Anne McDonald Design’s Charming Lake House offers a chic, refreshing take on Scandinavian Design.

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Written By Jim J Neal

Haris KenjarLike the best local information, this scoop began with a visit to the hairdresser. Amanda Henke, Minnesota’s children’s author, was building her dream home at Sunfish Lake in a suburb just south of St. Paul. She sat down in the salon chair and explained her design vision to the stylist. It would be a nod to her Scandinavian heritage but not too sparse. It would have plenty of space to relax with her son, but not too extravagant.
Henke recalls, “I wanted someone to make it feel like home from the moment we moved in.” He said, “He’s like: ‘I know the perfect design for you.'”

The exterior design of the house was inspired by Edwin Lundie’s historic buildings. Haris KenjarAnne McDonald was the professional involved in this project. She has made a name for herself in the Twin Cities by renovating homes and adding vintage design treasures to them. Her design approach is also grounded in reality as she is the daughter of a local contractor. McDonald’s recalls a summer spent staring at a caulking gun one summer as she grew up on construction sites. “I was very specific about what needed to be done at a site when I cut my teeth,” she said.
The pair instantly knew that McDonald’s was the right choice for them. Henke and McDonald’s share a Norwegian heritage, which is where Ole and Lena jokes are made, and a love for the culture and its design aesthetic. McDonald’s says, “There was all this mutual Scandinavian love.” “I felt so strongly that we were meant to be together.”

The custom stairway has a unique cutout design and is located alongside the entry. Haris KenjarThey agreed that the home should have strong Nordic references, but both the designer and the client wanted a more refined, homier version of hygge. “I wanted to get away from that clean, sparse, throw-in-a-sheepskin-and-call-it-a-day thing,” McDonald says.
The house’s architects from Plaad (a local design firm) were on the same page. The work of Edwin Lundie (a Minnesota architect, who was a protégé of Cass Gilbert) inspired the entire design team. He designed cozy cottages along the North Shore of Lake Superior and family homes in the metro area. The two-story building was completed with direct hat tips to Lundie. Check out the charming porch columns and Viking-chic touches such as the cross motif at each gable.

View of the kitchen and dining area. Haris KenjarMcDonald continued the theme inside, with an “Nordic soft Traditional” look. You’ll see what she meant as soon as you walk through the door. The foyer opens into a light-filled, spacious, open-concept kitchen with dining area, sitting area, and living room. The floors and walls are light and in keeping with the Scandinavian theme, the furniture is simple and welcoming. A set of vintage wooden chairs sits around the dining table. A custom island in the kitchen features the same details on the turned legs that are found on the exterior columns of the home.

A fireplace-side snug is the ideal place to catch up on your reading, writing, and homework. Haris KenjarThe room features soft touches such as a Nickey Kehoe couch in a floral fabric, translucent curtains and a fireplace that is sourced from a local quarry. These lower-level spaces are offset by lighter timber pieces (like the custom-made dining table), and a strong emphasis on deep blue-greens. You can find these shades everywhere, from the kitchen counters to walls in the cozy “snug” behind the fireplace. McDonald’s says, “I didn’t want it to look farmhouse-y or cabiny.” “I wanted it feminine and special.”

The fireplace is locally quarried stone and the living room is designed around it. Haris KenjarA staircase that leads to the top level features a railing similar to a paper snowflake. This detail was drawn by McDonald’s. This stairway is calm and serene. McDonald’s explains that the tone is light and airy, almost like a palette cleanser. Soft pink walls are used in the main bedroom. Matching wainscoting and floor-length curtains with a delicate Decors Barbares flower make it feel spacious. Henke describes the main bathroom’s floor tiles as sand-colored, zellige. “It’s really warm underfoot,” Henke said. A midcentury Murano chandelier overhead adds a touch more glamour without making it “a sparkle palace.”

The blush-colored bedroom is the primary bedroom. Haris Kenjar
The children’s bathroom features a wallpaper with a variety of animals, including sloths, seahorses and snails. This is one of the most charming details. Ode to the Unhasty is a print that celebrates slow creatures in a fast-paced environment.
This house, like the wallcoverings, is a tribute to slow things in life. Henke is currently preparing her first children’s book. She spends her time cooking and reading with her son. It feels like you are miles from home because of the blanketing silence and frequent visits by curious coyotes, foxes, turkeys, and foxes. Henke adds that there are still signs of civilization. “We also have a flight path which I like because I reminds me that it’s still in the city.” It’s enough to feel at home ‘Up North,’
Anna FixsenDeputy digital editorAnna Fixsen is ELLE DECOR’s Deputy Digital Editor. She focuses on sharing the best of design through online storytelling and in-depth reporting.

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