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A better bungalow

  • Article by: LYNN UNDERWOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 1, 2011 - 11:24 AM

Minneapolis couple turned a 1970s tower addition into a family-friendly kitchen and bedroom retreat.

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When house-hunting in south Minneapolis, Melissa and Jim Scott scoured neighborhoods looking for two things: swing sets (to ensure there were plenty of kids) and older homes with character.

The Scotts fell in love with one bungalow that had character in spades -- a huge front porch with a tin ceiling, a simple floor plan, and wainscoting on living room walls. But when they ventured to the back of house, they discovered another remnant from the past: a two-story glass tower that had been added in the 1970s.

"I said to Jim, 'What was the point of an addition on an old house that didn't provide any useful space?'" recalled Melissa.

Jim agreed. "A flat-roofed octagon tower on a 1905 bungalow made no sense."

But the odd addition didn't kill the deal. The Scotts knew exactly what that space could become: a new kitchen, which would allow them to convert the tiny existing one into a mudroom for their boys' backpacks and sports gear.

The Scotts bought the home in 2005 and before moving in hired architect Todd Hansen, of Albertsson Hansen Architecture in Minneapolis, to do the renovation.

"We didn't want a large, ostentatious house. It was already the right size," said Jim. "It just needed to be remodeled."

Dream kitchen

Hansen decided that the second story of the tower, which housed an open loft, had to go. In its place, he designed a gabled master bedroom, which faces the back yard. But on the first floor, he was able to keep within the footprint of the tower when he created the new kitchen.

"We took the space from a bad remodel and layered it within the original house," he said. "Now it works for the way a family lives today."

That new kitchen is equipped with two stoves and plenty of space for food prep and storage. Hansen also designed it to match the home's period charm by adding Shaker-style cabinets and wood ceiling beams. The center island, topped in rustic-looking butcher block, resembles an Arts and Crafts furniture piece.

And he designed the kitchen's centerpiece, a large bay window, to have "an open porch feel." Within the bay is a built-in banquette, which the couple paired with their antique heirloom table. "It can hold eight kids eating pizza before they run out to skate," Jim said.

On the second floor, Hansen knocked down two walls to create a new light-filled hallway that leads to the Scotts' bedroom. The couple decided to convert the front dormer bedroom, which had original wainscoting, into an upstairs family/TV room, so Hansen put in double French doors to make it an inviting space.

Small details, big impact

To complete the renovation, Hansen suggested enhancing some of the original interior and exterior elements of the house. The Scotts agreed. "We wanted to restore some of the architectural qualities that had been stripped away over time," Jim said.

When they bought the house, the main-floor staircase was missing its railing. Hansen designed a tall coat cabinet that serves both as a stair railing and helps define the front foyer. He covered the fireplace's dated red brick with clean-lined paneling and added a simple wooden mantel. "The surround ties together the wainscoting detailing and feels like it's always been in the house," he said.

Although the century-old bungalow had a sound structure and that fabulous front porch, the exterior "was missing something," said Jim.

So Hansen added three oversized flower boxes, replaced the stucco on the dormer with textural cedar shake shingles and built a more welcoming front stoop.

Today the Scotts feel lucky to have found the bungalow and realized its potential.

"The house is not overwhelmingly big," said Melissa. "But there's plenty of places for everyone to go -- from a hammock on the front porch to the upstairs TV room."

"In place of the 1970s tower," said Jim, "we have a kitchen where we start our day and end our day."

Lynn Underwood • 612-673-7619

star tribune/aia home of the month

Home of the Month appears in the Homes section the first Sunday of every month. The program, a partnership between the Star Tribune and the Minnesota chapter of the American Institute of Architects, features architect-designed houses selected by a jury of experts. The houses represent a range of prices, styles and locations

  • about this series

  • The Home of the Month program is a partnership between the Star Tribune and the Minnesota chapter of the American Institute of Architects. It features architect-designed houses selected by a jury of experts. The houses represent a range of prices, styles and locations.
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