Designed by architect, Dan Nepp, and senior project manager, Tom Van de Weghe, of TEA2 Architects, this shingle style lake home in Excelsior, Minnesota, beautifully balances historic context and detail with an open, sun-splashed modern plan.
“The client really had respect for the context of where he lives, the culture and history of place, and the scale and character of the home,” Nepp said. “He wanted to do it the right way.”
This desire ultimately led them to Shingle Style, an architectural style characterized by informality, the creative interpretation of gables and dormers, changes in scale, livability and playfulness. Plus, it was a style already represented on the lake.
The story-and-a-half plan drawn up by Nepp and Van De Weghe lowers the roofline to give the house a smaller scale more in line with the older, historical homes in the area. Instead of bullying itself into awareness through hulking mass, the home asserts itself in a quieter, more assured way with exquisite detailing, quality materials and a surplus of obvious charm. “They wanted a sophisticated house, but one that’s casual,” Van De Weigh said. “When people look at his home, our client wanted them to think ‘that’s a home that belongs here’.”
And while historical context was important to the design, the client also wanted as much daily engagement with the lake and surrounding environment as possible. To help create this deep connection to the lake and land, Nepp and Van De Weghe used an impressive variety of styles and sizes of Marvin windows and doors throughout the home.
“Windows are highly important to the architecture of the inside and outside,” Van De Weghe explained. “How much character they deliver to the inside, how we look at our view, gain the light—the windows aren’t simply applied to the skin.”
In the front of the home, large Ultimate Double Hung G2 windows from the Marvin Signature Collection frame lake views. Above them, operable transom windows open to invite in the lake breezes. Traditional divided lites add detail that nods to historic precedent without appearing old. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The clean lines of the white-painted double hung windows are crisp and fresh, and complement the predominately white walled interior. And the large expanses of glass soak in every last drop of daylight.
Elsewhere, Ultimate Sliding French Doors open onto terraces, seamlessly bringing inside and outside together. Even closed, the big glass draws the eye outside—extending the living space and making the cozy home feel bigger.
“One thing we specialize in is how to open these houses, and give a great light and feel for the outdoors, but stay within some type of historical character,” Nepp said.
Because the home is located on a long, narrow infill lot, Nepp and Van De Weghe had to find creative ways to balance the client’s wish for abundant natural light with the practical need for privacy. These site constraints led to inventive design solutions that satisfied both objectives.
To maximize light and privacy, translucent, water and colored glass was specified on the East- and West-facing windows of the home. The different glass types alter slightly the characteristics of light without compromising its quality or quantity, while obscuring clear views into the home. To create the faux stained glass in the dining room, Nepp and Van De Weghe used colored overlays cut to fit each individual pane. Half-curtains on the windows in the kitchen and breakfast nook provide a less permanent measure of privacy, as they can be lowered for full exposure.
Even spaces one wouldn’t expect to be radiant are filled with warm natural light. For example, a row of eight Ultimate Double Hung G2 windows illuminate the upper hall and throw light down against a white-paneled wall along the stairway, bouncing secondary light into the entry space. “We think that light cascading from above is so much different than going up into darkness versus up into more light—it has an emotional, psychological impact,” Nepp said.
In the master bedroom, a small bank of three Ultimate Double Hung G2 windows is wrapped in a window box—a gesture intended to “Celebrate the event of light coming through,” according to Nepp. The visual effect may be subtle, but it demonstrates the lengths Nepp and Van De Weghe went to create diversity in daylighting throughout the home.
In the living room, small windows high on the wall appear inconsequential at a glance but are there for a very specific reason. Because if they’re not, you don’t see the sky, you don’t see leaves, you don’t get to enjoy the shifting natural light. Without them, the connection to the outdoors is diminished. “It’s not just a window on a wall—it’s part of a larger conversation,” Van de Weigh said.
The thoughtfulness of window placement is writ large in this home. Every small detail is intentional and absolutely integral to the bigger story being told through intelligent design, diverse material choices, exceptional detailing and light. A home that’s unmistakably historic in character, yet completely reimagined for modern times.
The Excelsior Lake Home project was the Best Traditional New Construction winner in the 2018 Marvin Architects Challenge.
Name: Excelsior Lake Home
Location: Excelsior, Minnesota
Architect: Dan Nepp
Senior Project Manager: Tom Van de Weghe
Firm: TEA2 Architects