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The 4 car garage behind the home in the East Isles neighborhood just south of downtown Minneapolis is what drew Kent to this house.

“I’m a car guy who still plays with cars. The 4 car garage with 12’ ceiling was the primary reason I purchased this property. Even though the house was in serious disrepair, I felt I could tear down the house if necessary, but there was no way I could ever get permits to build a 4 car garage, and a 4 car garage is all but impossible to find in Uptown, Minneapolis.”

The home was originally built in 1910 in a Craftsman style. An addition was added in 1939 and again in the 1950’s. Kent purchased the house in May 2015. The house had been vacant for 2.5 years prior to his purchase, but he had big plans for his new home.

“I wanted to replicate a Master Bath with a walk-in 2 person whirlpool tub/shower and ceiling tub fill that I had designed and built for a previous property. I wanted the Master Bedroom Suite to include Clerestory windows, gas fireplace, walk-in closet and walk-out deck with patio doors. I love to entertain so I wanted to open up the kitchen and dining areas to be part of the living area. I wanted to add and Airbnb rental unit to the back of the home.”

His goals were ambitious:

  • Tear off the entire small gabled second floor and replace it with a new full size second floor with 9’ ceilings
  • Completely finish the basement including a studio apartment where he could live during construction
  • Convert the illegal apartment at the back of the house to a legal Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) that could be rented as an Airbnb
  • Open up the small kitchen into the living room to provide better flow
  • Renovate and modernize the entire house top to bottom, inside and out

After some back and forth with the City of Minneapolis to get the required variances and permitting, the entire home was gutted down to the studs on the inside. The existing second floor was removed and replaced with new construction. The basement floor was excavated to allow installation of all new plumbing, including running water, sewer and gas lines out to the 4 car garage behind the house. New electrical was run throughout the project, and HVAC was upgraded with the addition of 2 new high-efficiency gas furnaces with Central A/C, 1 in the main home, and 1 in the ADU. On the outside, all the old stucco was removed, all windows and doors were replaced energy efficient units, new stucco and LP Smart Siding were installed, and a full front porch was added. The home had previously been “insulated” with old newspapers. The entire remodeled home was insulated with a combination of spray foam and blown-in batt, and is extremely easy and economical to heat and cool.

Total finished square footage of the main house is 3,640 SF including the finished basement, and is comprised of 4 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, 1 ¾ bath, 1 ½ bath, plus the basement studio apartment with 1 bedroom and 1 ¾ bath. The Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) at the rear of the house is 800 SF on 2 levels, with 1 bedroom, 1 full bath and 1 ¾ bath.

“The really fun part of the project was putting all the decorating touches together.” Kent did all the decorating and interior design, from picking exterior and interior colors and flooring to sourcing mid-century modern furniture, fixtures, upholstery fabrics and décor from local vintage shops, eBay, Craigslist, FaceBook Marketplace, and from his own vintage inventory
in storage.

From about 1979 – 1993, Kent owned a multi-dealer vintage shop that specialized in Art Deco and Mid-Century Modern, and would travel all over the Midwest buying items like they do on the American Pickers TV show. “Too bad I didn’t have the foresight to turn my road-trip buying adventures into a TV show! When I closed the business in 1993, I put the remaining inventory in storage and was able to utilize much of that in the finished project.”

What’s Kent’s favorite thing about the house today? “My fully renovated 4 car garage is a man-cave DeLuxe that includes an industrial epoxy showfloor with floor drains, a bathroom, a Modine Hot-Dawg 100,000 BTU heater, and is decorated with old pedal cars and vintage automotive advertising signs and memorabilia. The garage notwithstanding, I love every square inch of the house now. It finally flows and functions as I envisioned it would. The Airbnb rentals provide a very nice income stream. The Master Bedroom Suite has all the amenities of a spa resort. The open kitchen with its spacious center island is an entertainers dream and is the center of the party. The music room in the basement is a favorite place to hang and make music with my musician friends.”

Kent recommends to those thinking of doing a remodel like this to “Live in the house for a while to get a sense of how the space flows and functions. Learn what works and what doesn’t work. Ignore everything you see on the home improvement shows about how long a job should take and how much it should cost. That’s TV entertainment, not reality. Don’t act as your own General Contractor if you’ve never done a large remodel project before and you don’t have skilled and trusted sub-contractors at your disposal. Unless money is no object, find a good architect that has a working knowledge of construction to help put your ideas on paper. In my experience, many of the larger architectural firms will design a remodel without regard to what it costs to actually build their design. An architect with construction experience tends to be more mindful of what is cost-efficient and what is not. “

“I was fortunate to have 5 very good builders interested in my project. In the end, I decided to go with Elite Design-Build simply because I already knew how the project would go with Bill Osborn involved. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. Bill, Matt, Roy, and all of Elite’s sub-contractors were nothing less than exceptional to work with. I cannot recommend them highly enough. Elite Design-Build was there for me every step of the way, start-to-finish. Rock stars!“


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