Welcome to the TreHus blog! Our goal for this page is to provide useful, relevant information pertaining to the remodeling industry. This could range from information about proper care and maintenance of oak floors, to new regulations and their effects on the remodeling industry and our clients, to stories of recently completed projects and how they enhance the lives of those for whom they are built. We are open to suggestions as well - if there is a particular issue about which you would like our input or thoughts, please contact us, and we will respond to you either via email or a blog post.
TreHus Project in Houzz Article
May 17, 2013
A TreHus project was recently featured in an article on Houzz.com - a popular site where users can create ideabooks from hundreds of thousands of design photos (including ours). This article is about how to organize and declutter your home. The TreHus photo that was used was also named a 'Best of Houzz 2013' and added to more than 8,000 ideabooks. See the article here:
2013 Chrysalis Award
April 30, 2013
One of our projects, a basement, won a 2013 Chrysalis regional award! We have now won 13 Chrysalis awards in 7 consecutive years, including 2 national awards. Taking inspiration from a Jackson Pollock painting and the owner’s own work as an artist, this basement is full of whimsy and color. Strand-woven bamboo flooring is reminiscent of splatter painting, and walls flared at various angles add to the artful effect. A horizontal gas fireplace is central to the room, and a site-built barn door opens from the main living space into a painter’s studio.
Here are a few photos of the winner:
Unique Designs for Unique Homes
April 17, 2013
One of the challenging (and fun) parts of what we do is designing unique spaces for unique homes. Pictured below is a very unique home and a bathroom we just remodeled for the master suite. We picked up on the character of the home by curving the walls and the sides of the vanities to imitate the curves of the exterior. We also used a burled walnut veneer on the vanities and a painted glass sink to mimic with the faux painting present throughout the home's interior (one of the owners is a faux painter). Another great detail is the backlit mirrors - putting a rope of LED lights around the back of a mirror can be a classy way to make the room and mirror feel lighter.
TreHus Project Named 'Best of Houzz 2013'
January 22, 2013
Every year, the community on the popular website houzz.com chooses its favorite projects. This year, a craft room designed and built by TreHus was chosen. So far it has been added to 5,383 ideabooks on the site (and counting). If you haven't visited houzz.com yet, it can be a fun way to prepare for a project - you can browse over 1,000,000 home design photos and put together ideabooks of your favorites. Click here to visit our profile on the site. Below is the winning photo:
TreHus Kitchen on The Cover of Early Homes Magazine
November 28, 2012
The cover of the Fall-Winter issue of Early Homes Magazine shows a snapshot of a kitchen designed and built by TreHus. It is a country style kitchen with a blue hutch, a white marble-topped island, red stools and a red mudroom. The colors play together to create a nostalgic, homey feeling with character built into every inch. The design is simple but complete, with nothing extra and nothing missing. Read the article below or go to oldhouseonline.com.
Click here to read the PDF article.
Video About Latvian Blacksmith/Woodworking Team
October 18, 2012
This is a really inspiring short video about a Latvian blacksmith/woodworking team making an axe. It is such an amazing and uncommon thing to see this kind of skill, care and time going into something as seemingly commonplace and ordinary as an axe.
2012 B.L.E.N.D. Awards
October 11, 2012
On September 25th, the ceremonies for the 2012 B.L.E.N.D Awards and the new EcoB.L.E.N.D. awards were held at the offices of Linden Hills Power & Light, a local conservationist group. In addition to the presentation of the awards, there were presentations on Linden Hills Power and Light and its purpose, and on the Hawthorne Eco Village, a project that is revitalizing a four-block area in the Hawthorne neighborhood by building eco-friendly new homes.
