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A northern cabin that celebrates sauna culture. A net-zero new build. A modest addition that makes all the difference in the world.

In the annual Star Tribune and American Institute of Architects Minnesota contest, this year's Home of the Month winners show there's more than one way to dream up outstanding home design. Every month starting in June, we'll shine a spotlight on one of the 12 award-winning homes as architects and homeowners give us a look behind the scenes.

Here are the 2024-2025 AIA Star Tribune Home of the Month winners:

Greater than or equal to ADU

Design team: Carl Gauley, AIA; Grayspace Architecture

A Minneapolis resident who believes in small-scale residential structures decided to build an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) in her Longfellow lot. The architect and homeowner decided to scale back the square footage even more than what the city would have allowed to seamlessly blend with the existing house and neighborhood. Still, the ADU looms large in a design that feels spacious through the use of bump-outs, clerestory windows, a double-height staircase and more.

City Cottage Reimagined

Design team: Leffert Tigelaar AIA; Peter Matheson; Janet Lederle, TEA2 Architects

A couple loved their place near Lake Harriet in Minneapolis, a quaint lake cottage originally built as a summer fishing house. However, its poor layout didn't lend itself to entertaining. The result is a remodel and addition that includes a mudroom, updated primary suite and easy-to-entertain amenities while giving a nod to the house's cottage history via marine millwork and mahogany finishes.

Como Gardenside

Design team: Mark Larson, AIA; Kathleen Freiderich, AIA; Rehkamp Larson Architects

For a family that loves to cook and entertain and who are avid gardeners, a modest one-story addition of a 1930s house in St. Paul at 420 square feet solves space needs while seamlessly blending with the original home. Key was the addition of a mudroom, sunroom and scullery, which allow for three access points to the backyard. A kitchen remodeling created a better flow, letting the family enjoy one of their favorite pastimes.

Flower Valley Homestead

Design team: Beth Halstenson, AIA; Jackie Colpaert, Allied ASID; Jen Wojtysiak Assoc. AIA; Lisa Antenucci, Allied ASID; Kurt Gough, Assoc. AIA; Shelter Architecture

A modern country home set on a former apple orchard in the Red Wing area is designed with family gatherings, age-in-place living and picturesque setting in mind. Three workstations for communal cooking and a lower-level walkout with a guest bunkroom and bedroom suite are part of the design. Meanwhile, the placement of larger-than-life windows offers stunning views of the landscape.

Guitar Hero by Christopher Strom Architects.
Guitar Hero by Christopher Strom Architects.

Alyssa Lee Photography, Provided

Guitar Hero

Design team: Chris Strom, AIA; Eric Johnson, AIA; Rachel Alexander, AIA; Brett Biwer, Assoc. AIA; Christopher Strom Architects

An active father/daughter duo wanted a home in south Minneapolis to better accommodate them, their two dogs and expanding collection of sports equipment and musical instruments. They found a small lot where the design team managed to maximize space, create privacy and carve out space for a tuck-under garage in an area where detached garages are more commonplace. Clerestory windows, floor-to-ceiling glass and a two-story stair hall provide abundant natural light while a rooftop deck further connects to the outdoors.

Merriam Park Cottage Renewal

Design team: Todd Hansen, AIA; Jim Kuipers, Assoc AIA; Albertsson Hansen Architecture and Interior Design

A modest 1½-story house gets an overhaul, while maintaining its vintage feel. An addition to a 1916 St. Paul home increases the kitchen's square footage, adds a small covered porch with easier access to the backyard and expands the second floor to accommodate three bedrooms. Existing spaces are opened up to create better flow between gathering areas. White shaker-style cabinets and trim, as well as tall windows, add airiness and lightness.

Mirror Lake Midcentury by PKA Architecture.
Mirror Lake Midcentury by PKA Architecture.

Spacecrafting Photography, Provided

Mirror Lake Midcentury

Design team: Carl Olson, AIA; Kristine Anderson, Assoc. AIA; Peter Atkins, Assoc. AIA; PKA Architecture

A midcentury Edina rambler's "casually luxurious" personality continues to shine through, while eliminating duplicate spaces to make room for an expansive owners' suite, two home offices, a mudroom and more. Relocating the original staircase for better flow and vaulting the living room ceiling to invite light-filled spaces were game changers.

Net Zero and Pond Perfect

Design team: Eric Odor, AIA; with Alyssa Jagdfeld, AIA; SALA Architects

Nestled in the prairie on a gentle slope overlooking a pond, a site in Bloomington presented the perfect opportunity to build a net-zero home. The all-electric, highly insulated house with triple-pane windows, high-efficiency appliances, LED lighting, solar-paneled roof and geothermal heat pump system produces as much electricity as it consumes. Cedar accents and black corrugated metal help define the home's elegance, as does a dream kitchen, two-story living and dining space as well as screened porches that maximize outdoor views.

Rod Stuga

Design team: Paul Buum, AIA; SALA Architects

A grandmother wanted to be closer to her grandchildren, so she built a house in south Minneapolis right across the street from them. She wanted a small footprint that kept aging in place — and play spaces for the grandkids — in mind. The result is an energy-efficient house that also gives a nod to the homeowner's Swedish heritage with a red exterior, decorative railings, richly stained woods and a blue tile fireplace surround. Meanwhile, a skylit loft serves as a playroom for the grandkids in this modern take on traditional Scandinavian design.

Ski Hills Cabins and Saunas

Design team: Carl Gauley, AIA; Grayspace Architecture

A couple went from frequent visitors of the North Shore to homeowners of a vintage A-frame chalet near Lutsen Mountain. That was only the start. They went on to build a brightly colored "Scandinavian village" of contemporary cabins, each with its own cedar sauna outbuilding. Slight rotations in floor plans give each cabin privacy from neighbors. Vaulted ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, sliding glass doors and private covered decks look out onto the boreal forest.

The DIY House by Studio Hara.
The DIY House by Studio Hara.

Studio Hara, Provided

The DIY House

Design team: Michael Hara, AIA; Studio Hara

What happens when an architect with a passion for DIY builds a house from scratch for himself and his growing family? In this case, a "woodsy California modernism" home the architect primarily designed, contracted and built. In addition to taking on everything from framing to millwork, eco-elements including a green roof were incorporated into this North Oaks home.


Design team: Chris Strom, AIA; Eric Johnson, AIA; Froukje Akkerman, AIA; Sydney Swift; Christopher Strom Architects

This sculptural home of metal, glass and wood creates "Nordic zen" vibes while offering just the right backdrop for the homeowner to display his extensive art collection. Set against a prairie in the east metro suburb of Grant, the house features walls of glass, plus design elements that frame views of wetlands. Passive ventilation and local sourcing are also emphasized in the design.