Anna and Dietrich Haar dreamed for years of building their ideal family house for their busy family of five. The hope was to strike a balance: they wanted to have enough room, in and out, for their three school-age kids to play while also having the interior layout neat and orderly.
“With European heritage, and having spent time in Austria, Denmark, and Germany, we both have a deep appreciation for simplicity and utility in design,” Dietrich says. “It’s easy to design something striking simply to make a statement, but to craft an efficient, economic home for a family with three young, very active children is much harder."
When the couple found a spot on Lotus Lake in Chanhassen they enlisted Christian Dean, who was transitioning from CityDeskStudio to his own firm, Christian Dean Architecture, along with Elevation Homes, to make their dream come true. The lakefront site had a sloping terrain that Dean immediately worked to their advantage. He designed the 3,700-square-foot, two-story home with the grade, leveraging the topography to create a full lower level with a walkout instead of a traditional basement. This maximized their overall living space and views while saving money.
“With their budget it would have been hard to support a basement and two stories above. This is a good model if you have the right site,” Dean says.
The blueprint worked out that all living spaces—the kitchen, living room, and bedrooms—front the lake and only the mudroom and dressing rooms are landlocked. The master suite is upstairs, while three bedrooms are downstairs with more water views. “The kids are separate, but they’re not in a hole, they’re in a walkout,” Dean adds.
For materials, Dean used budget-friendly Hardie board, which he complemented with Cyprus on accent walls and ceilings. “Cyprus sounds more exotic than cedar but it’s less money and adds warmth and richness,” Dean says. To work within budget Dean says they all embraced IKEA for the cabinetry and built-ins in the kitchen and bath.
The biggest splurge was on glass for the large amount of windows used. Dean used commercial-grade windows on the elevated tall spaces that have a thin profile with aluminum frames to create “thin sight lines” and further cut down on any heaviness. A two-sided fireplace warms both the living room and the three-season porch, where the family loves to sit and enjoy the views of the water and cool breezes wafting through.
“We love the simplicity, the soaring ceilings, and of course the big windows overlooking the lake,” Dietrich says. “Just walking in and feeling the wide open space is uplifting and inspiring.”