According to the B.L.E.N.D. Award website, the award "encourages and rewards builders, architects, and home owners to blend newly remodeled or constructed homes and businesses into the fabric of Minneapolis neighborhoods." TreHus received an award for the MN Birth Center, which was conciously remodeled in a way that respected the home's original character and that of the neighborhood. This is now the fourth B.L.E.N.D. Award that TreHus has received since 2009. As it happens, the awards ceremony was held in a building where TreHus has done a lot of work: TreHus remodeled the offices of Linden Hills Power and Light and built a condo on the back of the building (see our loft & condo project page), as well as the Wild Rumpus bookstore, which is on the first floor of the same building. So we felt like we had home field advantage. Click here to visit the B.L.E.N.D. and EcoB.L.E.N.D. Award website. Here are a few photos from the event:
Fall Remodelers Showcase
September 19, 2012
The Fall Remodelers Showcase will be happening Friday, September 28 from 1pm-7pm and Saturday and Sunday September 29-30 from 12pm-6pm. If you've been considering remodeling, this is a good opportunity to get to see how a newly remodeled home looks and feels, and a chance to meet the TreHus team. Click here to read more. Here's a before/after of the kitchen:
TreHus Kitchen Featured in Southwest Journal Blog
September 12, 2012
A few days ago, the Southwest Journal posted a short article on their Tumblr blog about 'favorite rooms'. It was about a couple who gained space, beauty, and a view of their garden through a TreHus remodel. The new kitchen fits well with the 1908 house and has details that give a nod to the owners' Scandinavian heritage. Click here to see the blog. Below is a before/after of the kitchen:
Star Tribune Article Highlights Birth Center Benefits
July 16, 2012
Today's Star Tribune features an article about the MN Birth Center. Read it to find out why it offers a great alternative to traditional hospital births. TreHus remodeled the Victorian home in 2011 to make it into the Birth Center, which has so far won two design awards: a Chrysalis award for best light commercial remodel, and a ROMA award for specialty-other. Click here visit the Star Tribune website and read the article.
The MN Birth Center Wins Another Award
June 29, 2012
Last night at the Remodeler of Merit Awards (ROMA), TreHus was recognized for the MN Birth Center project. The ROMA awards do not have a light commercial category, so the Birth Center was in the Specialty-Other category. This is now the second award this project has won in the last few months, the first being a Chrysalis Regional Award in the Light Commercial category. Competition was stiff as usual, so we were grateful for the recognition.
TreHus Wins Two 2012 Chrysalis Regional Awards
April 30, 2012
We are proud to announce that for the sixth year in a row, our work has been selected as the recipient of a Chrysalis Regional award. This year, two of our projects were winners. The first is in the Additions $100,000-250,000 category, and the second is in the Commercial Remodel category. Here are a few photos of the winning projects - click on a photo for more information, or visit our awards page:
April 24, 2012
A part of who we are is a member of a community of artisans serving the Twin Cities by making beautiful and useful products. As an acknowledgement of this, we've made a web page on which we will be posting photos of work done by other members of the artisan community that we appreciate, as well as links to their websites. Click here to visit our Artisan Community page. Here are a few sample photos of the sorts of things you will find there:
String Trio at the Showcase on Saturday and Sunday
March 28, 2012
This weekend at our Remodelers Showcase, a string trio will be playing on Saturday and Sunday from 2-4pm. Please join us and enjoy the music!
March 12, 2012
The Spring Parade of Homes Remodelers Showcase is coming up at the end of the month. For those considering a remodeling project in the near future, this is a great opportunity to see a recently completed project up close and meet TreHus staff. Our project this year is an award-winning addition and remodel in St. Louis Park that opened up the layout of the back of the home. The home will be open to the public on Friday, March 30 from 1-7pm, and on Saturday and Sunday, March 31 and April 1 from 12-6pm. Click here to learn more. Here are a few photos:
TreHus on TV
March 8, 2012
For the first time ever, TreHus has a television commercial. It is playing on HGTV, The Food Network, and the Travel Channel now through early May in St. Louis Park, Edina, and near the Minneapolis lakes. Our hope, as in all of our marketing, is that it communicates something about who we are and our values. Take a look:
TreHus Wins State and Regional COTY Awards
February 2, 2012
TreHus recently received two new awards: A 2011 MN Contractor of the Year (COTY) Award for Additions Under $200,000, and a 2012 Regional Contractor of the Year (COTY) Award for Additions $100,000-250,000.
The first award, for additions under $200,000 is for a kitchen remodel and small addition to a Prairie Style home in South Minneapolis. TreHus removed a wall that separated the dining room from the kitchen, and carried the dining room's beamed ceiling and Prairie Style details from walls and hutches into the kitchen. An oak peninsula separates the two spaces while leaving them visually open, and a small addition lengthened the existing kitchen. Here are a few photos:
The Second award is for a dining room addition and kitchen remodel in St. Louis Park. In this project, the clients wanted to create an ideal space for entertaining. The TreHus design team, Jon Colliander and Krista Zobel, fashioned a new dining room that is open to the remodeled kitchen and the existing family room. As such, the new layout functions well as three separate rooms or one large whole.
