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1 Challenge We wanted our staircase to be a focal point and for it to feel light and airy, yet have an industrial feel. Solution Architect Michael Huber designed a wood and steel staircase with open-back risers that's surrounded by windows. We decided to introduce glass as the landing floor for a strong contrast to the other materials, and to let light pass into the basement.

2 Challenge Separation between our public and private spaces, especially the office for my wife, Stacy. Solution An extension off the mid-level stair landing between the first-floor public rooms and the second-floor private rooms that's large enough for an office.

3 Challenge We like the look of concrete floors, especially in bathrooms where wood isn't the most practical solution, but pouring a concrete floor on an upper level is tricky and expensive. Solution We used sheets of inexpensive concrete backer board that's stained, sealed it and installed it like big floor tiles.

4 Challenge We wanted a cool, modern fireplace, but many of the ones we looked at were over our budget. Solution We found a sleek, clean-lined fire box and had a unique surround fabricated from metal panels leftover from the expansion of the Walker Art Center.

5 Challenge In the boys' bathroom we wanted floors that would stand up to the wear and tear of our two sons. Solution We used a sheet of rubberized industrial coin-textured matting, designed to stand up to cars and trucks, as the finished floor.