The challenge: The kitchen eating area in a Minneapolis house had two bay windows with water-leakage issues, tight seating space for a family of five and outdated decorating. The kitchen sorely needed new appliances and cabinets, which were original to the 1930s home.

Homeowners Karla and Steve Michels-Boyce wanted to make improvements, but save what they could, to keep costs down.


The design team: Architect Eric Hansen, with James Kuipers, E.J. Hansen, Minneapolis, 612-328-0881,


The solution: In the eating area, Hansen used two boxed bay windows and inserted built-in benches for more efficient seating. Carpenter Mike Riley built a custom trestle table to fit better in the small space. Hansen also removed the wall that had an arched pass-through window. “It didn’t make sense and didn’t provide any storage opportunities,” he said.

In its place, Riley built a birch closet cabinet, with see-through slats, facing the back-door entry, and an open shelving unit to hold a TV and books, facing the eating area. “This opened up the eating area, let in more light, and it feels more roomy, without adding square footage,” said Hansen.

In the kitchen, Hansen reconfigured some of the components to add upper and lower birch cabinets and install a new double-wall oven and refrigerator. Recessed ceiling lights and pendants over the table and sink complete the makeover.

Vintage style: Karla didn’t want the “modern white kitchen” but a space accented with rich, dark woodwork, multi-colored Italian tile and a textural finish on the walls, echoing the plaster walls in the 1930s-era home. She chose a buttery gold hue for the dinette and kitchen walls. “The eating area was an addition done by previous owners,” she said. “This remodel makes it look like it was always here.”

An oven, and more: Karla’s “really cool” 1950s retro oven died, and modern appliances wouldn’t fit in the space. So when the couple decided to redo the kitchen, to fit in new cabinets and appliances, the new bay windows in the adjacent eating area became part of the remodeling project. “But we kept the cherry parquet floor and countertops that we had put in a few years earlier,” said Karla.Space-saving window benches: Karla and daughter Maddie bought the fabric and foam and crafted the patterned seat cushions. “We can get a lot more people around the table,” said Karla. They also gained storage space for kitchen accessories inside the bench drawers. “The eating area is so comfortable — even to read a book in the sunshine,” she said.Warmer in winter: The room was drafty and cold, so Hansen added spray-foam insulation to the ceiling and walls.

Resourceful DIYers: Karla and Steve acted as general contractors and found the materials, products, resources and craftspeople. They even scraped the popcorn surface from the ceiling and cleaned backsplash tile, which they re-used.


Smart choices: Karla and Steve were able to keep some quality elements while updating the two spaces within their budget. “Good design can help you re-use existing items and spaces in creative ways while maintaining a tight budget,” said Hansen. “Don’t spend money on appliances that work fine and fit in with the new design,” advised Karla. The couple’s remodeling project, which was completed last year, cost $35,000.

Details make the difference: Baker Karla savors the small things, such as soft-close drawers big enough for pots and pans, and vertical spice drawers. “I love the glass cabinet doors and how the light shines through them,” she said.