Design Details: Raising An Eyebrow

A Minnetonka, Minn. builder answers the call to build a Craftsman-style house that doesn't look like every other Craftsman

Craftsman-style portico
January 15, 2018
Project: Shiell House, Wayzata, Minn. 
Builder: Lecy Bros. Homes & Remodeling, Minnetonka, Minn.  
Designer: Kieran J. Liebl, Royal Oaks Design, Lake Elmo, Minn. 
Lecy Bros. Homes & Remodeling based in Minnetonka, Minn., has been building Craftsman-style homes in the Minneapolis area since 1983. But as Lecy Bros.’ co-owner Roy Lecy notes, even in the case of traditional homes, trends come and go. So, when a client wanted “something different—that didn’t look like all the other Craftsman-style homes built here between 2010 and 2017,” Lecy recalls, the builder looked to Royal Oaks Design and owner Kieran J. Liebl, a specialist in traditional and Craftsman homes.
Portico view of Craftsman-style porch
The homeowners sought a special entry focal point, Liebl says, and the team came up with the idea for an eyebrow portico, where the roofline is carried over the entry in a continuous wave. Eyebrow dormers are often associated with the Shingle style and 19th-century buildings in the northeastern U.S., thanks to the work of architects such as Henry Hobson Richardson. Cedar shake shingles further evoke historical authenticity. But as Liebl acknowledges, that particular architectural flourish is less common in Minnesota. 
Inside view of portico
Constructing an eyebrow portico isn’t unlike building the hull of a boat, with graduated sections resulting in a three-dimensional curve. The design may sound simple, but execution is not. It’s very hands-on, Liebl says, demanding “an extremely competent framing contractor to get the perfect arch, the perfect radius,”
Lecy adds. Waterproofing and diverting water runoff are key. A metal template cut for the metal contractor ensured that drip caps were properly fit to the arch. “Every part of it involves a degree of difficulty,” Lecy notes. “The detail adds a significant amount of cost—but also a significant amount of beauty.” Shiell House has won several design awards, including a nod for design detail in NAHB’s 2017 Best in American Living Awards.

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