Top Floor Makeover: Elevated Living at The Carlyle
While many couples choose to downsize their homes after the kids move out, few choose a downtown Minneapolis skyscraper as the setting for their next adventure. But for the new owners of the Carlyle’s penthouse suite – an art deco-inspired condominium on the banks of the Mill District river – the decision to swap their Orono family home for the hustle and bustle of city life was easy, thanks with a lively atmosphere and proximity to restaurants and shops. The couple had already been living in the building for over a year when the top-floor unit went up for sale, and the two jumped at the chance to enjoy stunning views and more space to hang out. to entertain.
However, this extra space would have to be created since the unit – while quite spacious at just under 3,000 square feet – had a restless, confined layout that was divided into smaller, separate areas. Heavy crown molding, dark trim, and drop soffits were used to define rooms and hide ductwork, but they also blocked views through the space and out. “The whole unit had a much more interior-centric feel,” says architect Bob Le Moine of PKA Architecture. “It wasn’t about the view or anything outside, when that’s really the whole point and benefit of living on the top floor.”
The goal of the renovation was to take full advantage of the incredible three-sided views of the Mississippi River and the surrounding cityscape, which includes landmarks such as the Stone Arch Bridge, Gold Medal Park, and , beyond, the new ELEVEN residential tower. For starters, “we completely gutted the space,” says Ian Alderman, senior project manager at Streeter Custom Builder. “We removed all the interior walls we could (ceilings, mechanical, electrical) and started over. This is the blessing and the curse of condominium living: everything is integral, but you are confined to the space given to you.
Ducts have been reworked to allow for increased ceiling heights (forming a continuous plane that connects the main living areas), and several concrete shear walls that could not be removed have been cleverly concealed in the new kitchen. Placed in the middle of the condo to anchor the design, the kitchen is now the entertainment center of the home. Up front, a 17-foot white quartz island takes center stage, offset by a striking backdrop of black-stained cabinetry with an inset of floating shelves that echo the island’s design. Behind is what the design-build team affectionately calls the “real” kitchen – a kitchen-style prep area perfect for containing clutter.
“It’s a unique design meant to maximize entertaining: there’s space up front for guests to sit and relax, but it’s easy to hide clutter by keeping dishes and appliances in the back,” says Le Moine. “It really is the favorite area of everyone involved.”
Interiors have been designed to be modern yet comfortable, according to interior designer Brooke Voss. White walls, light wood floors, and plenty of mirrors keep the space bright and airy, while sleek light fixtures and sleek black window frames add drama. Near the entrance, an impossible-to-remove floating wall has been finished with authentic Venetian plaster by local artist Darril Otto and transformed into a beautiful backdrop to showcase the art. Contemporary furniture selections have been paired with classic pieces to create a balanced sense of timeless modernity, particularly evident in the living room, where four sculptural B&B Italia chairs make an elegant statement.
“These chairs are definitely more modern, but paired with a classic concrete table, a beautiful wool rug, and mouth-blown sconces,” says Voss. “These details help keep more contemporary pieces from feeling too cold or harsh.”
The bedrooms were tucked away at the ends of the U-shaped floor plan for maximum privacy. The master bedroom has been reconfigured to take advantage of views of the Guthrie Theater and US Bank Stadium, and the two guest beds and bathrooms are located next to a spacious office for work-from-home comfort . Paintings and sculptures from valuable client collections were layered to provide the perfect finishing touch.
“The owners were involved from start to finish and had a very critical eye for detail, from where to place the light switches to where the joints and the grain of the wood that wraps the kitchen have landed,” says Voss. “As they took such an incredible amount of time to plan their new home, they were even more thrilled with the outcome.”