Builder John Boyer was biking in his Wayzata neighborhood when he noticed a “For sale” sign in front of a familiar house.

“I had remodeled that house in 1992,” said Boyer, co-owner of Boyer Building Corp., Minnetonka. The two-story house was tucked back from the street, overlooking a marsh, and he thought it could make a great home for his son Jake Boyer and his fiancée, Anna Jacobs, who were hunting for their first house. “They’re nature lovers — a perfect candidate.”

He was right. The tranquil setting was definitely appealing to the couple.

“We liked the location, the beautiful big backyard on a marsh — it’s very private,” said Anna.

However, the traditional 1985 Colonial-style house was a harder sell.

“It was in good condition, but outdated,” she said, with closed-off rooms, a too-small kitchen, lots of dark wood and a central front door that opened directly facing the staircase. “I don’t like that — bad energy,” she said.

At first, Anna said no to buying the Colonial. But Jake’s father and his team at Boyer showed Anna and Jake, both 34, the possibilities for the house.

“They helped us visualize it,” said Jake. “We made an offer the next day.”

John had envisioned some basic, budget-friendly updates for the house. But the couple had something much bigger in mind. “We wanted to make it fit our lifestyle,” said Anna.

They had spent the decade after college putting money aside for their first home purchase. “We didn’t get a starter home. We saved up and jumped in,” said Jake.

That meant the ’80s Colonial got a major overhaul. Jake wanted a large great room open to the kitchen. To get that, they removed a wall, took space from the original garage, and added a new three-car garage behind it.

Anna wanted a breakfast nook. Building one required a 15-by-8-foot bump-out addition at the back of the house.

Other changes included the loss of an upstairs bedroom, which was sacrificed to create space for a walk-in closet and new bathroom for an owners’ suite. The formal dining room became his-and-her offices for Anna and Jake, both of whom work from home (he owns a manufacturing company; she works in digital advertising). The center-hall entrance was moved and redesigned, by architect James McNeal, to include a small front porch.

And the back entrance now includes a deluxe mudroom with dog shower for their border collie, Stella.

Higher and higher

Jake was very particular about the design for the great room, especially the ceiling height.

“That was my one thing. I like open space,” he said. He kept pushing the ceiling higher, from 9 feet in the original design to a soaring 19 feet, vaulted with trusses and beams.

“I thought I knew his tastes,” said John, “but I didn’t realize he had such strong opinions.”

Anna, a Pinterest fan, took a very active role in the interior design for what she calls their “modern farmhouse mixed with Spanish flair.”

She integrated Spanish-inspired touches including the dark-stained castle-style front door and the huge candle-like chandelier in the great room.

A cast-iron La Cornue range became the centerpiece for the new kitchen.

“I’ve always wanted that stove,” she said. She surrounded it with quartz countertops, a subway tile backsplash, pearl-white cabinets and a farm sink. For lighting, she chose maritime-inspired pendant lights over the island and a birdcage chandelier above the eating nook.

For their master bath, Anna found a bold blue-and-white-patterned Ann Sacks tile, which inspired pops of blue throughout the house, including the large center island in the kitchen.

From Houzz to home

Working with homeowners who had a lot of ideas was both challenging and a lot of fun, said John.

“There are so many ideas out there on the internet,” he said. “The challenge is to get them included early enough so that it doesn’t cost extra money.”

The breakfast nook, for example, originally was designed to accommodate a table and chairs. But then the couple decided they wanted a booth with an L-shaped built-in bench. By then, the nook had been built, so they had to put in a big table to fit the space. “It turned out great,” said John.

During the seven-month build, the couple rented an apartment in St. Louis Park.

“Every weekend, we came to check on the progress,” said Jake. Sometimes they’d find his father at work.

“He did a lot on weekends,” said Jake. “He’d come and work for free. He built the bench in the breakfast nook.” While Jake pitched in when he could, he estimates that his father’s donated expertise and labor saved them about 25% of the cost of the project.

Now that they’re settled in their reinvented home, they’re delighted with the results.

“We love it!” said Jake. “We bike to downtown Wayzata and eat at the fun restaurants.”

Staying home is pretty great, too. They appreciate the details of their house, such as the rounded corners and arches, a Boyer signature. “We enjoy the patio. Such a fun landscape,” said Anna. She’s doing more cooking. “I try — now that we have a house.” And they’re hosting more family gatherings. “That’s why we wanted an open floor plan.”

Last year, they were able to host the Christmas celebrations for both of their extended families. “It’s fun to go over there and see your handiwork,” said John.

He’ll likely be seeing that handiwork for many years to come. After all the work of the massive transformation, the couple are confident that their not-so-starter home is going to be their “forever home.”

“We’ll be here a long time,” said Jake.