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Outbuilding of the Week: Before and After Music Room


Outbuilding of the Week: Before and After Music Room

November 21, 2014

Music studios are often windowless interior rooms. But Christine Albertsson of Albertsson and Hansen Architecture in Minneapolis didn’t want a music room addition she designed for clients who are musicians to feel “like a cave.” So it has exposures on three sides and offers an expansive view of the garden.

The music room, designed for a a pianist and a percussionist who needed space for their instruments, is one of Albertsson’s favorite projects. But then, small spaces have always fascinated her. As a girl, she was passionate about her Swedish dollhouse (with real electric lights). She outfitted it with amenities: a tiny sauna and towels. Now Albertsson and her husband and business partner, Todd Hansen, are known for comfortable, livable home designs. Did it all start with a dollhouse?

Albertsson created a light and airy 13-by-18-foot studio which accommodates a grand piano plus a marimba and drums with space left over for music classes and recitals. The music room is actually the first floor of a two-story addition. It more than doubled the size of the early 20th century home and added a much-needed first floor bathroom, a mudroom, and an upstairs bedroom.

Photography by Pete Sieger except where noted.

Above: The client keeps her piano on a wheeled base so that it can be easily moved around the room.  The shelf under the windows doubles as a bench for young music students and provides storage.

Above: The new two-story addition has a peaked roof and looks out into the back garden.


Above: The rear of the house before the new construction. Where the house formerly ended, French doors now open from the dining room into the music room. Photograph courtesy of A & H Architecture.


Above: Integrity windows with an 8-foot head height keep the music room filled with light and provide protection from the harsh Minnesota winter weather as well as a measure of soundproofing.

Above: The bookshelves and carpet absorb sound.  Albertsson wanted to provide enough space for the piano without allowing it to dominate the room.

Above: The blue ceiling is reminiscent of old porches in New England where Albertsson, grew up.  She wanted the room to have the open feeling of a porch with the comfort of a playroom.  Plywood around the windows helps to create a detailed, jewel box effect.

Above: The ceiling over the mudroom door echoes the blue ceiling in the music room.

Above: Traditional style brought up to date with natural colors and uncluttered, well crafted details are hallmarks of Albertsson and Hansen’s approach to home design.

Albertsson says she never tires of being invited to help people solve problems in their homes.  She is pleased that the new music room not only provides space for her clients’ instruments but has actually become the heart of their house.

For other interesting small-size architectural projects check out our previous Outbuildings of the Week posts. And for a very different approach to creating a music studio in the UK: Before and After: A Music Studio Rises from its Victorian Ruins.

More of Albertsson Hansen’s work can be seen in Architect Is In: Utility Barn as Architectural Moment.

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