Robin Saunders Ryan never planned on buying a house that was more than 4,000 square feet large. But in 2012, she and her husband happened to drive by an “Open House” sign in St. Paul’s Macalester-Groveland neighborhood.

“We decided to pop in,” said Ryan. The two-story brick house was only a block from the Mississippi River, and the floor plan was exactly what they were looking for. The 1929 home also boasted a wood-paneled library adorned with a stained-glass bay window and pristine dining room oak built-ins.

The house had been well-maintained, but the decor was all 1970s, including brocade-style wallpaper on every wall, and pastel-hued carpet on almost every floor — even in the kitchen.

The couple bought the home and immediately tackled the endless cosmetic upgrades they felt it needed. They replaced heavy draperies with new window treatments, tore down wallpaper and painted the walls a neutral color scheme. Luckily, when they ripped out the carpet, “we uncovered beautiful hardwood floors,” said Ryan.

The kitchen and main-floor family room required the most extensive work. Vujovich Design Build knocked down a wall to widen and remodel the kitchen, which now includes white Shaker-style cabinets, glazed taupe-gray subway tile and top-of-the-line wood-paneled appliances. “A metal rope design around the perimeter gives it a little more elegance,” said Ryan.

The previous owners had a large family and had used the family room as a second dining room. Ryan put in new hardwood floors and replaced an old countertop and sink with a handy mini-mudroom with built-in storage at the entrance from the garage.

The lower level, which the couple turned into a TV/game room for when their adult children visit, still has its original terrazzo floors and wood-burning fireplace. “We kept the little tiki bar, too,” said Ryan. “It’s a quirky feature of the house.”

After renovating the Mac-Groveland residence, Ryan thought it was going to be “my forever home,” she said. But now that they are empty-nesters, she and her husband want the freedom to travel to warmer climes in the winter. She’ll miss her home’s vintage built-ins and the solid, permanent feeling of the brick structure.

But it’s time to downsize. “It’s just too big for us,” she said. “Two people in 4,400 square feet feels wasteful to me.”

Other features:

• The 4,425-square-foot house includes four bedrooms and five bathrooms.

• The foyer has the original floor tile and wrought-iron railings on the staircase.

• The library features stained-glass windows and wood-paneled walls.

• The master suite has an attached bathroom and walk-in closet, which wasn’t typical in homes from this period.

• The home’s sunroom also has the original 1920s floor tiles.

• The third level could be used as a teenager suite with a bedroom, full bathroom and walk-in closet.

• Location, location, location. The home is a block from the Mississippi River and biking and walking trails.


Brad Palecek of Edina Realty has the listing, 612-839-6029.