Home in Saint Paul by D/O

This contemporary 1,750 sq ft residence designed by D/O is situated in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Description by D/O


We live in a climate which varies annually varying from arctic to tropical. And our scarcity of light in winter contrasts with its abundance in summer. Its distinct nature at our latitude was articulated in the Norse languages with as many variations as words for snow. Ljos describes whiteness which becomes essential to our psychological survival as the world turns dark and blue. Our home strives to capture light as our ancestors did. The first two bounces, floor and ceiling, warm the blue to pure white. All other elements maintain, reflect and diffuse the whiteness.


The oak, in our mythology, is Yggdrasil, a world tree. It expresses beauty through strength and connects the sky to the terrestrial through its roots. We set out to create a place which inhabits oak, preserved in material and living in the landscape. Three existing oaks dictate its form and program. Main living spaces point to the oak to the east. Elevated indoor/outdoor living spaces reside in the canopy of those to the west. Inside, white oak replaces the sky and land, stretches beyond the eye, and guides the body through space.


We live in a transition between The Great Plains to the west and the Great Lakes to the east. This zone is dominated by the oak and aspen savannas amidst a mosaic of vegetation. Our particular moment in this zone is the St. Paul-Baldwin Plains and Moraines subsection. It is the prairie forest border of the Midwest. Our response is not restorative, but ecological consistency. While formalized, all species and their proportions are historically accurate to the land’s specific nature. Tall grass prairie, moss, blue stone, and fescues live under groves of oak and aspen. Edges are clear, but irregular and structures exist in, on, and aside the land.

Photography by Chad Holder

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- by Matt Watts