Remodelers Showcase Guidebook Shares Real Remodeling Stories

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Having your home remodeled is a great way to remain in the community you love while recreating your home to fit your family better. Hiring a professional remodeler like those that participate in the Remodelers Showcase, will minimize stress and maximize satisfaction. The Spring 2017 Guidebook includes these stories (in words and photos) describing the remodeling experiences of five families whose remodeled homes are on the tour. Shown above, Bill, Sheila and family, including Duffy who survived a fire, read their experiences below.

Remodelers Showcase Home #R32
1252 Brownie Road, Minneapolis
TJB Homes, Inc.
Featured on the Guidebook Cover


Fit for a Family

Nestled among Minneapolis’ chain of lakes and some of the best biking paths in the Twin Cities, Lucas and Sarah were living in their dream home. So, when their family started growing they knew they had to find a way to make their space work.

When Lucas and Sarah purchased their 1920s Bryn Mawr home in 2008 they didn’t know the neighborhood well, but they quickly fell head-over-heels in love. Adjacent to Brownie Lake and a quick bike ride from downtown, it was everything they were looking for to make the move from St. Paul to Minneapolis.

The home had recently been refinished from top to bottom, but as their family expanded, the layout and space was no longer working for them.

The previous owners had turned two of the bedrooms upstairs into one master suite, and the kitchen was cut off from the rest of the house. With two children, Logan (6) and Britta (4), they knew they wanted to bring back a third bedroom and open up the kitchen.

For Sarah and Lucas, expanding the kitchen wasn’t just about entertaining friends. They wanted it to be a space to spend more time with their children and connect as a family.

“We definitely wanted more space to entertain our friends and family, but that wasn’t our number one priority for the remodel,” Sarah explained. “It was about creating a space for our family to hang out and visit with one another.”

They met with three contractors, and even contemplated doing it themselves, but eventually decided on TJB Homes, Inc.

“They were upfront and honest,” Lucas said. “And once things got started, everyone was always there right on time in the mornings and gone by the time we got home.”

The biggest hurdle Lucas and Sarah faced was working with the city to overcome zoning regulations. For 14 months the family went back and forth with the city before getting approval on their project.

“We were surprised at the pushback from the city because we were staying within the character of the neighborhood,” Sarah explained. “Plus, we had so much support from our neighbors.”

But they knew they wanted to stay in the neighborhood and were determined to make it work. TJB helped guide them through parts of the process, and over a year later they received a variance from the city and moved forward.

“Once the right people from the city got involved things went quickly,” Lucas said. That’s when the real fun began. When it came to the design details of the kitchen, it was a real collaboration of minds. Sarah presented her ideas to Jason Budzynski at TJB, and he would design it in a way that was functional for the space.

Together, they worked out the details. “I knew what I liked, and I knew what I wanted, but I just didn’t know how it would all come together,” Sarah said. “I really wanted to stay within the style of the house.”

“We didn’t want a 1920s house on one side and a 2016 kitchen on the other side,” Lucas added. They focused on a design that would be functional for the active family.

“Our other kitchen was nice, but it was too small for us. It had marble countertops, which were beautiful, but got beat up within the first year. We decided to go with quartz because it’s the style we were looking for,” Sarah said. “We wanted a countertop that would hold up with two little kids in the house.”

The remodel took about 13 weeks and was right on schedule. The final project was completed in September 2016 and included an addition to expand and open the kitchen, a new mudroom, an additional bedroom upstairs and connecting the existing garage to the house. Now they have the space they need without feeling separated from one another.

“I love the closeness of the house. I can hear when Logan and Britta are playing upstairs in their rooms or when they’re down in the basement,” Sarah said. “It’s just the right amount of space for us.”

With the remodel complete, Lucas and Sarah couldn’t be happier with the results. A weight has been lifted off their shoulders and they’re finally able to relax in a space that was made for their family.

