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A Tale of Two Kitchens

Two recent projects – one a St. Paul Dutch Colonial, and the other a St. Louis Park Mid-Century – shed some light on key strengths of House Dressing Company.  With two homes of different ages, very different styles, and two very different owners, these projects progressed in two very different ways. But, the end result in both cases were customers who were exceedingly happy with the results of the work, homes repurposed to work better for years to come, and beautifully renovated kitchens.

#1 St. Louis Park Mid-Century

Our work with Bonnie Ross and her mid-century home in St. Louis Park started via a referral from her realtor.  She purchased the handsome rambler as a smaller, easy-to-maintain, one-level home that would serve her comfortably in Minnesota as she entered her golden years.  The home had many great features and a great location, but also out-dated interiors and a kitchen in drastic need of updating. A renovation was in order. Determined to make the home livable, she forged ahead with the project and handed the keys to House Dressing Company who worked industriously – and autonomously – while she spent most of her time throughout the project out of state.

With just a few person-to-person meetings, most details of the project were communicated via phone, weekly, and color boards sent to her at important milestones in the project.  Despite the distance, the project went incredibly smooth.  Through their regular and thorough communication during each phase of the project Bonnie built explicit trust in the House Dressing Company and their design and finish recommendations.  House Dressing Company’s experience with various ages and styles of homes, plus their attention to details resulted in a fantastic updating of the home featuring a contemporary and very functional kitchen.

A Contemporary Kitchen

Kitchen After

Kitchen after remodeling.


The faces of the refrigerator and dish washer are nicely integrated into the cabinetry.

Oven & Cooktop

Oven and cooktop with sleek and modest adjustable hood.

Kitchen After

Kitchen after remodeling.


Kitchen before remodeling.


Kitchen before remodeling.

Kitchen after remodeling.The faces of the refrigerator and dish washer are nicely integrated into the cabinetry.Oven and cooktop with sleek and modest adjustable hood.Kitchen after remodeling.Kitchen before remodeling.Kitchen before remodeling.

The kitchen, typical of many 1950′s homes, had aging linoleum flooring, a less-than-functional cabinet peninsula, smallish cabinets hanging from ceiling soffits, and a collection of appliances that were functional but less than attractive.  By removing an unwanted door to the small backyard and replacing three small closets with new cabinets, the once cramped space was opened up and copious amounts of countertop and cabinet space created.

An L-shaped banquette was created to create a breakfast nook and hardwood floors replaced the linoleum to match the rest of the main floor. Flush-faced, tobacco-stained cabinets of sustainable lyptus wood with lipped doors and spare use of anodized bronze pulls provide a decidedly contemporary look and a striking contrast to the white quartz composite countertops and travertine tile backsplash. New oven and cooktop with adjustable stainless hood, and integrated refrigerator and dishwasher further the sleek, contemporary style Bonnie desired.

Smart Reorganization


Guest bath after remodeling - tub and shower combined to save room for laundry.


Guest bath.


Master bath - the shower size actually increased.


Bath before remodeling.


Space for the laundry was created on the main floor.

Guest bath after remodeling - tub and shower combined to save room for laundry.Guest bath.Master bath - the shower size actually increased.Bath before remodeling.Space for the laundry was created on the main floor.

The kitchen wasn’t the only space needing updating. The main floor space shared by the master bath and guest bath was smartly reorganized in the project. The guest bath’s separate tub and shower were combined into a beautiful glass surround tub & shower and the entrance to the guest bath repositioned to allow enough room to add a hallway closet allowing the washer and dryer to move up from the basement. The master shower increased in size in the process, relic heating fixtures were replaced, and 24″ x 12″ wall tiles were smartly used in both bathrooms to compliment the contemporary vanities and light fixtures. CLICK HERE for our project gallery which includes Bonnie’s project.

#2 Saint Paul Colonial

Our work with Molly Barrett Gannon of St. Paul was altogether different in style and process.  While Bonnie Ross basically left us to our work, Molly came to us with an idea, collaborated with us on the design, and sourced many of the fixtures on her own. With her creativity and energy, and the experience and crew of House Dressing Company, the renovation succeeded to update the kitchen, rear-entry and basement of their 1914 Dutch Colonial home to suit the needs of their family of six – with four boys under 13.  CLICK HERE to watch Molly’s testimonial video highlighting her viewpoint on the project.

