Last weekend, I met a couple from Indiana who were in Minnesota just for the Midwest Home Luxury Home Tour. “This is our weekend itinerary,” the wife said while tapping her Passport. “We can’t wait to see these homes.”
They booked their entire vacation solely around the Luxury Home Tour.
I’ve been with the magazine for nearly a decade now, and from the very first Tour I went on (in 2005) up until now, I’ve taken great pride in this event—providing people with the opportunity to walk through never-before-seen million-dollar (plus) homes, admiring the architecture, the craftsmanship, the “Come over here and look at this! Isn’t this cool/beautiful/smart?!” features, the creative use of space, the views, the landscaping, the neighborhoods, the interior design. I’ve always been proud of the Tour, but I guess it didn’t occur to me that the Luxury Home Tour had a reputation in states as far away as Indiana. That, to me, speaks volumes.
It also made me realize—if people are flying here for this Tour, or driving several hours to see the homes—maybe there are people who live right here in Minnesota who would love to see all 14 homes as well, but just don’t know how to get started. After touring all of the homes at various stages of construction, here are recommendations from the Greenspring marketing and administration departments:
Friday, June 20: Purchase a Luxury Home Tour Passport at your neighborhood Caribou Coffee (available at 180 Twin Cities locations) for $20. Each Passport allows one-time entry into all homes. (Single-home tickets are available for $5 at the door of the homes on the Tour.) The Tour is from 1-7 p.m. on Friday; noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Home 7: Start out by visiting one of the showstoppers on the Tour, a beautiful French chateaux-inspired home on Prior Lake’s Candy Cove Bay. Built by John Kraemer & Sons, this 6,000-square-foot multi-million dollar home is elegant, open, and inviting. Unique features include a courtyard front entrance, lakefront property with views that leave a lasting impression, and details—like soaring ceilings, archways and custom built-ins—that demonstrate the quality craftsmanship of the builders (who have been active in the building and remodeling industry since 1978). A Francois & Co. stone hood fits right into the sophisticated kitchen, with brown, cream, and tan colors repeating in the marble island countertop, kitchen countertops, and cabinet-to-ceiling tile. The rooms all have their own distinct flavor, from the pretty, sophisticated bedroom with a fireplace and balcony overlooking the bay, to the rustic lower level, with stone walls, arched doorways, a bar, billiards room, and entertainment area. This home is the epitome of luxury.
Next, head to the Edina area for homes #1, 9, and 11.
Home #1, by Carl M. Hansen Companies, features a beautiful home on a spacious lot in a new development. It feels secluded, particularly when looking out back at the pond. The space in the home is utilized in creative ways, especially in areas that aren’t always given a lot of TLC: the front entry and garage, which is situated in a way to not detract from the curb appeal of the home. Two cars can be parked in the garage, along with either a large boat or RV, courtesy of a one-stall side stall. Inside, vaulted wood beams provide a unique sense of architectural interest.
Home #9, by OSLO Builders, is a fantastic, comfortable, modern home off the 50th and France area, yet far enough away to avoid unwanted traffic. The space is sunny and open, perfect for both small family get-togethers and larger gatherings. The lower level is home to a state-of-the-art custom-built media room with all the bells and whistles.
Home #11, by Ridge Creek Custom Homes, is a great example of how—with the right builder—you can build your dream home anywhere, even an older, established neighborhood. The outdoor kitchen is a must-see, with a tin roof, stone fireplace, bar, prep space, and reclaimed wood walls. The interior, by Sarah Randolph Interior Design, is absolutely gorgeous. (Sarah was the first client of Rob Eldridge when he launched Ridge Creek Custom Homes in 2005, and they’ve worked together ever since.)
Saturday, June 21: On the second day of the last weekend of the Luxury Home Tour, visit the homes on the west side of town: home #2 in Buffalo, #4 in Minnetrista, #12 in Orono, #6 in Minnetonka Beach, and #8, 10, and 3 in Wayzata.
