In with the Old

Filed in Feature Homes by on January 1, 2015

Benedict-Main-960x400Story & Photography by Julianna Kuhn

 

When Deb Benedict is asked to name the aspect that was most influential in the design of her home, she replies simply “Mike.”

 

It is easy to see why as you walk through the 6,000-square-foot home. From the large animal mounts from hunting trips to the massive reclaimed basement beam that he found during a commercial remodel, the influence of her husband, Mike, is everywhere. In fact, it was his frequent ski trips out West that led them to choose a timber frame home.

 

Deb was not slighted in the process, however. Timber frame homes often have a masculine feel due to the large wood beams, but the couple avoided that feel by choosing Douglas fir with a light finish and flooding the home with lots of natural light.

 

Walking in the front door , you are greeted with the a lovely contrast of slate floor and timer.

Walking in the front door , you are greeted with the a lovely contrast of slate floor and timer.

Approaching the home in Orono, Minn., it’s hard to picture anything else on the property. However, this striking home did face a few roadblocks along the way. The first was convincing Deb that this was, in fact, the right location for their dream home.

 

The Benedicts wanted a country setting to call home, and this wetland-surrounded, six-acre parcel gave them the privacy they desired. Add the fact that it is any easy 30-minute drive to downtown Minneapolis, and you could not ask for a better place to call home.

 

but when they looked at the site, an outdated 1970s split-level home was front and center on the property – not what Deb had in mind for her dream home. Soon, with a little persuasion from Mike, she began to see what could be and put her faith in her husband’s ability to create a homey retreat for their family. He does, after all, have a little experience in construction, since he is the executive vice president of Frana Companies, a commercial construction company.

 

The couple decided to take the plunge and purchased the property, living in the split level for two years while finalizing their plans. They visited home shows to meet contractors who specialized in timber frame construction and to collect ideas. To create an inviting and comfortable home, they wanted to mix old and new elements together.

 

With his background in construction, Mike knows that trusting your contractors is key to success in a building project. He called on some of his business contacts throughout the process because he knew his relationships with them would translate into a beautiful, well-constructed home.

 

One if his contacts from numerous commercial projects was interior designer Talla Skogmo. Since Skogmo was focusing on other projects at the time (she would be key to finising the basement a few years later, however), she called in a trusted associate, Renae Keller.

 

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The stone fireplace is one of the most impressive elements in the Benedict home. It is visible from and central to every level and helps tie the home together.

Keller embraced the couple’s vision and helped create a wonderful home for their family of three children and two dogs. When Keller is asked about her role in the project, she replies simply that it was “to make the house fell like a home, their home.” One of Keller’s main focuses was keeping items such as cabinets, lighting selection and appliances in scale with other materials in the home, mainly the timbers and stone fireplace.

 

The stone fireplace is one of the most impressive elements in the Benedict home. It is visible from and central to every level and helps tie the home together while creating the comfortable environment they wanted. Walking in the front door, you are greeted with the impressive stone of the main-level fireplace, offering a lovely contrast of slate floor and timber.

 

While the Benedicts decided to go with a traditional wood-burning fireplace in the basement, they opted to use gas on the main level for its cleanliness and ease of use. The fireplaces also gave Mike an opportunity to flex his craftsmanship muscles by creating and installing the mantles for both fireplaces using two reclaimed Douglas fir beams.

 

Keller also had the challenge of creating a balanced and seamless transition between rooms and materials.

 

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Timber frame homes often have a masculine feel due to the large wood beams, however, the Benedicts avoided that by choosing Douglas fir with a light finish and flooding the home with lots of natural light.

The Benedicts loved the idea of a reclaimed wood floor on the main level but wanted to avoid the use of too much wood with their timber frames, so they opted for slate in the kitchen and entryway.

 

Keller also had to switch gears in the master bedroom, explaining that the Benedicts “wanted this room to be warm and welcoming and a bit more feminine than the rest of the home.” By adding carpet, a vaulted ceiling and lots of windows, she made this room a little retreat.

 

While the Benedicts loved what Keller did with the home, they were ready to finish off their basement and change out a few elements on the main level after living in the space for several years. This time Skogmo was available to help with the interior design. In the kitchen, Deb’s main concern was the soapstone sink, which she felt was too rustic and required more upkeep than she wanted. A white farmhouse sink went in its place.

 

In the basement, Skogmo said, “the space needed to be comfortable and flexible for family time and entertaining. We accomplished this by having multiple televisions, durable surfaces that you did not need to worry about great colorful carpet tiles in the exercise/game room.

 

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A white farmhouse sink and granite countertops complete the overall feel of the kitchen.

Speaking of entertaining, one of the main elements in the basement is the bar. The Benedicts wanted to honor Mike’s grandpa, Harry. Harry was Irish and always the life of the party, so who better to model the bar after?

 

“Deb selected a great granite for the counter top that really set the project,” Skogmo says. “We complemented the bar with a fun hutch cabinet with maximum storage and serving space.”

 

One of the challenges in finishing the basement was incorporating a large wood beam Mike found during a commercial remodel project. He fell in love with the century-old beam and knew he had to have it. Working it into the home in the beginning may bot have been a challenge, but it was more of a process to get the huge – meaning heavy – beam into place once the home was built. Add to that the fact that it is in a central part of the basement. Proper steps needed to be taken to ensure it could support the weight of the house above.

 

Despite the roadblocks along the way, the Benedicts love their Orono home, and it is easy to see why. With the desired blend of old and new, it both reflects their personalities and accommodates the family’s active lifestyle perfectly.

 

 

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