Design Meets Function

Filed in Feature Homes by on June 1, 2015


by Merrie Sue Holtan | Photography by Henry Hempel


Teri Lynne Nelson (TL) and Paul Brenden had feng shui in mind when they built a 5,000 square foot home on Fox Lake in 2007. The five “feng shui” elements wood, fire, earth, metal and water swirled together to form this sheltered and hidden contemporary home, with every detail mindfully and carefully considered.


“We were living on Lake Sallie and really liked the ‘neighborhood,’” TL says. “We wanted to build on a quiet lake. Our realtor showed Paul the Fox Lake site, and he made an instant offer as the lots were selling fast. He hoped I would like it when I returned home, and I did.”


BNInt1HDR2Fox Lake, a 135-acre spring-fed lake, is 24-feet deep and crystal clear. A garage and trailer sat on the 1.2 acres, and on closing day, the former owners left behind two camp chairs, a table and a bottle of wine for TL and Paul. They brought along the three-inch high ring binder, which held all the magazine clippings and ideas Terri had compiled over the years.


“We sat, drank wine and created our dream house,” TL says. “And we formed our building and design team.”


“We built this house thinking quality all the way,” Paul says. “Every door is solid, even the pocket doors. Online ordering for accessories such as towel holders and door stops gave us endless possibilities. Hiring Greg Walsh as a designer was the best money spent. He worked closely with architect Tony Stoll to work out the little things that made all the difference. General contractor, Jim Landry, is a fantastic old school carpenter and was on site every day. He and Jim Hanson are perfectionist carpenters. You want perfectionists to build your dream home.”


“Greg was a genius with the interior,” TL says. “We drew plans out together step-by-step. We had some push back on ideas here and there, but mostly he kept us on track for the exact contemporary look we wanted. He really tunes in to what his clients want. Lynn Shears of Inhabiting Art also served on our the design team. ”


Designer Greg worked hard to make the various pieces, rooms and ideas fit together.


“It was challenging,” he says, “To execute all the concepts into one unified design. It’s not a predictable house. Each room unfolds its own personality without redundancy. And yet, all the expressions work together.”


Water and fire


BNExt1An open and angular floor plan provides a view of the lake from nearly every room, including five foot tall windows in the dining room. The varied ceiling heights, 16 feet in the living room, 14 feet in the dining room and 10 foot height in the master bath, give the home unique character, along with the desert bronze natural cut stone fireplace.


TL says they originally planned for two fireplaces in the living room, one gas and one “real.” Inspired by one they saw in Minneapolis, the real fireplace had an open ring and really put out the heat.


“We were told we needed to place glass surrounding the fireplace, which would have changed the look,” TL says. “We ended up putting the gas fireplace outside. We now fondly refer to the indoor area as the “non- fireplace.”


The couple, who have one grown daughter, Kayla, who works as sales executive for Lakeshirts in Detroit Lakes, enjoys coming home to the calming and healing element of water and nature. They also entertain customers; the home offers several places for hospitality circles.


“This open space offers guests a chance to mingle,” TL says. “If you sit around a table, you only get to know the few people sitting next to you.”


BNInt5HDR1The master bath, one of TL’s favorite rooms, opens to the lake and an outdoor hot tub. It includes a steam shower and rectangular tub. Two guest bedrooms share another full bath, and the entry area half bath has elegant lighting including “toe kicks” under the vanity and Toemi River Rock tile on the floor.


Walls in the house are painted in muted ivories, beige, greys and greens, highlighted by unique designer art lights and ceiling fans. TL placed paintings by friend and artist from Arizona, Greg West, as wall décor. She explains that he works in colorful trump d’oeil style, which is designed to “play tricks on the eye.” Friends refer to the home as Greg West Gallery.


Wood, earth, metal


Outside, natural cedar plank siding surrounds the house along with Brentwood stone, lending an organic feel. Inside, hard maple covers most of the floors, with carpet in the living room, bedrooms and library. Wood and books line the shelves in the office/library, which also has a rolling library ladder for hard to reach books. A massive walnut plank hangs from the foyer entry giving the artistic illusion of a hanging shelf.


In keeping with a metal feng shui theme, a custom built walnut table, with a distressed metal insert, serves as the dining table. The kitchen’s island can seat four comfortably. The counter tops consist of honed black granite and Silestone, and built-ins hide the refrigerator, freezer, three dishwashers, drawers and pantry. Two-tone cabinetry in maple and walnut keep within the contemporary theme of the house. Walk-in closets and built-in cabinetry and storage units make organization a snap and help prevent clutter. A laundry room behind the kitchen has extra counter space and a soaking sink, and the three- stall heated garage includes a pet wash. In-floor heating and a forced air system provide heating and cooling for the home.


Just off the dining room, a screen porch, multilevel deck and patio with built-in gas grill and fire ring provide more hospitality space for guests. Landscaping includes a variety of perennials, over one hundred trees, an underground sprinkler system and a natural berm that offers privacy from the road.


Paul, a native of Willmar, Minn., and Teri, originally from Robbinsdale, Minn., believe all the elements came together for just the right feel and contemporary design they wanted. Even the steps to the lake are placed at carefully designated angles.


“Most importantly,” Teri says, “Paul and I agreed on most everything, and we enjoyed the building process. We had fun as a couple.”


More photos, including photos not seen in the magazine, are available in the slideshow below.


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