Like many Minnesotans, Eden Prairie’s David and Gay Ludvig embrace lake life. The retired couple, who worked as school guidance counselors, have lived in a home on the shores of Mitchell Lake since 1984. They have a pontoon, a canoe and an inflatable raft—a favorite among their four grandchildren. The one aspect of lake life that was missing: A decent view from their deck.
That was unfortunate, because the Ludvigs cherished their view of the 105-acre lake. With their eight patio doors all facing the water (four upstairs, four downstairs), the Ludvigs have plenty of opportunity to soak in the sight from indoors.
Last summer, the Ludvigs decided to replace their second-story wooden deck and railing with a ClearRail, which consists of panels of 3/8-inch tempered glass, inserted into vertical, powder-coated aluminum posts.
The design, which won a NARI-MN Chapter Gold Coty design award last November, offers a clear view with minimal obstruction. Apart from cleaning the glass with a squeegee occasionally, no other maintenance is required. The system is also structurally sound, passing Minnesota building inspections and meeting International Residential Code (IRC).
“My eyes used to stop at the railing and then look beyond,” David says of their prior wooden rail with spindles. “It was kind of a psychological barrier as well as a physical barrier.” Now when they look through the glass, they only see what’s beyond. There is nothing obstructing their view. And there’s much to see in their line of sight. The small lake is swimming with activity. In addition to the leafy trees across the lake, there’s wildlife to witness. There are ducks, muskrats, geese, turkeys, ospreys and even a fox that lives in the area.
The luxury of a clear and clean view is what led Mark and Mary Mackmiller of mackmiller design+build to start their second venture last summer. Their company—Clear Railing & Deck Company—installs a patented glass railing system that optimizes the view.
The Mackmillers are the exclusive Minnesota distributer of ClearRail, the railing system that has been professionally installed in homes and businesses across the country and in Canada since 2005. The railing system is manufactured by a company in Canada.
After installing it in two Minnesota homes last summer, the Mackmillers are the first to bring the railing system to the state. “I always say I work hard enough during the week that when I take the time to sit on my deck, I would rather look through glass than bars,” Mark Mackmiller says, noting that looking out through vertical bars can feel like looking out from a jail cell.
At the Ludvigs’ house, the unobstructed view of the lake does more than offer a cleaner picture of what lies beyond: It brings the lake closer to home. “You feel like you are right there on the lake,” Gay says. “It’s more beautiful and inspiring than we ever could imagine.”