DESIGN MANAGER, AKBD – Amy Hinck
Amy Hinck spent many summers pouring concrete and working on other masonry jobs with her dad in northern Minnesota. That experience along with her interest in drawing, math, and wanting to help bridge the communication gap between trades and designers, prompted her to move to Minneapolis to obtain her B.A. in Architecture.
Since joining the remodeling industry in 2005, Amy has worked as a drafter, designer, project manager, and store manager. She is also certified as an Associate Kitchen and Bath Designer and a LEED Green Associate.
She joined Castle in 2012 and became Design Manager in 2014. She pitches in wherever needed, keeps the showrooms up-to-date, assigns and reviews projects, and builds relationships with trade partners. She develops, edits and maintains companywide processes and documents while also fostering continuing education among the design staff. Amy loves knowing that her efforts can greatly improve the daily lives of clients and helps things run smoothly. She strives to balance aesthetics, function, cost, and sustainability. In her free time, she enjoys going for walks with her son and dog, playing co-rec softball with her husband, spending time with family and friends, and admittedly binge-watching sitcoms.
INTERIOR DESIGNER / REMODELING DESIGN PRO- Ashley Hansen
Designing and crafting is something that has been ingrained into Ashley’s character through the influence of family and friends. The concept of DIY (do-it-yourself) was taught to her early on. From years of practicing this whether it be sewing clothes, sewing her comforter, making art, or upholstering furniture she developed a passion for design.
Ashley recognizes that designers are given a great responsibility and opportunity to redefine quality. Interior Design is an outlet in which she is able to share this belief knowing how the layout, selections and aesthetic appearance of a space can truly impact people. Therefore she truly enjoys the opportunity to build relationships with clients and help them form solutions which consider both form and function and best accommodate their lifestyle.
Beyond work she likes to get outside as much as possible and is typically up for doing anything active. Some of her favorites are snowboarding, walking, rollerblading, and exploring the city via bike. A special appreciation for NE drives her to investigate the local spots unique to the area.
INTERIOR DESIGNER / REMODELING DESIGN PRO – Emily Blonigen
Emily Blonigen received her Bachelors of Science in Interior Design from the Art Institutes International Minnesota. One thing that she appreciates from her education is the artistic approach Ai takes to the Interior Design profession. Emily is currently studying for her LEED Green Associates Certification. Her main interest in the field is to find opportunities to create sustainable and healthy environments. Design may be achieved through trends, unique styles, colors, and materials- but great design is found through considering the users experience and the continuing future within that environment. With knowledgeable design practices and smart material selections, she is opening the doors of design towards a prosperous and more sustainable future that she is excited to be a part of.
Blonigen enjoys traveling and has been to South America three times and Central America once. She hopes to one day move to the southern hemisphere for the great food, sunshine, fun music, architectural history, and cheap drinks.
REMODELING DESIGNER / INTERIOR DESIGNER – Natalie Hanson
Natalie received her Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from the Art Institute of MN and has been actively working in the industry ever since. She attended an alternative high school at the Minnesota Zoo called the School of Environmental Studies, where she developed a passion for environmental sciences. Right out of high school, she decided to pursue a career in Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma where she spent two years chasing tornados and attending Sooner football games. While this was exciting, she knew that it was not a lifetime career path for her.
She has been interested in art, architecture and interiors since childhood and settled on the field of interior design for her next educational adventure. She loves to use her knowledge of environmental sciences in her designs to help create functional, livable spaces that are sustainable and healthy for her clients. Natalie believes that listening intently to a client’s needs is the most important piece in creating the perfect personalized design.
Natalie finds inspiration for design in traveling – she enjoys traveling to Europe, specifically Scandinavia – and finds inspiration in nature. When she’s not chasing her toddler around the house, she spends her free time doing outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, fishing & kayaking, and loves yoga, cooking while drinking wine, and of course, watching thunderstorms with extreme excitement.
ARCHITECTURAL ASSOCIATE / INTERIOR DESIGNER – Katy Dale, Associate AIA
Katy received her Bachelor of Science in Architecture (2003) and Master of Architecture (2010) from the University of Minnesota College of Design and has worked in the industry since 2002, with experience in sustainable design, healthcare, and even virtual reality.
The 5 years prior to joining Castle she worked at a small, award-winning architecture firm in Minneapolis, where she was lead designer on a range of projects – from small commercial (breweries, book store) to both residential remodels and new homes.
Although Katy’s professional experience has ranged in scale, her passion for residential design and construction started young, when she chose “This Old House” and “Hometime” on PBS instead of Saturday morning cartoons. She enjoys bringing her design skills and knowledge to the table while working closely with homeowners to reimagine the function and look of their home. Breathing new life into older homes is incredibly rewarding and she particularly enjoys wrestling with the complexity of fitting modern functionality into small footprints so that the outcome significantly improves the flow of day to day living. Her design philosophy strives to consider budget, context, and quality to achieve elegant and timeless solutions.
In her free time, she loves working on her own home, cooking, playing softball and curling with her husband, and now entertaining her first son Oliver.
INTERIOR DESIGNER / REMODELING DESIGNER – Tracy O’Donnell
Tracy O’Donnell attended the University of Wisconsin Stout and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design.
Finding the balance of great function and innovative design is just one of the many traits that set Tracy apart as an interior designer. Tracy came to Castle after gaining nine years of experience in the new home construction industry.
She continually pushes the boundaries and adds unique details to make each space feel special, no matter the size. Having an extensive background of product knowledge and pursuing timeless trends, she is an educator to her clients and wants them to have the best experience and love their selections and design of their newly remodeled space.
Her inspirations come from her traveling to over 27 countries such as Prague, Korea, Sweden, Thailand, UK and so many more… Also, living in China and Scotland for a combined time of two years gives her great insight and a unique view on spaces and function.
REMODELING DESIGNER – Bruce Freeman
Bruce Freeman has always loved building! As a child his neighborhood was being built all around him. For years Bruce hung around construction sites, sometimes helping, sometimes playing as jungle gym, sometimes get scrapes and building tree forts. When asked what he wanted to be when grow up, he said a carpenter.
Before going into construction, Bruce was in Wildlife Management and considered moving out west. However, fate had other plans and he met his future wife and set roots here in Minnesota. After graduating from the University of Minnesota, Bruce started a construction company with a friend and has been building ever since. Bruce has a love for all aspects of construction; framing, trim, managing, designing, and even selling. The before and after improvements have always given him a tremendous sense of accomplishment and purpose. He draws inspiration from his practical sense of thought and tries to keep his spaces as green and energy efficient as possible. Bruce finds joy in working with people and transforming their home because, “they always gets so excited and appreciative of all the changes you design and make.”
Bruce is an extreme outdoorist and has a serious lifelong addiction to skiing; especially in the mountains on difficult terrain. In the summer, he is constantly out on his mountain bike. Currently he is building a mountain bike training course at his cabin up north, along with a cool tree fort for him and his 10 year old grandson.
Design Team Titles
Our designers each have unique backgrounds and skill sets, although most received degrees in either Interior Design or Architecture. Below you will see how many hours are expected of Castle’s design/sales staff and how their continuing education and industry experience relate to their titles as well.
Remodeling Designer: 16+ field credit hours minimum, plus one year or industry experience
Remodeling Design Pro: 32+ field credit hours in past two years (16 hours annual ongoing continuing education), $600,000+ in annual completed remodeling projects two consecutive years.