Imprint Architecture and Design & Hagstrom Builder Craft the ‘Yes House’

For an active young family, a sustainable remodel and addition modernize their forever home
Clean lines, expansive windows, and industrial touches come together to create a “mountain modern” aesthetic on the exterior of this sustainable home.

Photo by Landmark Photography

When a community-minded, outdoorsy couple with three kids moved to a 1997 house on 6 lakeside acres near Marine on St. Croix, they didn’t consider a redo for a good 10 years. Then came the uncertainty of 2020. “They knew this was their forever house, but [it] wasn’t functioning the way they needed it to with three kids,” says architect Jeremy Imhoff, owner and principal at Imprint Architecture and Design in Stillwater. “They didn’t want to have to travel to an office or gym, and they didn’t want to disturb their property.” They also wanted to source services and products locally.

“We couldn’t have agreed more,” continues Sara Imhoff, owner and principal at Imprint. From there on, “the spirit of the project was the ‘Yes House.’ Every idea we threw out, the clients said, ‘Yeah, that’s a great idea. Let’s do it.’ Everyone was energized.” The clients had their own ideas, too, she adds, “and the process of us trusting each other made the outcome sing.”

At the heart of the home, the open kitchen, seamlessly integrated into the main living spaces, beckons as a hub for gathering and entertaining.

Photo by Corey Gaffer

The house’s existing location on the site was spot on, says Sara, and the bedroom wing to the north served the family well. However, the couple wanted a primary suite on the main level, and the two-car garage and small entry took daylight away from the living room and kitchen. “Our solution was to retain the existing bedroom wing, maintain the footprint of the main living spaces, add a new primary bedroom suite, and relocate and expand the garage,” says Jeremy, “leaving the wooded site largely undisturbed and the driveway and septic field in place.”

Wood floors and ceilings infuse the great room with warmth, while concrete walls and ceiling-high windows enforce the modern-industrial vibe.

Photo by Corey Gaffer

Then came the design details. A large panelized concrete wall divided the renovated private bedroom wing from the new great room and living spaces. The panelized concrete is not only a signature design element inside the home, but the panels—manufactured locally by Living Stone Concrete Design—are also used as cladding over a rain-screen assembly on the home’s exterior. Not local but selected for their longevity, ironwood siding and decking complete the look.

The new floor-to-ceiling and clerestory windows and sliding doors, fabricated by Kolbe Windows & Doors in Wausau, Wisconsin, are maintenance-free aluminum, durable, and highly energy-efficient. They also bring in loads of natural light, allow for cross-ventilation, and frame spectacular views of the surrounding woods, lake, and gardens. In the kitchen, the windows overlook the new pool and sport court. “For parents with three kids, that visibility makes their lives a lot easier,” says Sara. On the second level, the cantilevered framing of the east facade lets the family feel as though they are floating in the treetops.

A stunning stainless-steel staircase by Bold Metal Work connects the upstairs sky deck directly with backyard amenities.

Photo by Corey Gaffer

The newly revamped great room draws the outside in through high ceilings and expansive windows. The new roof’s 5-foot cantilevered overhangs shade the south-facing great room during the summer, allow in abundant light during other seasons, and create horizontal sightlines that fit with the homeowners’ desired “mountain modern” design aesthetic, all while exposed structural steel beams and columns add industrial flair. On the exterior, the stainless-steel staircase—which spirals from a sky deck to the pool and outdoor living spaces—along with the guardrails and canopies, were locally crafted by Bold Metal Work in Minneapolis.

Sustainability was another big yes for the clients. In fact, the architectural team and Hagstrom Builder reused 60% of the home’s existing foundation, 30% of its framing, and some of the home’s existing hardwood flooring, fixtures, appliances, and furniture. Radiant slab heating and a high-velocity air handler provide thermal comfort. In the kitchen, the rift-sawn white oak cabinets were made locally by Eull Woodworks in St. Michael, while the French oak flooring came from a family distributor in Chicago. The walnut island countertop is durable and gorgeous, and the large pantry nearby stores weeks of supplies.

In the main-level study, a communal-style desk stretches the length of the room, catering to family members’ workspace needs.

Photo by Corey Gaffer

“We decided on products that have a softness to them but could also take a hit,” Sara explains of the selections. “Their ‘mountain modern’ aesthetic is clean but not sacred, and they love the merging of the industrial and refined.”

Imprint also said yes to accommodating the family’s home-based lifestyle. The main-floor office includes a long desk at which every family member can gather for work or study, and a bench at the end of the office provides a lakeside view for reading or contemplation. Another wall has a recessed channel for artwork so the family can create its own gallery, while the primary suite provides a quiet retreat for the couple.

The bright primary bedroom provides both seclusion and scenic vistas.

Photo by Corey Gaffer

The team also updated the lower level to include a new bar area with a wine room and hidden whiskey room (clad in tobacco barn wood the couple had used in an earlier renovation), and a new exercise room is separated from the game room by a screen wall. “The spaces throughout the house are defined, but flow into one another and create open relationships between the interior spaces and landscape outdoors,” Jeremy says. The downstairs, for instance, opens to the pool area, screen porch, and other outdoor living spaces.

Downstairs, a game room offers billiards, ping-pong, a bar, and TV lounge.

Photo by Corey Gaffer

One of the project’s biggest challenges, he adds, was “stitching the old together with the new. The easiest thing to do is raze and start over, but that wasn’t an option.” Inserting modern design elements into a nondescript suburban structure also required technical expertise and aesthetic savvy, including creating long overhangs for the roof line and window walls. Working with community contractors and local product manufacturers lessened the pandemic’s impact on supply chain woes, explains Sara, “when prices could change in a day, and we would learn materials we had selected wouldn’t show up for a year.”

The result is a well-crafted home that perfectly caters to the clients’ wishes, says Jeremy. Whether it’s a home base for hunting, fishing, skiing, boating, biking, or running; hosting pool parties and entertaining guests; or working and learning, the family can do it all from their Yes House. A new three-car garage, which Imprint angled to connect with the house, for vehicles including ATVs necessitated a redefined mudroom for sports equipment. “The gear room was such fun to design with the clients,” Sara says.

And when it’s time to say yes to relaxation, the family can gather on the sky deck in the treetops and reminisce about their time vacationing in the cloud forests of Ecuador, which lend their name to the family’s other appellation for their renovated sanctuary: Cloud Forest House.

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