Razing the Roof
A 1920s Minneapolis bungalow gets a green remodel and a fresh, modern look
Styled by lynn ostrowski
Every morning was the same for Jackie and Dan Millea. They would get out of bed and duck as they walked under their low-hanging bedroom ceiling to the small upstairs bathroom to brush their teeth, and then head down to the basement to use the home’s only shower.
Every evening for the Milleas culminated in the tiny, L-shaped kitchen—which, by the way, was the only passageway between the main floor bedrooms and living spaces. “I’d be trying to work on dinner and all of the guys would be crowded in there sitting on the countertops talking to me,” says Jackie, who, in addition to being the family chef, is the co-founder of Minneapolis-based Shelter Architecture. “It was like a hallway with appliances.”
And those were just a few the Millea family’s gripes about their 2,000-square-foot 1928 bungalow in Minneapolis. “When you’d walk up and down the stairs to the second floor, you’d have to duck so you didn’t hit your head,” Jackie says. “Then when you’d ducked, you could actually see outside through a crack in the wall. It was mess.”
They could have moved to a newer home that offered more of what Dan, Jackie, and their frequently visiting sons, Scott, 22, and Stefan, 24, wanted. But the family’s 10-year love affair with Windom neighborhood, where they enjoy good neighbors, 10-minute cab rides to the airport, and walks down Minnehaha Parkway or to Lake Nokomis, motivated them to stay and remodel instead.
With help from her colleagues at eco-minded Shelter Architecture, Jackie served as architectural designer on the project. Jackie chose Jay Stills of Minneapolis-based Buck Brothers Construction, a builder she’d worked with before, to implement her plan for a sustainable remodel. “I wanted someone who gets [sustainability] and I knew [Stills and his team] could handle the job so it wouldn’t drag on for years,” she says.
Jackie re-imagined every inch of her home, from the lower level to the second floor, bringing in ample natural light and opening up and connecting the spaces. The most dramatic change is the modern 110-square-foot, two-story addition off the back, which holds the stunning open staircase that anchors the house like a spine. Constructed mainly of oversized, energy-efficient commercial glass windows, the addition helps connect the house to the outdoors and brings in loads of sunlight, dramatically lowering winter heating costs. “We get 2 degrees of solar gain just by opening the shades,” she says. In the summer, mature trees in the backyard shield the house from the sun.
Photo by Maki Strunc Photography
On the main floor, Jackie demolished the old L-shaped kitchen and enclosed main staircase to make way for a new kitchen, complete with a generous island with enough seating to keep people from being underfoot while talking with the cook. Jackie and Stills chose locally made products as often as possible during the remodel, including Cambria for the countertops, a quartz product made in LeSueur, Minnesota; a sink by local artisan Peter Zelle; and tile by Mercury Mosaics in Minneapolis. (See page 58 for more “Made in Minnesota” resources.) To reduce future energy costs, they replaced old appliances with high-efficiency Energy Star models.
A bright dining room off the kitchen is the welcome replacement for a former bedroom. As she did throughout the house, Jackie chose dining room furniture and accessories that have the “clean lines and glamour” she loves, such as Barbara Barry chairs covered in graphic Osborne & Little chenille. Dan’s one wish was for a small library/office, which Jackie fulfilled by redesigning the home’s original dining room. It has built-in bookshelves, made and designed by Minneapolis firm 3Ring Scenic, and a dramatic 12-foot-high box window that lets in plenty of natural light and adds architectural interest to the front of the house. All of the home’s drafty, single-pane windows were replaced with double-glazed low-E (low-emittance) windows that help reduce heating and cooling needs.
The upstairs got a similar makeover. Expanding foam insulation solved the extreme heat and cold problems, while raising the ceiling made head-ducking a thing of the past. “It was terrible up here,” says Jackie. “But after changing the ceiling and using some expanding foam insulation to seal all the gaps, it’s really comfortable.”
Two dormers with flat roofs were also added upstairs. The one on the west side houses the new owners’ bath, which includes a tub and shower. On the south, a breezy three-season porch is the perfect spot for Dan to enjoy his cigars and watch golf on television. “We really got what we wanted,” says Jackie. “For our family, it’s a new house. We have nice, modern, clean lines, but we also have a lot of warmth. We love it.”
Meleah Maynard is a Minneapolis writer and frequent contributor to Midwest Home.
For more information on featured products and suppliers, please see our Buyer's Guide.