The Best Place to Start a Renovation Project: Home Research

Posted by Joseph G. Metzler on 04.16.14

Every home has a history and knowing that history can provide useful information for anyone restoring or remodeling their home.  Research might uncover useful tidbits related to earlier changes or even photographs or original drawings showing long-lost features.  Resist the urge to plunge ahead quickly making changes and instead start with home research. People do find amazing things as a result of research.  I had a client once who tracked down the descendants of their home’s original owner who still had the original drawings.  With these drawings they were able to save the cost of documenting their...

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Client Satisfaction: The Story of a 12 Year Project

Posted by Wayne Branum on 04.09.14

Design Problem: Provide varied phased additions and remodeling to a 1960’s walkout ranch house set on a restricted site, constructed in four phases over a period of 12 years. Because the project evolved over a long period of time not all aspects of the total project were determined at the beginning but were developed one phase at a time following an accreted process.

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Why Does Architecture Become An Overnight Sensation? Part 3 of 4: Not So Big House

Posted by Ryan Lillion on 04.02.14

In this multipart post we’re discussing projects with our firm that found accelerated exposure and success beyond what the designer had anticipated. In Part One we discussed the lightning paced publicity of the ESCAPE project, which currently continues to receive a lot of unexpected attention. In Part Two the contrasting success of pre-World Wide Web times was delved into with Michaela Mahady's award winning Maple Forest design. In this installment we're not examining a specific project, but a book by one of SALA’ s founding partners Sarah Susanka titled, “The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live”. The book rarely needs introduction in the architecture community and features several projects Sarah designed along with a collection of other SALA projects with the “Not so big” concept applied.

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How Can Design Teamwork Make a Craft Beer Dream Come True?

Posted by Bryan Anderson on 03.26.14

What do you say when a past client invites you to help him realize his vision for a craft beer venture that began as a hobby in the garage? Depends on how good the beer is, right? Well, it’s darn good! So began the initial development of Lupulin Brewing in Big Lake, Minnesota. Jeff Zierdt, my client and friend, and his brewing partner Matt Schiller have both been amateur brewers for the past five years, but after winning numerous awards including a first place blue ribbon for their Belgian Dubbel at the Minnesota State Fair in 2013, the two realized it was time to share it with the public. They began...

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Why Does Architecture Become An Overnight Sensation? Part 2 of 4: Maple Forest

Posted by Ryan Lillion on 03.19.14

In this multipart post we’re discussing projects with our firm that found accelerated exposure and success beyond what the designer had anticipated. In Part One we discussed the lightning paced publicity of the ESCAPE project, which currently continues to receive a lot of unexpected attention. In this post we’re discussing another surprise success project, however we’re also contrasting the difference twenty years can make with how a project finds such popularity.

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The Moratorium On Tear Downs in Southwest Minneapolis

Posted by Eric Odor on 03.12.14

Last Friday morning a proposed moratorium on teardowns and major remodelings (1500sf or more) went into effect in five Southwest neighborhoods until the Minneapolis City Council weighs in on the matter. Most of us discovered the moratorium in an article in the StarTribune the following morning. Needless to say builders, architects, and landowners intending to build were up in arms. On the other side were the joyous supporters that have endured surprise teardowns, overrun silt fences, closed sidewalks, pre-dawn construction noise and finally an enormous house where a bungalow had been.

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Why Does Architecture Become An Overnight Sensation? Part 1 of 4: ESCAPE

Posted by Ryan Lillion on 03.05.14

The past couple of weeks at SALA have seen a a flurry of activity from a project we designed in conjunction with Canoe Bay called ESCAPE. This project has received an overwhelming amount of press from social media to The Huffington Post. This has all arrived at a pace that neither the client nor the designer ever expected. SALA has been in the residential architecture market for over 30 years and has designed thousands of successful projects, however few gain this sort of attention. The question that’s been on our minds lately is why do specific projects like ESCAPE capture such rapid public attention. What specifics about these selections evoke such...

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The Evolving Kitchen: Modern Conveniences and Historic Character

Posted by Joseph G. Metzler on 02.26.14

Over time our homes have changed drastically as the way we live in our homes has changed.  But no room has changed more than the evolving kitchen.  That evolution dictates special considerations when creating a historically appropriate kitchen today. Until the beginning of the 20th century a kitchen was little more than a room containing a cooking stove, tables for food preparation, and sometimes a sink.  Cabinets, called “dressers”, existed but these were usually found in the pantry.  The base cabinets were typically shorter and shallower than our present day cabinets with upper cabinets that...