A 1914 Kitchen for the 21st Century


Kitchen after remodeling.


Kitchen after remodeling.


The original pantry was the inspiration for the new kitchen.


Kitchen before remodeling.

Kitchen after remodeling.Kitchen after remodeling.The original pantry was the inspiration for the new kitchen.Kitchen before remodeling.

The existing kitchen, a once cutting-edge 1960′s design, had strange angles wrapping around the stairway to the basement, odd placement of appliances, and dated finishes. The rear entry had no closet space and no easy access to the basement.  The space had “flow issues” – imagine hockey bags, shoes, coats, all with no place to go at the back entry. Plus a kitchen from a different generation inhabiting her historic home.  Molly’s aim was to mimic in the new kitchen the style of the original red birch shellac cabinets that still hung in the pantry.  She wanted her new kitchen to not look like a 2010 kitchen, but one that matched the character of her Saint Paul home.

Many meetings with Molly took place in the 3′x6′ pantry space examining those original cabinets and fixtures.  After getting a good grasp of Molly’s vision, House Dressing Company went to work.  The solution developed for her home was both about style and function. As her boys grew, the rear entrance to the house became increasingly more important as the main entrance for the family and it needed to work better.  And, in the process, Molly wanted to make sure what was created fit her ideas of historic integrity and that items were re-used throughout the process whenever possible.  The collaboration was underway.

Molly’s vision for the kitchen was brought to life through the expertise of the House Dressing Company and their team.  Wood workers built the cabinets to mimic those in the pantry – including the lack of toe kick – and built the enclosure for the new refrigerator to match the hinges for which Molly did an exhausting search.  Salvage shops were scoured for legs for the farm sink, the pulls and knobs for the cabinets, light fixtures and the tall table island.  All of the modern conveniences were wrapped up in a decidedly historic space.

Grand Central Station

The renovation would entail a small but smart addition for the kitchen and new mudroom at the rear entry (250 sq. ft), plus a new bathroom and finishes in the basement. But, most importantly, in the process the stairway to the basement would be moved out of the kitchen and adjacent to the rear entry and hallway leading to the front of the house – allowing the kitchen to be “just the kitchen” and a new hallway the main thoroughfare through the house.  The new mud room and “sport room” became the resting spot for coats, shoes, boots, skates and bags, and the boys now had direct access to their new recreation spaces in the basement  – and vice versa – they had easier access to their backyard ice skating rink in the winter.


The addition integrates nicely into the existing house.


Rear exterior after remodeling.


Rear exterior before remodeling.


Laundry after remodeling.


Laundry before remodeling.


Stairs to basement after remodeling.


Basement stairway after remodeling.


Bulkhead stairway to basement before remodeling.


Basement bath after remodeling.


Basement after remodeling.


Basement before remodeling.

The addition integrates nicely into the existing house.Rear exterior after remodeling.Rear exterior before remodeling.Laundry after remodeling.Laundry before remodeling.Stairs to basement after remodeling.Basement stairway after remodeling.Bulkhead stairway to basement before remodeling.Basement bath after remodeling.Basement after remodeling.Basement before remodeling.

Reclaiming Usable Space

By moving the stairway to the basement, both the flow on the main floor and in the basement improved.  Direct access to the basement recreation spaces was created, and those spaces were opened up to maximize their usage.  The new, wide hardwood stairway connects the historic addition to the updated basement. New ceilings and light fixtures, new egress windows, and painted brick walls removed the dark, dank basement feel from the space.  The previous kitchen’s cabinets were relocated to the basement, the laundry has been improved with all plumbing now hidden, and the new basement bathroom caters even further to the needs of the family with a wall-hung urinal and drinking fountain just outside.  The space has truly become useable.  CLICK HERE for our project gallery which includes Molly’s project.

Two Stories – One Conclusion

While Bonnie and Molly had distinctly different plans for their homes, and each approached their projects in very different ways. Both would agree that their projects couldn’t have happened as smoothly without House Dressing Company.  Regardless of the client and their ambitions for their homes, House Dressing Company is flexible enough to work through any process.