MN Birth Center Update
December 15, 2011
The MN Birth Center is now complete! The grand opening celebration was on December 9th, and the hope is that the first babies will be delivered early in the new year. The formerly dilapidated triplex has now been transformed into a comfortable, beautiful, and peaceful place for families to bring new life into the world.
There are two birthing suites, a reception area, and an exam room on the first floor. Each birthing suite includes a bathroom, a bed, and a birthing tub. Victorian detailing and white wainscoting adorn the walls and ceiling, and the tile inlay at the entry is reminiscent of the home's original entry. The foyer is open to the second floor, creating a feeling of openness.
The second floor is for the families of those giving birth, and includes original stained glass, cabinetry, and beamed ceiling repurposed from the existing home. For more information, go to the MN Birth Center website, birthcentermn.com. Here are a few photos of the finished product:
MN Variance Law Update
July 6, 2011
Our October 14, 2010 blog post told about a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling that effectively ended the way variances had been done for more than 20 years. Rather than allowing a variance if it was a "reasonable use" of the property, it banned a variance unless there could be no "reasonable use" without a variance.
The MN legislature has now passed a new law which should essentially bring back the old standard of granting a variance as long as it is a "reasonable use" of the property. It simplifies and clarifies the old law, getting rid of ambiguous language about variances being granted where "undue hardship" would otherwise result. These changes should empower homeowners and contractors to make use of their homes and projects, while still giving local authorities plenty of oversight capabilities. Getting a variance will still be a time-consuming venture - plan on it taking several months to get one.
To see the actual revisions to the statute, click here.
The MN Birth Center
April 7, 2011
On Monday, TreHus began a project that had been in the works for 18 months. It is an old triplex across the street from Abbott Northwestern Hospital, and soon it will be the first birth center in the city of Minneapolis. The planning has taken so long because there is no precedent for how a birth center should be zoned, so the owner has had to do everything from meeting with city officials to lobbying the legislature until they passed a measure defining what a birth center is.
The idea is basically that the birth center will provide a mix between a hospital and a home birth. It will have the comfortable atmosphere of a home birth combined with the safety of a hospital. There will be doctors, nurses, and midwives on staff, and in case of emergency, it is right across the street from Abbott Northwestern.
Birth centers have become increasingly popular across the nation over the last few years, and we will most likely see more of them in Minneapolis in the near future, but it is a special privilege to be involved in the city's very first one. We will keep you updated as the project progresses. Below are a few photos of the building before any renovations:
Homeowner Action to Prevent Ice Dams
December 20, 2010
A familiar sight in Minnesota is a home with snow drifts on the roof and a mass of ice at the eaves. As rooftop snow melts it runs down the roof and can freeze when it reaches the eaves. This cycle can repeat itself until the ice at the eave forms a dam that blocks melted snow from draining off the roof. It may only be a matter of time before the water backs up under the shingles and drips down into the living spaces below.
A preventive measure is to rake the snow from the lower section of the roof. If you have an immediate problem with ice dams, the snow should be removed from the part of the roof directly above the ice dam. In severe cases, the use of heat cables may be required. If professional assistance is necessary, contact a reputable roofing company.
1929 Amundson Boat
December 10, 2010
We recently received an email from a woman in Missouri who happens to own a boat from the Amundson Boat Works (see our history page). It was made in 1929 and originally purchased by her husband's father, who later passed it down to her husband. Her husband restored it in the early 1980's and sailed it for two summers. It has spent the last 20 years or so in a shed and is again in need of restoration, which a friend of the owner is thinking of doing. Even though the boat is in rough shape and unsailable right now, one wonders if Gus and Adolf ever thought about the longevity that some of their boats might enjoy; if they ever thought "I wonder who will be sailing this boat 80 or 90 years from now?" No doubt there is an impulse in every craftsman that hopes to create something that lasts a century and is worth restoring again and again. Sailing in a beautiful, historic, handmade boat is different than just sailing. Likewise, our hope and belief is that cooking in a beautiful, custom, handmade kitchen is different than just cooking. Here are a few photos of the boat in its current, unrestored state:
MN Supreme Court Variance Ruling
October 14, 2010
In late June 2010, Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Lorie Gildea ruled on a case called Krummenacher vs. the City of Minnetonka in a way that drastically changed the way that Minnesota variance law is interpreted. For more than 20 years, a variance would be issued if the proposed project made “reasonable use” of the property in question (based on a 1989 case, Rowell vs. the Board of Adjustments of Moorhead). The new ruling in essence says that a variance should only be issued if “reasonable use” of the property cannot be made without a variance. While it is still up to the zoning board of each city to determine what constitutes “reasonable use,” it will most likely be more difficult to get a variance in the near future. So if you want to add a studio on top of your garage or build a deck that goes beyond existing setbacks, it will be more difficult to get permission to do so.
