August 10 2021 0Comment

Aurora House (Literary meaning: The Dawn)

A long narrow floorplan in an historic building is transformed into a warm gathering space for family and friends with a nod to its industrial roots.  

Space planning was key in this vacation rental project.  The owners wanted quiet suites for guests to retreat and common spaces for kids.  They also wanted to make the most of their unusual sun filled porch overlooking beautiful Lake Superior.  The open kitchen/lounge area needed to serve as space for guests to cook, dine and congregate.  The owners challenged us to come up with a one of a kind design that would attract the many visitors who flock to Duluth year around.

Entry/Bunk Room

The entry features a stunning modern light fixture, which, juxtaposed against the 100 year old exposed brick walls starts to tell the industrial-modern story of the space.  Over scale vintage photographs reinforce the industrial and manufactural history of Duluth.  The bunk room includes hand built bunks and details such as lights on individual switches along with convenient electrical amenities like cell phone charging ports for each sleeping area.  The soaring windows include generous black trim to draw the eye to Duluth’s busy arts district.  The roomy living area is a space that is ready for digital or old fashioned games.


Three suites were created in the center of the floor plan, making the most of the exposed brick to tie an original finish to the modern design.  Individually switched light fixtures are user friendly, and the built in cabinetry is a convenient drop zone for busy travelers.  The black trim and doors become as additional finish as the color is bold and interesting against the cool paint tones.


We continued our modern rustic design into the bathrooms.  The two king suites share a thoughtfully designed bathroom with separate areas for the commode, walk in shower and sinks.  The light fixtures reflect the industrial narrative from other areas of the space and the custom made vanities repeat the warm wood tones found elsewhere in the building.  

We were challenged to create a handicap accessible bathroom as the owners informed us that this was rare in the VRBO community.  Since the building already had elevator access it made good sense.  We were able to get creative with our floor space and make this happen for them.  

The powder room is a dramatic space with emerald green penny tile and gold fixtures.

Lounge and Kitchen

One of the challenges of the open space was to create several destinations within this large room.  The kitchen is a cook’s kitchen with everything necessary to host a party or heat up delicious leftovers from nearby restaurants.  The deep green cabinetry is a beautiful backdrop against the black and white waves of the Cambria countertops.  The end of the island is cantilevered over a support so guests can sit on all three sides and engage in games and conversation while staying out of the cook’s way.  Thick rustic cedar shelves house glasses and plates for easy access.  

The fireplace wall is a focal point and both the flames and TV are enjoyed from a cozy sectional.  We added glass on this wall wherever we could to expand the light into this space.  Light from the porch floods this room through the sidelight window and glass French doors.  The stunning light fixture adds a sense of permanence and underscores our modern industrial design. Two swivel chairs and an ottoman create a conversation corner for two or three.  The rustic vinyl plank flooring marries the entire space including the bedrooms.  The laundry room is a convenience in a setting where wet bathing suits and outdoor gear are likely to be part of one’s wardrobe.


The green cabinetry repeats in the porch wet bar with a stormy black Cambria countertop.  Lofty windows overlooking Lake Superior are the focal point of this room.  The bold black trim against the rustic brick is an architectural feature.  A star light fixture is mesmerizing, and fittingly appropriate.  The fireplace is a natural gathering space for contemplation, conversation and watching the sun rise.  Aurora.

link to AirBNB:


Write a Reply or Comment