Homeowners Theresa Schneider and Mark Simpson had to give up two closets — but they gained so much more.

The couple recently completed a makeover of the kitchen and a bathroom in their 1950s rambler in St. Louis Park. Stonehearth Remodeling used the closet space to expand the size of the two rooms for better flow and function. Storage and countertop space was nearly doubled in the new kitchen, and now there's room for a traditional vanity in the bigger bathroom.

Simpson described their bright, smartly equipped kitchen as "a blessing." "It's cool and functional — and aesthetically awesome," he said. "It makes me happy when I come home."

The house: Simpson and Schneider bought the rambler with its tuck-under garage in 2005. They were drawn to the home's vintage vibe, hardwood floors, big yard and location near their jobs.

The mission: The kitchen and main bathroom had been updated, but back in the 1980s. The kitchen's polished brass hardware, golden oak cabinets and checkerboard linoleum were three decades old and looked it. The emerald-green Formica countertop was so low that they got backaches from chopping vegetables. And the tight spaces made it challenging for both of them to cook at the same time. "We always had to hop over the dishwasher door when it was down," said Schneider. "My favorite thing to make was reservations."

The home's main bathroom was all blue hues — an eye-jolting ocean blue on the walls and deep navy on the floors. "I'll be happy if I never see a pedestal sink again," said Schneider. "There's no storage or counters — and you can't hide anything underneath it."

The couple wanted to revamp and update the rooms to add functional and timeless features that still blended with the home's '50s interiors. "We were looking for a transitional, comfortable look — not too modern or traditional — that fits with the warmth of the house," said Schneider.

The design team: Greg Oothoudt and Cathy Wereley of Stonehearth Remodeling, Coon Rapids, stonehearthremodeling.com, 763-427-7330.

Goodbye, closets: Oothoudt tore out a foyer coat closet, which was adjacent to the kitchen. He also walled up a back door off the kitchen and reconfigured the kitchen layout to gain space for more counters and cabinets. During the remodeling, Stonehearth also added spray-foam insulation for energy savings. "You can make modifications to existing spaces using creative design that can make the home feel bigger," said Oothoudt. In the bathroom, he removed a small closet and wall, creating room for a generous-sized vanity.

Smart storage: A floor-to-ceiling kitchen pantry with pullout drawers replaced the front coat closet. A utility closet to store the vacuum cleaner and small appliances was built on the wall of the old back door. "Now everything is so organized," Schneider said.

Staying in character: The couple chose warm earth tones for the granite counters, and a fleur-de-lis tile design above the stove for a French feel. They also matched the oak trim and hardwood floors to the wood in the rest of the house. For reflective pizazz, Schneider picked a classic subway tile with a mocha-hued glass finish for the backsplash. "I didn't want to go crazy black, white and red — just keep it warm," she said.

Big splurge: The kitchen's extra-deep double sink with a no-touch faucet was worth the extra cost. "The faucet sometimes startles you because you forget about it," said Simpson.

Inviting bath: Simpson is so pleased with the bathroom transformation that "I want everyone to check it out when they come over," he said. The new quartz-covered vanity has the same cabinet design and drawer pulls as the kitchen, for continuity. The earthy stone-tiled backsplash matches the tile pattern surrounding the tub and shower. Above the sink, the faucet is tilted to the side for a more custom look. Recessed mirrored cabinets that reflect the shower tile "make the bathroom feel bigger," said Oothoudt. A space-saving pocket door is the final touch.

Why come see their project: Over the years, the couple had visited Remodelers Showcase homes as they contemplated updates and enhancements. "We have the kind of house a lot of people have," said Simpson. "We hope they can get ideas about design, colors and materials, and they can imagine what their kitchen could look like."

Advice for other remodelers: Schneider and Simpson are glad they lived in their home for a while before taking the plunge. "You'll learn what you don't like and what you want to change," added Oothoudt. And when the demolition and rebuilding begins, "be prepared to eat out a lot — or on paper plates," said Simpson.


What: Self-guided tour of more than 60 remodeled homes, sponsored by the Builders Association of the Twin Cities as part of the Parade of Homes.

When: 1 to 7 p.m. Oct. 2, noon to 6 p.m. Oct. 3-4.

Where: Homes are located in 26 cities throughout the Twin Cities metro area.

Cost: Free; $5 donation to tour two Dream Remodeled Homes. One is a renovated two-bedroom condo off Summit Avenue in St. Paul, and the other is a modern whole-house makeover focusing on healthy indoor air quality in Burnsville.

Lynn Underwood • 612-673-7619