The state legislature will be reviewing the existing statute and will work to amend it in such a way as to make it function as it did between 1989 and the recent ruling. Until that happens, here is what will need to be done when considering a project:
- Do everything possible to avoid variances on a project.
- If a variance cannot be avoided, contact the specific city’s zoning board early in the planning process to get their interpretation of what constitutes “reasonable use” of a property and how that applies to your case.
- Find out if the city will offer conditional use permits or some other process to eliminate the need for a variance.
Here are a few links to articles that discuss this ruling and its effect:
The House That I Grew Up In
September 17th, 2010
I recently ran across an old photo (above) of the kitchen in the house I grew up in, and I must admit that I got just a little bit choked up. For the first 18 years of my life, that place was home. All of the memories that happened there, from playing tag in the yard, to making Christmas cookies, to bringing home the girl who would become my wife, have embued that space with deep emotional ties. It is more than just cabinets, countertops, tile and appliances to me; it is a place in which some of the most important events of my life occurred. My parents sold the house a few years ago, and it was difficult to see that the new owners did not seem to care for it in the same way we did - they even made it into a rental property for a little while.
When we work on a home, we keep thoughts like these in mind. We realize that we are never just "re-doing a kitchen" or "putting on an addition". We are caring for a space in which people will watch their children play, enjoy time with their closest friends, and relax after hard days at the office. So when someone chooses to have us remodel their home, they are placing a tremendous amount of trust in us. Our goal is always to meet this responsibility in a way that adds value to their lives and makes their home a more beautiful and functional place to build memories.
Remodelers Showcase Is Coming Up!
September 14, 2010
With the Fall 2010 Parade of Homes already underway, it is almost time for the Remodelers Showcase. If you would like to see some of our work in person, this is the best opportunity to do so. Click here for more details.
Craftsman Style Basement Remodel
July 12, 2010
One of the things that makes the Twin Cities unique and beautiful is our historic houses. With everything from charming bungalows to grand victorians, we are blessed to have many styles from which to choose. But what if you fall in love with a style of home you don't happen to own? Our solution during a recent basement remodel was to add craftsman details to a 1959 rambler. The basement now features everything you would expect from a craftsman: symmetry, simplicity, and an emphasis on the beauty of the wood. It includes a full bathroom, built-in bookshelves, and a fireplace with a large quartersawn oak mantel. Functionally however, the basement is entirely modern, with a built-in sound system, a custom suspended ceiling made in the TreHus shop, and geothermal heating and cooling. Below are a few final pictures:
June 4, 2010
"Three things—autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward—are, most people agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying." This passage from Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers is the most highlighted passage of all time by Amazon Kindle readers. It is interesting to note that a passage that resonates with so many people is not some curious tidbit about a celebrity or a hint on how to work less and earn more, but has more to do with the continuing search for meaning. How often that is overlooked in our culture! Our tendency as a culture is to think about results and money first, and the human aspect as an afterthought, if at all. The truth is that this is one area where we can have our cake and eat it too - there is a symbiotic relationship between productivity and finding meaning in work.
This kind of thinking is what drove David Amundson to create the master carpenter system. It is based on the idea that the best and most experienced craftsmen should have the opportunity to spend the majority of their time every day practicing their trade. Project managers then are the ones who deal with administrative things like staying on budget and scheduling inspections. This is as opposed to the more popular lead carpenter system in which the best craftsmen double as project managers and often spend only a minority of their time actually building. We believe that the master carpenter system not only gives our craftsmen an opportunity to do what they love, but also leads to more efficient, well-built projects for our customers.
