Minneapolis St. Paul Home Tour showcases city living

  • Article by: LYNN UNDERWOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 20, 2013 - 2:45 PM

The Minneapolis St. Paul Home Tour showcases real-world home makeovers and the many moods of city living.

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You have an open invitation to visit more than 50 remodeled homes in two cities over two days.

The Minneapolis St. Paul Home Tour next weekend offers an inside look at how resourceful homeowners added some of today’s “must-have” amenities to older housing stock. The projects range from small-scale enhancements — solar panels installed on a roof — to whole-house renovations. You also can ask homeowners nuts-and-bolts questions about their projects, as well as explore different Minneapolis and St. Paul neighborhoods.

“We love living in the city,” said Karen Soderberg, as she stood in the spacious kitchen of her transformed 1940s Cape Cod, which is open for tours. “And now we have a light-filled airy house, too.”

Meet some of the owners and their projects on this year’s tour.



The house: 1889 Gothic Revival-style house that was built as a twin home in St. Paul’s Uppertown neighborhood.

The owners: Jason and Katie Swanson and son Lochlan.

The mission: The couple fell in love with the 3,000-square-foot home’s rich character, including a two-story curved oak staircase. “I asked Katie if she wanted to look at the rest of the house or write the offer now,” said Jason.

The 1880s home also provides a fitting backdrop for their collection of Renaissance Revival antique furniture and musical instruments. But when they bought it, much of the house had undergone a 1980s “modernization,” complete with country-cottage decor. “We wanted to restore it as much as we could, but still have a modern flow and functionality,” said Katie.

Refresh and revive: “The day we closed, we knocked down a bedroom wall to open up the dining room to the living room,” said Jason. Over the years, the couple, along with help from relatives and friends, did extensive cosmetic upgrades, such as tearing out carpet, refinishing hardwood floors and scraping and sanding painted woodwork. The Swansons also replaced 1980s light fixtures with period-appropriate refurbished models found at auctions and antique stores. “There’s not a corner of the house we haven’t touched,” said Katie.

Piece de resistance: Katie hung an antique mirror above the living-room fireplace’s carved oak mantel and green glazed tile. “We had to strip it clean because it was caked with soot,” she said.

Generous size: The Swansons also turned the unfinished third floor into a master bedroom, using design ideas from the James J. Hill House. There’s even room for Katie’s business, Tellach Photography, and rehearsal space for Jason’s band.

Kitchen art: “The 1980s kitchen updates were poorly done,” said Jason. So after stripping the rooster wallpaper, they added new appliances, put in a butcherblock countertop and island and hardwood floor.

“I always liked the look of tin ceilings,” said Katie, who made the unconventional choice of using tin tiles for the backsplash. But with a tight budget, they couldn’t replace their despised white laminate cabinets. So Katie tapped into her creativity and decoupaged her collection of vintage wine labels on the top and bottom cabinet doors.

On to the next adventure: The Swansons plan to downsize and raise their family on a houseboat on the Mississippi River. Their St. Paul home is on the market for $259,900. “We love this house and feel good about passing it on to the next family,” said Katie. “The home tour seems like the perfect goodbye.”



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  • Katie and Jason Swanson wih Lochlan in their restored and updated 1880s house on the home tour. “This house feels like you’ve stepped back in time,” said Katie.

  • Mpls. St. Paul Home Tour

    What: Self-guided tour of more than 50 remodeled and newly built homes in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Many homeowners will be on hand to answer questions.

    When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. April 27 and 1-5 p.m. April 28.

    Admission: Free.

    Guidebooks: Available at Hennepin County libraries (including Minneapolis), Ramsey County and St. Paul public libraries.

    Information: Listings are also at www.msphometour.com.

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