A Lowry Hill kitchen merges history and contemporary conveniences
When Michael and Karla Rosenman moved to the Twin Cities from New York in 2008, they had two prerequisites for their future home: it could not be older construction that would require the headache of renovations; and it must include a highly functional kitchen to accommodate their passion for cooking and entertaining.
You can imagine the couple’s surprise, then, when five months of house hunting led to their first offer on a 1907 Craftsman Tudor in the historic Lowry Hill neighborhood of Minneapolis. Even more shocking was the fact that the home’s kitchen was an ill-fitting eyesore, with light wood cabinets, orange sponge-painted walls, green tile floors, and a bulky, oversized peninsula awkwardly dissecting the small space.
“The instant I walked into the foyer I knew this was our house— we loved everything about it,” says Michael. “But then I turned the corner to the kitchen and saw this brutal 1980s redo that felt claustrophobic and inappropriate for the home and the way we live.”
Despite the glaring culinary catastrophe, the couple decided the home was worth an investment of their time and money. So Michael called his father, an architect of 40 years and the retired chairman of the architecture department at Ball State University in Indiana. “He told me that for a kitchen renovation like this, there was only one designer in the entire country to use, and that was David Heide,” says Michael, who immediately contacted David Heide Design Studio.
Heide specializes in historic preservation projects, and was thrilled by the opportunity to restore a sense of harmony to the jarring style clash. “The kitchen just didn’t make sense and wasn’t congruent with the rest of this gorgeous historic home,” Heide says. “It was like someone was serving taco salad with Swedish meatballs—none of the components went together.”
Heide was tasked with reworking the kitchen as well as remodeling an existing powder room, reinstating the original butlery, and creating a spacious rear entry mudroom. Heide’s extensive knowledge of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century decorative arts, furnishings, and finishes guided him throughout the process. As a result, the rich, cozy gathering space captures the Craftsman era’s belief in simplicity of form and function, as well as a commitment to handcrafted wood, glass, and metal furnishings. “To do right by the space, we took a holistic approach and really paid attention to the language and vocabulary of the original home,” says Heide. “We needed to think about continuity of the design and the history of the house.”
Working within the existing footprint, the design team gutted the kitchen and raised the ceiling more than a foot to create more horizontal space and elongated lines—a decision that required the electrical and plumbing to be entirely updated and reconfigured.
A new slate floor now unites the kitchen, butlery, mudroom, and powder room, while the custom red birch cabinetry featured throughout the renovation offers both warm color and ample storage space for the family of four. The ceramic tile backsplash was finished in a custom dark red matte glaze to perfectly match the veining in the granite counter top and to coordinate with the slate. In addition to continuous countertops, a properly scaled island was added and the appliances were slightly recessed into the new walls. “We fought for inches in every direction,” says Heide, who collaborated on the project with staff architectural designer Vaughn Kelly and executed the construction with Nathan Shanklin at Next Level Renovation.
Each of the decorative elements, such as the trim, spindles, and wainscoting, were inspired by existing details in the original house. The handcrafted leaded glass panels in the kitchen were also designed to pay homage to patterns found throughout the home, with pendant lighting specifically designed to accentuate the space. “With the original home as a precedent, we were able to use a mix of conjecture and reality to create a kitchen that is worthy of this beautiful historic home,” says Heide.
Every last detail of the renovation, which took 18 months to complete, was planned to help the Rosenmans best use and enjoy the space—from the pot-filler above the Wolf range to the perforated wood grilles in the cabinetry that hide speakers and light controls.
“David and his team meticulously thought out each detail, down to what drawer our spices should be in,” says Michael, noting that even the grout was tinted slightly green so that the space would more seamlessly integrate with the colors throughout the original home. “I now have such an enormous appreciation for just how much work, talent, and vision goes into an outcome like this.”
Colby Johnson is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer.
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