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How To Get What You Want from Subcontractors

Posted by Joseph G. Metzler on 02.19.14

Details and techniques that are now in common practice are not always appropriate for the old house.  As a result, if you own an old home it can sometimes be very tricky to get what you want from subcontractors.  I was reminded of this when the fabricator providing my counter tops came by to measure. I had already provided plan drawings of what I wanted and they were taking exact measurements.  We had gone over some details including the thickness and edge condition when he mentioned, more in passing, that they provide a large radius on the corners. I was a little in shock that they would even think of...

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Green is the New Black: Designing Sustainably. Part 1: Energy Use.

Posted by David O’Brien Wagner on 02.12.14

As an architect at SALA I’m always exploring new ideas for protecting the land, for reducing our energy footprints, and for selecting materials and finishes that are both durable and sustainable. Sometimes these ideas come from the latest architectural journals I read, but just as often they come from observations on how our ancestors sheltered themselves, whether that be the low-profiled, solar-oriented sod houses of prairie pioneers, or in the snow-insulated and thermally-zoned igloos of the Inuit. In a recent presentation at the Lake Home and Cabin Show in Minneapolis, I talked about four important themes...

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Architect-Potter, Potter-Architect: How Design Can Influence Design

Posted by Wayne Branum on 02.05.14

Some time ago, before I became an architect, I was introduced to a book called, “Architecture Without Architects”. I suspect some have heard of this book. It was actually a catalogue from an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1964-1965. The author, Bernard Rudofsky, discusses the art of building as a universal phenomenon. He found in “primitive” architecture an applied intelligence to uniquely human modes of life. I was drawn to the work in this book because I found simplicity and directness in many of the forms with a sense of structural strength in the materials used. Many...

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One Of The Most Rewarding Stories of Architecture: Repeat Clients

Posted by Dale Mulfinger on 01.28.14

One enjoyable benefit as a residential architectural service provider is working with repeat clients. You know their storyline, value system, and color palette. They reciprocate by knowing your process and design proclivities. Unlike the tax accountant who sees their repeat clients once a year or the dentist with six month checkups, there are no scheduled returns for clients of architects. After a quality home design we may see clients return five years later for a build out of their basement, fifteen years later for their cabin design, or never again. I’m struck recently with the proclivity of repeat clients...

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Does Google Know More About Your House Than You Do?

Posted by Ryan Lillion on 01.21.14

Why are you talking about tech on an architecture blog? Correct, this isn’t a post about architecture. At least, not yet it isn’t. Although, a lot of emerging technologies more than likely will be interwoven with such design much sooner than you might think. Last week Google purchased the chic thermostat company Nest for $3.2 billion. This amount is 5.8% of Google’s current cash on hand. In other words, the number of zeros that were on this check was a lot of money even for Google. This price tag was also ten times Nest’s current annual revenue. Clearly this acquisition was deemed a very...

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Showtime! The Home Show Season Has Arrived!

Posted by Dale Mulfinger on 01.14.14

Speaking to an audience can always be challenging, for those of us who haven’t taken the Dale Carnegie course, but never more than at a trade show. These audiences sit in the broad open space of the show and viewers filter in and out dependent on the interest in the speaker. Speaker success can thus be measured by whether more seats are filled at the end of the talk rather than the beginning. Entertaining the audience builds critical mass and then others follow until there is standing room only. Knowing your subject is important, but delivering that subject enthusiastically and with humor trumps knowledge. I’ve...

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What You May Not Know About Building Or Remodeling On The St. Croix River

Posted by Wayne Branum on 01.07.14

Over many years of practicing architecture in Minnesota and Wisconsin I have been surprised by how many property owners are not fully informed about the issues involved with building new or remodeling their properties, especially on bodies of water. In this blog series I plan to provide some basic information I hope will help and inform property owners who may be thinking about building in the future.

