Photos by Wing Ta
“I’ve been collecting antiques and reclaiming old buildings throughout my career,” says Gary Aülik, founder of Aülik Design Build in Minneapolis. While half of his business is new construction (he admits to his fair share of teardowns, love for contemporary design, and passion for well-used spaces), Aülik has also been restoring and reclaiming history in dozens of Twin Cities residential projects for 40 years.
After all, Aülik and his team strive to bring a depth and breadth of knowledge to clients, in order to address their specific needs with the best solutions. “Our customers always say, ‘We wouldn’t change a thing,’ regardless of the style of their home,” Aülik says. When it came to his own home, though, he says, “small, charming, and exquisitely detailed would win out over a large sheetrock box.”
This is partially due to the historic materials he salvaged from homes over the years, in addition to the family heirlooms and singular antiques Aülik had in storage. “I recognize the value of such things,” he explains, recalling two influences: his father, who owned a machine shop with a focus on salvaged and remanufactured products; and his uncle in Madison, Wisconsin, who owned an antiques shop.
A 1920s-era chicken coop on Glen Lake, which had been built onto over the years, was the perfect starting point for Aülik’s new family home. Staying within the home’s original footprint, the team tore off the exterior, gutted the interior, added several upper-floor dormers, and created a new main-level entryway. A sizable garage (or barn, if you will) provides both storage and privacy, all while framing the home’s south-facing view of the lake.
Clad in salvaged Kasota stone from Mankato with windows sourced from Building Materials Outlet Midwest in Eagan, the home features a contemporary, open-plan main living space as well as an owners’ suite on the first floor. Aülik, his fiancée Sarah, her preteen children, and their team reconfigured the upstairs with bedrooms for the kids. “Sarah and I wanted a family home,” he says, “but I strongly believe that smaller is better. We made every inch work.”
Throughout the home, unique light fixtures, millwork details, cabinetry, a walnut mantel, and intricately carved headboards—many from the 1800s—add layers of historic value. “The house serves both style masters: It’s contemporary in terms of flow and programming, but historic in its furnishings, finishes, and detailing,” Aülik says.
Creating this home for his family with their input and lots of elbow grease, he says, “gave me the opportunity to finally bring out my antique furnishings and source and reclaim old materials, all while renovating a property that’s historic in nature.” He adds, laughing, “Sarah and the kids would say, ‘Let’s never do this again!’, but we’re very content in this home. We did what we set out to do and can even see aging in place here.”