Chiaroscuro

Designed by David O’Brien Wagner

with Shawna Meyer, AIA

A simple 1990s Hastings house became the new home for owners Kurt and Lisa after both had remarried and combined their families into one household. The low-slung rambler was located in a good neighborhood and had solid bones, but suffered from a dark, cramped entry hall and a walled-off, isolated kitchen and dining room. Lisa was looking for something with both the light and friendliness of a cottage, and Kurt was looking for a more open floor plan and a sophisticated palette of materials and forms. Both were looking for a design that provided space for their united family to come together. To solve these challenges, David O’Brien Wagner opened spaces to let in light and provide visual connections. A solitary Douglas fir column at the kitchen marks the spot where existing roof loads still collect. Otherwise, load bearing walls have been swept away to create an open connection form the kitchen to dining and living spaces. The resulting plan provides an easy and casual flow among spaces that elegantly weave together. Thoughtful material choices and an integrated color palette work to further strengthen the connections and contrasts between the spaces. In lieu of walls, tall walnut cabinets in the kitchen provide enclosure and privacy from the adjacent front entry, and also provide a separation from the new mudroom off the garage. The walls’ rich walnut color is carried into the living room through bookshelves and cabinet, and expands into the hallway enfolding a new powder room into a singular walnut cabinet box. The chiaro [lightness] of the white-tinted oak flooring is pulled into the white paneling and white granite countertops of the living, dining, and kitchen spaces. Each room also includes a scuro [darkness] accent to draw the eye and establish a contrasting reference to read both the walnut and the white: a black counter in the kitchen, black fixtures in the dining room, and a mottled black steel face above the fireplace. Throughout the spaces, small bright stainless steel details act like subtle stitches to further knit the rooms together.

Construction by MacDonald Homes
Photographs by Troy Thies

Awards:
AIA MN/StarTribune Home of the Month 2015

Publications:
StarTribune, September 6, 2015

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