26 May 2010

Bungalow with Style

Minneapolis Star-Tribune
A south Minneapolis home, built in 1938, gets a thoroughly modern and family-friendly makeover.

The roof had been torn off, the demolition finished and the framing about half-done when James and Betsy Schwartz got some surprise news: Betsy was pregnant with their second child.

James immediately called architect Bob Ganser, principal at CityDeskStudio in Minneapolis, and the contractor, John Koch, owner of Bennett and Koch Construction, in Arden Hills, who were remodeling the Schwartzes' 1938 bungalow in south Minneapolis.

"When the architect and the contractor knew I was pregnant before my mother, that was odd," Betsy said sheepishly.

But Ganser acted on the news immediately. He set to work reconfiguring the second story, transforming an alcove office into a nursery by carving space from the master bedroom. What was once going to be interesting open space around the staircase was suddenly partitioned into enclosed rooms. Not so interesting.

So Ganser improvised by creating a pint-sized closet that doubled as a tunnel between the nursery and daughter Lucy's bedroom. Then he added three deep banks of trifold-shaped skylights to infuse the narrow kid closet and the spaces on either side with natural light.

The results of the last-minute remodeling of the remodeling?

"I think it actually works better than the original plan," said Ganser.

Kid magnets

The closet/tunnel is only one of the features designed specifically for 3-year-old Lucy and new baby June, who is now 18 months old.

In fact, every room in the bungalow was crafted to combine a kid-friendly environment and modern design. There are no fewer than four formal play spaces: June's nursery, the kid closet, Lucy's two-sided bedroom and the downstairs playroom.

Even the rooms that aren't playrooms have kid magnets, such as the living room's clean-lined sectional sofa that easily transitions into a fort and the custom wall shelves that rise up just inches from the floor so the kids can pull out favorite books.

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