With a major work commitment over the weekend, the only house-related project I had time for was ogling other people’s completed house renovations on the Minneapolis & St. Paul Home Tour. Let’s call it “research.”
About the Home Tour: it is a chance for homeowners to showcase work on homes within the borders of Minneapolis and St. Paul. At its core, the tour is about promoting city living. There is always a historic restoration focus (though new homes are on the tour as well), and an annual theme that varies from year to year. This year the theme was green energy. We chose to stick to houses in our part of town, and as a result happened to miss the properties with the most ambitious energy investments. What our choices lacked in solar panels and geothermal heat sinks they made up for in charming details and neighborhood appeal. All pictures below come from Home Tour handouts or website.
The first stop on the tour was the new home of the previous owners of our house. They just completed a large addition that basically doubled the size of their house taking it from two bedrooms to five and adding a new den, mudroom, and second level porch with a great view of Lake Nokomis. Most impressive to me is the fact that they did nearly all of this ambitious work themselves.
Interesting renovation detail: floors finished in standard pine boards (not tongue and groove flooring) and lightly finished to wear, gap and patina like the floor in an old warehouse.
After we said goodbye to our previous owner friends at their new house, we made our next Home Tour stop at a remodeled colonial overlooking Minnehaha Creek. This home featured a new kitchen and lots of “green” touches, including zoned heating, metal shingles, dual-flush low-flow toilets, and triple-paned windows where replacements were required.
Interesting renovation detail: very bold color choices for all rooms in the house including walls of different colors in the same room, and even rooms with angular horizontal bands of different colors running around the walls.
Next, we visited a beautiful 1905 2.5 story foursquare with Victorian details. Here the homeowners were showcasing a lot of exterior work including all new paint, a short front retaining wall, cedar privacy fence, a new 2 car garage, backyard patio with hot tub and paver sidewalks, and landscaping throughout. Their work was lovely, but the interior was what really sparkled. In over 100 years, the original woodwork–including enormous pocket doors and a formal staircase with carved details– was never painted.
Interesting renovation detail: use contractors who specialize in sensitive restoration of older homes. A color consultant picked an appropriate color palate for the exterior, a custom millwork shop rebuilt the fan window for the 3rd floor, and a stained glass company restored missing stained glass in the stairway landing with an appropriate replacement made by the same maker as the original.
Lastly, we toured a massive 1890 Victorian very near downtown Minneapolis. The home had three floors, 9 bedrooms 3 bathrooms, 3 fireplaces, a mansion-worthy grand staircase and an all new kitchen. Even with a substantial amount of restoration done, there was still a lot of opportunity for improvements, particularly in the former servants’ quarters on the third floor. The house is on the market for around $500,000 but could sell for much more than that if the neighborhood was not so rough. On our drive back home, Ms. Bungalow and I puzzled about remarkable type of person who would buy that much house half a block from the interstate in a neighborhood filled mostly with rental apartments. For that special buyer, the house had a lot to offer.
Interesting renovation detail: keep a restoration journal. This isn’t big news to other housebloggers, but even if you don’t want to publish your home projects on the internet you can still keep journal of photos and notes as you work. People were waiting in line at this house to look at albums of restoration photos.
Overall, the houses we saw were “finished products” throughout. Judging by my list of house projects, we are probably a long way from being on the Home Tour ourselves. But it makes a nice goal to keep in mind when the going gets tough.