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Reflecting On Time And Its Large Impact On Architecture

Posted by Katherine Hillbrand on 12.31.13

Sitting in my sleeping compartment on a train to Spokane recently, I found myself thinking about time, mainly because the train was nine hours behind schedule.  I had chosen to travel by train because I wanted to slow my pace, see the countryside, enjoy the journey itself and feel the rhythm of the rails.  Traveling through North Dakota in the dark I could hear the train whistle up ahead as I rocked to sleep.  The sound "Dopplered" through the night, reminding me that I was moving through a vast place. My sense of space and time deepened.

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How Architects Play a Key Role with Designing Interiors of Their Buildings

Posted by Joseph G. Metzler on 12.24.13

Architects have always played a key role in designing the interiors of their buildings.  And for some architects little has changed today.  I find a surprising perception among many people that the architect designs the building shell and exterior and everything inside is the work of an interior designer.  In reality, in most buildings the architect plays a key role on the interior, sometimes working with an interior designer, and sometimes working alone.

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Exceeding Client Expectations on Interiors Through Collaboration

Posted by Paul Hannan on 12.17.13

As architects, we have the opportunity and good fortune to be involved in a variety of design projects.  We work with many clients who have different requirements, challenges, and expectations.  Our challenge is to exceed those expectations while creating delightful and beautiful space for living. A key to a successful design solution is collaboration.  Collaboration between the client, architect, builder, and interior designer.  We all need to work together in order to exceed our client’s expectations. The architect and interior designer must share a common vision for our clients.  We...

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Urban Green: Achieving a Bold House Number

Posted by Eric Odor on 12.10.13

The Urban Green project by Eric Odor made front page of Houzz this week for a defining attribute of this home, its house number. This typical front facing exterior fixture was made prominent with some extra attention to detail and design. The simple elegance of form and material made Urban Green the perfect backdrop for some bold and beautiful graphics. Conceived as a counterpoint to the iron gray siding and the clear cedar boards, this bead blasted stainless steel plate leaves no doubt as to the address of this humble home. As fate would have it, the owners knew a graphic artist who designed...

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Architecture 101: So You Want To Be An Architect?


Every fall I speak to a classroom of students at Jefferson High School for their annual career day. I’ve taken to calling it my So You Want To Be An Architect? talk. It begins with this image and a question: Is this architecture? I became enamored with this little outbuilding a decade ago over frequent drives to visit my grandparents. On the crisp and perfect autumn day the image was shot, I went prepared with a camera, and even the clouds were in my favor. From the condition of the driveway and house in the distance, the farmstead is still occupied but the state of this perfect little building appears frozen in time....

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Thinking outside the (dumpster) box to get the Goods . . . of ReUse.

Posted by Marc Sloot on 11.26.13

Good for your Design, Good for the Environment, and Good for the Economy. I love finding synergies between my passions for beautiful design, sustainability and helping people. To this end, today I want to share some ideas that I hope inspire more ReUse in residential architecture. Good for your Design: In remodeling, ReUse can often allow you to achieve seamless authentic detailing so the finished project is beautifully integrated. I love when visitors ask, “So what did you change?”  I should also re-emphasize that beauty is a green building strategy itself. See my blog...

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Beauty. . . The Unquantified Sustainable Design Strategy

Posted by Marc Sloot on 11.19.13

With my interest in quantifying “green-ness,” which in part comes with my involvement with MN GreenStar, I find it interesting to explore the sustainable attributes of beauty in architecture. Can beauty be quantified? Most humans are hard wired to cherish and preserve those things that are beautiful and meaningful. I am no psychologist, but there is actually psychological research substantiating this phenomena. Wikipedia, posits that: “Konrad Lorenz first proposed the concept of baby schema (Kindchenschema), a set of facial and body features, that make a creature appear "cute" and activate...

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The Challenge of Keeping Old Cabin Charm When Remodeling

Posted by Dale Mulfinger on 11.12.13

Photographer: Cheryl Koralik Cabin remodels and additions are as varied as the many existing structures at the lake or in the forrest. This creates a  plethora of client goals and constraining budgets. One frequent challenge is what to do with charming old log cabins. These structures often retain a century of glowing stories, however rarely posses modern conveniences or adequate bedrooms. Marlene Rance presented SALA Architects with just such a challenge after she purchased an antique cabin on a pristine lake in north central Minnesota. The "L" shaped log structure had been added to over the years and time had taken...