The Buffalo home, #2 on the Tour, is the most architecturally-interesting, and for good reason. Builder Kerry Hage of Hage Homes collaborated with nationally-acclaimed architect Charles Stinson of Charles R. Stinson Architecture + Design to create this masterpiece on Lake Martha in Buffalo. The exterior of the home—with the flat roof and walls of windows—is memorable enough, but the interior is just as breathtaking, with an open flow from room to room and elements of nature throughout, including regional stone and wood, earth tones, and impressive views of the lake. Don’t miss the loom room on the lower level (dedicated to the homeowner’s hobby), or the guitar display wall.
Home #4, by DH Homes, perfectly combines city living (you can see your neighbors) with a rural flavor (it’s still peaceful and quiet, with rolling countryside around you). This 5,000-square-foot Craftsman-style home is beautifully decorated, beautifully built, and beautifully landscaped.
Home #12 in Orono, by Stonewood, LLC, features 20-foot retractrable Phantom Screens opening the home to the outdoors, as well as a private veranda, arcade room, and home theater. It’s a great family home with amazing curb appeal.
Home #6, built by Gordon James, is memorable for a few reasons: it’s beautiful, it’s practical, and it’s located in an enviable lot in Minnetonka Beach (on Lake Minnetonka). Some stand-out features include a whole section over the garage for a mother-in-law’s suite or guest room, a large indoor sport court, a 1500-bottle wine cellar, and a master suite with floor-to-ceiling windows and a giant walk-in closet.
Home #8, by Nor-Son Homes, brings Paris to the Locust Hills neighborhood of Wayzata. The homeowners took inspiration from living in Paris to give their home a completely different feel than other homes, described by architect Peter Eskuche as cozy yet elegant, “Parisian-apartment meets grand chateaux.” Unique features include soaring 12-foot ceilings, floor-to-ceiling cabinetry, and a fireplace designed by a French artisan, an open, formal, symmetrical floor plan, a secret door hiding a giant pantry, and another door camoflauging the refrigerator. Curved wrought iron railings and a barreled copper roof add a unique look to the exterior.
Home #10 in Wayzata, by OSLO Builders, features walnut accents and cabinetry with porches, terraces, and lake views. This classic traditional home is also equipped with an elevator and fabulous chef’s kitchen that solves the problem of clutter with a custom-designed appliance center to keep the counters clean.
Home #3, built by Denali Custom Homes has a Nantucket Cottage feel designed for an easygoing active family. Unique light fixtures have been thoughtfully placed throughout the home, adding personality to the rooms. The home, situated on a corner lot, has an open floor plan—making the already large space feel even larger. Upstairs, a craft/study area transforms an ordinary hallway into useful space, and each bedroom has a distinct theme. The lower level is fully equipped for entertaining and family-friendly activities – there’s even a special “kid-sized” door under the stairs for a secret play room!
Sunday, June 22: On the very last day of the 2014 Midwest Home Luxury Home Tour, head to the homes on the east side of town.
Home #5 by Divine Custom Homes, in the Sanctuary development of Lake Elmo is worth a trip down Highway 36 towards Stillwater. The master bathroom and closet are so big you could get lost in there. Another dream-come-true feature is a fireplace over the bathtub that is also open into the master suite. The basement with reclaimed barn wood is just as cool as it sounds, complete with secret hideaways (and an archery range!) This home is beautiful without being intimidating; you can actually live here and not just admire it.
Home #13 by TJB Homes is in Gem Lake, a tiny community bordering White Bear. After traveling up a long driveway, you can tell why the homeowners selected this lot—it’s heavily wooded and heavily secluded (what neighbors?). The details of this home have been painstakingly selected, so much so that one of the homeowners actually cried when she walked into the lower level because it was perfect—just what she had imagined. The lower level, by the way, mimics a nightclub, complete with a built-in booth for card games (or conversation), a prep area, a large bar, a billiards area, and even a lower-level sauna.
Home #14, also by TJB Homes, is located in the prestigious North Oaks community. This sophisticated home, while unassuming from the outside, is deceivingly spacious inside. The gorgeous three-season porch, with vaulted ceilings and a fireplace, is a TJB “staple”—providing views of a wooded conservation area out back. Large windows also brings the outdoors in for an open, sunny feel. TJB Homes is the builder of two Extreme Makeover Home Edition Homes and a featured Bath Crashers contractor.