Photo courtesy 2015 Architects Challenge
Photo courtesy 2015 Architects Challenge

If you’re Dan Feidt, AIA, principal of Dan Feidt Studio, an Excelsior, Minn.-based residential architect, it’s an exacting one.

The subject property is his home. But as the renovation soon proved, it’s also a high-profile calling card for his residential design practice. That may not have been the intended effect, but it’s certainly been one of the project’s many happy consequences.

“The house is on a beautiful location, on the southern shore of Lake Minnetonka, about 20 miles west of Minneapolis. It was built in 1955. Some remodeling work was done in 1965 but not much since. We actually considered tearing it down and rebuilding, which is fairly common here,” Feidt says.

Feidt estimates they saved about 25 percent on the cost of building new. Nonetheless, the renovations were massive. “We took it right down to the studs. New siding. New maple floor and cabinets. New butterfly roof. New doors. New mechanicals, electric, and plumbing,” Feidt notes.

And the star of the show? The designer doesn’t hesitate: “The windows.”

“We doubled the views of the sky and lake by adding a butterfly roof. The pendant-shaped windows on the sides of the butterfly extension stream-in morning and afternoon light we never had before. The effect is dramatic. They’re the ‘wow factor’ we were looking for.”

Some might wonder if the surge in window exposure creates comfort control problems inside. To the contrary, notes Feidt.

“The awning windows are motorized. They’re left open in the summer. They draw the air in from lake so we seldom run the air conditioning. If it rains, a moisture-detection strip automatically closes them. Even with the expansive sliding doors (two assemblies – 16 foot and eight foot), the house passed two blower tests at twice the tightness code prescribes.”

When an architect responds to his or her personal requirements, the choice of building materials can be interesting. For Feidt, there was no question about who he would cast as the lead for the project’s star attraction.

Marvin is my go-to supplier for windows and doors. We were able to use their standard-size units as a cost-savings measure without compromising the aesthetics we were after. They make a really high-quality window and door system. And the price is competitive,” Feidt explains.

Feidt anticipated the project would net a far more livable, comfortable home, with the lake providing an even higher level of visual drama and splendor. What was humbling was the way it now helps promote his practice to the regional marketplace.

“The house was selected for a tour of architect-designed homes in the Twin Cities. The tour attracted twice what the organizers anticipated,” Feidt says. “It’s also been selected for a couple of local awards. The exposure has really increased the visibility of the practice and generated some very good leads.”

It’s a bonus that should yield dividends for many years to come.