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Minimize Old House Kitchen Costs

Posted by Joseph G. Metzler on 11.05.13

Kitchens are generally the most expensive room in any house.  So it may seem a bit surprising that they are typically the most remodeled.  No room has been more affected by changing notions and technology than the kitchen.  And since for most people the kitchen is the center of modern family life, it usually as a high priority for remodeling.  Unfortunately there are also factors related to an old home that can increase the cost of a kitchen remodeling.  But good design can minimize old house kitchen costs. The increased cost can sometimes take homeowners by surprise.  You might not think about the...

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What You May Not Know About Building Or Remodeling On Water Part 2

Posted by Wayne Branum on 10.29.13

In the first installment basic information gathering was covered. I want to add a couple of possible setbacks I missed that can come into play such as wetlands, flood planes and easements. Now you are ready to begin thinking about what you can do within your zoning limitations. I thought case studies would be a good way for you to understand how the process can work. Here are two projects on Wisconsin lakes.

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How to Give a Brand New Cabin a Weathered 100 Year Old Look

Posted by Sara Whicher on 10.22.13

We started with a chunk of Western Red Cedar for a project we were working on starting in 2008. One of the goals for the project was to make the house look 100 years old as soon as it was built. We heard of a product called Lifetime.  We ordered a sample and applied it to a portion of our log.  At first the color was alarmingly green.  At first glance this was not a good sign, however within an hour there was a definite darkening of the log.  As per the instructions we placed it is the sun and within a week it was significantly darker yet. This log has travelled from BC to the Midwest and is a great tool for...

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Cabin Colors

Posted by Dale Mulfinger on 10.15.13

I’m in favor of creating a little more color in this world. Nature gives us so many great examples, the intense yellow of an Oriole, the soft pink of the lady Slipper, or the majestic blue of a flax field in bloom. A decade ago a friend asked what color her cabin front door should be as she stood in front of the unpainted door wearing a purplish blue fleece vest. “Your vest color, blueberry, of course,” I stated with professional authority. Now, where can I employ moss green? I’ve just ventured from Ely, Minnesota visiting my fourth cabin where I specified a blueberry door. This color is such...

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Posted by Jody McGuire on 10.08.13

We all click on and watch an occasional TED talk now and then. They are like popcorn when you are hungry for little inspiration. I’m most often captured by the talks given by scientists and by teachers, people who are revealing the world as it is and also as they dream it could be. On September 20, 2013, I attended TEDCity2.0 at the TimesCenter in New York City. Ananya Roy began the day by asking, “just what makes a world class city?”  Mayors, artists, dancers, poets, policy makers, anthropologists, and photographers spoke about how complex, curious and critical that question is to our future. The...

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What You May Not Know About Building or Remodeling on Water

Posted by Wayne Branum on 10.01.13

How zoning can impact property owners planning to build. A blog series by Wayne Branum, AIA Over many years of practicing architecture in Minnesota and Wisconsin I have been surprised by how many property owners are not fully informed about the issues involved with building new or remodeling their properties, especially on bodies of water. In this blog series I plan to provide some basic information I hope will help and inform property owners who may be thinking about building in the future. The first and I think the most important item to know is your property is unique. Do not assume you can do...

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Good Neighbors: Respecting Existing Neighborhoods When Designing Homes

Posted by Paul Hannan on 09.24.13

Within the city, opportunities to build a new home face challenges that are often different than building in a suburban area.  The primary challenge is that vacant land is not readily available.  More often than not, a property already has a house on it that requires demolition in order to build a new home.  Sometimes a buildable lot becomes available when it was originally part of a larger property and has been sub-divided from that property.  Other times, a house has been removed previously or has been destroyed by fire, which creates a vacant property. In the case of the home I designed in Southeast...

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Name that Style! A Contest on the Homes By Architects Tour!

Posted by Katherine Hillbrand on 09.16.13

In a few days I will be struggling to find the right words to explain the style of a home that I designed for an artful couple who have generously allowed us to participate in the Homes by Architects Tour this coming Saturday and Sunday. This tour is an excellent way to share what we have designed together with a good many interested folks.  And I know that I will be asked to explain the style of the home. So much is written about architecture that makes it seem as if the designer had a single guiding principle or idea that, when constructed, can be easily classified in one of any number of styles.  But in...

