Pam and Jon Armour’s 1950s rambler in Golden Valley boasted midcentury charm and a prime location. But it lacked a designated mudroom for their sons’ piles of shoes, sports gear and backpacks. The front entry area, with its tiny coat closet, was also cramped and uninviting. At the same time, the couple wanted separation between the street side of the home and family/dining areas, for greater privacy.

“We needed a space that could be versatile,” said Pam. “It had to be a formal front entry — but also double as my junky mudroom.”

How could the Armours solve these problems within their limited square footage?

Architect Carl Olson’s solution was to consolidate all storage inside a 12-foot-long, two-sided “floating” cherry cabinet. On the entry side, the cabinet is outfitted with coat hooks, cubbies and shoe storage. On the dining and family room side, the cabinet doubles as a beverage bar and media/electronics storage.

“I can hang up coats, close the doors, and it becomes a solid wall of warm wood,” said Pam.

The simply designed cherry cabinetry performs many jobs, agreed Olson. “It gives them more storage, a bar for entertaining and is a nod to the home’s midcentury details.”

For details on how they did it, turn to H3.

The challenge: Pam and Jon Armour bought their 1950s Golden Valley rambler a decade ago with the intention of remodeling and updating the home in phases. After a kitchen makeover, the Armours tackled the garage and front entries, which offered minimal storage for coats, shoes and their boys’ backpacks and sports gear. They especially wanted to create a mudroom off the garage entry, but had limited square footage. They also requested designated storage areas for TV and electronic components, as well as for entertaining/bar supplies.


The designer: Architect Carl Olson, Peterssen/Keller Architecture, Minneapolis, 612-353-4920, The contractor was Streeter and Associates, Wayzata.


The solution: Olson tore out the tiny closet in the front entry and moved the home’s front door closer to the garage entry door. Now both entry doors open to one drop zone. A 25-square-foot bump-out, punctuated with floor-to-ceiling windows, helped make the space brighter, bigger and more inviting. There’s even room for a bench to sit on while putting on shoes.

Inside the entry, Olson designed a two-sided cherry cabinet with clean, modern lines to complement the home’s midcentury design. The tall, 12-foot-long cabinet has eight doors and doubles as a “floating wall” to separate the foyer from the family and dining rooms.


Double duty: On the entry side, the cabinet is outfitted with coat hooks, cubbies, baskets for hats and gloves and boot trays. “The front side of the cabinet serves as a mudroom,” said Pam. “I can close the doors and control the chaos.”

On the dining room side, the cabinet is transformed into a beverage bar with spots for wine and glassware. Refrigerator drawers are hidden under cabinet fronts. On the family room side, the cabinet holds media equipment hidden behind touch panels.

“When we entertain, this area is central,” said Pam. “Instead of crowding in the kitchen, people gather in the dining room by the bar.”


Wallpaper art: The wall between the dining and family rooms had only one doorway, which impeded traffic and light. As part of the remodeling project, Peterssen/Keller rebuilt the wall, creating two doorways with better flow between the two spaces. The family room wall includes a recessed niche designed to hold a flat-screen TV, which saves space. Pam turned the newly built partial wall into an arty accent by covering both sides with Eskayel batik-patterned wallpaper, with the edges framed in wood.


Handsome and functional: The Armours chose cherry for the massive cabinetry to add warmth to the predominantly painted white wood interiors. Cherry also matched the cabinets in the previously remodeled kitchen.


Retro repeat: The Armours repeated the slate tile, which was in the original family room floor, in the new entry floor. This vintage-look tile ties the rooms together and reprises the home’s 1950s aesthetic. “At first, the floor seemed dark,” said Pam. “But now it’s fantastic because it hides the wear and tear.”


The best part: “The bigger front entry has more glass, feels modern, open and welcoming,” said Pam. “And I can hide everything in a beautiful cabinet.”


The result: The new free-standing cherry cabinet transformed the feel and function of the decades-old rambler.

“Two-sided cabinetry can accomplish a lot in any space,” said Olson.


Lynn Underwood • 612-673-7619