The next chapter
Growing up, Ricky Brown always liked his neighborhood and his childhood home, a 1978-built Colonial in Edina. He went off to college in Maine — "but I knew I would come back to live in this area," he said.
Little did he know he'd come back to live in the very same house.
He and his wife, Angela, first bought another house, a smaller one in St. Louis Park. But when Angela was pregnant with their second child, Griffin, now age 3, they realized they would soon need more space. And Angela, who works from home, needed a designated office.
Meanwhile, Ricky's parents, who had raised four children in their 3,500-square-foot house, were thinking about downsizing. Before long, the Colonial was home to a new generation of Browns.
"The sale was emotional — selling the family home," said Angela. "But at least it went to a member of the family."
Ricky and Angela liked a lot about the home, but they also wanted to make some significant changes.
"There was a lot of space, but it wasn't laid out efficiently," Angela said. The kitchen, in particular, last updated in 1991, was awkwardly configured and short on storage.
So the Browns hired Vujovich Design Build after admiring their work on a similar home that was featured in Edina Magazine.
In addition to gutting and reconfiguring the kitchen, the Browns' makeover included widening doorways, scraping popcorn ceilings, updating the front hall, closing the wall between the dining room and the kitchen to create an office, and freshening the family room with new lighting and built-ins.
His parents were supportive of the project. "They would have remodeled if they'd stayed longer," Ricky said.
"They encouraged us to make it our own," Angela added.
The most dramatic change took place in the kitchen, where the dark cupboards were replaced with white custom cabinets. Linoleum floors and Formica countertops were replaced with dark-stained hardwood and light Caesarstone.
"It was fun when we took out the old cabinets," Ricky said. "There was a growth chart for my sisters and I — I didn't even remember it."
The family room has new built-in cabinets and a new mantel, but Ricky was adamant about keeping the original brick fireplace surround. "He was sentimental about the fireplace," said Angela. "He didn't want to do too much."
That spot has warm memories for Ricky. "It was where we hung our Christmas stockings, and my mom was always sitting on a pillow in front of the fireplace," he said. The raised hearth also doubled as a performance space. "It was a stage for my sisters. Now it's a stage for our daughter" (Adelaide, age 5).
Their remodeled home is much more livable for a young, modern family, according to the Browns.
"It's a kitchen that's a lot more fun to cook in," Angela said. "We have a breakfast bar for the kids, and we can feed them there. Before, there was a seating area in the corner, and I was constantly looking around the corner to see what they were doing."
The Browns doubled their available kitchen storage, with handy custom features including a pull-out cabinet for spices. "It's fun to entertain in and easier to clean," Angela said of their new kitchen.
The once-formal living room is now a more casual gathering spot. "It was the room we were never allowed in," Ricky recalled. "We use it now."
New windows, with expanded views of the back yard, let in a lot more natural light. "It spreads through the whole kitchen," Ricky said.
His parents, who now divide their time between a townhouse in Edina and skiing in Colorado, have remained supportive of every change, Ricky said. "There's nothing they've objected to — at least that they mentioned. They're polite Minnesotans."
In fact, they like it so much that they may have had second thoughts about selling it, he said with a smile.
"Now they want to move back in."