The Transformation: How architect Mark Larson improved the function of this boxy, multi-level house without adding an inch of space to its layout.
The fixes: Light was blocked by a wall that once ran through the middle of the kitchen, leaving the center of the house dark. That wall was removed and the kitchen was shifted to the core of the house as a narrower, galleylike work space. Two islands, one for prep work and the other for cleanup, were created.
There was no clear heart of the house and no real living room except for a sunken room at the base of a three-story tower that included two rooms/balconies that overlooked the living room.
That three-room tower is now a main-level living room and a second-floor bedroom/office above. There's also a new staircase that functions better than the steep old one.
The dining room: A raw, undefined space was transformed into a dining room with built-in cabinets that separate the mud room, laundry and half-bath.
Project info: Location: North Oaks
Design: Intern architect Keith Kamman and architect Mark Larson, AIA, of Rehkamp Larson Architects, Minneapolis
Kitchen consultant: Mary Jane Pappas, Pappas
Design Contractor: Fey Construction
Cost: Whole-house transformations like this range from $200 to $300 per square foot.