The client purchased a home on the west shore of Cedar Lake in Minneapolis. The home is perched on a bluff and has uninterrupted views of the lake and downtown skyline. The home was to undergo a major renovation leaving only a small portion of the existing home. We were brought into the process by the projects architect to help with viewsheds, drainage, impermeable surface limitations, parking concerns, topography and to help marry the outside of the home with the inside as many of the same features are used for both.

The design process involved the challenging selection of a basalt flooring which was used indoors and out. After this important selection was made, we could begin designing the project within the many confines the zoning lot setbacks and impermeable surface challenges. The main hardscapes of the project are all installed as permeable solutions. Terraces and the auto court are installed on a bed of clear rock and rainwater is directed though open joints into the ground for easy recycling and no runoff. Roof water is captured in catch boxes and directing into drywells where it seeps back into the ground. This includes a rain chain near front door which reads as a beautiful, functional design feature. These specific water solutions were an important piece of working with the city to get the project permitted.

A large custom metal fire feature is the centerpiece of the front terrace. It is made of steel and powder coated black to match the metal feature on the home. It has a 6-foot-long burner that has a beautiful line of fire that dances about. Seat walls flank both sides of the front terrace with the stone patio treads turned vertical and capped with thermal bluestone. A dining table and smaller seating arrangement mimic the furniture style used inside the home. A freestanding gas grill is tucked out of view from inside the home onto patio. The large space lends itself well to entertaining groups large and small.

The front entrance of the home has the largest direct connection inside and out. We used the same basalt tiles to create a large entryway which runs adjacent to an indoor hallway which is all glass. Whether you are inside or out, the feeling that is created is a feeling of space and connection to the outdoors. To add greenspace, we added a small Japanese Maple as an upright element with groundcover beneath. This allows for landscape lighting to illuminate the way to the front door in the evening.

An auto court replaced a partially tucked-in garage. The alley has a substantial grade up to the new garage which left some topography challenges. These were solved by creating retaining walls of burnished block installed in stack bond taken from a que of the large chimney and egress window well. The walls are capped with thermal bluestone to tie all of the design elements together nicely. Bluestone is used to create a staircase which leads guests from the auto court up to the main entrance of the home. The bluestone elements have a subtle contrast to the darker basalt of the walking surfaces and the white burnished walls. The overhang of the caps and creates a place to disguise under cap lights which are stunning in the evening. A neutral concrete parking surface blends right in and does not distract from the overall presence of the home.

Simple, low maintenance plantings support the modern clean lines of the landscape. Several large custom fabricated powder-coated raised planters were strategically placed to add easily accessible vegetable containers. Upright evergreens and clump aspens were installed for privacy along the narrow side yard to offer privacy. The aspens are up-light which creates a stunning look from inside the home or out in the yard.

The goals for this project were achieved and the homeowners are thrilled with their new indoor/outdoor space. The landscape design seamlessly connects the home to the landscape. And, just in time to work from home!

Project Architect: PKA Architecture, Craig Martin, AIA, NCARB
Home Contractor: Marsden Building & Remodeling

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