heyday.
KilChoe and Erik Wikstrom have long been enamored of Tudor-style homes. Still, when they moved from Texas to Lakeville about 10 years ago, they built a house with Craftsman-style features.
"It seemed what everyone had here," said KilChoe. The couple didn't love the house. "It didn't jibe with our personality, and the exterior wasn't congruent with the inside. It wasn't our dream home."
After several years in that house, the Wikstroms, now with two young sons, decided to build another one that better reflected their personal taste — with elements of traditional Tudor architecture but lightened, brightened and updated for 21st-century living — a modern take on Tudor.
"Not too throwback but [a design] that speaks to a different time," said KilChoe.
The couple's home may be on the leading edge of a trend.
Modern Tudor is a look we'll be seeing more of in Minnesota, predicted Hammel. "Tudor is making a comeback," she said. "It's happening more on the coasts, but it's an up-and-coming trend."
Architectural designer David Zweber, owner of David Charlez Designs, agreed. "That style is coming," he said.
"We're seeing it more in urban teardowns in Edina and south Minneapolis," he added, but he anticipates more modern renditions of Tudors and other classic architectural styles in outlying suburbs, as well. "People are growing tired of the Arts & Crafts-style houses that have been built in the suburbs for the last 20 years."
The right lot
For their modern Tudor, the Wikstroms found a lot in Lakeville in an established neighborhood with mature trees and bought it from their builder, SD Custom Homes.
"It's on one of our favorite streets, a little rural feel, very sweet," said KilChoe. "We did not want to be in a new development. In Lakeville, that's tricky to find."
The challenge of the design, which was a collaboration between Zweber and Hammel's firm, was "how to accomplish Tudor but keep it light and airy," said Hammel.
The floor plan strikes a balance between the enclosed rooms that are typical of older Tudor-style houses and the completely open floor plans of many new homes today.
"We didn't want an open floor plan," said KilChoe. "We wanted more private [spaces] but also wanted light."
The kitchen is open to the main living area, but the dining room, sunroom and first-floor office are all separate spaces.
The home's exterior features Tudor-inspired forms, including tall, narrow windows, a steeply pitched gabled roof and a formal entry. But instead of the traditional brick or stone masonry with half timbers on the upper floors, the house is clad in fiber-cement siding and panels in today's popular high-contrast color palette of black and white.
"It's a fairly loose interpretation of Tudor architecture," said Zweber.
The garage is located on the side rather than the front of the house, which "lends itself to a more formal entry," he said.
Inside, the trim is more streamlined than would be seen in a classic Tudor. "We gave it a modern vibe by cleaning up the lines," said Hammel. "The millwork isn't overdone. It's large in scale but very simple."
Other design elements are drawn directly from traditional Tudor architecture, including dark ceiling beams in the living room and an eye-catching wall of diamond-paned leaded glass in the front foyer and repeated in the kitchen wine cabinet.
"It's a nod to that era," said KilChoe.
When interpreting a traditional architectural style for a modern house, it's important not to go overboard, said Hammel. "Have the style, but not every piece relates to it. You need places for the eye to rest. It feels more timeless."
The kitchen is a blend of modern and traditional elements. A center island with an on-trend waterfall edge countertop is balanced by more traditional details, including a plaster stove hood and dentil molding, said Katie Pieper, lead interior designer for the project.
Above the island are large pendant lights with a traditional shape. "They're a fresh take on stained glass," said Hammel. "They feel like a historical piece reinvented."
The large scale of the pendants initially was a concern for KilChoe. "I kept wanting to switch, thinking they were too big," she said. But Pieper and Hammel reassured her.
"We really encourage clients not to be afraid of scale," said Hammel. "Kitchens have gotten bigger, with big islands. They need large light fixtures. Lighting is the jewelry of the home."
The kitchen also includes a modern must-have — a walk-in pantry/prep kitchen, where small appliances, including the toaster and coffeemaker, can be stored out of sight of the main kitchen.
"The pantry made a world of difference," said KilChoe. "There's calm and peace in the main space. When the kitchen is messy, I feel crazy."
Space-saving pocket doors are "a big part of the design," said Pieper. At first KilChoe didn't want them, because she's found the latches to be balky. But accommodating swing room for conventional doors would require taking other things out of the floor plan.
Hammel's team designed distinctive white oak pocket doors with panels and panes of glass. The doors were stained the same rich color as the ceiling beams. "They add so much warmth and character," said KilChoe.
Originally, the Wikstroms wanted a floating staircase made of iron. "My husband always dreamed of a staircase that makes a statement," said KilChoe. But to stay within their budget, the staircase combines iron balusters with enameled wooden railings. "It gives the same feel, without all the expense."
Before the pandemic, the Wikstroms enjoyed entertaining in their new home. "We can have a house full of people," said KilChoe." Since COVID, they've had to cancel some big family events they'd planned to host.
But some aspects of their home have proved useful in unexpected ways. A "project room" on the lower level, originally designed as a space where KilChoe could work on arts and crafts with the couple's two young sons, has now been converted into a classroom for remote learning, complete with school desks. "Kids need to be in a school environment," she said.
Spending more time at home has made KilChoe appreciate their modern Tudor all the more.
"This home was built with such heart and collaboration," she said. "It has a positive, good feel to it. It's cozy. It looks fancy, but it's so livable. It's a pinch-me house. I can't believe this is reality for me."