Sears House Follow-Up

by Josh on November 8, 2007 · 8 comments

in Journal

The Minneapolis StarTribune ran a feature in today’s home+garden section on the renovation work undertaken by the new owner of the local Sears Ashmore kit house I lusted after mentioned when it was for sale last year. This house is one of the most notable bungalows in the Twin Cities and has appeared in several books and magazines devoted to Arts & Crafts homes.

The print version of the story has several great photos of the house interior including the seating area and master bath in the newly created master suite, along with pictures of the beautiful original details in the living room and dining room. Unfortunately the version of the story on the paper’s website only has two pictures. Why not put up the other photos, too, StarTribune?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

ranty November 8, 2007 at 1:14 am

Wow – neat story! Kit houses are SO cool. I am a particular fan of the Sears Chelsea model #111 myself… (an American Foursquare)

I wish there were more photos online too!

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Bryan November 8, 2007 at 8:47 am

Sounds like a great place. There are a lot of Sears kit houses in my hometown here in Virginia, but no craftsman styles that I’m aware of. I’m a bit disappointed, however, that the floor plan of the Ashmore house was changed so drastically. I agree, houses have to be updated, but blowing away three of the original bedrooms for a large suite seems extreme. Guess that’s just the purist in me!

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Josh November 8, 2007 at 3:57 pm

I’ll have to try looking up that house plan, Ranty. Thanks again for the great “before party” at the Healy House. You’ve got your hands full, but it is a marvelous place to be working on.

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Josh November 8, 2007 at 4:21 pm

Bryan, I share your disappointment at the radical changes to the floorplan. Come to think of it, a before and after floorplan comparison image would have been a nice companion to the story.

As you read, the Ashmore’s new owner is obviously not a strict preservationist, though the changes were deliberately matched house. I don’t know of many people who would want to live exactly as their homes were when new, and adding an owner’s suite is hardly an unusual remodel. (It was done to my house, though without losing a bedroom.)

Considering that the Ashmore was on the market for somewhere around $700,000, I’m not surprised the new owner would want it to “live a bit more richly” according to current tastes.

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cristina November 12, 2007 at 12:15 pm

Damn!! So sorry I missed the article. I usually try to buy or find a Tribune on Wednesdays, only for the H&G section. It hasn’t been that great lately, so I kind of forgot about it last week. Too bad! I went on a walking tour of the Bryn Mawr neighborhood last year, and admired that very house and knew it had been featured in AB magazine. Wish I could see pictures of the bathroom. Do they always have such cool home’s on the Remodeler’s Showcase?

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Paul Kirkman November 19, 2007 at 6:11 pm

I’m the owner of the Ashmore house that was featured in the Star Tribune. I suppose that we can enter a debate as to whether or not the alteration of the floor plan was a good idea — however, previous remodels had changed the pergola into a four-season sunroom and another had altered the back entrance to the kitchen and enclosing it. Furthermore, one of the back bedroom closets had been removed so that the remodeled kitchen would include a larger breakfast nook area.

I also talked with a significant number of individuals involved with the arts & crafts movement and sought advice as to whether or not it should be remodeled so extensively. Without exception, the advice I received was to make the house usable to me — which is ultimately part of the original bungalow experience — a more livable house when compared to Victorian-styled architecture.

All who have toured the house post-remodel have commented that I have added value, rather than detracting from what was already there. It’s a gorgeous house, and the remodels that have been done in the kitchen by the former owner and on the master suite by me have been stunning.

Regarding “before & after” floor plan shots, I’d invite you to click on a website done by my architect, Joe Metzler of SALA. His website is ConvenientOldHouse.com.

I welcome discourse and discussion, in continuing this thread, but I will not accept personal attacks from purists.

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Josh November 20, 2007 at 4:26 pm

Thanks for visiting, Paul, and thanks for sharing your project with the Strib. I think your house (before and after the renovation) is spectacular.

To be clear, I’m not a bungalow purist and I certainly didn’t mean any of my remarks as personal attacks. It’s good and necessary for old houses to be updated– that is, in part, the point of this blog.

In fact, your renovation, though larger in scope than what I would attempt in my house, is an example of the kind of work I aspire to. It used quality materials and craftsmanship to make the house more appealing and usable by today’s standards, while complementing the house’s original character and details. I even clipped the story about your project from the paper to save in my “house ideas” file.

I’m also impressed by the research you describe as part of your process for planning the renovation. Those must have been some fascinating conversations.

On the off chance you haven’t been approached already, your house would be a great addition to the 2008 Twin Cities Bungalow Club Home Tour. The theme is “really nice bungalows” and yours certainly qualifies.

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Paul Kirkman November 20, 2007 at 5:37 pm

I didn’t take your comments on this site to be personal attacks — although statements such as “disappointment” in the floor plan being changed so “drastically” by “blowing away” three of the original bedrooms and having the project described as “extreme” by your other correspondent comes close to an attack. My intent in making the statement on my original post was simply trying to ward off potential personal attacks … in my mind, I can fully defend my decision to remodel to suit my personal needs — especially when I plan to hold onto the house rather than renovate and re-sell.

Part of the original decision process to proceed with the extensive renovation was formed by the fact that other floor plan alterations had already been made by former owners and that the house was no longer “as built.” Had the house been intact, the decision would have been much, much harder and who knows what conclusion I would have drawn.

As for the Twin Cities Bungalow Club, I would absolutely be willing and thrilled to include the house on the 2008 tour but no one has contacted me regarding doing so. I invite those individuals who are planning the tour to contact me.

Paul

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