“Even though it took a lot of time and energy, it was all worth it because we don’t have to think about moving anymore.” Sarah said. “Now we get to stay.”

Remodelers Showcase Home #R4
16720 45th Avenue N., Plymouth
Pure Design Environments, Inc.


The Synergy of Luxury and Function

The Plymouth home that Eric and Rachael bought and remodeled had attributes that really sold them. Eric appreciates California style through his travels there, and this stunning transitional with main-level living resonated. The home is also in a great school district and offers plenty of privacy with expansive views of woods and wetland on the edge of Hollydale Golf Course.

The couple envisioned a more open, multifunctional floor plan that would be as perfect for raising their toddler son, Ethan, as it would be for a home office, visiting parents and entertaining.

Jaque Bethke, with PURE Design Environments, Inc., guided the home’s transformation. Jaque had originally designed the couple’s previous home, and they admired her talent and flair.

Eric and Rachael pictured dramatic color in contrasting and dark hues as a foil for the natural light from large windows throughout. They wanted a light, bright kitchen that opened up to dining, living, play and office areas. There’s a large L-shaped island, a range with multiple burners and the dining area features a large round table for traditional Chinese dinners. Both Eric and Rachael’s parents visit from China, and love to cook even more than their children do.

Open spaces were created when walls were removed that divided living, kitchen and dining areas. A clear glass, angled half wall separates living areas from the lower-level staircase.

Dark cherry wood floors are set off by shades of pink and purple in the living and dining area, and walls and some ceilings feature different colors and textures in layered faux painting throughout. Accents from China bring elegance, while a touch of “Vegas” appears in instantly changeable overhead and accent LED lighting. Crystal chandeliers add glam.

The lower level is part Vegas, says Eric, and part guest retreat. There’s a glamorous wet bar and wine cellar, along with guest accommodations, theater/pool table and karaoke area, exercise room and lower level laundry.

“Jaque was great,” said Eric. “She worked with our budget, and offered innovative options.” This design takes advantage of the home’s architecture while expressing new affinities with art and nature.

Remodelers Showcase Home #R18
2112 Lower Saint Dennis Road, St. Paul
Nor-Son, Inc.


Mid-Century Style Meets Modern Living

A Dog’s Observations: I’m looking out my big kitchen window for possible morning wildlife action. It’s convenient, because my bed is also in a nice nook here in the kitchen. I’m Harley, and I’m a terrier mix adopted by Rick and Mary seven years ago. We moved into this house less than a year ago, and soon the remodeling began.

I loved our old, 20’s Craftsman house, but this house – well, it’s a 1953 spread out, sunny split-level in St. Paul with bluff views and tempting room outside to roam. My owners actually moved into this larger house after their oldest son went to college, but it really made sense because the layout is easy for living now and into the future. With remodeling, we now have a modern house and even got to stay put during the process.

Mary said, “Nor-Son’s Pat Schumacher, the project manager, and Neil Ebbenga, the project supervisor on-site, were great, and Neil has been a rock star.” Neil even suggested that the wet bar be remodeled in two stages so it could serve as our temporary kitchen.

The kitchen was a major project. Mary considered moving the kitchen’s location, but their architect, Scott Newland, suggested that they instead remove a wall and replace an old peninsula with a Cambria topped island with seating. The dining room leads to the kitchen and it feels like one big space.

On the other side of the house on a lower level, what was a wet bar has become a mini-kitchen. The two high school and college age boys love this.

Some remodeling ideas are just brilliant. Like moving the laundry room from the lowest level of two lower levels right next to the master bedroom, where there had been another bedroom. The sunny laundry room has lots of shelving, and there’s more storage in the remodeled master closet and the mud room, where a closet door was removed for easy access to coats and boots.

This is an entertaining house! There were 200 people here, inside and out, for a shared graduation party. The best part though, is that Rick is happy to stay in St. Paul, where he grew up. And of course, I loved all the action and getting to sniff out so many new aromas during construction. And now, I’m going back to my window, I think I spy a squirrel!

