Mike and Jean Ysbrand gained space for their remodeled kitchen by moving the adjacent casual dining area to the living room.


Refreshing the '70s: Fixing a split-entry home

  • Article by: LYNN UNDERWOOD
  • Star Tribune
  • October 26, 2013 - 3:51 PM

Mike and Jean Ysbrand could live with the split-entry foyer and floor-to-ceiling brick fireplace in the 1977 home they bought seven years ago.

But for the Ysbrands, who often entertained, the claustrophobic kitchen and adjacent dining area was a source of frustration. “The dark, grainy wood on all the cabinets was awful,” Mike said of the dated kitchen. “And it was really hard to cook and entertain in there.”

When the Ysbrands needed room to seat 12 people for dinner, they swapped furniture, hauling the dining table to the large sunken living room and dragging the living room furniture into the dining area — until one night.

“We were cleaning up and we realized that it made more sense to have the dining room out there,” said Mike.

That big switch sparked a major home renovation that would include a new kitchen, an expanded master suite and an updated dining room and split-entry.

Open to ideas

They hired Jack Williams of J.W. Williams Construction, a Minneapolis contractor, for the job. He managed to double the size of the kitchen by taking out the original dining area.

“Most 1970s homes have compartmentalized, closed-off rooms,” said Williams, “not the open floor plan people want today.”

For the new kitchen, the Ysbrands chose mocha-stained maple cabinets and Cambria countertops. They replaced the classic ’70s harvest gold appliances with sleek stainless steel. Now, bar stools line one side of a breakfast bar, which also doubles as a food serving area for parties. There’s even room for a chair and love seat.

“The new kitchen is the best,” said Mike. “Especially the pot filler above the stove.”

The original sunken living room had dark, rough-hewn timbers across the ceiling, a popular design element in the ’70s.

“It was an inexpensive way to get that coffered ceiling look,” explained Williams. But now “everyone with ’70s homes have asked me to get rid of them.”

To convert the living room into a formal dining room, Williams tore out the timbers and closed up three archways connecting to the entry. For better flow, he replaced a picture window with French doors that open to the deck.

The Ysbrands also have taken on simple but stylish updates, such as swapping out dark, hollow-core doors with crisp white-paneled ones.

One of the home’s few remaining remnants from the ’70s is the split entry. Mike gave the tiny foyer a modest makeover, which includes a metallic brown and rust tiled floor, a mahogany front door and white-painted staircase, to create a better first impression.

“We’ve made it our own,” he said. “We’re good for the next 30 years.”


Lynn Underwood • 612-673-7619

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