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Home Convenience and Livability Without Altering Scale or Charm

Posted by Joseph G. Metzler on 09.10.13

Sometimes just a little space can make all the difference in the way a home functions and its livability.  That was the case with a home I recently worked on that will be included in the 2013 Remodelers Showcase organized by the Builder's Association of the Twin Cities.  The home had many of the problems common to any other 1914 home. The home had a kitchen that wasn't the greatest (even though it had been remodeled by a previous owner) and was isolated from the rest of the house.  There was only minimal physical and visual access to the rear yard.  The laundry room was in an...

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Discovering architectural opportunities through small gestures

Posted by Paul Hannan on 09.03.13

Architects who specialize in residential architecture have a way of seeing and discovering opportunities in our projects that often elude others.  We see space differently, we react to our clients needs in ways that are often unexpected, and we present solutions that exceed expectations.  Sometimes, within the context of a larger project, a “small gesture” provides large outcomes. One of the major program requirements for this remodel was to attain greater natural light.  This goal was daunting, due to the fact that the living area of the home faced north, and was built on a heavily wooded lot....

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Evolution of the pencil: An introduction to BIM Software

Posted by Bryan Anderson on 08.27.13

Surely we have all been captivated at various times by the wonders of technology. Whether asking Siri for directions or video conferencing friends and family in the palm of your hand, technology is subtly, but rapidly, raising our expectations. It is also changing the way we design and document homes and buildings. Not too many years ago our firm primarily drafted construction documents with a pencil, and now our favored utensils are being discontinued. Filling their place is a powerful new tool referred to as Building Information Modeling, or BIM. This three-dimensional software allows the user to virtually build a building...

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Adapt Your Old Home to Contemporary Life

Posted by Joseph G. Metzler on 08.20.13

City living is different from suburban living.  This is at least partially because the homes are different.  New homes, usually found where there is plenty of open land, often do a better job of accommodating our contemporary lives.  Those of us who live in old city homes often need to adapt to our homes.  But why not instead adapt your old home to contemporary life? More than anything else, isolated old house kitchens require us to adapt.  In most cases we simply put up with the isolation of anyone in the kitchen from the rest of the family.  New suburban homes recognize the kitchen as the hub...

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How the Westin Cabin was inspired by Edwin Lundie

Posted by Dale Mulfinger on 08.13.13

Recently the Ninth Annual Edwin Lundie Tour took place along the North Shore of Lake Superior. One of the seven sites on this tour was a design of mine that was influenced by Lundie called The Westin Cabin. As an architect who has researched the designs of Edwin Lundie, one doesn’t have to copy him to have learned from him. Most notably I’ve learned to keep the footprint simple, preferably a rectangle, and the size modest. That way the added value can be realized in the quality and character of the materials inside and out. Lundie’s cabin designs for the North Shore of Lake Superior were seasonal structures...

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Zumbro Zen: A Stairway as a “frontage road”

Posted by Eric Odor on 08.06.13

The flat-roofed galvalume metal sheeting and glass bump out shown in the photograph of this sustainably sleek hillside home is encasing a straight run stair and its landings (glass). This idea of stair as “frontage road” can remove a circulation obstacle, and free up the otherwise open plan of a typically narrow solar oriented home and let the light, views, &  breezes have there way.

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Dog Days on a Screen Porch

Posted by Bryan Anderson on 07.30.13

The Retreat is the name our friends have given their get-away home in Western Wisconsin. It is aptly named because it is as suitable to a quiet weekend escape as it is accommodating an active group. In any condition, it always involves good food and great friends! Visitors enter the retreat on grade and ascend a stair to the main living area. The room is long and tall, with a high south-facing clerestory—or band of windows—and a continuous north-facing view of woods, wildlife, and creek. Known as “the campground,” the area beneath the living room shares the magical view but has long been open to the...

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Try Window Repair Instead of Replacement (Part 2)

Posted by Joseph G. Metzler on 07.23.13

I've been making a case that even though old, single-pane double-hung windows can be a major problem in old homes, replacement windows aren't the best solution.  In previous posts I covered the many reasons why window repair or restoration may be a better solution than replacement and how to repair sash and improve the thermal performance of the window.  There is a third step required to bring a historic double-hung window up to modern standards and that's to add a quality storm window...