Remodelers Showcase Home #R41
5825 Long Brake Trail, Edina
AMEK Custom Builders


After the Fire, a New Home Takes Shape

In May, 2015, a smoldering fire started by a toaster virtually destroyed the upper interior level of Bill and Sheila’s Edina residence. Sadly, they lost their 11-month-old Labrador puppy in the fire, but happily, their terrified Springer Spaniel, Duffy somehow survived in the lower level.

The empty-nester couple, parents of two grown children, had recently considered downsizing. After the fire, which was brought under control by the fire department, they decided instead to rebuild and remodel from the studs out.

Within days, Sheila and Bill interviewed several remodelers and the lengthy insurance process began. They chose AMEK Custom Builders to construct their “new” home, and they turned to Tom Rauscher for architectural and interior design. Everyone from friends to the builder and designer all encouraged Sheila and Bill to plunge ahead with dramatic changes. The couple moved into their totally remodeled home in September, 2016.

“AMEK did just what they said they’d do, with integrity and capability,” said Bill. “Matt Schmidt said he’d attend meetings and be accessible, and he was.”

“The house was 1980’s era,” said Bill. “We wanted more light and more open, informal and functional spaces.” Unnecessary walls were eliminated so spaces flowed. Rooms were flipped in location.

“Working with Tom was great. His design brought the outside in with oversized casement windows and floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors to our new deck,” said Sheila. “The kitchen was relocated to the sunny south-facing side, replacing the sunken family room. A gathering room replaced the kitchen and little-used dining room. We moved the laundry room upstairs and now have a dog washing station for Duffy and our new lab puppy.”

Other changes included replacing the living room with a flex room space and adding an upstairs family lounge. The light gray monochromatic wall color throughout reflects light and contrasts with the same color in a glossy finish on custom kitchen cabinetry.

For fresh curb appeal, gables and columns transformed a purely horizontal sight line and custom garage doors replaced the originals.

This home has personality and a stylish, transitional cohesiveness that would be appealing to both empty nesters and younger families.

Remodelers Showcase Home #R47
8132 W. 102nd Street, Bloomington
Durst & Gans Building Corporation


Library to Love

Eleven years ago, Elliott and Stacy found a home in Bloomington, a location that seemed ideal since both of them grew up there, went to school there and is within ten minutes of where their parents
live. However, this house needed updates to meet their needs and feel like home.

The typical two-story Bloomington 1970s home underwent several stages of remodeling, guided and implemented by Durst & Gans Building Corporation. Stacy and Elliott had specific ideas of what they
imagined for their home, and Jim Gans listened while also offering suggestions to ensure the remodels were compatible with their visions.

Remodeling began with a new, light-filled addition off the back of the house with a deck nested between the side of the addition and the back of an informal dining room. Directly underneath the new room, the yard was excavated to create an additional basement storage room, requiring new grading and landscaping. Next, a new front deck, with roof overhang and porch swing gave the house character and differentiated it from similar neighborhood houses.

The next major project was a kitchen remodel. “The kitchen was cramped,” said Elliott. “We wanted more space for entertaining. But more importantly, we added new cabinets and designated counter space for our daughter, Emily, who has celiac disease. We also converted a seldom-used formal dining room into additional kitchen space and added a built-in buffet, hutch and breakfast bar.”

Stacy had her own project, a reader’s dream. “I wanted a library in what had been a living room area. It is complete with built-in bookshelves that look like they belong there,” she said. “We put up a wall between this room and the old formal dining room, and built in a nook with a bench and stained-glass transom window behind it. The library also becomes a comfy place for guests to visit.”

“Jim Gans helped us pull it all together, in every detail from the trim to the new closets and a new front door,” said Elliott. “We’ve put our own thumbprint on this house. It is now designed for us.”


The 2017 Spring Parade of Homes Remodelers Showcase is sponsored by Marvin Windows and Doors.