Mary and Bill Winchester were big fans of Landico, a popular builder of scores of homes in suburban neighborhoods during the 1980s.
In fact, the couple owned a Landico home in West Bloomington back in the 1980s. In 2015, they were moving back to Minnesota from Wisconsin, and were on the hunt for another Landico.
“We really liked the multi-levels and modern open floor plan,” said Mary.
They finally found a 1985 Landico-built residence for sale in their old Bloomington neighborhood. “It felt like home,” said Bill.
But after they bought the five-level split and lived there for a year, “big things started to bug us,” said Mary.
The middle of the house was dark, thanks to windows only in the front and back. Drywall boxes and half-walls blocked light and views. “Walls seemed to stop you at every corner,” said Mary.
The disconnected, cut-up spaces made the 2,500-square-foot home feel a lot smaller than it was. Finally, the white-on-white rooms were simply sterile and cold. “It felt architecturally barren,” said Bill.
But the Winchesters weren’t exactly sure how to gain more light, improve the flow, open up sightlines — and inject some warmth and character.
So they enlisted architect Eric Odor of SALA Architects to explore the possibilities without breaking their budget.
With some strategic modifications, Odor and assistant Caitlin Dippo were able to make an outdated split-level tract home feel much more connected — and homey.
“We made grand gestures that didn’t cost too much,” Odor said, noting that the project required no structural changes or additional square footage.
After the remodeling, by Showcase Renovations, Mary and Bill can see clearly from the front of the house through the living room and out the back to the wooded setting.
Even on a sunny day, the old interior “was dark and dead,” said Mary. “Now the house glows.”
Here are six ways the Winchesters updated, brightened and modernized their 1980s split-level.
1. Half-walls came tumbling down
Odor’s design included tearing out the drywall boxes and half-walls and replacing them with modern steel-cable railings to open up sightlines, draw in more light and connect spaces. “Now we can see incredible sunsets from every level,” said Bill.
2. Raised the floor in the front sitting room
Before the remodel, the Winchesters had to step down into the sunken room, which made it feel detached from the adjacent dining room, so the sitting room was rarely used. Odor raised the floor 7 inches to make it even with the other rooms, all with new maple flooring. “This turned two small spaces into one big room where people can spread out,” he said.
3. Bright and welcoming foyer
A new second-story skylight replaced the tired entry light fixture.
4. Warm maple and cherrywood accents
Light stained maple covers all the floors, the floating staircase steps and foyer ceiling. Before the makeover, the ceiling beam between the dining and sitting rooms was covered with white drywall, which was removed. The beam was then wrapped with cherrywood to match the dining table. Odor added a new cherry-clad beam at the top of the staircase to repeat the motif.
5. Graphic modern fireplace
The Winchesters updated the white-tiled fireplace surround with charcoal Venetian plaster that soars up to the vaulted ceiling. The living room has become a gallery-like space for artwork collected on the couple’s travels.
6. Make a good first impression
The front entry now has a new double-glass door, ipe wood deck and stairs with modern steel-cable railing complementing a Cor-Ten steel planter. The sheltering overhang is clad in Douglas fir. “The natural wood is a foreshadowing of what’s inside,” said Odor.