A ho-hum 1970s split-level gets an Arts & Crafts makeover
It was this home’s enviable site on the shores of Lake Minnetonka’s Priest Bay that first enticed homeowners Steve and Beth in 2006. They wanted a lake home—but not a 2-plus-hour commute north each weekend. “We fell in love with it,” says Steve. “The rear porch is probably 30 feet from the water.” The waterfront location and the fact that it’s a mere 35 minutes from their home in south Minneapolis sold them on the house.
As they began to furnish the house, with Stickley furniture and other beloved Prairie-era pieces, they began looking at the deep soffits and window casements and musing: Why couldn’t this place be transformed into an Arts & Crafts-style home?
Fortuitously, Steve connected with SALA architect Joseph G. Metzler, who has a special affinity for Arts & Crafts-style himself. Soon, Metzler and fellow SALA architect Steven Buetow began work on the rather non-descript, 1970s split-level. They reimagined the first floor, redesigning the flow and separation of the rooms: a porch and an enclosure with a bench now gives the home’s entry a more welcoming demeanor, a wall of cupboards divides the kitchen from the entry, and what was once a wall between the kitchen and living room has become a series of pillars that separate the spaces without blocking sight lines. Ceiling details define each room, and eliminate the large volume of white space that made the space feel cavernous rather than cozy. The two worked closely with Vujovich Design Build, the contractor on the project, to make this Arts & Crafts gem shine.
❶ From the top
“Ceilings can do a lot for a room,” says architect Joseph Meltzer, “but they’re often a missed opportunity.” He made the most of the ceilings here: The formerly undefined and undistinguished living room ceiling was dropped and defined by Prairie-style trim and indirect cove lighting. The kitchen’s original skylights inspired the Prairie-influenced art-glass panels, designed and built by Steve, the homeowner.
❷ Period details
Steve and Beth carefully selected every finish and design detail in keeping with their theme. The Mica Lamp sconces and floor lamp complement the Prairie-motif trim of the pillars, woodwork, and ceilings. The island’s soapstone has a vintage patina. The kitchen backsplash and the strikingly simple fireplace feature tiles by local tilemaker North Prairie Tileworks, which specializes in handmade tiles in the Arts & Crafts style. The fireplace tile in a bluish green matt-finish and the glossy subway tile in a similar shades in the kitchen maintain the soft, organic palette. Behind the stovetop are three decorative tiles that portray a tree of life, a common period motif.
Not surprisingly, the living room features (mostly new) Stickley pieces—the sofa, end tables, and coffee table, which is a Limbert design for Stickley. The period pottery that lines the fireplace includes (left to right), a Minton vase, circa 1911, Weller vases, a Roseville Pottery vase, Roseville candlesticks, and a vase by local potter Laurie Landry. The large vase displayed to the left of the window is an Ephraim Pottery piece.
Chris Lee is editor of Midwest Home.
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