High-end home makeovers

It’s a dream shared by many — living in a lovely house on the edge of Lake Harriet. Here’s a look at two homes on the market near the lake that have undergone major renovations. One home in Lynnhurst was outfitted with many new modern amenities, including a theater room and several green building features. The other home in Linden Hills — a 1915 Craftsman — was redesigned by noted California architect Thomas Bollay. The home has an outdoor fireplace and terraces. The Southwest Journal recently interviewed Jim Grandbois of Lakes Sotheby’s International Realty about the homes.

What was the goal of the overhaul?

Grandbois: Add to the house without overwhelming it, the lot or the neighborhood, and do it in such a way that old and new were seamless, timeless.  

The house was originally a Lake Harriet summer home with great bones. The front rooms featured generous moldings, 9-foot coffered ceilings, leaded glass and wainscoting.

As for the rest of the house, the spaces were small and the closets were even smaller.

Using the front rooms as inspiration, the builder discreetly inched its way out and up to take full advantage of the light and hilltop views of Lake Harriet.

What was done to the home?

The house was expanded and enlivened with a generous new cook’s kitchen, family room, powder room, butler’s pantry/laundry and mudroom on the first floor.

Upstairs, the one-half story walkup was bumped up to include an expansive light-filled floor that includes a master as well as a private guest suite. Even the garden level underwent an extensive facelift. And of course, we can’t forget the outdoor fireplace and terrace.


What was done to keep it from being a “monster house”?

The homeowners worked with renowned architect and preservationist, Thomas Bollay of Santa Barbara, who encouraged them to use the home’s story to inspire its expansion.

For instance, Tom imagined an arbor on the back of the house that was snatched for extra space to tuck a powder room and mudroom in. He thought about where they would settle in to read a book and watch the fire. Throughout the process, he always deferred to the original house and the lot as his guide.  

How did the homeowners feel about the home now?

It wasn’t an easy process but, in the end, the house is as comfortable as an old friend. While much is new and every amenity has been attended to, the original footprint of the home’s character remains as strong as the first day they saw the house some 20 years ago.

2616 W. 44th St.
Neighborhood: Linden Hills
Size: 3,562 square feet (total finished)
Details: A 1915 Craftsman with four bedrooms, four bathrooms featuring authentic New England fieldstone and vintage details throughout the home’s interior.
Listing price: $1,695,000

SWJ: What was the overall goal of the Newton Avevnue renovation?

To design and build a city home of the absolute highest possible quality with the following goals:

— Complement the neighborhood by successfully combining the classic character of the ’20s with all of the modern amenities desired in a new home;

— Combine all technology reasonably available — design, materials and systems — to create the most energy efficient, healthful and comfortable home possible, while not appearing so; and

— Use the best practices and materials available to build a home of the highest quality that will last for generations, and make no compromises at any level while doing so.

What renovations/improvements were made to the house?

This is essentially a new home utilizing as many of the existing materials as was reasonable. Literally nothing was left untouched.

What approach was taken to ensure the house didn’t get the “monster” home label?

Only the original foundation footprint was used, with a screened porch on post footings and covered entry portico being the only expansions.

The two-plus car detached garage was maintained, though totally renovated as well.

The roof was designed with a relatively low pitched hip to maintain as low a profile as possible.

The design was shared with and well received by many of the neighbors before work was done. Neighbors were assured that the build would be of very high quality.

How did the homeowners feel about the renovations now that they are complete?

They are more convinced than ever that thoughtful design and meticulous high quality building of the home will enhance the lives of the occupants beyond measure. They are proud of the home and happy to associate their family name with its creation.

4949 Newton Ave. S.
Neighborhood: Lynnhurst
Size: 2,760 square feet (total finished)
Details: A Craftsman two-story house with four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a gourmet kitchen and theater room. The builder used many local building materials in the construction.
Listing price: $924,900