Tara Cain Crafts a Practical Palette in a Sophisticated Edina Home

A contemporary Edina Tudor mixes refined finishes with West Coast ease

Photos by Wing Ho  

Oak ceiling beams, gently curved archways, floor-to-ceiling windows, large plants, and a tantalizing mix of textures and materials stand out in this modern Edina home for a young family of four.

Brad and Lauren Sundick always planned to build their next home, which is why Lauren balked when Brad asked her mom, real estate agent Ellyn Wolfenson, to show them this Edina house. “I didn’t want to waste her time, and obviously, we weren’t going to buy it,” she says. But they went ahead with the showing, and Lauren changed her tune. “The light was amazing, and I didn’t think we could ever build something I’d like as much as this.”
It didn’t hurt that the house had barely been lived in. The original out-of-state owners
never moved to Minnesota, and the subsequent owner lived there for just a year.

It was almost brand new. The Sundicks were very happy with the house’s bones, but the decor and lighting were too eclectic for the couple, whose style is more refined and clean. So, they contacted designer Tara Cain, whose work Lauren admires, even before buying the house. “She walked through with us and helped us realize we could make this our taste,” Lauren recalls.

The home’s traditional exterior architecture hints at the treasures found within.

Cain created a sophisticated language for the home to bring out the best qualities of the architecture while keeping it livable for the family of four (Brad, Lauren, and children Madeline, 10, and Marvin, 8). She drew inspiration from Lauren’s memories of time spent at her grandparent’s home in La Jolla, California, and several pieces she received from them, including a piece of fiber art created by Lauren’s grandmother while she was pursuing her MFA at the University of Minnesota nearly 40 years ago. “It’s so current,” Cain says. “Even the way she had it framed was perfect.”

They recast a few rooms to get more function out of the house, including the formal dining room that looks out onto the front yard, sidewalk, and street. With its prime location, they decided it would be an ideal spot for a sitting room—a bright space that features Lauren’s grandmother’s art and a quartet of Maker’s Armchairs from Lawson-Fenning, which are anchored under an oversize pleated pendant. A pencil cactus in the corner is one of many large plants in the house, all thriving thanks to loads of natural light in almost every room. “We love plants, especially big ones that make it feel like a part of the outside is inside,” Brad says. The room has become a favorite place to have coffee, watch the kids play up and down the block, and escape the kitchen/family room hubbub.

A pleated pendant casts light over a quartet of Lawson-Fenning armchairs in the sitting room.

Meanwhile, another area that received a new raison d’etre was a wine closet between the front room and kitchen. Cain worked closely with the home’s original builders, WB Builders, to convert it to a bar.

A quiet, neutral palette of white, cream, and tan—along with natural linen window treatments, organic materials, and nubby textiles—soften the high-contrast black windows and white walls, and help draw the eye to the curve of arched doorways and oak beams. “This house was extremely well built and had many beautiful details and finishes we wanted to celebrate,” Cain says.

In the kitchen, not much was needed save changing the pendants above the island and adding new counter stools, chairs, and a refreshed dining table. Lauren was tempted to replace the marble countertops, fearing they would get scratched and stained, but Cain convinced her otherwise. “Tara told me about her years living in Berlin and how the families there cherish the memories represented by all the ‘imperfections,’” she says. “That changed my thinking.”

A custom walnut table and 1970s-era rattan chairs with sheepskin cushions offer room for all in the kitchen’s large banquette area.

The large banquette in the kitchen is now the primary dining area, with a new walnut table Cain had made locally. “I’ve kind of stopped buying ready-made dining tables,” Cain says. “For the same money, you can design a table and have a local maker build it. You get exactly the right size, shape, and aesthetic; if anything happens to it, the furniture maker can come out and touch it up.” For extra seating, she added custom sheepskin cushions to a set of 1970s-era rattan chairs (another gift from Lauren’s grandparents)—and although beautiful, they’ve proven to be impractical for heavy use and children. “The chairs are a little fragile, and the kids put a knee through a few, so we’re going to find another spot for them,” Lauren says.

Cain swapped out nearly every light fixture in the house, selecting a thoughtful mix of luxury finishes, materials, and light output to keep things interesting. “They’re the jewelry of a home and a particular obsession for me,” she explains. Cain also mentioned thoughtful touches for the family include Schumacher Birds & Butterflies wallpaper on Madeline’s bedroom ceiling. “She loves birds and often goes bird-watching in the park nearby. It makes me happy to know she goes to sleep looking up at this,” says Lauren. And in the primary bedroom, the centerpiece is a California-inspired rope canopy bed from Palecek that complements the geometry of the vaulted space and creates a cozy, comfortable retreat for Lauren and Brad.

The dreamy primary bedroom features a neutral palette, soft textures, and a West Coast-inspired rope canopy bed.

Another family-specific addition is the basement table. Tough enough for the kids’ projects, yet sleek enough to play cards at or hang out with grownups, it sits near another enviable 1970s hand-me-down from Lauren’s grandparents: a suave cantilevered steel and leather Sinus chair. Precious, but not off-limits. Lauren says, “It’s extremely comfortable and the seat everyone wants when we watch movies down there.”

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