Since buying their home in Maple Grove a dozen years ago, Jason and Alyssa DeRusha have been gradually making it their own.
“We’ve gotten over the idea of renovating with an eye to resale,” said Jason, morning news anchor at WCCO-TV. “We want our house to feel like us, and make us happy.”
To that end, the couple have repainted, remodeled and redecorated, replacing “eight different shades of beige” with bold colors like chartreuse. They’ve also accented their home, which they share with their two sons, ages 13 and 11, with distinctive materials and artwork.
“Alyssa and I love art, and we buy our art here in the community,” said Jason.
The family’s kitchen was the final frontier.
They’d made some incremental updates, including replacing the original laminate countertops with black granite, adding new tile flooring and new appliances. But the DeRushas were eager to complete the transformation.
“The kitchen was the last room that didn’t capture our personality,” he said. “It was very typical Minnesota suburban,” with maple cabinets in “the official wood stain” of 2001, the year the house was built, and a rarely used built-in desk with storage cubbies above, another relic of that era.
Last year, the couple hired husband-and-wife remodelers Jamie and Morgan Molitor of construction2style, Elk River, to update their kitchen and help them put their personal stamp on the space. Morgan, the design pro of the duo, had been a guest on WCCO, and Jason had become a fan of her work.
“I liked her kitchen,” he said, which he’d seen on the Molitors’ blog. He knew her style would mesh with theirs, which he describes as “modern with warmth — modern can lean a little stark.”
New and not-so-new
The DeRushas were seeking a dramatically new look but not a completely new kitchen. Instead, they wanted to redesign around the upgrades they’d already completed, including the countertops, flooring and appliances. They also wanted to stay within a budget of $30,000.
“This is a regular middle-class neighborhood,” said Jason of their Maple Grove subdivision. “We can’t spend $60,000 on a kitchen and have it make any sense.”
The Molitors were on board.
“Jamie and I have a background in flipping houses,” said Morgan. “We’re used to keeping different elements to stay within a price point.”
But she did encourage them to ditch the built-in desk and replace it with a sleek modern bar topped with Cambria quartz and open shelves. “We wanted a ‘Wow!’ element,” said Jason. “That change achieved that.”
The DeRushas also wanted their kitchen to incorporate as many local materials and elements as possible. “We wanted it to feel like a Minnesota kitchen, made by Minnesota craftspeople,” said Jason.
“One thing I wanted but didn’t think I could have was [new] cabinets,” said Alyssa. “I thought it would be cost-prohibitive.”
To get a brand-new look while keeping costs down, Nic Frost Cabinetry of St. Louis Park fabricated new doors for the original cabinet boxes, which were still in good shape. The new doors were painted Revere Pewter, a soft gray by Benjamin Moore with chameleon-like characteristics. “It’s one of our favorite colors,” said Morgan, noting that it can register as slightly warm or cool, depending on what it’s paired with.
One of the kitchen’s most distinctive features is a custom backsplash made of handcrafted tile, in shades of blue, green and neutral metallics.
The tile, made by Mercury Mosaics of Minneapolis, is glazed by hand, creating subtle variation in finish, which adds to the handcrafted character.
“That’s the showstopper,” said Jason.
“I like the movement and flow up the wall,” said Alyssa.
For finishing touches, Morgan, a “brand ambassador” for the American Craft Council (ACC), asked the DeRushas if she could style their kitchen using craft items from artists who will be represented at this week’s ACC craft show (April 4-7) in St. Paul.
“Those little accents make it a home,” said Jason, who will be speaking about their kitchen remodeling project during the craft show’s Preview Party on April 4.
He’s become an advocate of using quality artisan-made materials and elements, especially those from local sources. Not only will your project stand the test of time, but you’re also supporting local artists, he said.
That’s a choice more and more homeowners are making, Morgan noted. “There’s been a shift with our clients.” Instead of choosing a basic low-cost vanity, for example, they’re repurposing Grandma’s vintage dresser as a vanity. “We want things that are sentimental, part of our family story,” she said. “It’s a movement — to keep craft alive.”
Now that their personalized kitchen project is complete, the DeRushas are thrilled with the results.
“Originally, we didn’t realize how much transformation we could get while staying within our budget,” said Jason.
“It makes us happy to be in here,” added Alyssa.
American Craft Council Show
What: One-of-a-kind furniture, home decor, jewelry and clothing handcrafted by more than 270 artists from across the country. Watch artisans at work with clay, fiber, glass, wood and metal.
Makeover mention: WCCO-TV morning anchor Jason DeRusha will discuss his crafted home kitchen makeover and how to use art to personalize a home during the Preview Party on April 4. Cost: $75 when purchased online before April; $85 at the door.
When: Preview Party, 6 to 9 p.m. April 4. Show hours 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 5, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 6, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 7.
Where: RiverCentre, 174 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul.
Tickets: $13 for one-day pass; $11 for advance one-day pass purchased online at craftcouncil.org/stpaul (online tickets available through April 3). Free for ages 12 and under and ACC members.