Two Minnesota Remodels Take Top Local NARI Prizes

Two Minnesota Remodels Take Top Local NARI Prizes

By Barbara Capella Loehr

These two projects were dubbed winners by a panel of seven remodeling professionals from a record-breaking field of 62 entries, notes the NARI chapter, based here.

The kitchen by Knight Construction Design Inc. in Chanhassen, MN won in the category of Residential Kitchen Over $100,000. The firm worked with St. Paul, MN-based Michael J. Palkowitsch Design on the project. The master bath snagged top honors in the category of Residential Bath Over $50,000 for Wayzata, MN-based Streeter & Associates, which worked with Minneapolis, MN-based Randall M. Buffie Architect, Ltd. on the project.

These two projects along with winning projects in 11 other categories, plus the Best in Show category were honored at an awards ceremony sponsored by Shaw/ Stewart Lumber Co. and Marvin Design Gallery by Shaw/Stewart last November.

Here, Kitchen & Bath Design News takes a look at these two winning entries, both of which transform the ordinary into the extraordinary while maintaining a sense of comfort and warmth.


Having too little space is definitely a design challenge, but so is having too much space, according to Gary Knight, CR and owner of Knight Construction Design Inc., and Michael Palkowitsch, CMKBD of Michael J. Palkowitsch Design.

Indeed, after bumping out the back the house 4', adding a three-story addition on the back and rearranging the existing kitchen, dining room, living rowwom and den to create a better flow in the home and give the clients the open kitchen/family room they desired, Knight and Palkowitsch ended up having a huge amount of space to design.

"They now had a great big living environment in one big space, so part of the challenge was to still keep it jointed and maintain a warm and cozy feeling," says Palkowitsch of the design that won a COTY award for Residential Kitchen Over $100,000.

The solution to the atypical design dilemma was to give the kitchen a theme that was translated through the use of warm details, materials and hues.

"And that theme is what I call 'Southern comfort,'" notes Palkowitsch, who cites the tin ceiling and the post and spindle detailing, doors with cane detailing, appliqués and corbels seen on the custom Wood-Mode cabinetry and throughout the kitchen as two prime examples of this theme.

Another prime example of how Palkowtisch and Knight brought the warmth and comfort of the South up north to this Minnesota kitchen is the custom stucco hood. "In fact, it is a main focal point in the kitchen," notes Palkowitsch. "It sits above the large, commercial-style cooktop."

The other main focal point, notes Palkowitsch, is the custom, two-tiered island. "Then when you turn 360°, the next focal point is the cabinet above the bar area because of the arched shape of the back-lit glass door with cane inserts that are flanked on either side by columns," he adds.

The kitchen is finished with plenty of function in the form of a bevy of high-end appliances, all of which were furnished via the clients' connection to an appliance dealer, notes Palkowitsch.

"[And, in the end], I think it was the detail in the kitchen from the island and the Juparana Bordeaux granite countertops to the Enkeboll trim pieces and apron-style sink, plus the custom Roman-style wood columns the clients wanted plus the attention to detail throughout the entire design that really made it stand out to the judges," believes Knight. "I think it would be hard to put any more detail into the kitchen than we already did And I think we were able to give the clients a family with two young boys the dream kitchen that they wanted without having to move."


Should history repeat itself when it comes to design? Only when the design team that created a look that a homeowner truly loves in her kitchen can be reassembled to recreate the same magic for her master bath.

That's exactly what happened when building firm Streeter & Associates tapped Randall Buffie, AIA of Randall M. Buffie Architect, Ltd. for this master bath make-over, which got a COTY nod for Residential Bath Over $50,000.

Five years ago, Buffie worked with Streeter & Associates as he has on many different projects through the years on this client's kitchen remodel, which featured a curved, sandblasted glass wall. "It was an 8'-high, 20'-long, translucent, sandblasted glass wall that sliced through the downstairs to form a curving hallway leading from the garage to the kitchen," recalls Buffie. "She liked it downstairs so much that she wanted us to mimic it upstairs in the master bath."

The biggest difference, he says, is that in the master bath, the curved wall is made of walnut. "The opaque wall by Braataen Creative Woods [which also did the walnut cabinetry] draws your eye deep into the bath from the bedroom to the sandblasted glass 'box' that is the shower. The shower sits in the middle of the bath and can be accessed through a door on either side," explains Buffie, who carved the 18'x18' space from an unused home office. To do so, he flipped the master closet to the other side of the master bedroom, and reclaimed the home office for the new master bath.

Buffie notes that while the design is very contemporary, comfort was a driving force behind it.

"We had so much space. I wanted to create a Zen-like garden. The curved wall provided us the opportunity to do that. [So I created] a passive side with no windows, but with the BainUltra hydrospa tub and a black Russian polar stone tub deck and top that's flanked by lighted, fused-glass columns of water running onto beds of river rocks by GlassArt Design in order to have a more peaceful, introspective place. [Then I created] an active side with windows that provide lots of natural light, the double vanity with Kohler sinks and the secluded Kohler water closet hidden by a laminated glass shoji screen from GlassArt Design," explains Buffie.

"The shower room, which features 1"x1" green-gray granite

tiles and bench from Masterpiece Granite and Hansgrohe shower faucetry, then acts like a walkthrough between the two spaces with access on both sides," he continues.

A sealed teak floor on the active side and a quartzite flagstone floor on the passive side both featuring a Wirsbo floor-warming system finish the cozy contemporary look the architect created.

"I really think the bath was a product of unconventional thinking, with the way the collage of materials was put together. I think it was the artistic gesture that really caught the judges' eye, whilew still being very functional," concludes Buffie.