A vast improvement in form and function was simply a matter of envisioning beyond the obvious and working the numbers.
Isn’t the home of your dreams supposed to be perfect in every way? You’ve invested a lot of thought and research, chosen the best builder you can afford and poured over every detail from foundation to finish only to find that even a custom build with a healthy budget can miss the mark. It happens. Decisions have to be made, not always by choice but because of scheduling, supply chains, code restrictions and more.
This home in beautiful Edina, Minnesota is Robyn Dhein’s dream home, perched in an idyllic setting. The only problem was that the home and the idyllic setting were not well connected. The transition from indoors to out was awkward and inconvenient. Granted, the builder had done his best to design a deck and stairway that were compliant with the city’s restrictive codes for hardcover and stairway square footage. And he accomplished the mission of access between house and yard, creating a deck large enough to hold the grill and stairs long enough to reach the ground. It was OK at first. The owners’ young children and aging dog could now make their way in and out; the chef could grill. Done.
Not so fast. In little time, the owners identified hurdles and hassles with the design:
The run of stairs from deck to the yard seemed like a journey more than a connection.
The porch felt confining and didn’t flow well to the outside—even though it was outside.
The deck wasn’t large enough for a grill and guests. One of them had to go.
The deck railings and porch’s low walls obstructed the view to the yard, yet neither feature obstructed the neighbors’ view of the owners on their porch.
The sight of a big old grill cover from the kitchen island (often Robyn’s office space when she works from home) was neither attractive nor inspiring.
Porch season was too short; screens make its use highly dependent upon the weather.
The whole of these problems certainly imposed on the fun and convenience of spending time outdoors, as well as entertaining friends and family. And this was going to call for a combination of landscaping and carpentry work.
That’s a pretty long list of problems, especially for a fairly new custom-built home—problems largely due to matters out of anyone’s control. Rules are rules, numbers don’t lie, you can’t fight City Hall and all that, right? Well maybe, maybe not.
Undeterred, this homeowner sought the counsel of Mom’s Design Build and worked with Senior Designer, Becca Bastyr (who happens to be a math whiz as well as an award-winning designer). She knew there had to be an alternate plan—a creative solution that respected even the toughest of restrictions, yet provided a happy ending to the dream. Ms. Bastyr dug into the specifics of Edina’s stringent codes, measured twice and designed once. Problems solved! Check out the fabulous, functional outcome!
The shortest distance between two points
Perhaps the most magical part of the plan was to reduce the number of steps between two fixed elevations: the deck and the yard. Bastyr cleverly “levitated” a section of the lawn by creating a low-maintenance, permeable surface (topping the area with Xgrass synthetic turf) as a comfortable and attractive transition area—a mezzanine, if you will. This plan kept the stair cover down to 38 sf (with 50 being the maximum allowed). Bonus: No mowing required, and the grill has a new, happy home.
An ultimate transition from shelter to nature
Here in mosquito country, we love our screen porches, which allow us an outdoor experience with protection from bugs. But porches have boundaries and only partially connect us to nature. To manage the ever-changing weather and afford a longer porch season, while at the same time creating an “open-space concept” with the deck, Bastyr removed the short wall of the porch and replaced the screen with Amazing EZ Screens. Look how well the new, longer windows suit the house’s architecture! Also, the small porch door was relocated to be closer to the corner of the porch, allowing for an expansive Phantom Screen wall (a motorized wall of disappearing cover). The expanded deck (now 147 sf) and the porch have become one!
Nonstop flight from porch to deck
The exclamation point on the smooth flow between the porch and deck is this durable, maintenance-free Mirage Sundeck porcelain plank flooring. Its silica grid system provides a rigid 16-in. o.c. base for the planks, ensuring its durability. The large 1x4 ft tiles and the uninterrupted flow of the single-level surface visually enlarge the living space, and improve safety, as well.
Maxed out numbers that stay within limits
Having created two short stair runs, Bastyr was able to enlarge the deck to reach out beyond the end of the porch. An updated and more open railing of stainless steel cable (which is set farther from the house) and the absence of the large grill have greatly improved the view as seen from the home’s interior—and from the porch—and from the yard. In other words, both the indoor and outdoor experience are improved, as are the aesthetics. Oh. And the 147-sf deck (3 sf shy of the City’s maximum allowed size) now has room for an outdoor dining table!
Ramped up privacy, comfort and style
What to do about the too-open feel on the other side of the porch? Bastyr came up with one triple-play of a solution. By adding a stunning gas log fireplace, she enhanced privacy, extended the porch’s use into the cool evenings and chilly seasons, and let’s just say, made a truly impressive design statement, as well. Designer and homeowner collaborated on the unique idea of a metal fireplace shroud and settled on this custom-crafted raised-seam copper panel, which reflects light and will patina to a uniquely artful beauty.
To sum up, it was a combination of clever design, innovative materials and products and a smart designer’s sharp pencil, that led these happy homeowners to say that they never could have imagined how much better their outdoor living environments would become. In total, this remodeled space exceeds the sum of its very cool parts. It’s a dream home come true! Click below to schedule an appointment with our award-winning designer and read more about this space in Edina Magazine!