Reconfiguring the kitchen and dining room opened both to the light. Walnut, stainless steel, glass, and marble create a sleek-yet-inviting area for food preparation and formal dining.
It was the site as much as the house that excited the buyer. Perched atop a hill in Edina, the house overlooked wetlands, terraced gardens, a gently sloping lawn, and mature trees. The buyer could envision walls of windows, through which she’d observe the natural surroundings, and a new stairway encased in glass connecting the main and lower levels. But could the house become what she imagined?
She showed it to an interior designer she knew. “What do you think?” she asked. Talla Skogmo concurred that the property was amazing: “The site was huge and glorious and gorgeous and private and secluded.” The buyer then posed the question to architect Paul Hannan, who assured her the house had potential as well.
Floor plan before the remodel.
So even before making an offer on the house, the buyer had begun assembling the team to transform it, calling on experts with whom she had worked before—and trusted—at Talla Skogmo Interior Design and SALA Architects. Soon Erotas Building Corp. and Keenan & Sveiven Landscape Architecture came on board as well.
Floor plan after the remodel.
Previous owners had turned the house, which began life as a walkout rambler, into a two-story, and added a main-floor family room and architectural touches such as crown molding, arches, and columns. The house was solid and spacious. But all agreed it didn’t fully take advantage of the site. “It was internally rather than externally focused,” Hannan observes. And it didn’t offer what the now-owner, an empty nester, wanted: main-floor living and a more open, modern feel.
The interior designer worked with the owners to find new spots for furniture the couple already owned and loved, such as these two Barcelona chairs.
With owner and interior designer very much engaged, Hannan set to work, reconceiving the main level in terms of a public area with two large rooms and a private area that includes a new master bedroom, laundry room, and his and hers baths, closets, and studies. “The house is laid out beautifully to have those spaces be very separate,” the owner says.
A new wall of windows allows views of gardens formerly hidden by heavy cabinetry. Strategically placed chairs offer a vista of a nearby wetland.
The kitchen is the centerpiece of one of the now light-filled rooms, and includes a banquette for formal dining and two sitting areas. Hannan replaced cabinetry on one wall and added windows to let in morning sun. Two islands made of walnut define the space as well as serve needed functions. One, with bar seating and stovetop, allows for food preparation and informal dining. The other, wrapped in marble, serves as a buffet. Cabinets on the perimeters are painted white and conceal kitchen gadgetry, and a walk-in pantry hides behind a “secret” panel in a passageway. “I didn’t want the kitchen to look like a kitchen,” the owner says.
With a redone pool and patio area as well as new walls of glass, the house now takes advantage of its spectacular setting beside a wetland.
With two walls of windows, the living room offers vistas of woods, the newly landscaped pool area, and the wetlands beyond, where on a spring morning five wild turkeys parade. Anchoring one end is a wood-paneled alcove displaying a favorite painting. “That painting was very important to her, so we were very careful we had a wall for it,” says Skogmo, who notes inspiration for the alcove was the Four Seasons bar in New York.
His study, with its Old English oak bookcases and paneling, is a private, cozy oasis just across the hall from hers.
A central hallway leads from the public area to his and hers studies. Both baths, dressing areas, and closets are accessible from the master bedroom. There, the bed and side tables, designed by Skogmo, lend the space symmetry and sophistication.
A painting from the owners’ extensive collection hangs at this junction, where it can be appreciated from multiple angles.
In the house’s lower level, one stall of the old garage was turned into a large informal entryway, where a redone stairway and new elevator now offer easier access to the main floor. Light pours into a new glass-walled terrace room off the once-dark family room. And glass doors open onto a blue stone patio.
The new spiral staircase seems to float in a tower of glass.
The focal point of the house is the gently spiraling stairway envisioned by the owner, conceived by Hannan, and built by master stair builder Jonathon Scott of JDS Stair Building. Seeming to almost float unattached in the window-lined space (Hannan directed the builder to attach it only at the top and bottom) and crowned with a Lindsay Adelman light fixture, the structure seems like sculpture.
Overall, the home feels cohesive, which Hannan credits to teamwork. “We have all worked together to achieve this beautiful result,” he says. He attended to details such as referencing the design of panels in the old entryway in new parts of the house. The owner ensured that windows were placed to perfectly frame views. Skogmo found spaces for prized possessions, furnishings, and artwork. The builder mocked up the stairway before constructing it. “Everything was so thoughtfully done,” sums up Erotas project coordinator Deb Carney.
Although it now has a modern sensibility, the house hasn’t entirely shed its past. “The house started as a ’50s rambler and turned into a stucco country house,” the owner says. “We envisioned the next generation of how this house might live and manifest itself.”
By Carmen Peota. Photos by Susan Gilmore