There may be no better time in history to own a home that makes daily life feel like being on vacation. This Scandinavian style, chalet-like house nestled into a treed lot in Edina lets homeowners Brian Patty and Janet Skalicky enjoy the beauty of nature and the simplicity of thoughtfully selected amenities. Every detail from the position of the house on the lot to the pitch of the roof were specifically designed to give the couple a home well suited to their stage of life and their appreciation of the environment. Woman-owned City Homes built this beauty after over a year of owner Rebecca Remick trying to figure out how to build a cool and different house at a price point that people can afford without sacrificing the high standards of a premium build. Talk about a win-win. Here’s how it all came together …
Patty and Skalicky felt their previous home was too big after their grown children graduated from college. “I didn’t want to clean rooms we don’t use,” says Skalicky who also wanted to do something different. She found a photo online of a Scandinavian style bed and breakfast in Canada. This would be the inspiration for their new home. She showed the photo to Remick and was astonished to learn she had the same photograph saved as a potential muse. “All of my efforts on right-sizing is about not wasting space,” says Remick. This build would be about allocating space to where it can be best appreciated once the kids are gone.
The design and aesthetic are nature based with floor to ceiling windows in the living area in order to invite nature in. The homeowners also worked extensively with the builder to position the house in order to save as many existing trees as possible. A huge bur oak stands just outside those giant windows. Patty says they love seeing the woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, squirrels and chipmunks all enjoying the existing landscape. They were afraid the visiting turkeys they saw during the build might not return once a backyard cedar fence was installed. Thankfully, the turkeys just fly over the fence to continue their entertaining trots across the couple’s yard. The couple’s two Italian greyhounds also enjoy the view. The pair of pups are often snuggled on their dog bed near the window entranced by the wildlife on the other side of the glass.
The front entry, garage entry mud room and fireplace base along with the main floor powder room and two upstairs bathrooms all have grey slate tile flooring. The rest of the house has ash wood plank flooring sanded smooth; the consistency of materials throughout provides a calming effect. If you can avert your eyes from the pull of nature outside the grand windows, the indoor focal point is a custom wood-burning fireplace. “We learned from our old house that we didn’t enjoy [a gas fireplace],” Skalicky says. Plus, this house was all about going back to nature, making a crackling fire that much more appealing. They partnered with Acucraft Fireplaces in Big Lake, Minn. to complete the modern Scandinavian fireplace design.
The open floor plan includes dining for 8-10 guests and a kitchen featuring a large granite-topped island with marble counters and backsplash outlining the rest of the plain white cabinetry. Lighting was chosen specifically so as not to obscure the eyeline to the outdoors. A screen porch expands the home’s living space toward the backyard. A slider connects the kitchen to the screen porch where there are standard screens and a single door to the outside. Deciding against a huge opening or movable screens was a cost savings that fit the homeowners’ needs. Remick says the gas fireplace in the screen porch adds interest without the need for anything more elaborate. The same can be said for the backyard lap pool which is a simple pleasure and space for exercise devoid of any fancy add-ons. It’s the natural landscape of this property, recently a certified as a Wildlife Habitat® by the National Wildlife Federation, that provides the real visual interest.
Patty’s mother and grandmother were avid gardeners and he has followed along that garden path. “Every place I’ve lived, I’ve done a lot of trial and error gardening,” says Patty. “I started to pay more attention to what grows best in my landscape and discovered what survives is native.” Patty worked tirelessly to plant a variety of native shrubs, perennials and grasses. He included chokeberry, dogwood and serviceberry. He also planted a lot of milkweed, cone flower and liatrus. He says, “Prairie Moon Nursery [in Winona, Minn.] has a way to order a rusty patch bumble bee garden with a selection of plants that the bee likes. It’s a mix of things like blazing stars, cone flowers and prairie dropseed grasses.” Patty also planted allium and blue aster to ensure season-long visual interest and food sources for pollinators.
Getting in the garden is a good stress reliever and provides good exercise. “I had a long career in emergency medicine,” says Patty. “[Gardening] is a good way to mentally relax. I find it very therapeutic in that way. I can’t wait for spring because we designed the house to take advantage of the yard.”
This couple’s love of nature is quite literally capped off with a green roof atop the garage. Once you ascend the cable-railed staircase from the main living area to the second floor, you’ll find two guest bedrooms ajoined by a Jack and Jill bathroom, a laundry room and an owners’ suite. Take a peek out the upper story windows and you’ll discover a field of sedum growing on the garage roof. Patty says it made perfect sense to plant on the flat garage roof since it would provide a better view and he’s a big fan of as much greenery as possible. “Bachman’s has this great solution that comes in trays,” says Patty. “You just order the trays and the plants come fully potted. You just lay them down and they are self-sustaining, require little maintenance and help decrease runoff because they absorb a lot of water.”
When asked what they love most about their new home, Skalicky says, “I love everything. The windows and the trees and the setting.” We can see why they love it. This visual stunner derives its beauty from its modesty and intentionality, like an embodiment of redefined priorities, something everyone can likely appreciate this year.
Collected artwork inside this home were created by local artists
Visitors are greeted by a whimsical portrait in the front entry by Terri Hallman. terrihallman.com
Portraits in the main living area are of hand tinted flowers by Jennifer Bong Foto. jenniferbongphoto.com
The second floor landing and the home office each have mounted neon works by Brian Crawford. ne-art.com
A panoramic in the upstairs hall is of the State Fair Midway by Chris Faust. chrisfaustphoto.com
Portraits in the owners’ suite are of birds being released during bird banding and were captured with high-speed photography by Paul Nelson. wildbirdsflying.com