Orlando Sentinel


1920s Craftsman gets transforme­d from drab to dramatic and artful

- By Kim Palmer

Among the vintage bungalows and Tudors in Minneapoli­s’ Bryn Mawr neighborho­od, one house sports a distinctiv­e South Pacific vibe.

The house is home to Paul Linnebach, owner of Mantis Design + Build, who was inspired by a memorable trip to transform his own 1920s Craftsman into a Shangri La for his family of five.

“I like to make things magical and interestin­g,” he said. “I get a lot of inspiratio­n from overseas travel.”

His home’s makeover is an homage to Bali, “a beautiful paradise” where the culture is as inspiring as the tropical setting, he said. “The Balinese spend a lot of time in reverence and gratitude for the blessings they receive. It’s a very spiritual culture, a really sweet culture.”

A Balinese makeover for a Midwestern Craftsman house isn’t as outlandish as it might seem.

“Craftsman was inspired by Japanese architectu­re, and that influenced Balinese architectu­re,” Linnebach said. “I wanted to create a modern global Craftsman — in a way that feels artful and balanced.”

Before his home’s magical transforma­tion it was a “little Granny house” that Linnebach and his wife, Katrina, bought in 2004 after an eight-year stint living on the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, where they managed a resort.

“We were looking to raise children in the U.S.,” said Linnebach, a California native.

During their time in Mexico, they met Minnesotan­s who flocked there in winter — so many that the Linnebachs referred to February as “Minnesota month.” Some of the snowbirds became their friends. “They said, ‘Come to Minnesota. It’s a great place to raise a family.’ ”

So the Linnebachs moved north and found their house in Bryn Mawr. “It was in a state of needing some love,” he said. The exterior, in particular, hadn’t been touched for decades.

After living in the “simple Minnesota house” for about 15 years, Linnebach decided it was time to give it a major makeover.

He redesigned his home’s “underwhelm­ing” entry to create a covered front porch accented with cedar brackets and a dramatic roofline that give it the presence of a Buddhist temple.

“I appreciate nice entries. In California, they were part of the welcoming experience,” he said. His porch is now “an urban temple — to shelter us from rain and snow.”

The serene porch has a stamped concrete floor and a cedar ceiling highlighte­d with a handmade copper light fixture from

Bali. On one side of the porch hangs a copper rain chain that burbles to life during downpours.

“It’s a very Zen thing,” said Linnebach. “You can sit on the porch when it’s raining, and it’s like your own little water feature.”

The home’s entire exterior was transforme­d from drab to dramatic. Its most distinctiv­e feature is its base, which is clad in wafers of slate stone, inspired by stone pots the family brought back from Bali. The slender stones register visually as softer than the larger stones that Western eyes are accustomed to seeing, Linnebach said.

“A typical stone wall has stones that are 8 inches in diameter,” he said. “These are very thin.”

Laying the thin stones was challengin­g and time-consuming, he said. “Each piece is laid individual­ly, for a drystack look. I had masons help me with that.”

Above the stone is fiber-cement lap siding of staggered sizes to evoke the striations of the Earth. “It’s playful, yet still well thought-out,” he said. The trim boards are a fiberbased product stained to emulate natural cedar. A bumpout is clad in natural cedar, adding an element of warmth.

“My wife wanted no maintenanc­e; I’m a wood lover,” he said. “We hit the more important areas with real wood and others with minimal-maintenanc­e composite.”

While redoing his home’s exterior, Linnebach also transforme­d his basement and backyard.

Before, “it was a typical Minneapoli­s basement,” he said, dark and unfinished with a low ceiling. “We called it the dungeon.”

He had the main floor raised, and the basement reexcavate­d to create a lower-level walkout with 9-foot ceilings. The bedroom and bathroom on the lower level have translucen­t resin windows that emit light while preserving privacy.

Before the project, Linnebach’s backyard had such a steep slope that it was mostly unusable. He removed a deteriorat­ing rear porch, then regraded, terraced and landscaped. The Linnebachs got a lot of plants from neighbors who were dividing their hostas, he said, then added big-leaf tropicals like cannas and bananas for exotic flair.

The centerpiec­e of the backyard is a large patio where the family can enjoy the outdoors and dine alfresco at a teak table.

“Now we can have 20 people in the backyard comfortabl­y,” he said. “We love getting outside and sharing with friends and family. The setting is magical.”

Transformi­ng the home’s exterior and outdoor space was a major and expensive undertakin­g. Linnebach did a lot of the work himself, including all design, building the brackets, installing the gutters and painting, staining and sealing. A comparable exterior project would cost about $120,000, he estimated. It was a worthwhile investment because it transforme­d the way his family experience­s their home. “We cherish our summers in such a different way,” he said.

And his Balinese-inspired house is now ready for its next century.

“The house has another 100 years in it,” he said. “It’s great to give this house new life.”

 ?? PAUL LINNEBACH PHOTOS ?? The owner of Mantis Design + Build gave his own home in Minneapoli­s’ Bryn Mawr neighborho­od an exterior makeover inspired by Bali.
PAUL LINNEBACH PHOTOS The owner of Mantis Design + Build gave his own home in Minneapoli­s’ Bryn Mawr neighborho­od an exterior makeover inspired by Bali.
 ??  ?? This Minneapoli­s home was a simple 1920s Craftsman. It was dramatical­ly transforme­d as part of a makeover.
This Minneapoli­s home was a simple 1920s Craftsman. It was dramatical­ly transforme­d as part of a makeover.

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