Edina View Master Gary Aulik Remodels His Rambler
When Gary Aulik first came upon the mid-century brick Rambler with its outdated iron columns, disheveled entry porch, front-and-center garage, and all-around sad façade, he knew this was the place for him, his wife Laura, and their four kids. He knew that in the core of his soul because just out back, steps beyond the outdated home that was aching to be made pretty again, was the glistening Minnehaha Creek.
He could change the 2,400-square-foot house; he couldn’t change the view. And, with the setback law changes over the last half century, you couldn’t tear it down and build anew.
“The house was troubled,” says Aulik, as he sits in the dining room (which used to be the kitchen) with its clean lines and modern fixture, the light streaming in from the adjoining rooms.
But Aulik probably wouldn’t have done a teardown, anyway. As someone who remodels and restores homes for a living (“I was green way before it was cool”), he always encourages his clients who want to remodel to consider what he likes to call “smaller jewels,” instead of building “sheetrock boxes.”
So Gary Aulik set out to walk the walk.
Before the family even moved one box, one pillow or couch into the space, they redid pretty much the whole thing, and in a way that enhanced their view.
The main floor was virtually gutted. “We really looked at how we were going to live in the space,” recalls Aulik. They eliminated some walls and moved others. They opened up the foyer, which was small and cramped, and moved the dining room to the front of the house; they added a mudroom and laundry room, and redid the bedrooms.
The Auliks reworked the rear of the home to accommodate an open concept floor plan.
They transformed what once was an underused formal living room with an unattractive bay window into the family room and made it large enough to accommodate a couch, chairs and a baby grand piano.
A massive window offers a birds-eye vantage point to all who are lucky enough to sit in the room and enjoy the variety of trees, birds and creek outside.
The kitchen, which was moved to the back where the dining room used to be, is stunning with a high-end, stainless steel range, refrigerator, dishwater and sink. On the rear wall, Aulik eschewed upper cabinets, and instead added an 8-foot by approximately 3-foot window with Douglas Fir open shelves on an adjacent wall that are perfectly punctuated by natural light.
“We paid careful attention to where the windows went,” says Aulik as he watches the rippling Creek. “The view corridors are very important in this house. And we also purposely minimized the trim around the windows, so it would appear as if the windows just melt away and you can connect to what’s outside. That’s one of the things that my firm does well, and we did it here, is connecting the outside to the inside. The dialogue between the two is very important.”
To create that indoor/outdoor connection elsewhere, Aulik used an abundance of Douglas Fir timber–salvaged from a lumber mill in Oregon–in the kitchen, the bedrooms, on the fireplace mantel and on the brand new front porch.
“I like having components of inside on the outside,” he explains. “It just really pulls everything together.”
The house features sun tunnel skylights placed just so, and its exterior is stained the perfect shade of earthy green, to remind us once again of what’s just outside the doors.
The lower level boasts a large recreation room, bathroom, exercise room, utility room and a much-used screen porch.
On warm summer days, he and his kids drop a fishing line in the water and wait for the fish to nibble the line, they barbeque on the new patio, and entertain guests. They watch as the birds flit from tree to tree, and as the eagles swoop down for their afternoon meal.
All in all, Aulik is pleased with how the remodel turned out. He endured a health scare a year ago and was diagnosed with colon cancer (he’s cancer-free now), but through it all, he never missed a day of work and never once regretted the project that started quickly but gave him an opportunity to, as Gary puts it, “live for today.”
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