Creating a Tranquil Home: Designed with purpose, meaning, hidden treasures and a room for prayer

Amid trees in the Mayo Woodlands area on a four-acre lot sits the home of Sameer and Rachana Nevile, built by Craig Swanson Builders Inc. This Craftsman-style exterior home has a four-car, side-load garage and a colored, stamped concrete walkway to the front door. It has a combination stone- and cedar-style lap and shake cement board siding exterior. 

Collaboration and Communication

After touring the parade of homes in Minneapolis and Rochester and getting ideas, the Neviles made the decision to build and contacted Craig Swanson, builder and contractor. Craig presented plans from previous builds and made the modifications based on the Nevile’s needs. Architectural sketches created by Mark Sawyer, an independent architect with MHS Design LLC, came next, preliminary pricing, then back to the architect for the final blueprint. 

“We all worked together as a team to carry it through,” says Craig. There was collaboration and communication with the Neviles from the very beginning. Much thought, planning and effort went into designing this house.  

Sameer worked with a three-dimensional computer program, which gave the ability to walk through the plans and make changes, such as the guest suite and enlarging the windows. “Larger windows maximize the natural light,” says Sameer. 

“We started out with a basic plan and changed it,” says Rachana. Each change made on the inside meant a change on the outside. 

Rachana commented that Craig kept them on task. “He was very good about setting guidelines,” Sameer comments. The initial meeting with Craig was in April of 2013. The decisions and drawings took from April to September 2013. Ground was broken in October, and in September of 2014, the Neviles moved into their new home. 

They also collaborated with Renee Redalen, interior designer, Tranquility Inspired Designs LLC. As a designer, it is important for Renee to grasp her clients’ personal design style. “The design process went very smoothly because they had a clear vision of what they imagined their house to be,” says Renee.

Purpose and Meaning 

After years of renting, the Neviles wanted a home that would meet their needs through the various stages of life. Each room has a purpose. They added a guest suite on the first floor with an en suite bathroom. It was important to create the guest suite for visiting family, guests or a family member that could not get up the stairs due to injury or illness—part of their long-term planning.

The home has an open concept, so that everyone can see one another, yet be in different spaces. Natural light fills each room, with a large window that overlooks the mature wooded area just steps from the backyard. Sameer says, “We wanted to have natural sunlight from all directions.” 

The windows are high-efficiency Marvin Integrity and are shaded with Hunter Douglas Silhouette blinds, which have the ability for complete privacy when closed and are light filtering when open. All interior lighting fixtures and recessed lighting are LED and motion sensored. The lighting is on dimmer switches, to create an ambience for individual needs. 

The living area has a coffered ceiling and a gas fireplace surrounded by black tile, giving the illusion that it is larger than it is. Above the fireplace is a large LCD television.  The open concept carries through to the kitchen, an informal dining area and onto a back porch complete with phantom screens that can be lowered as needed. The tranquil porch has a lovely full-length swing from India, sent by Rachana’s father. She says, “I love spending time on the swing enjoying the outdoors and frequently drink my tea here in the morning.”

Hidden Treasures

The kitchen has hidden treasures. A hidden walk-in pantry holds both Indian and other tastes in foods. It wraps behind the wall of the gas-fire range, cabinetry and counter top, connecting to a small office space separated by a wall. A built-in, cabinet-depth, Sub-Zero refrigerator/freezer is part of the white cabinetry, which is host to a beverage fridge/wine cooler, with glassware, plates and other accessories overhead. 

The granite island has an under mount sink, and inside the island are two dishwashers. Sameer says, “We have cabinetry on most of the appliances except the stove, as we love simple and minimalistic design.” All of the appliances have an Energy Star Rating.  

Their home has main and second level laundry areas, five bedrooms, each with its own bathroom and a powder room, for a total of six bathrooms. The master bedroom’s en suite bathroom brings in light and nature. The shower walls and floor are tile with a glass door, and a vanity with a solid glass mirror reflects the trees from the window above the whirlpool bathtub. The double vessel sinks sit on a marble surface. The decision to bring the outdoors inside was “something between Renee, the homeowners, and myself,” Swanson says. 

The tile flooring throughout the home is heated. The bedrooms and basement are carpeted, and the rest of the home has a beautiful deep stained walnut floor. The walls are warm grays throughout the first floor, creating a serene effect. Off-white trim, crown moldings, doors and cabinetry make for clean lines and a contemporary style. 

Thankful for the Process

According to Craig, choosing a theme and carrying the theme throughout the home is very important. The Neviles had a theme and a clear vision, and Craig and Renee did an extraordinary job making that vision a reality, a home the Neviles will enjoy for many years. Sameer says, “We have absolutely no regrets about our home building process and for that we are thankful.”

Across from the formal dining room is a prayer room, reminding us once again of what is important in life to the Nevile family. The French doors are open, welcoming them home.  

Anne Scherer is a freelance writer living in Rochester, Minnesota.