Concerned about suburban migration, city officials and real-estate agents decided to invite the public into 40 Minneapolis homes as a way to promote urban living. Now, after 25 years, it's grown into the annual Minneapolis St. Paul Home Tour, a chance to see how homeowners reinvent older housing stock. Meet three owners and their projects on this year's tour, April 28 and 29.
The house: 1907 foursquare near Powderhorn Park, Minneapolis.
The owners: Rebeccah Berry, Paul Brohaugh and their sons Raven and Tamarack.
The mission: "I think it was a flophouse," said Brohaugh of the rundown foreclosed home he and Berry bought for $34,000 in 2009. The couple wanted to do a total makeover combining clean-lined contemporary design with a kid-friendly open floor plan, abundant light and many green features. "We didn't want it to be modern with marble and concrete," said Berry. "But to have warm elements, simple lines and lots of built-ins."
Starting from scratch: The couple gutted the home and rebuilt it within the existing footprint, from their own design. To gain space, they lofted the second story above the kitchen to create an office and playroom for the boys. The soaring space also makes the small house feel big. "Rebeccah had the design ideas, and I figured out how to do it," said Brohaugh.
Let there be light: The home has nearly 50 windows, with the majority in the two-story kitchen, which faces south. "On a sunny day in the winter, it feels like you're in a conservatory," said Berry.
Scandinavian style: For the interiors, they mixed unembellished light-colored pine and fir with mod Ikea light fixtures.
Going green: Spray-foam insulation, steel siding, recycled wood and passive solar energy are among the home's energy-efficient and sustainable features.
Handyman in the house: Brohaugh, a professional carpenter, designed and installed the home's woodwork. He also replaced a dark, cramped staircase by the front entry with an open wooden spiral staircase.
Budget-friendly: Brohaugh, with the help of friends and family, also installed the electrical, plumbing and heating. "We want to show people that you don't have to spend a ton of money to get a fun home," said Berry.
Mad for color: "We're not beige people," said Berry, referring to the vibrant turquoise ceiling, lime green doors and red furnishings.
Best part: The boys and Berry roller-skate and scooter across the wide-open spaces. "It's a fun house," said Berry. "Not pretentious."Colonial with a view
The house: 1916 Colonial Revival on Lake of the Isles, Minneapolis.
The owners: Laura Davis, Eric Roberts and children Grayson and Zoe.
The mission: The house boasted many attributes, but lacked a large family gathering space. "We wanted a family-room addition that seemed believable and true to the elements of the period, yet was practical for an active family," said Davis. An avid cook, she also planned to update and expand the narrow 1980s black-and-white galley kitchen. And with Isles only a stone's throw away, the couple wanted to extend the house so they could see more of the lake.
Merged old and new: Architect Joe Metzler, of SALA Architects, designed a family room and mudroom/laundry addition off the back. The new modern kitchen was built within the existing kitchen's footprint. Upstairs, he insulated an original three-season porch to create the couple's spacious master suite.
Staying in character: The home's original brick was reused on the exterior of the family-room addition. The coffered ceiling and millwork match the rest of the home.
Glad they did: They removed a back staircase for more space in the renovated kitchen.
One-of-a-kind island: The surface is made of walnut accented with laser-cut maple diamonds. "It adds warmth and gives it the feel of furniture," said Davis.
Lake lookout: Three walls of windows and French doors offer plenty of views of Lake of the Isles.
Luxe spa: The master bath includes heated floors, double sinks and a glass-front steam shower -- all the amenities you'd never have in a century-old house.
Savvy shoppers: The couple ordered polished nickel fixtures and accessories online from www.faucetdirect.com. "They have a great website and we found it less expensive," said Davis.
For today, not for resale. "The trend is to put the laundry room upstairs by the bedrooms," said Davis. "But it works much better for us on the first floor."
Idea they copied from past tours: "We painted the ceilings the same color as the walls," said Davis. "It's a little thing that's impactful -- and it shows off the wood better."
Words of wisdom: Davis and Roberts lived in the home for five years before executing costly major improvements. "For a project of this magnitude, take it at a slow pace so you can make the right decisions," she said.Bungalow beauty
The house: 1923 Craftsman bungalow near the Mississippi River, St. Paul.
Homeowner: Paul Bard.
The mission: In 2007, Bard looked beyond the foreclosed duplex's rough shape -- it had three pages of code violations -- to its handsome well-preserved woodwork and Craftsman character. "It was like finding a vintage Duesenberg covered with dust in a barn," he said. For the past five years, Bard has worked to restore the bungalow's original beauty, as well as turn it back into a single-family home.
"The house has good karma. It was built with a lot of love by the original owner, Henry Jandrich," said Bard, who grew up in St. Paul. "I found out from a grandson that he was an architect for the Great Northern Railroad."
New and improved: First, Bard put on a new roof, new mechanical systems and updated the plumbing. Then he knocked down walls in the second-floor apartment to create a master suite, complete with a sitting room, office and bathroom.
Crowning touch: Bard found a period-style leaded-glass window at an antiques shop for the bathroom. "It's a real wow factor and it's beautiful," he said.
Recycled character: He reused the vintage tub and medicine cabinet instead of tossing them.
DIY guy: Bard did many of the tasks himself, such as sanding and painting the porch's wood trim. On the exterior, he installed new cedar shingles, replicating the pattern of the original, and painted the facade six different colors.
What keeps him going: Bard called his home a work in progress -- the outdated kitchen still needs to be remodeled -- and he's ready for the challenges ahead. "I love old houses," he said. "It's an interest and passion of mine."