Designers — and style-savvy homeowners — collaborate on a World War II-vintage house in Golden Valley for this year’s annual tour.
If you like vintage woodwork, you’ll love this year’s ASID designer showcase home.
Inside, there’s a forest of it — from chestnut to bird’s-eye maple, crafted and carved into staircases, fireplaces, floors and paneling, plus built-ins from bookcases to buffets to hidden bar cabinets.
There’s so much natural woodwork, in fact, that it was almost a deal-breaker for homeowner Jayne Haugen Olson when she first looked at the place at the urging of her husband, Curt, who had gone to an open house. (He’d fallen in love with the hilltop site and sunny back-yard pool, and was sure his wife would love the massive walk-in closet in the master suite.)
Jayne wasn’t so sure.
At the time, they owned another home, in the same neighborhood, with white painted woodwork. “I didn’t want all natural wood,” Jayne said.
But when she saw the house, the woodwork wasn’t dark, as she’d expected, but an appealing mixture of warm medium tones. “I was pleasantly surprised by the color,” she said.
And although the house had been vacant for more than a year and needed some TLC, she could see that it had good bones and even better potential. So the couple bought the house and moved in last March with their twin daughters, now age 9.
In January, they moved out again so that a team of interior designers could transform the house, room-by-room, and open it up for public tours this month.
The Olsons’ house represents a new era — and a new neighborhood — for the annual designer showcase event.
Previously, designers have tackled Tudors and Victorians in the urban core, sprawling estates on Lake Minnetonka and even a 1950s rambler in Edina. But this year’s makeover harks back to the era of big-band swing and Hollywood Regency glam, while updating that look for modern living.
“It’s an era we haven’t done before,” said designer Keri Olson, co-chairwoman of this year’s showcase.
The house, completed in 1940, sits on three-quarters of an acre tucked into North Tyrol Hills, a wooded enclave in Golden Valley, another first for the showcase.
At first, the Olsons thought they’d redo only the kitchen, and make a few other cosmetic changes. They hired architect Andrea Swan to design a new space that would integrate the working kitchen and adjacent dinette into one big room.
Just as they were about to begin that project, they learned that ASID was still looking for a showcase home. Jayne, editorial director for Mpls/St. Paul magazine, was very familiar with the event, which is copresented by the magazine. But because so many previous showcase homes were so large, she wasn’t sure their 4,500-square-foot house would fill the bill.
But the designers decided the Olsons’ house had ample space to work with, and Jayne decided that all that natural woodwork posed “an intriguing design challenge.”
In her job with the magazine, she sees a lot of homes and is well-versed in current decor trends, including the mixing and matching of wood finishes. And although she’s no slave to trends (“I’m not a Millennial Mom: the CB2 younger, hipper mom,” she said with a laugh), she was interested in a “trend-forward” look, while respecting the home’s integrity. Because her home already has so much wood, she can get an eclectic organic look — and still have freedom to incorporate other materials.
Handing their home over to a team of designers put the Olsons in an unfamiliar role: client.
The couple have redone several homes together, but mostly as DIYers.
“We’ve never worked with designers before,” Curt said.
And Jayne, who had a vision for every room and had amassed a cache of samples and Pinterest photos, had to learn how to collaborate and compromise when it came to decor. “I’m used to calling a lot of creative shots,” she said.
But as an editor herself, she appreciated the editing role designers played: helping her hone and refine her original vision for their home. “I know enough to get myself into trouble,” she said.
In the kitchen, for example, Jayne originally wanted a white-on-white palette. “All my images on Pinterest were all white,” she said. But designer Kimberly Herrick, who took on the kitchen, coaxed Jayne to incorporate a wall of black (“All white is done to death,” she admitted).
At first, Jayne resisted the idea, but now she loves her black and creamy white kitchen. The black-enameled cabinets include different dimensions and hardware to suggest separate pieces of furniture and maybe even an original built-in, she said.
The designers made efforts to incorporate many of the Olsons’ existing pieces into the designs. In fact, the couple’s bed, with navy linen headboard, was the starting point for the master suite, designed by Rena Feldman. John Lassila designed the lower-level family room around their existing sectional. The family’s piano and former kitchen table are now in their new sunroom/art-project room, designed by Gunkelmans’ Karen McKay and Kayla Vig, and many of the Olsons’ vintage collectibles and artwork were used as accessories throughout the home.
While she ceded authority in many rooms, Jayne insisted on being a key player in the design for their daughters’ shared bedroom and playroom. “I pushed those two rooms,” she said. “I wanted to make sure they loved them — they were getting displaced.”
For his part, Curt was all about the pool house, which includes a porch overlooking the pool, and a new step-down bar and lounge behind it, which was built in space borrowed from the garage.
“We opened up a wall, to connect it to the porch,” said designer Bonnie Birnbaum who collaborated with Keri Olson on the space.
The bar, which was constructed using cabinets and wainscoting from the original kitchen, is mounted on a barn-door track, so it can be moved to accommodate a car during cold weather.
That was Curt’s idea. “They all thought it was crazy, but I said, ‘I know we can do this,’ ” he said.
Moroccan lanterns, vintage lighting and bar stools salvaged from a bowling alley, and a banquette flanked by a wall of retro black-and-white photographs from the Olsons’ own collection complete the vintage vibe.
Both Jayne and Curt were adamant about preserving one piece of history: the names of every child who has lived in the house.
“There are a lot of little notes and scribbles — all these little girls carved their names into the house,” Curt said. “We made sure the painter did not paint over them.”
Now that the project is complete, the Olsons are glad they were able to improve the whole house, and with so much professional help.
“We were able to create a very polished home,” Jayne said. “I feel good about what we’ve added. Curt and I are stewards of the home. … It’s our forever house.”
Kim Palmer • 612-673-4784