Joe and Beth Knudson married in 2012. Beth and her two children moved in with Joe and his two sons.
Combining into a family of six was pure joy, but merging two households full of stuff proved trickier.
The Coon Rapids couple weighed their options. Should they sell their cramped home on Crooked Lake and buy something newer or try to make it work?
Inspired by a remodel down the block and a city incentive program that gave them a $5,000 grant, the Knudsons chose to add on. They doubled the size of their lakeshore rambler. It is now 5,600 square feet with six bedrooms and six bathrooms. It’s one of six homes on the first-ever Coon Rapids Home Remodeling Tour.
The free tour, which runs from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, is a chance to get a behind-the-scenes look at homes that were remodeled through the city’s Home for Generations program. Families have added on, redone kitchens and bathrooms, torn out walls to create open-space floor plans and updated painting, flooring and fixtures.
Worried that the city’s 1960s- and ’70s-era housing stock was deteriorating, the City Council created Home For Generations to spur investment, revive neighborhoods and attract young families.
The grant program provides resources and financial incentives to homeowners who complete major remodels worth $35,000 or more. Families can get up to $5,000 for their remodel, design help and savings on building permits. There are no income requirements for the program, but to get the full amount, the remodel must include some exterior upgrades to amp up curb appeal. Homes also need to be at least 20 years old.
Since the program was launched last May, 66 homeowners have applied for grant money and 15 have been approved. The city is still accepting applications.
“We weren’t really sure what the reception or interest for the program would be. We were pleasantly surprised by the response,” said Coon Rapids Neighborhood Coordinator Kristin DeGrande.
The goal of the program and the tour is to create a bit of a buzz and get others thinking about ways big and small to improve their homes.
“We do want that ripple factor to happen,” said DeGrande, “We want people to get interested and motivated by seeing other projects.”
Joe Knudson said the Home For Generations grant was a catalyst for his family’s remodel.
The couple loved their location, but the house felt tight. They converted their basement family room into a fifth bedroom and rented an off-site storage shed while they figured out their next move.
“We needed more space but we wanted to stay here for the lake,” Joe Knudson said.
They also loved their neighborhood school, Crooked Lake Elementary, and the north metro, which shaved nearly an hour of drive time off their trips Up North to visit extended family. “We love the north suburbs and the community,” Knudson said.
The couple spoke with city officials about the program at a home remodeling show and broke ground on their six-figure project last August.
The remodel, which is 90 percent done, includes a 3½-stall garage, six spacious bedrooms, an office, a large dining room, living room and a lower-level family room with heated floors and enough room for a sectional couch, foosball and pingpong tables, a kitchenette and room to play.
“We crank up the music and have big dance contests. The kids are running in circles,” Beth Knudson said.
All four kids — Sam, 11; Logan, 9; Max, 8; Samantha, 6 — have their own rooms.
“The kids have been through numerous changes,” said Joe Knudson, whose first wife died. “It was important they retained their own space like they had before.”
The remodeled home includes a large mud room with locker spaces and a bathroom in the garage so kids playing on the beach can run up without tracking sand into the house.
The couple said they did watch their bottom line. The kitchen had been remodeled less than a decade ago and needed little work. They refinished existing hardwood floors, used off-the-shelf cabinetry in bathrooms that would see the most wear-and-tear from the kids and tapped Joe’s father to do the custom woodwork in their new master bedroom closet and other areas.
“Nothing is extravagant. It’s functional. It’s nice,” Joe Knudson said.