Sometimes a house can also look like a piece of modernist art: beautifully sleek and spare, with an emphasis on innovative design and abstract poetry.
Michael Krier had those ideas in his mind's eye when he bought a 1989 house in Wayzata just off highways 394 and 494. Renovation is the correct word for what he did to the house on leafy Oakways Court only because he kept the foundation. Virtually everything else is new in the 4,156-square-foot structure.
For starters, Krier took off most of the roof, putting on a flat roof with two decks and adding height to the building that now has 24-foot ceilings. He opened up the house with windows that not just admit light but frame the outside so that the birds and trees and all of nature become an artistic, ever changing seasonal installation.
Inside, he set off raw steel on the stairs with white oak hardwood floors. The kitchen, outfitted with high-end appliances, has two islands, one for service, the other for guests. OK, the place is built for soirees.
Upstairs, the owners' suite has its own wine fridge, plus his and hers walk-in closets. The owners' suite also features a bird's nest annex — a space perched above that feels like being in the trees and could be used as an office.
The lower level features a family lounge with wet bar and a custom island for games and crafts.
"I wanted it to be modern, with a strong aesthetic; not just contemporary," Kriers said. "It's distinctive but also functional."
Neither an architect nor an engineer, Krier is a former business owner and hairstylist who has been designing houses for nearly a decade. This is his fifth project and, so far, the height of his vision.
"I wanted to be a doctor and an artist when I was a kid, but life went in another direction," he said. "Now that I can, I get to play."
Because of his background, Krier knows spas and shied away from them in his design. Even so, the four bathrooms, which all look alike, suggest a luxury hotel like the Four Seasons.
"A spa is a place you go to escape, but this is something you come to," he said.
In fulfilling his modernist vision, Krier teamed up with Twin Cities artist John Gerber, whose artworks are suffused throughout. Those pieces also are for sale.
"A lot of time, people see something that's modern as minimalist and oversimplified," said actor-turned-real estate agent Patrick Morgan. "But Michael was intentional and smart in how he did this, so it has ample storage everywhere in the house but it does not stand out. It really is a dream place."