Rustic Renovation

by Kacey Larsen

The clients came to know Ispiri Design-Build in Woodbury, Minn., before undertaking their own remodel by visiting the company’s model homes for several years. After coming to know the company’s style, the clients finally hired Ispiri to design their space. The client’s home in Dellwood, Minn., had a lower-level entrance into an unfinished basement, while the primary living space was on the second floor which also underwent a kitchen remodel.

Lisa Keller, Interior Designer at Ispiri, had never worked with a lower level entrance before. “It was a very unique layout with not having the entrance open to the primary living space,” she says. “One of the big goal of the project was making a nice entrance so guests felt they were coming into a nice foyer area that was welcoming while retaining a lower level feel.” The result was adding a family room, entertainment area, billiards room, 3/4 bathroom, laundry room, office, wet bar with kitchenette and a foyer. Keller says the company met all of the family’s needs by the end of the approximately three month remodel.  

The home was originally built in the 1940s, which meant it had its own character already, says Keller. Included with that character, unfortunately, was outdated wiring and mechanics, floors that were not level and walls that were not square. “Some of it you have to leave and some of it you can fix,” she explains. “What you can control is leveling the floor when you do the tile work and building your new walls square, but the existing electrical panel [in the office], even with wiring updates, was not going to move so [we] made a custom cabinet to make it blend in.”

Keller’s other challenge was incorporating the type of elements the clients wanted to use in the space. The clients liked rustic, earthy materials so “they wanted stone, slate and a lot of materials I felt were very hard,” Keller says. “It became about using stone appropriately by bringing the stone height on some walls down to half-height and letting painted walls soften the space.”  The result was to use interior stone veneer walls and custom dark stained knotty alder cabinetry throughout the entire space with carpeted areas in the family room and office. A fireplace unit with a custom mantel to completed the rustic yet comfortable effect the clients were seeking.  Even in the foyer area, Keller says they aimed for an entrance that “really makes you know you’ve arrived somewhere” but with homey touches, like a built-in bench and coat closet.

The project began with the clients bringing in the slate they had already purchased for the foyer floor, which Keller developed into the “rug” pattern that broke up the space visually. “My favorite part of the project is the entrance and the tile patterning,” she says. “I just thought it was a fun feature, which I remember working through with the couple, drawing out designs and even working with the tile setter to make sure the design was done correctly. I think it was executed well.” With the flooring selected, the clients found a wood color they liked in the dark-stained knotty alder and kept the rest of their selections simple. Keller remarks that the clients were consistent in their taste, so the end result was something they loved.

After taking so many tours of model homes, the clients were excited to finally live in one they owned. “They were big fans of design and remodeling in general, which made the client relationship fun,” Keller says. 

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