Lakeside Tree House
This Independence contemporary is anything but ordinary
By Heidi Losleben
Photo by ken gutmaker
Her wish list included lots of windows, an efficient floor plan, and clean, bright spaces. “I like modern, and I wanted to live on a lake that didn’t have a lot of restrictions because I knew the house wouldn’t fit in,” she says. She began her search for the perfect site by grabbing a map, sticking a pin in Minneapolis, where she works, and creating a 25-mile circle in which to find a lot on a lake. Lake Sarah in the city of Independence fell within that radius, and Lindberg quickly found a lot that fit her desire for privacy and magnificent lake views.
Finding an architect was a little trickier. “If you want to build modern, there are only so many architects in the area to choose from,” she says. Lindberg considered four before she found a match at the Minneapolis-based design firm redlurered. She worked with architectural designers Scott Muellner, Connie Lindor, and Martha McQuade. (Muellner and Lindor now work for Opus Corporation in Minnetonka and Julie Snow Architects in Minneapolis, respectively.)
Though Lindberg and her team were ready to begin working, the site presented its own unique challenges. “It was a tough lot to build on,” Muellner admits. “It’s pretty steeply sloped.” The architects created a floor plan that worked with the hilly terrain.
Originally, Lindberg envisioned two boxes joined together by a skyway-type hallway. “Scott mushed the boxes together, creating a lowercase t-shape, and suggested we suspend the living room above the patio,” Lindberg says. “I thought that was so cool.” With that simple “mush,” she was sold on the idea. Construction began in the spring of 2005 and was completed by Thanksgiving. “The contractors did a good job of sticking to the schedule,” McQuade says.
Another key player on Lindberg’s team was Marv Michlitsch of Michlitsch Builders in Plymouth. Michlitsch was Lindberg’s go-to man in terms of “non-sexy stuff, like insulation,” she says. “He was great. He would ask me things like, ‘Where do you want the seams in the patio ceiling?’—stuff I wouldn’t normally even think about. It was like having your dad build your house.”
And what a house they built. The living room boasts 12-foot ceilings, walnut floors, and floor-to-ceiling windows that maximize views of the lake. “In the summertime, it feels like a tree house,” Lindberg says. Customized walnut cabinetry, a gas fireplace, a large area rug, and window sheers create warmth and soften the living room. A bright pink throw draped over a chair and a pillow on the couch adds a splash of color. To avoid having to buy all new furniture, Lindberg went into the project with ideal dimensions for every room and a color scheme created to take advantage of furniture she already owned.
Photo by Ken Gutmaker
The main-floor bathroom—including the back of the door—is painted a bold, fuchsia pink. “When you’re inside with the door closed you feel like you’re either in a club or a lunatic asylum,” Lindberg laughs. So what, exactly, is up with the pink? “I’m not a girly-girl, but I do like pink,” she says. When it was time to pick the color of the house’s columns, it came down to celadon or pink. Lindberg found the celadon a little too “toxic green.”
“Kelly really likes color,” says Muellner. “We felt the body of the house should be more subtle, and we used a bright color as an accent.” Lindberg is not a serious cook, so the small, galley-style kitchen suits her needs. The long quartz counter doubles as an island and eating area; a pullout pantry provides plenty of storage. A Miele dishwasher, glass backsplash, and oversized, undermount Blanco sink give the space a state-of-the-art feel. At dusk, the sunset casts a soft glow over the adjacent dining room that looks out over a wetland.
Lindberg’s home office is bright even on gray winter days thanks to north- and east-facing windows. It also offers wonderful views of the lake. An open staircase leads downstairs to the lower-level walkout. Lindberg uses part of the space as a craft/sewing room. She can also close a pocket door to create a guest room. In-floor heat throughout keeps toes toasty when the weather turns cool.
The owner’s bedroom and bath are also downstairs. “I wanted my bedroom to be in the basement because I hate being hot in the summer,” Lindberg says. Despite its many windows, there’s not a single curtain, shade, or blind to be found in the basement. A sliding-glass door opens out to a patio facing Lake Sarah. With its comfy outdoor couch, wood fireplace, and eating area, the patio feels like a natural extension of the house. Occasionally Lindberg even sleeps there during the summer. “It’s my favorite part of the house,” she says.
These days, whether sitting on the patio, working from her home office, or rising with the sun, Lindberg is pleased with the outcome of her vision for the house. “The process of building was stressful but fun,” she says. “It’s easier when you know exactly what you want.”
Heidi Losleben is a St. Paul freelance writer.
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