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Try Window Repair Instead of Replacement (Part 1)

Posted by Joseph G. Metzler on 07.16.13

Old, single-pane double-hung windows can be a major problem in old homes.  But are replacement windows the best solution?  In a previous post I covered the many reasons why window repair or restoration may be a better solution than replacement.  Window restoration can improve the thermal performance of a double hung window so that it's comparable to a replacement window at a cost that can be half that of a replacement window.  Special trades or training is not required in most cases.  In fact, window restoration just may be something you can do yourself! Window restoration is usually...

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The Love Story

Posted by Dale Mulfinger on 07.09.13

This love story began 2 years ago when Joyce Mattson and Dennis Wille met Dale Mulfinger at the Lake Home and Cabin Show in Minneapolis. They were looking for the right Architect to design their family cabin on Bean Lake, just south of Hayward WI. Morning sunrise over Bean Lake. Dale Mulfinger and Sara Whicher have lead the way on this project which Joyce says, “has indeed brought Dennis and I even closer together”.  The photo below is a piece of the creative process the architect and client team visualized. This early schematic model of the cabin shows design where the loft overlooks the living area and the...

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An Incredible Homemade Castle in Colorado Tells a Scary Tale on Building Codes

Posted by Katherine Hillbrand on 07.02.13

Building code restrictions are in place to keep us safe and in good health, right?  With that in mind, I have to confess that I have been frustrated at times by the degree of code regulation.  But a few weeks ago I had an epiphany while driving through the mountains in southern Colorado. We had abandoned the freeway and headed up into the hills on the Greenhorn Highway in search of a trailhead. It was a perfect day for hiking, sunny and cool.  The air was laden with the smell of ponderosa pine and spring flowers.  I had my head tilted back enjoying the treetops and fluffy clouds as they whizzed by when I saw...

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Don’t Let Smoke Alarms Tarnish Your Decor

Posted by Joseph G. Metzler on 06.25.13

Most smoke alarms are just plain ugly.  Certainly as some have gotten smaller they are a bit less noticeable.  But their appearance can still be a distraction in an otherwise well thought out interior.  But there is a low-profile smoke alarm solution that is different and less noticeable than the others.  This low-profile smoke alarm looks so much better that I specify for all my projects. The Kidde Silhouette smoke alarm is designed to be mostly recessed into an electrical box so it only projects slightly from the wall.  It is hardwired but also has a sealed rechargeable battery backup that lasts the...

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Japanese Garden House ...In My Bedroom

Posted by Katherine Hillbrand on 06.18.13

I wake up early at our place in Sturgeon Lake, Minnesota in the summer because of a glow in our upstairs bedroom. The sun’s rays reach deeply into the room imbuing the smooth Port Orford cedar timbers of our garden house, or Japanese Machiai, with rose-colored light.  I savor the smell and lovely color.  You may wonder why there is a Japanese garden house in our bedroom. Naturally, there is a story behind it, The room was crowded and noisy.  The auctioneer was working the crowd.  There was no rhyme or reason to bidding prices but all raised hands were aimed at sustaining the Timber Framer’s...

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The Pay As You Go Cabin Dream

Posted by Dale Mulfinger on 06.11.13

For many folks, cabins appear as luxury, only to be paid for by cash available. But there is a way to build your dream cabin – on a budget. After the land is paid off there are several options for a pay as you go strategy for cabin creation.

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Spend a Night with Wright

Posted by Bryan Anderson on 06.04.13

For anyone looking to expand on the typical Midwestern architectural pilgrimage to Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright’s studio in Spring Green, Wisconsin, consider a trip to Mason City, Iowa, where instead of settling for a 45 minute tour, you can stay—docent-free—in the recently renovated Historic Park Inn Hotel. Constructed in 1910, it is the only remaining Wright-designed hotel in existence, and a rare opportunity to indulge in the scale and intimacy of Wright’s Prairie School prowess for as long as you like. The pilgrimage continues right out the front door with a local walking tour. Mason City,...

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Small Home. Small Lot. Small Energy Footprint. Here’s How.

Posted by Eric Odor on 06.01.13

URBAN GREEN The Task: A small home on a small lot with a small energy footprint for a growing family. The Solution: This LEED for Homes, 2250 sq. ft. three bedroom house with detached garage is nestled within a 42’x128’ infill lot in Linden Hills. It features an eclectic blend of traditional and contemporary elements which weave it seamlessly into the existing fabric of this transitional neighborhood while at the same time addressing the client’s desire for sustainable living in the context of a more modern open plan. The home’s elegantly simple...

