Crème de la Crème – Mpls.St.Paul Magazine

This feature was written by Studio MSP writers. While some of our advertisers were sourced, no advertiser paid to be included.

Whether you dream in color or your nights are clad in shining Calacatta marble, local custom building and remodeling teams serve as your genie, making your wildest wishes a reality. From clever wine storage and color-washed cabinets to rock-climbing walls and wallpaper statements, these highest-end homes embody the luxe life and are curated to each homeowner’s needs and goals.

True Colors

Builder: Mark D. Williams Custom Homes

Architect: David Charlez Designs

Designer: Chirigos Designs

This three-story new build in Deephaven is certainly a full house. A young, active family of five needed a multifunctional home, able to entertain adults and serve as a hub for the kids and their friends. Though the expansive 7,200-square-foot home includes a theater, sport court, craft room, pool, sauna, billiards room, glass-enclosed wine room, and rock-climbing wall, the vibe is far from Versailles. “The client likes cozy spaces, so while the home flows really well, it’s not one large, open space,” says Mark Williams of Mark D. Williams Custom Homes. After a year and a half of construction, the completed project encompasses areas for entertaining “and plenty of places for the kids to have fun and play away from the parents.”

Color stories in various rooms come together to form a cohesive and expressive home: robin’s-egg blue in the laundry-craft combo room, emerald in the pantry, and indigo in the office. “I love the color binge in the home; [it] is very indicative of the clients’ fun, vibrant, inviting [personalities],” Williams says.

Adding the much-desired design punch, color knits together the segmented spaces. “As designers, we were so appreciative that the homeowner wanted color without impeding on lightness,” says Bridget Chirigos of Chirigos Designs. “Because there were so many separate specialty rooms, we could stay within a color palette that was cohesive but go big to create a different experience in each space.”

Pantry Envy

For their must-have pantry, the clients wanted a space that was both highly functional and beautiful but not visible from the kitchen. “It was a space for keeping catering out of view as well as much of the meal prep out of sight so the family could enjoy dinners without looking at the work done to make it,” Williams says.

“The deciding factor to go green was to separate the pantry from its big-sister kitchen while bringing in color that the homeowner desired throughout,” Chirigos says.

“I love the color binge in the home; [it] is very indicative of the clients’ fun, vibrant, inviting [personalities].”

Mark Williams /Mark D. Williams Custom Homes

Suds, Rinse, Repeat

The light blue that washes the laundry room gives chores a boost of brightness. “And the kids are lured in to bring their dirty clothes,” Chirigos says.

Rocks ’n’ Roll

Partway into the project, Williams pitched a climbing wall to the clients. In what was originally designated as unfinished storage space, Williams collaborated with Nicros, a St. Paul rock-climbing wall specialist, to design a recreation space. Inspired by his sister’s passion for climbing, Williams says, “I basically designed it as if it was my rock-climbing wall.” Capitalizing on the kids’ current Ninja Warrior fascination, he added a punching bag and rings. “She loves her kids, and given that this home took a year and a half, she really wanted them to be excited to move in,” he says. “The client said her kids use it every day and it’s one of the most-used places in the home.”

Wine Glass

“It was kind of an awkward space, given the layout of the rooms, and they didn’t need another room to sit in,” Williams says. Instead, the team transformed this staircase corner into statement wine storage.

Water’s Edge Estate

Builder: MA Peterson

Architect: MA Peterson

Designer: The Sitting Room

After their kids flew the coop, a pair of empty nesters invested in an all-encompassing remodel of their 4,991-square-foot Lake Minnetonka home. The couple wanted to maximize views of the lake and modernize the layout to enhance functionality for entertaining. Their goal in updating their home was to find the ever-desirable balance of “a home that will work for the two homeowners on an everyday basis without feeling too big—yet will work for family gatherings and larger-scale entertaining from time to time,” says Mike Karlsrud of MA Peterson.

In adapting the home to the couple’s contemporary style and active lake life, Karlsrud and his team incorporated vaulted ceilings and installed 8-foot-tall glass doors along the lakeside wall, framing the natural canvas of lake views and flooding the living spaces with natural light. Every room on the main level—even the streetside rooms—has a glimpse of the lake. The views extend to the home’s sweat space, a lower-level gym with a glass garage door gazing onto the lake.

Wardrobe Change

The owner’s suite walk-in closet features individual shelf lighting, lighted shoe displays, and a lighted mirror. Floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall pocket doors keep the closet design seamless yet functional—just like our favorite leggings.

Packing Station

To prevent clutter buildup in the main closet, cue: a travel packing closet, complete “with a packing counter for frequent out-of-town business travel packing,” Karlsrud says.

Bye-Bye, Brick

A blued-metal fireplace—an alloy-formula metal finish that produces various shades of blue, black, brown, purple, copper, and brass—in the lower-level family room modernizes the fireplace façade, Karlsrud says, “with horizontal geometry and material with a special metal finish that is warm and works with the modern aesthetic.”

Mix it Up

The clients wanted “a large cooking kitchen that doesn’t scream ‘kitchen’ visually when you [see] it from the main living spaces,” Karlsrud says, “with hidden storage garages for small appliances to reduce the clutter.”

All Wrapped Up

Builder: Hendel Homes

Architect: Eskuche Design Group

Designer: Vivid Interior

Landscaping: Yardscapes

The two-headed beast of Minnesota weather is no match for a 10,000-square-foot new build in North Oaks. For a family of five who is all about entertaining and family time, a lower-level indoor-outdoor space was a must-have. The lower level becomes a cozy lounge when the white stuff flies, containing a sport court, golf simulator, bar, living room, exercise room, and outdoor cigar lounge. A pool and a hearty portion of patio are at the ready for summer break (and those sparse 80-degree fall days!).

“They wanted the spaces to feel comfortable but also unique and sophisticated.”

Amy Hendel / Hendel Homes

“They wanted the spaces to feel comfortable but also unique and sophisticated,” says Amy Hendel of Hendel Homes. “They wanted a casual elegance, nothing over the top.” Their “transitional” style, as Hendel describes it, involves blending classic architecture with a mix of modern design features inside. Dark wallpaper accents lean into the home’s layered design, adding Gatsby-esque oomph to the modern aesthetic. The kitchen and scullery (an additional prep-kitchen space) merge form and function, creating an ideal setup for the family’s much-desired entertaining-focused home.

The Stones

The home’s exterior is adorned with a custom five-stone blend, which carries onto the outdoor dining area and into the living room fireplace (not pictured).

The Dark Side

While some rooms remain light, neutral, and warm, areas like the scullery kitchen and family room incorporate darker, textural elements like graphic wallpaper, black paint, and a dark stone fireplace.


A full-wall stone backsplash accentuates the ceiling height and adds organic movement by sidestepping the grout lines of typical smaller tiles.

This article originally appeared in the February 2023 issue of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine.

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