The challenge: When David Ritsema and Linda Vander Maten bought their 1915 Minneapolis Tudor, they knew the kitchen had to go. The 1980s kitchen addition was a basic builder rendition with laminate countertops and sheet vinyl covering the floor. The dropped ceiling made the space feel dark and confining, and the overall design was a poor fit with the home’s period character.

The couple’s goal was to gain counter and storage space with a center island, create better flow and draw in more light, while complementing the Tudor’s architecture. “We like the look of an old European farm kitchen,” said Ritsema.

The designer: Donella Olson of White Crane Design: Build, Minneapolis,

Simple solution: First, Olson relocated a doorway in the kitchen to create more wall space in order to rearrange appliances in a more efficient layout. “Moving the refrigerator gave us space for a center island,” she said.

Glass enhancements: Olson replaced a sorry single window with a bank of three large windows above the new farmhouse-style apron sink to lighten and brighten the room.

Raise the ceiling: A tiled dropped ceiling was a piece from the 1980s remodeling. White Crane Design: Build relocated and combined some of the mechanical systems in order to raise the ceiling 10 inches and covered it in drywall.

“The kitchen feels more spacious and brings it back to the original high-ceilinged character of the house,” said Olson. Ritsema agreed. “It feels bigger — even though the only direction they went was up.”

Farmhouse fresh: The new kitchen is composed of enameled white-and-gray custom cabinets juxtaposed with a warm walnut base center island.

The walls are clad with a crisp clean white subway tile backsplash. The island’s pullout drawers make it easy to reach pans and dishes. and the microwave is stored behind a cabinet door instead of high above the stove.

“We thought the island was going to be too big,” said Ritsema. “But it’s nice to have a place to prep food and serve a buffet.”

Concrete-look counters: For the counter and island top, the couple chose a Caesarstone matte finish quartz, which mimics weathered gray concrete. “It has more of a soft clean look than marbled granite,” said Ritsema.

Tiptoe through the tulips: The homeowners both have ancestors from Holland and wanted to express their heritage through antiqued porcelain floor tile depicting a tulip pattern like those seen in an old Dutch kitchen. “It has a nice Dutchy feel to it,” said Ritsema.

Floating shelves: Euro-style walnut display shelves in the corners keep the kitchen light and airy and are a way to bring in color with vases and teapots.

Staying in character: Baseboard and window trim, crown molding and other design details match the millwork in the original Tudor to create a seamless flow between the old and new parts.

The antique nickel hardware on windows and cabinets is reminiscent of the home’s original hardware.

Budget-friendly: The couple saved remodeling dollars by keeping the existing bay windows. “They were in decent shape so we just restained and painted the trim to match the new windows,” said Olson.

The result: An easy-to-use multifunctional kitchen with updated finishes that’s “not overly fancy and goes well with the original character of the home,” said Olson.

The kitchen makeover received many positive comments when it was open during the Remodelers Showcase last month, said Ritsema.

“We love all the light coming in and the way everything works together.”


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