TEA2 Architects Adds a Second Story to a Minnetonka Home


Above: The barrel vault and loads of windows flood the new sunroom with light.

It’s hard to imagine that a house can be transformed with just a small addition to its footprint, but that’s what TEA2 Architects did for Karl and Nancy Nelsen’s home in the Oak Knoll neighborhood of Minnetonka.

TEA2-Architects_RemodelLeft: The living room before the remodel.

The couple bought the 1960s rambler in 2007, when their twins, Abby and Andrew, were 18 months old. The classic, red-brick house with a walkout basement and three bedrooms on the main floor served them well, with a few exceptions. A poorly constructed sunroom provided play space but was hard to heat with only a potbelly stove and made the rest of the living areas dark. When the Nelsens learned another child was on the way, they decided it was time to add a bedroom and deal with the sunroom, where mold was blackening the window frames.


Above: A simple, elegant fireplace anchors the wall of built-ins. Adding another appendage to the house didn’t work well, Nancy says, “so we asked, ‘Why don’t we go up?’ Then it just came together.” The couple initially talked to a design-build firm and what they proposed “would have been fine,” she says. A friend urged them to talk to TEA2 for comparison—and the result “ended up way more than fine!” Janet Lederle and Dan Nepp of TEA2 designed an 885-square-foot second story generous enough for two bedrooms, a playroom, and a family bath. They tore off the sunroom and created a barrel-vaulted living room with windows all around. The second-floor addition turned the rambler into an elegant, steep-roofed Georgian cottage. And the only additions to the first-floor footprint were 80 square feet for the stairway to the second floor and 35 square feet for the front-entry stoop. Some deft architectural moves made a huge difference as well. Built-in bookcases and a window seat narrowed the width of the sunroom to allow for the dramatic barrel-vaulted ceiling. An upper kitchen cabinet that blocked the view to the sunroom was eliminated, and a chimney for a fireplace in the basement was taken down to open windows onto the play alcove. (The salvaged brick beautifully sheaths the new stairway landing.) A coved ceiling adds height and definition to the new dining area, situated in the former small living room. TEA2-Architects_Remodel

Above: The new kitchen.


Left: A revamped dining area.

The kitchen layout stayed the same, but upgrading the flat, white cupboards to ones with more detail and adding a breakfast bar with pendant lighting gave it a fresh look. The main-floor master bath got a redo. The front entry was recessed and topped with a dormer to create a more gracious feel.

“The sunroom is where we live,” Nancy says. “The old sunroom didn’t let in any light. The architects had the vision to bring in the light and the trees and the sky.”

A simple but elegant fireplace anchors one side. The back wall of doors and windows frames two 100-year-old elm trees in the 3/4-acre backyard.


Above: The expanded space offers new backyard views.

A simple but elegant fireplace anchors one side. The back wall of doors and windows frames two 100-year-old elm trees in the 3/4-acre backyard.

Changes both big and small add up to a lovely house that will grow with the Nelsen family. The twins are 10 (in April), Samantha is 5, and they adore the playroom. “They can really play with their toys,” says Nancy. “They can build a city and leave it up, where before, the living room was the play area.”

A 300-square-foot bonus space was left above the garage to be finished later. It was finished within months and has already seen many uses. “It’s been an exercise room, guest bedroom, party room, and storage area,” says Nancy. “We had 15 people stay with us for three days the first Christmas!” Soon it may become a perfect space for teens to hang out.

“It’s funny how hard it is to visualize what it will look like [during the remodeling process],” she says. And now? “We’re very happy with our house.”

By Linda Mack
Photos by TEA2 Architects

Architect: TEA2 Architects
Builder: Über Built


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