Rock-paper-scissors is a timeless way to settle sibling squabbles like who gets the front seat or the last Popsicle. So, when brother and sister Kyle Christensen and Kendra Krueger — who are also neighbors — had to figure out who got the porta-potty and who got the dumpster during their construction projects, they joked about letting the game decide.
In the end, it didn’t come to that. Logistics won out. “The [porta-potty] truck couldn’t get into Kyle’s driveway, so he took the dumpster,” said Krueger.
Sharing construction goodies (and costs) was just one benefit of doing simultaneous remodeling projects with the same firm — Quartersawn Design Build. The siblings live three houses apart in Minneapolis’ Tangletown neighborhood and both decided to tackle their cramped kitchens at the same time.
Now that the projects are complete, it’s time for a show-and-tell. Christensen’s project was featured in the spring Parade of Homes Remodelers Showcase earlier this year. Next up: Krueger’s house will be among close to three dozen residences featured in the Parade fall remodelers tour running Sept. 30 to Oct. 2.
More elbow room
With three children each, both families had outgrown their kitchens. “We had a banquette that worked great when the kids were little, but it got tighter and tighter the bigger they got,” said Krueger.
The siblings had similar wish lists for their reimagined kitchens: bigger spaces, an island with seating, soapstone and marble counters and a fresh look that would be in step with the rest of the house.
In the Krueger house, expanding the kitchen to make room for an island was easy enough by taking space from a pantry and getting rid of the banquette.
Krueger, an interior designer, brought a lot of ideas and a robust Pinterest board to the table, and she was grateful that Quartersawn lead designer Kayla Vig could help whittle down options. “It’s hard when it’s your own home because I appreciate so many styles,” Krueger said.
Together they decided on a combination of rift sawn and stained white oak as well as white enamel for the cabinetry, and glazed brick, soapstone and a hex mosaic tile for the backsplashes.
Meanwhile, the kitchen project was a bit trickier down the street at the Christensens.’ For one, the scope of the remodel was bigger. In addition to the kitchen renovation, recasting a breakfast nook into a cozy family lounge and updating the mudroom and powder room were also part of the plan.
With no logical place to borrow space from to widen the kitchen, they ended up installing shallower, pantry-depth cabinets along one wall to add more usable square footage and accommodate an island. For the design of the new cabinets, Vig used the dining room’s original built-in buffet as a jumping-off point.
Honoring the era
In both homes, Vig stuck with the language of the 1920s-era architecture through millwork and materials and by not opening up the spaces too much. Instead of eliminating walls altogether, she designed wide-cased openings and archways to increase the connection between rooms while still delineating their purpose.
Recessed can lights have been standard in kitchens for decades, but in the cases of these remodels, “this age of home wouldn’t have had recessed lighting,” said Vig. Instead, they went with small brass flush-mount fixtures at the Kruegers’ and flush mounts with period-friendly opal glass shades at the Christensens.’ In both homes, they deliver ample light and a decorative touch.
Vig was mindful to avoid repeating finishes for both projects and left the decision of how much to divulge up to the two households. “I didn’t talk about what the other was doing during our meetings,” she said.
Krueger and Elizabeth Christensen, Kyle’s wife, compared notes on materials and appliances and ended up with the same refrigerators. They shared the experience in other ways, too.
“It was nice to have someone that understood what you were going through — the noise, the dust, no dishwasher, etc. — in real time to commiserate with,” said Krueger. “It isn’t easy living in your house during a major kitchen remodel and if you haven’t done it, it’s impossible to understand.”
All together now
At the start of the four-month construction process, Quartersawn hosted an ice cream social for the block to thank the neighbors for putting up with twice the disruption. “Building relationships is one of our core values, and it was important to acknowledge the inconvenience,” said Quartersawn owner Jeff Nicholson.
Now that the dust has settled, the siblings have discovered an unanticipated benefit of remodeling — an improved quality of life from creating more beautiful and functional spaces.
“It’s actually changed the way our family interacts. It’s more fun to cook and our kids will sit and do homework here instead of retreating to their rooms. We see each other more,” said Kyle Christensen. “And that’s been pretty great.”
Parade of Homes Remodelers Showcase
What: Self-guided tour of 34 recently remodeled homes throughout the Twin Cities metro area, showcasing updated kitchens and bathrooms, mudrooms and whole-house makeovers.
When: Noon to 6 p.m. Sept. 30-Oct. 2.
Where: Home addresses and project details are available at paradeofhomes.org. Featured home is #R31.
Cost: Free; $5 to tour Remodeled Dream Homes in Burnsville and Shakopee.