Photos by Corey Gaffer
“They enjoy being Lake Minnetonka residents,” says Dan Nepp, principal at TEA2 Architects, of the retired couple he and his team helped downsize from a historic brewer’s mansion to a light and airy remodeled home. “They love the heritage of the lake and the lake life, and wanted to eventually live in a home more aesthetically resembling a lake house.”
Years earlier, while raising a family in the classical home on the property, the client built a secondary structure knowing he and his wife would eventually remodel it and move in when they were ready to downsize. The pool house/guest house was designed to have a small pool in one wing and a guest bedroom, family room, and kitchenette in the other wing.
The couple engaged TEA2 a few years ago to expand the 1,900-square-foot, shingle-style structure with white trim and low-pitched roofs. “The client wanted the remodel to relate to the old main house and a barn on the property,” says Matthew Erickson, senior project manager at TEA2, “but with a brighter aesthetic and with more openness to the outdoors.”
The couple also wished to bring their family heirlooms, artwork, antiques, and existing furnishings with them, along with their love of historic detailing and their traditional preferences. “As much as they enjoyed their many years in the old house, because they appreciate homes with history and value the beauty in that, they were ready for more natural light and a more open sensibility about how they want to live now,” explains interior designer Sue Weldon.
TEA2 transformed the footprint of the original pool area into new living and sitting rooms while adding square footage for a dining area and an office. The team added a 3,100-square-foot second level—with bedrooms, large dressing rooms and closets, and baths overlooking the lake—that’s supported by fieldstone piers and columns (which harken back, in material and structure, to the old house). Those overhangs create sheltered lakeside porches and outdoor living areas on the first level, where the clients repurposed their existing outdoor furniture. The contrast between the home’s refined millwork and the fieldstone, Nepp says, “creates a nice tension between formal and informal aspects of the house.”
Large expanses of glass wrap around the new home, blending effortlessly with the exterior. A breezeway between the house’s two wings was transitioned into an entry with walnut floors and a walnut-trim staircase. An original circular window was repurposed as a new design element to bring natural light into the stairwell. The new entry separates the private and public areas of the home while opening toward the back of the house with views of the lake. Other existing windows were reused and transom bands added to bring in additional daylight and add texture to the exterior.
“One of our biggest challenges was repurposing the existing building while incorporating the clients’ new program, and ending up with the right arrangement of light, spaces, passageways, and storage,” Erickson says. “It was a bit of a jigsaw puzzle.” Nepp adds, “The resulting structure is a unique hybrid, as we didn’t want to be compromised by salvaging the original footprint, which was valuable, and forcing an oddball layout. Everything fits together perfectly, with its own logic, creating the right rooms and the right light. Even the spaces in the back of the stairwell—the elevator, mudroom, dog room, and pantry—are tight and well-zoned.”
The interior features “primarily white-painted millwork, [with] cabinetry, window trim, baseboards, ceiling moldings, paneling, built-ins, and detailing from the old house carried over into the new home,” Weldon explains. “We incorporated historic elements into the new house and provided an updated sensibility that offered a lightness and freshness the client was seeking.”
The kitchen cabinets and island, with a soapstone countertop, resemble standalone furnishings “with turned components that are very pretty and harken back to what you’d find on a furniture piece,” Weldon says. An oversized door in the kitchen provides easy access to dining alfresco. Decorative light fixtures were brought over from the old house or sourced from vendors specializing in period pieces and traditional elements.
Seventy-five percent of the furniture in the library, living room, and family room was brought over from the old house after being reupholstered or reconstructed. The dining room is furnished with existing pieces, while the living room has a new pair of sofas and a paisley-print side chair alongside tables and accessories from the old house. As requested, the new home features the couple’s existing treasures—grounding the breezy, clean aesthetic in tradition.
Draperies in the family room are Osborne and Little; Ralph Lauren in the living and dining rooms; and Schumacher in the bedroom. Wilton carpets cover the wood floors with custom rugs from Woven Arts. A rug from the other house—featuring that home’s darker, more autumnal color palette—blankets the floor in the library.
“Much of the furniture—especially the antiques—they collected as a couple,” Nepp says. “We planned and sized specific spots for those items in the house design. They have enjoyed a lifetime of collecting items that are full of memories, and they have emotional connections to artwork, so we positioned those pieces in key places. That was so important to the clients, especially in a new house with a lot of glass, light, and openness.”
The clients had worked with TEA2 in the past and “appreciated Dan, Matthew, and their team’s thoughtfulness about details and designing a project with great integrity, functionality, and beautiful design,” says Weldon, who, along with Crown Construction Co., was brought onto the project by TEA2. “My job was to support the details Dan and Matthew were bringing to the project and incorporate them into the interior.”
She adds, “Working on this project was a joy. It was a collaboration of an architectural team that understood what the client wanted and a client who appreciated working with a team that valued their desire for a really thoughtful project.” The result is a brighter, open, window-filled home for lakeside entertaining and modern living—imbued with the historic details, treasured furniture, and collected artworks brought from a beloved former home.