Great Northern Builders Creates Hip Reclaimed Commercial Space for Award-Winning Retail Client  


Great Northern Builders, local leader in residential and commercial construction, restoration, remodels and insurance restoration work throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin, recently designed and built the award-winning Atmosfere retail space in the North Loop with 70% reclaimed materials including barn wood and adornments.

“The owners of Atmosfere came to us because they liked our design style at our offices, and knew we could achieve their specific and unique vision,” says Chris Biljan, owner of Great Northern Builders.

Blank Canvas: Before Photo of Award-winning retail space “Atmosfere”


Last April, Atmosfere’s co-owner, Damon Capetz, gave Great Northern Builders (GNB) 100% creative freedom to design and build out the company’s dream space. The two companies collaboratively sat down and talked about ideas and direction for the design aspect of the build out that would accentuate the new location, showcase their products, and draw customers in.

Co-owner of Atmosfere, Damon Capetz stated, “Right then and there, we knew these guys were awesome craftsmen. And we knew they could achieve our vision. That trust factor alone is so important. Working with a construction company who can help you visualize and translate your ideas and actually implement them is an amazing experience. We are so happy with the look and function of our new store! They really made the best out of our space and blew away our vision into something even more spectacular.”

The design mentality of the store was geared towards a modern yet timeless approach to coincide with the location and the Atmosfere brand.  Since many of the buildings in the area are historical, the retail space was built and designed to maintain a rustic, industrial feel with a twist of refined.  The Minneapolis Warehouse Historic District’s North Loop is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and Great Northern Builders took great care in their design decisions to create a space that integrated into the historic business district. The area still retains the feel of its industrial past, as many newer buildings have attempted to replicate the style of the old warehouses. The district was included in the National Register of Historic Places due to maintaining the feel of the past in all new renovations.

“The design of our space really accentuates our product and ties in well with our historic location in the North Loop. It really looks amazing,” says Damon Capetz, co-owner of Atmosfere.

Great Northern Builders worked with architects and electricians on the overall layout and design of Atmosfere. The overall project build took about a month. The wood selected for the build was reclaimed barn wood and corrugated steel from Signature Woods in Zumbrota, MN. Each piece was handpicked by the Great Northern Builders team. A lot of galvanized corrugated roofing material was also sourced and utilized in the build.

“We really enjoyed designing and building this unique space and worked very hard to ensure every detail tied in with the North Loop’s vibe and historic feel,” said Chris Biljan, owner of Great Northern Builders.


Reclaimed wood (wood that is recovered from previous use) has several advantages:

  • It looks great, and brings a kind of look, feel, and character to a space that is almost impossible to duplicate.
  • It saves energy and is environmentally friendly.
  • It’s a strong, lasting product that is durable.


Great Northern Builders team made the reclaimed woodwork by designing a display wall for merchandise. The end result, Atmosfere’s “Feature Wall” that showcases the store’s outfits. This wall is the most unique and talked about design feature amongst customers and visitors. The wall has received a wealth of praise already, as it has served as the backdrop for many photos taken in the store and shared widely. Recently featured in Minnesota Monthly, both Atmosfere’s design and products definitely make a statement.


Great Northern Builders made the most out of both design and location by creating a “Thomas Edison” lighting effect along the reclaimed barn wood panels which creates a glow effect. Great Northern Builders chose white porcelain, old-school style lights with Edison salt to provide an ambience of low-level incandescent lighting. The visible conduit runs across the store’s display wall to highlight merchandise. Great Northern Builders owner, Chris Biljan, worked with his electrician to snake all of the conduit to give it a random, accidental type of feel. The retail space is located in a lower-level walk-down from the sidewalk level, so Biljan chose a lighting placement that would also emit out a glow into the street to attract passersby.

The store exemplifies the terms rustic, yet clean and modern to a ‘T’. Track lighting was chosen to be placed throughout the store, adding beautiful highlights and accents to the products and clothing, while also creating an inviting feel for guests.

One of the innovative design decisions for Atmosfere’s new space was creating the dressing rooms from 4×4 and 6×6 barn wood posts. The rooms are all hand built, and created with recessed panels with rusted corrugated steel. Even the door handles tell a story, as each were salvaged pieces found around Minneapolis from the 1920’s and earlier that have been fabricated and retrofitted for each dressing room.


Atmosfere’s co-owner, Dan Capetz stated, “There was never a time we thought we had to be at the store throughout the design and build to see if we liked it or to see how something turned out. We completely trust Great Northern Builders and knew it would turn out amazing.”


Atmosfere is a must visit for anyone in the area, and is a brilliant example of how a business can easily “be green” by choosing to use reclaimed materials to design a modernized, unique store or office space. All of the building materials in the 2,500 square foot space are reclaimed materials, right down to the handles on the dressing rooms.

Atmosfere opened their modern, New York boutique inspired retail space in the North Loop in early June and recently won “2015 Best Clothing Store” in City Pages Minneapolis.

With over 15 years of experience and an impeccable reputation, Great Northern Builders specializes in residential and commercial construction, renovation, remodels, and restoration throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin with expert crews, unrivaled customer service, and quality workmanship.