The challenge: When Mike and Kate Bisanz decided to buy their 1947 stucco Cape Cod in St. Louis Park, they knew it needed work. "But the house was affordable and had potential," said Kate, noting its desirable location near Minikahda Club. "We would fit in improvements in the future."

The previous owner had updated the kitchen right before selling in 2010, but the dark cherrywood cabinets, black and brown granite countertops and glass mosaic backsplash just weren't the couple's style.

"It didn't have the home's 1940s charm of the arches, white woodwork and plaster walls," said Kate.

The couple also hoped for a larger, open and airy kitchen and a separate formal dining area to replace a small dinette, as well as to add a new back entry/mudroom.

"We wanted space to entertain, work and sit down and eat," said Kate, "and a dining area for up to 10 people."

The final request was to accomplish the remodeling project within the Cape Cod's existing footprint.

The designer: Jean Hoffmann, Chester-Hoffmann & Associates, International Market Square, 275 Market St., Mpls. 612-455-2240, The contractor was Hoxie Homes & Remodeling, Waconia,

Better use for a back porch: The outdated boxy back porch was just a glorified mudroom, said Kate, who is also the daughter of designer Hoffmann. For the extensive project, Hoffmann converted the long porch and former kitchen/dinette into the new remodeled kitchen, which opens to a new formal dining room. Knocking down the wall between the old porch and kitchen doubled the size and added more modern functionality.

"We turned three confining spaces into an open, spacious and functional floor plan," said Hoffmann.

Smart support: Hoffmann added two false beams to match the original load-bearing center beam to create cohesive character. "We had to keep the load-bearing beam, but now it's not so obvious what's new and what's old," she said.

Budget-friendly: The couple kept the newer appliances from 2010, but added a wine cooler and beverage drawers for entertaining. They retained the lower cabinet boxes, while installing new white painted doors to match new millwork.

However, they put in new glass-door upper cabinets because "the old cabinets weren't deep enough to hold a dinner plate," said Kate.

Is it real — or faux? Gray-taupe ceramic tile, which mimics a weathered wood grain, is a durable and practical alternative to wood, especially with a baby and a large dog in the household, said Kate.

However, "it wasn't easy to find a tile that looked like whitewashed wood — and not fake," she said. The tile floor flows from the kitchen to the dining area for a cohesive connection.

Quiet palette: Hoffmann's interior design scheme focuses on restful and calming neutral hues in the wood-look tile floor, island chair fabric and window coverings.

"It's timeless, and you don't grow tired of it," said Kate, who adds seasonal color with fruit and flowers.

The interiors also utilize light and dark contrasts, such as a clean white quartz top juxtaposed with a deep-gray/taupe island base and wall.

For eye-pleasing interest, Hoffmann chose a glazed-tile backsplash with "texture and variation like someone painted lines across it," she said.

Chiseled features: The white quartz-topped island for casual dining feels fresh and distinctive, thanks to the chunky chiseled edge on the counters and island top. "It anchors the 8-foot-long island and is the centerpiece of the room," said Hoffmann.

Staying in character: The new design repeats the 1940s-style arches in doorways and above the serving counter. Crown molding wrapping the perimeter and glass cabinet doors on each side of the kitchen window continue the traditional Cape Cod style. Turned legs on island chairs add a classic vibe.

Hoffmann also achieved an "organic, transitional flow with the rest of the existing home that feels fresh and light — and doesn't look like an add-on," she said.

Bring the outdoors in: The new formal dining room is dressed up with a bronze twig-shaped chandelier, petal mirrors and birch-look wallpaper next to deep taupe walls. The weathered wood-look tile floor matches the flooring in the new kitchen.

Pretty pendants: Clear handblown-glass pendants provide task lighting, and keep views open to the backyard. "The ribbon in the pendants gives it texture," said Kate.

The result: The revitalized kitchen is now a multifunctional, durable and well-used space. "The family lives in that room," said Hoffmann.

Best part: After the remodeling project was finished, Kate quickly discovered the kitchen's calming and feel-good qualities. "It's where I spend my mornings," she said, "and nights before going to bed."


To submit Before and After photos of a redecorated or remodeled room or house for consideration, please send uncompressed jpeg images to Please include your name and number.