Historic Bluff Home
St. Paul, Minnesota

Opening up views to the Smith Avenue High Bridge and Mississippi River Valley and naturalizing the site were the owners’ main priorities for this project, which also included renovation of the house. Because the site is triangular and has a 40-foot bluff setback requirement, the buildable area was very small and oddly shaped. The addition was planned to step back along the bluff setback line, which allows grand views from the living room, dining room, kitchen and master bedroom. A small deck off the dining room allows access to a large stone terrace for outdoor entertaining and dining. The deck had to meet the setback requirement and the terrace was permitted with a variance. A low stone retaining wall along the terrace and a stone stairway to the lower level were constructed with a large portion of limestone excavated from the site. An existing fence running parallel to the bluff was replaced and pushed out to the very edge of the bluff, allowing it to be several feet lower and to not obstruct the view. This also increased the useable yard space by 25 percent. Most of the plants specified were native species that are sources of food for either the homeowners or wildlife.

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