All of this in turn fits with one of our mission statements: "Whatever work there is should have as much meaning as possible. Wherever possible, workmen should be artists."
His & Hers
May 10, 2010
Little boys tend to love things like sports and dinosaurs, whereas little girls often prefer princesses and baby dolls. So when we were asked to finish a 3rd floor space that would be shared by our clients' little girl and boy, it was decided to give them each their own space. Now they each have their own bedroom, play area, and side of the bathroom. One of the most unique and fun things about the project is the space just behind each of the children's beds: the sloping roof meant that on both sides of the attic there would be some space where the ceiling height would be too low to be used as living space. One side now contains a clothes closet for each child. It was discussed for some time what to do with the other side - should it be left as a crawlspace? Should we just drywall over it? Finally it hit us that though it was much too small for adults to use, the space was the perfect scale for each child to have his/her own little hideout. She has now filled her space with baby dolls, stuffed animals and princesses while his is the home of trucks and sports memorabilia, and his little hideout is guarded by a rather ferocious-looking triceratops.
Jon Colliander, AIA, on design philosophy
May 5, 2010
When beginning to design a new project for an existing home, there are two main questions that I like to try to answer right away: First, what is appropriate for the home in terms of scale, style, cost and flow? The object should be to make a new space blend seamlessly with the old or to intentionally mark the difference. Second, what is appropriate for the users? Though I have stong design opinions, it is important to keep in mind that the design is not for me but for those who are paying for it and will live in it. When someone has lived in a home, they often notice things about it that no one else does. So I always try to listen to and understand the thoughts, ideas and opinions of our clients and try to tailor the design to create the best solution to their individual wants and needs.
Once these questions have been answered and I have a good idea of what is appropriate for the home and those who live in it, the challenge becomes to design a solution that is beautiful, functional, and cost effective. No one wants a gorgeous kitchen that they can't use or one that provides them the tools they need but is ugly. Likewise, if the project is too expensive, it does not matter how perfect it is functionally or aesthetically. So every project is a delicate balancing act with many factors that need to be considered along the way, but one thing always remains constant: the goal of an architect needs to be to fulfill the wishes and needs of the client.
An expanded bathroom makes mornings more pleasant for a family of six
April 27, 2010
TreHus recently finished a bathroom project for a family of six. Their home in the Nokomis neighborhood has one full bathroom that all six of them use every morning to get ready for the day. Prior to the renovation, the bathroom was a long room characterized by wall-to-wall pea green tile. The vanity, shower and toilet were all a part of the same room, which did not give much privacy to the person taking a shower. There was also very little storage in the existing bathroom. The solution was to gut the bathroom and pop up a dormer, giving them the extra square footage and natural light they needed. The bathroom is now visually divided into three parts: there is an entry room, which includes built-in storage, a room for the shower and toilet, giving the occupant privacy, and a room for the dueling vanities. White wainscoting gives the bathroom a classic flair, and a tile inlay on the floor between the vanities adds visual interest. Here are a few pictures of the final result:
New EPA Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule
March 12, 2010
On April 22, 2010 (Earth Day), a new EPA law regarding remodelers' procedures for dealing with lead goes into effect nationwide. The purpose of the law is to minimize the risk of lead poisoning due to the inhalation or ingestion of lead-contaminated dust and materials (such as paint chips) disturbed during the remodeling process. The law affects any remodeling project in homes built before 1978 (the year lead paint was outlawed), and gives detailed instructions for isolating and cleaning any work area that may contain lead paint. The fine for a violation of the law is $37,500 per instance per day.
So what does this mean for those considering having work done on their home? While we do not yet know what the full effect of law will be, there can be no doubt that it will lead to an increased cost of doing business for remodelers across the nation. Remodelers will need new insurance policies, stricter documentation of lead-safe practices, training for carpenters and subcontractors, and the implementation of new systems to ensure the new law is being followed. For TreHus specifically, we hope that the change will not be too dramatic. We have always been conscientious and careful when dealing with any hazardous material, whether asbestos, lead or other. In our 28 years of doing business we have never had an instance of anyone - carpenter, subcontractor, homeowner or homeowner's children - reporting elevated blood levels of lead as a result of our work. TreHus is a certified lead-safe firm, and multiple members of our staff and crew are certified lead-safe renovators.
Here are a few links to webpages and articles that further explain the new law: