Minneapolis Bungalow

A sure sign of a successful project is when the clients call you back for phase two. I was the lead carpenter on a master suite addition for this south Minneapolis bungalow. That first phase reorganized the first floor layout, created a beautiful kitchen,  (w/ custom cabinets by Choice Wood) and a master suite on the second level.

5 years later they called me back to remodel the basement, the two remaining bathrooms and attend to a “laundry list” of other upgrades. When presented with the plan I suggested we add a heat recovery ventilator since we had tightened up the house considerably.

Here are a couple of shots of the finished product.



 Finished Basement

 Main Bath

Marble in the Laundry

Last Date

Last date?  Well, this was my last date as designer and installation technician under the moniker of Certified Ikea Design and Installation Specialist.  (the qualifying term being “Certified”)  What a great dance, though.  I think this kitchen turned out to be quite the beauty.  I just finished it Saturday.  It’s interesting how a design begins.  I left my first meeting with the client with a few ideas–  Japanese, white, Ikea Abstract cabinets, a 4 foot wide Liebherr refrigerator, the beautiful trees of Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis outside the windows of her future open-plan revision of  a classically confused 1970’s pseudo split level home.  All this as well as one cool japanese Muji mechanical pencil I walked out with.  My client had some major ambitions as well as a terrific vision.

So, I suppose the criteria listed seems pretty simple and clear, but there is always a challenge fitting desires into a limited space and there are always limits. Sometimes the subjective idea is just a touchstone or a place to begin, identifying the client with a sensibility and stylistic preference.  Working the space is a process, sometimes offering solutions that stray from the subjective beginnings, but are more like what they wanted than what they thought. Great resolutions can often be a surprise.  The only fast rule that I regularly return to is “always opt for the simpler solution” (even if it requires extra work). 

I knew that the new floor plan was to be open and new windows would bring in a spectacular forest view as a dominant element to consider.  I wanted a sweeping lateral motion and a very open feel.  The client wanted a peninsula with seating and had already picked out the sexy Euro appliances.

We did go through our share of variations and revisions, honing the relationships, setting the visual rhythms of the doors and working out cabinet placements and functions.  Kitchens require a lot of care.  There is a lot going on. Multiple systems all come together and they need to work perfectly.  Restrictions arise where you least expect them and then there is the all important budget.  The final solution must feel “right” to the client, the most important “system” to fit in.

I don’t know where “Japan” went, but we do have a clean precise minimalist look.  The client chose a beautiful custom concrete with crushed glass countertop. ( made by Dave Foley of Mankato, MN http://www.foleyconstructioninc.com/It’s a beautiful grey/tan color. The floor is a knotty oak engineered plank-style flooring which runs through the house.  Together these elements bring the right warmth into the room to harmonize perfectly with the forest views outside.  Hey, that’s kind of Japanese. 


More on Barb’s House…

Barb wanted to make her house as efficient and low impact as possible. She was also determined to include many non-standard  products or features as practical. Some on her list we threw out but we included a surprising number and added others as we went. I thought it would be useful to list some of those unique features:

Site + Location

  • Centrally located on an infill lot
  • Permeable paved walkways
  • Raised gardens
  • 1400 gallon rain water storage system
  • Rain garden


  • Integrated footing and foundation drainage
  • Faswall ICF system (R-23)
  • Flyash concrete
  • FSC certified framing
  • Fiberglass double and triple pane windows
  • R-60 foam + fiberglass roof insulation (roof)
  • Heavy gauge metal roof
  • EPDM flat roofs for green roof planting
  • Paperless drywall


*    260 SF solar thermal array w/ 240 gal storage for both space and domestic heating
*    2.8 kW photovoltaic system
*    Infloor hydronic heat both levels
*    High efficiency boiler w/ instant domestic hot water as backups
*    Low flow fixtures
*    Energy star appliances
*    Passive cooling tower with interior “borrowed light”
*    Integrated HRV and AC system (high efficiency of course)


Other features

  • Polished concrete floor (lower level)
  • Bamboo floor on gypcrete  (upper level)
  • Recycled kitchen & bath cabinets with
  • Recycled granite tops and
  • Marmoleum vanity tops
  • Central vacuum, vented to exterior
  • Clay finish interior walls
  • LED cabinet lights
  • Low VOC finishes throughout

That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. If you have any questions feel free to post them here, or contact us for discussion or even a tour!


Barb’s Green House

I had dinner at a client’s house last night. It was my first social visit since we met in 2008 look over her new house plans. Her idea was to contract the work herself, but wisely realized that having an experienced construction manager would be a worthwhile expense. From dealing with the bank, the subs and the inspectors she would have someone on her side who had been there before, who understood the terminology and would advocate on her behalf. We hit it off and I was hired.
Now two years later I’m sitting in a home that I built from the ground up. Not that I did ALL the work mind you, but as things developed I did a lot. From detailing the drawings and hiring the subs, to insulating the slab, framing the interior, installing the windows, building the finished stairs, putting in the recycled cabinets and building a few new ones to match. I’d had a hand in nearly every decision, and every square inch inside and out. The client was the best: steady, rolling with the natural ups and downs of a large custom project and kicking the project in the a$$ when that needed to be done. She moved in before Thanksgiving 2009.
So it was one year ago this month that our project won the 2009 Solar House of the Year by the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society. There are still a few things on our list which we will complete as money allows but for now it’s a spacious, snug and cheep to operate home for Barb & her mom.
I’ll be blogging some details about this project as time allows, and rest assured, they’re details you won’t want to miss…

We are the pros from Dover

You _know_ the construction economy is in recovery mode right?

Bill and I have been looking for ways to better connect with our clients and friends and one of our clients suggested we move from a static web format to the more dynamic web log format. Look for images, ideas, projects and solutions. We promise to keep it fresh and promise you won’t be disappointed.