Top-Floor Transformation: Elevated Living at the Carlyle

A top-floor transformation shines a spotlight on sweeping city views

Photos by Spacecrafting

Inside the top-floor penthouse suite at the Carlyle, multiple seating areas and floor-to-ceiling windows take advantage of panoramic views that overlook Minneapolis’ Mill District.

While many couples opt to downsize their home after the kids move out, few choose a high-rise in downtown Minneapolis as the setting for their next adventure. But for the new owners of the penthouse suite at the Carlyle—an art deco-inspired condominium located on the Mill District riverfront—the decision to trade in their Orono family home for the hustle and bustle of city life was an easy one, thanks to the lively atmosphere and proximity to restaurants and shops. The couple had already been living in the building for more than a year when the top-floor unit came up for sale, and the two jumped at the chance to enjoy lofty views and more space to entertain.

However, that additional space would have to be created since the unit—while quite spacious at just under 3,000 square feet—had a choppy, confined layout that was divided into smaller, separate areas. Heavy moldings, dark trim, and dropped soffits were used to define rooms and hide ductwork, but they also blocked views through the space and to the outside. “The entire unit had a much more inward-focused feel,” says architect Bob Le Moine of PKA Architecture. “It wasn’t about the views or anything outside, when that’s really the whole point and benefit of living on the top floor.”

The goal of the remodel was to take full advantage of the incredible three-sided views of the Mississippi River and surrounding cityscape, which includes landmarks such as the Stone Arch Bridge, Gold Medal Park, and beyond that, new residential tower ELEVEN. To start, “we completely gutted the space,” says Ian Alderman, senior project manager at Streeter Custom Builder. “We took out all the interior walls we could—ceilings, mechanical, electrical—and started fresh. That’s the blessing and curse of condominium living: Everything is integral, but you’re confined to the space that’s given to you.”

Ductwork was reworked to allow ceiling heights to be raised (forming one continuous plane that connects the main living spaces), and several concrete shear walls that couldn’t be removed were artfully concealed within the new kitchen area. Placed in the middle of the condominium to anchor the design, the kitchen is now the entertaining hub of the home. Out front, a 17-foot white quartz island takes center stage, offset by a striking backdrop of dark-stained cabinetry with an inset of floating shelves that echoes the design of the island. Tucked behind is what the design-build team fondly calls the “true” kitchen—a galley-style prep area perfect for containing clutter.

“It’s a unique design meant to maximize entertaining: There’s space out front for guests to sit and hang out, but it’s easy to hide the mess by keeping dishes and appliances in the back,” explains Le Moine. “It has really been the favorite area of everyone involved.”

Interiors were designed to be modern but comfy, according to interior designer Brooke Voss. White walls, light wood floors, and plentiful mirrors keep the space light and airy, while elegant light fixtures and sleek black window frames add a touch of drama. Near the entryway, a floating wall unable to be removed was finished with authentic Venetian plaster by local artist Darril Otto and converted into a beautiful backdrop to showcase art. Contemporary furniture selections were paired with classic pieces to create a balanced sense of timeless modernity—particularly evident in the sitting room, where four sculptural B&B Italia chairs make a stylish statement.

“Those chairs are definitely more modern, but they’re paired with a classic concrete table, a beautiful wool rug, and hand-blown sconces,” says Voss. “Those details help keep the more contemporary pieces from feeling too cold or harsh.”

A high-contrast color palette, classic furnishings, luxury materials, and modern paintings, sculptures, and fixtures invite an airy essence of timelessness into the near-3,000-square-foot contemporary condominium—designed, at its core, to maximize entertainment opportunities for the Orono couple who resides there.

Bedroom areas were tucked away at the ends of the U-shaped floor plan for maximum privacy. The main bedroom suite was reconfigured to enjoy views of the Guthrie Theater and U.S. Bank Stadium, and the two guest beds and baths are located adjacent to a roomy office for work-from-home convenience. Paintings and sculptures from the clients’ treasured collections were layered in throughout as the perfect finishing touches.

“The owners were involved from start to finish and had a really critical eye for details—from where to place light switches down to where the seams and grain of the wood that wraps the kitchen landed,” says Voss. “Since they put such an incredible amount of time into planning their new home, they were even more thrilled with the result.”

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