The house: 1948 Cape Cod in Minneapolis’ Bryn Mawr neighborhood.
The owners: Karen Soderberg and Stephen Harvey.
The mission: For 18 years, the couple talked about modifying and improving their outdated 1 ½-story Cape Cod. They loved the home’s location, nestled between Theodore Wirth and Bassett Creek parks. But the two passionate cooks often got in each other’s way in the cramped, cut-off kitchen, and the side staircase blocked light and flow. They also dreamed of turning unheated attic storage space into a luxe master bedroom.
“We always had a vision of a dramatic transformation,” said Soderberg. “But we were both in school and knew for our budget, we would have to put in a lot of sweat equity.”
“Aha” moment: The couple saw the remodeled home of builder Joe Davis of Davis & Davis Design Build. “I had no idea you could take off the top of a home and put on a new second floor,” said Soderberg. “It opened my eyes to what you can do to a small house.”
Major makeover: First Davis gutted the main floor, retaining the exterior walls and foundation, because it was less costly than razing the home and starting from scratch, he said. Then he relocated the staircase from the side to the center of the house, to open up the main floor. “We created open spaces with nice sightlines — but every room still has a sense of identity,” said Davis.
An efficient 250-square-foot addition off the back gave the couple a new dining room, powder room, laundry and mudroom, which can be accessed from a new back door. “As we age, we wanted to make sure we could live on the main floor if we had to,” said Soderberg.
Upstairs upgrade: A full second-story addition with dormers houses a master bedroom outfitted with a big walk-in closet and spa-style bathroom four times the size of the one the couple used before.
Kitchen magic: Just by moving the staircase, Soderberg and Harvey gained a kitchen three times the size of their old one. They chose a breakfast bar over a center island so their large dog could sit in the middle of the kitchen and watch them cook. The open, light-filled space boasts a colorful vibe with wine-colored quartz countertops, red onyx tile accents and a Marmoleum floor.
Biggest splurge: Thermador cooktop with six burners. “Spend money on things you really like to do,” said Soderberg.
Savvy DIYers: The Cape Cod renovation was a three-year work-in-progress because the couple did a lot of the jobs themselves, including demolishing the main floor and attic. They also painted walls, sanded and applied polyurethane to woodwork, even the staircase. Davis built only a shell on the second floor, and the couple finished it on evenings and weekends, since they both have full-time jobs. YouTube videos and community-education classes were their teachers. “Now I know how to install a heated floor,” said Harvey. They have no regrets about giving up so much of their free time to their DIY project. “It probably saved us $50,000,” said Soderberg.
Not reality TV: Tiling the slanted-walled bathroom shower proved to be one of the biggest challenges. “Don’t believe you can crash a bath in two days when you see it on TV,” said Soderberg.
All worth it: Soderberg and Harvey are proud of their accomplishments and want to show tour-goers that “you can do a lot of this yourself,” said Soderberg.
The house: 1952 rambler in northeast Minneapolis’ Waite Park neighborhood.
The owners: Nick and Rosie Heille.
The mission: Contemporary art collectors Nick and Rosie have filled their rambler with original works by local artists and want to share their finds with tour-goers. “We are cleaning our house so it sparkles,” said Nick. “Because we want people to see what kind of art you can buy in Northeast.”
One-of-a-kind: The Heilles search artists’ studios and shows for what’s “original and new,” said Nick. “If we’ve seen it before, we don’t want it.” They just bought a pencil drawing of a goldfish by Holly Tappen at an art show in a Northeast beauty salon.