New House Makes Beautiful Music
Find harmony by arranging for two acoustically separate spaces.
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Music is a central element of David and Lori Folland's lives, but their individual pursuits aren't always compatible. David makes violins, cellos and other stringed instruments; Lori is a pianist.
When it came time to build a house, they decided to build one with two acoustically separate spaces that enable them to live--and work--in perfect harmony.
There's a workshop for David, and there's a practice house for Lori, an accompanist for St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.
"They're both in very, very traditional fields of work," said Paul Neseth, the architect who designed and helped build the house. "My sense of their occupations is that they make minute but important modifications to a traditional form. In essence that's kind of what we did with the building as well. It fits very well who they are, and I don't think it's by chance that we got there."
A few years ago the couple was happily living in a 1950s rambler on a shady street in Northfield, Minn. Then Folland lost his studio space and couldn't find a good space with enough room and north-facing windows. They thought about building a studio and asked Folland's high-school chum, Neseth, for help.
The Follands never dreamed that they would build an architect-designed house.
"I imagined that millionaires did that or something," said David, who set a strict budget for the project at $140 a square foot. "And like most people, I didn't have a comprehension of just what they did."
The Follands were heavily involved in the design and construction, making it an unusually close collaboration between architect and client.
It was unusual also because Neseth's firm, Locus Architecture of Minneapolis, is a builder/general contractor--a rare combination in the world of residential architecture.
Neseth took cues from the couple, both of whom grew up in rural areas where barns and old farmhouses are as much a part of the landscape as prairies and forests. Neseth tried to honor those images by designing two modern buildings inspired by those modest structures.
"It really reflects who David and Lori are," Neseth said. "They're not flashy; I think they're really down-to-earth people who are very talented, so they wanted something that is beautiful, but is born out of a kind of simplicity."
The result is a pair of buildings on a one-acre prairie where wispy grasses and flowers rise and fall in the wind and songbirds flit from stem to stem.
The studio and house are both simple 22-by-36-foot rectangles with traditional gabled roofs. Situated just a few feet from one another, the house is oriented to the west (it faces a gravel road), and David's shop is situated to the north.
From a distance, these wood and stone buildings look like they might be connected, but as you head down the noisy gravel drive through the prairie you can see that the structures are separated by a concrete patio.
Inside, the house "is a little bit like a Swiss Army knife in that we've taken advantage of every little nook and cranny in there," Neseth said. "It's very efficient." Throughout the house, for example, are bookshelves, built-in benches, window seats and nooks that use every square inch. Even the walk-out lower level has a bank of built-in bookcases that conceal a Murphy bed for overflow guests.
Much of the flooring, framing and other lumber was salvaged from an old farmhouse down the road. And labor came from all over the community.
With an ensemble of helpers and lots of sweat equity, the house didn't happen fast. It took more than a year to take shape.
"We're so happy with the house and the whole process," said David, who painstakingly makes seven to eight instruments a year and understands that beauty sometimes takes time. "It's hard work, but it's worth it."
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