From the category archives:

Architectural Design in Minneapolis

Only fools rush into this major DIY undertaking.

Painted cabinets are ruling Pinterest these days, since intrepid DIYers love the idea of updating their kitchens with only a few coats of a new color. It seems like a no-brainer project, but this undertaking actually has many potential pitfalls. Avoid these blunders to end up with cabinets you can’t wait to show off:

Read More at 11 Big Mistakes You Make Painting Cabinets

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It’s amazing to look at the photo I took just last August and see how far stadium construction has come in such a short time. The photos were taken from the same spot. It’s also unbelievable how brave these constructions workers are, especially the ones who walk along the top beams. Gives me the shivers just thinking about it!

New Vikings Stadium under construction 2014

 August 2014

New Vikings Stadium 2015

 April 2015


Over the years, home trends come and go. What was once ultra cool is now outdated. Remember those lovely 70’s orange countertops, or avocado green appliances? Most buyers today would shiver at the sight of them, but a simple kitchen remodel could be a home owners saving grace to successfully selling their home and having the buyers jumping for joy. While renovations can help your home sell faster, don’t expect to get much of that money back.

Each year Remodeling magazine comes out with a Cost vs. Value Report which highlights remodeling projects across the nation and by region, comparing their cost to the value retained upon sale of the home. The Twin Cities is one such region which gets its own specific report. Lucky us!

According to the Minneapolis report for upscale homes, the project topping the charts for greatest % of return is siding replacement with fiber-cement board. The next two top projects are garage door replacement and window replacement (vinyl). In contrast, the top projects for mid-range homes are minor kitchen renovations, front door replacement, and the addition of a deck.

It’s interesting that the areas of the home always thought to be the best renovation projects are not the chart toppers. Kitchen renovations get only 57% of their original cost for high-end homes, and one of the lowest bangs for your buck is a master suite addition. Of course home owners want to “live” in their homes and therefore will always do projects that makes their lives simplier, or more luxurious, not necessarily concentrating on if the project will be a good return on their investment.

If you are planning on a future remodel, and want to get an idea on the resale value of your efforts, take a look at the report. If you want to renovate your home for yourself, then does it really matter what the return on investment it? After all, replacing that roof might only get you 39% of your money back, but I am pretty sure having a dry home would trump any desire to recoup your costs.


If you haven’t had the chance yet to view the Parade of Homes, then today is your last chance to check out the newest trends in luxury new home construction. I was able to check out a few in my spare time this week, and I have to say that some of the homes are simply stunning. My favorite by far was the “Dream Home” located in Edina.

Luxury Home Edina Minnesota

Not only does it sit on a fantastic lot, the design inside and out is classic. Designed by Charles Cudd De Novo, one of the premier luxury home builders in the Twin Cities, the home boasts 8700 square feet.

From this home and others on the market, here are some of the newest trends found in luxury homes in the Twin Cities:

  • Deep, rich, and dark hardwood floors. Some almost look black giving a great contrast to the lighter colors of the home
  • Built-in cabinets and bookcases everywhere. Many are made to look like furniture, placed in nooks and along walls. These features are not only classic, but very functional on eliminating clutter and keeping a grand home organized.
  • Marble. For high end homes, granite is no longer the staple. The use of marble for counters and floors is being seen more and more, especially for tiled bathroom floors, tiled luxury showers, and kitchen/bathroom countertops.
  • White cabinetry and trim has made a dramatic comeback with a high end twist. Many of the most expensive homes available today feature white everywhere, which mixes well with dark furniture or colorful accessories.
  • Huge, organized closets worthy of Rachel Zoe.
  • Informal office space open to the home. For instance, in the home above, informal space is part of the huge mudroom off the garage giving easy access to computers and such to family and children.

There are tons of additional features highlighted in the newest luxury homes found in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Edina, and Lake Minnetonka, but if you want a first hand glimpse, take a free day and visit some of the local open houses on weekends throughout the area.

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Contemporary styled homes, or as others might call them “Modern”,  are not the first choice for most home owners in the Twin Cities. Many do exist, but are scattered throughout the Twin Cities. The square construction and angular design are unique, but some times don’t fit the wooded surroundings. With a limited number of buyers that actually like Contemporary Homes in Minneapolis, they aren’t easy to sell.

Below are three of the most expensive Modern homes in the Twin Cities:   

contemporary home at 603 Parkview Terrace, Golden Valley

603 Parkview Terrace, Golden Valley

 Priced at $1.8 Million, this 6400 square foot home was built in 2007 and is currently listed with Remax Results. Its rooftop deck overlooks Wirth Park which is just minutes from downtown Minneapolis. 


contemporary lake minnetonka home

19845 Manor Rd, Deephaven, MN

   Located in Deephaven near Lake Minnetonka, this 2004 constructed home is listed for $1.45 Million by Coldwell Banker Burnet. It boasts almost 4000 square feet and sits on 1.25 acres of land.  


contemporary minneapolis home for sale

2100 W Lake of the Isles, Minneapolis, MN

 Coming in as the most expensive Contemporary home currently for sale, this 5500 square foot home is listed at $3.195 Million with Lakes Sotheby’s International and sits on the Northwest side of Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis.     Sold for $2.61 Million


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Color Trends in Lux LivingWe all love color. Just some of us trend towards specific hues over others. For instance, I’m a blue gal, but red catches my eye too. I just painted one of my bathrooms a grayish blue, giving it seashell accessories, but my bedroom has red bedding and linens, with large floral accents. But many of us like to stay trendy, and seeing as trends are constantly changing, what is going on in the world of color today?

  • Turquoise and Blue– Forget bold and neon blues, a touch of gray is coming into the tone, with more relaxing shades taking center stage. I am seeing a soft turquoise color in custom window treatments and in furniture upholstery, not to mention accessories.
  • Embroidery– looks like embroidered pillows and linens are a new trend, adding a touch of lux to solid colored bedding and furniture, some having beading as well.
  • Shine – to add an extra touch of sparkle, some fabrics have a sheen to them or metallic highlights
  • Browns – while I am not a big fan of brown, the chocolate browns are still hanging around, some with a touch of copper.
  • Grays – we’re talking pale gray colors on walls and furniture which give a calming effect. This let’s you add bright colored accessories for a dramatic look.

What ever the trends are, don’t let it hinder you from picking the colors you love. It’s your home, so enjoy the trends that fit your lifestyle!


The Pillsbury Mansion on Lake Minnetonka has been on the market for 2 years this October. No big surprise that at a price of $53.5 Million, there haven’t been any takers. For luxury uber real estate at this magnitude, it could take five or more years to find the right buyer, especially in Minnesota.

Instead of waiting that period of time out, the owners of “Southways“, the name of the estate, have decided to try the auction route. Sheldon, Good and Co out of Chicago is the auction firm handling the sale, and they are offering the estate as a whole, or as five separate waterfront parcels.

I honestly don’t like the sound of that solution. Nothing like this estate exists, save the James Hill Mansion in Saint Paul. But this mansion sits on a rare property, what with its sweeping grounds, mature landscape, and formal gardens. Who knows how old some of the trees are that grace the property? All around Lake Minnetonka, large parcels of land have been divided up with large homes placed on smaller and smaller lots. It seems to me that the beauty of the area is soon to be dried up with homes as far as the eye can see. It will be interesting to see what happens to this beauty.

Situated on Brackett’s Point, the Pillsbury Estate is a 13 acre gem on Lake Minnetonka, and has only had two owners during its long lifetime. The current owners bought the home in 1991 when the original owner Eleanor Pillsbury, who was 104 years old at the time, died. The current owners hired the Beyer Blinder Belle architectural firm out of New York (known for their restoration work on Grand Central Station and Ellis Island) in 1992 to return the home back to its former glory, costing millions of dollars.

The home is being auctioned via sealed bids which must be delivered to the Auction firm by December 9th, 2009. It can be viewed by appointment only October 22nd, October 28th, November 1st, November 8th, November 18th, November 22nd & November 29th.


Minneapolis Institute of Arts

A few months ago a fellow photographer and I were out shooting night shots in Minneapolis. We stopped by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts as their front facade is lit up with colored lights at night.

Founded in 1883 as the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts, this beautiful Neoclassical building was built in 1915 by the New York architecture firm McKim, Mead, and White. Over the years it has been expanded to meet new demands and art collections.


Save the date to tour homes in the Twin Cities designed by licensed architects and brought to you by the AIA Minnesota chapter. Set for one weekend only, the tour is open September 19-20 from 10 am – 5 pm. Tickets are available online for $25.

This year twenty homes will be on the tour giving attendees the chance to view architectural design and how it can make the difference in a home. Thankfully, the planners have grouped the homes in a way so people can see homes that interest them:

  • “City Growers” features homes in Minneapolis
  • “Love of the Landscape” includes homes sensitive to the landscape surrounding them
  • “Lofty Spaces” feature three lofts in Minneapolis and one in Saint Paul
  • “Green Ideas”
  • “Entertaining Spaces”
  • “Craftsmanship” highlights details in design, woodwork and more
  • “Suburban Redo” lets visitors see how a home can transform from the original design

The tour is comprised of 14 architectural firms from the Twin Cities, varying from 1-50 person offices. It is meant to show visitors the range in talent available and how architectural design can span small jobs to luxury masterpieces.


I was up late last night photographing the Minneapolis skyline with my new camera. This was taken on the banks of the Mississippi River at the base of Stone Arch Bridge. There are tons of great places to shoot Minneapolis and Saint Paul. You just have to go off the beaten path sometimes!