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81 Minutes After the Bridge Collapse

Posted by David O’Brien Wagner on 05.24.13

Sometimes, Architects Get to Make History. Most of the time, architects are focused on the present, or even the future. Clients come to us because they’re expecting children and their house is getting too small, or they are thinking ahead to retirement years, and want something smaller. Recently, I had the chance to go back in time, to August 1, 2007, to be exact. As anyone in Minnesota will tell you, that was a horrific day in our history. Just after rush hour that evening, with no warning, the I-35 W Bridge over the Mississippi collapsed, dropping nearly 300 people, and causing the deaths of 13. Like many others who...

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Should You Install Replacement Windows?

Posted by Joseph G. Metzler on 05.17.13

Should you install replacement windows?  It's getting harder to ignore the window replacement tsunami.  The ads urging you to replace your windows are everywhere, and these days most major window manufacturers have joined specialty window manufacturers in offering replacement windows.  The claims for comfort, energy savings, decreased maintenance, and cost savings are everywhere.  The arguments sound very convincing.  But there are even better reasons why you don't want to replace your windows.

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Real Rewards of Winning Awards

Posted by Wayne Branum on 05.09.13

Spring time is what some refer to as awards season in the Residential Architects community. A couple of the well promoted honors are The Home of the Month Awards by The Star Tribune, and the RAVE Awards by Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine. This year SALA was privileged to be the recipient of three 2013-2014 Home of the Month Awards that will be presented in The Star Tribune throughout the coming year. Of course it’s always wonderful to receive praise from one’s peers, but what’s even more rewarding is the public gets exposure and inspiration from past clients’ projects. I always have great satisfaction when...

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Bark Siding is Back

Posted by Dale Mulfinger on 05.03.13

One of the historic building products appropriate to cabins that has returned to the market is bark siding. Once popular to rustic lodges and cabins in the 1890’s to 1920’s it then disappeared due to blight in the chestnut trees from which it was harvested. Recent growth of yellow poplar has created a substitute product which is now available to the market through Bark House in North Carolina.       An excellent book, Bark House Style, by Chris McCurry and Nan Chase records the history of possibilities of this product.     At SALA Architects we are now in our second lake...

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Net-Zero Farmhouse

Posted by Eric Odor on 04.26.13

After a year of fine-tuning work has begun the NET-ZERO Farmhouse where our goal is to produce as much energy as we consume and hopefully more! Our approach here is an extremely tight and energy efficient envelop with triple pane windows, natural lighting and ventilation, and highly energy efficient fixtures and appliances to reduce the overall load balanced by a high efficiency wood burning boiler and an array of 16 photovoltaic panels to heat and power this 2000sf farmhouse. The excavation and footings are complete and the formwork for the Thermomass foundation is also nearly done with the concrete pour to come in tomorrow....

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Original Bookcase?

Posted by Bryan Anderson on 04.19.13

I enjoy books and over the years have collected quite a few, from slim paperbacks to oversized architecture tomes, but my partner and I recently moved into a house that offered no place to visibly store them. After a semi-exhaustive search, we identified a freestanding unit with potential, but wondered if we couldn’t design something built in for the same amount of money. I did a scaled sketch of the fireplace wall with a custom design and sent the drawing to three cabinetmakers for review and estimates.  To our delight, the high estimate came back at only a few hundred dollars more than the freestanding option....

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A Walk in the Woods

Posted by Katherine Hillbrand on 04.10.13

When my husband, Deane and I went for a walk in our woods a few years back, I needed to look down so that I could step over stones and the underbrush without getting tangled up and losing my balance.  Deane on the other hand, had his head tilted up and back.  As usual he found his footing easily while he studied the trees above us. We had been commissioned to design a barn that had the genuine feel of an old English tithe barn.  We talked to our client about using trees in their natural form as the supportive structure and using traditional square mortise and tenon joinery. (Imagine fitting a square joint into a...

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Since 1983, SALA has opened new possibilities through architectural design for clients and projects of every scale and sensibility. Our team of project architects and staff professionals work collaboratively to uncover ideas that contribute to the beauty and function of all that we create. The results are highly inventive, thoughtfully crafted, and intimately connected to the lives of their users. We see design as an exploration. What follows are small windows into the world of SALA Architects and its myriad efforts to enrich the human experience while sustaining the environment that supports it. The magic of Architecture has...

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