Bonita and Steve Patton’s double islands are indoors—surrounded by kitchenware. They also are just a few steps from the Pattons’ private beach on Bamber Valley Lake. The kitchen islands and the beach are both are eye-catching features of last year’s renovation of their house. 

HOME FOR 30 YEARS

In the late 90s, the young couple purchased their property in the Salem Sound subdivision and built a home largely with their own hands. Working from a starter design, they provided labor to construct their home. “It took about a year to build the house,” Bonita says.

The home’s layout worked well for many years, but as their family grew and their sons got bigger, they made changes. “About 10 years ago, we started to tinker with the kitchen,” she says. “Finally, we decided to gut it all and start over.”

REVAMPED AND EXPANDED

The kitchen was contained in a single room with a half-sized wall looking out one side and a full wall with door on the other side. In spring 2016, the walls at each end were demolished as the work got underway. Once the walls were down, the original kitchen was extended into what was a formal dining area. 

 

Minnesota summers are fleeting and before you know it, we’ll descend back into the deep-freeze of the arctic tundra. However, during that ever-so brief span of sun-soaked, balmy weather, we hardy northerners like to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible, knowing we’ll be banished indoors again soon enough. Make memories—of glorious evenings dining al fresco, enjoying cocktails and laughter with friends or simply snuggling quietly, hand-in-hand with that special someone, watching the glowing embers of a crackling fire as the evening draws to a close.

If you’ve been thinking about refreshing your backyard, adding a deck or patio or giving your yard and landscaping a do-over, now is the perfect time to make your dreams a reality. Investing in your backyard space is really an investment in you and your family. A functional and comfortable backyard living area can become the backdrop for numerous social gatherings, quality family time and a place of solitude and tranquility—because it’s your very own one-of-a-kind outdoor living area.  

IT ALL BEGINS WITH THE VISION

To get started, you will need a design so you know how to realistically proceed. Jeff Feece, a landscape architect with Jeff Feece Designs, works with clients to make their outdoor design dreams a reality. He likes to “focus on the broader picture to find out needs and wants—to see the size of space they (clients) want.” 

 

Jul/Aug
2017

Safety Tips for Your Home: Leaving for Vacation or Home Alone

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Written by Catherine H. Armstrong

Before you pack the car for that trip up north to your cabin on the lake, make sure the things you leave behind are as secured and safe as you can make them. 

Rochester Police Department’s Advanced Crime Specialist, Darrel Hildebrant, offers suggestions to make your home more unfriendly to home invaders.

MAKE IT LOOK LIKE SOMEONE IS HOME 

An empty home can be a welcome sign for crooks, so the most important step when leaving for vacation is to make your home look occupied, Hildebrant says. Setting timers for lights is a relatively inexpensive first step. “We want you to have your house look like there are still people living there, so (using timers) you might have the living room lights go on at sunset and go off around 10 or 10:30 p.m., and the bedroom lights go on around a quarter to ten so it looks like someone is in the home,” he explains. 

 

May/Jun
2017

Remodeler's Corner: Modernizing the Wright Home Beginning in the Kitchen

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Written by Bob Freund Photos Provided by The Kitchen Design Studio

The refrigerator at Patty and Jim Wright’s home deserves some credit for the couple’s full kitchen remodel. For years, opening the refrigerator door had blocked the doorway to the kitchen’s walk-in pantry. Then, the fridge itself started going on the fritz. In short, “It (remodeling) started with getting a new refrigerator and snowballed from there,” Patty says. 

REFRIGERATOR TO REMODELING

Today, the couple and their two teenagers enjoy a completely renovated kitchen in their 20-year-old home. About half of the main floor in the northwest Rochester home has been renovated to maximize use of space and enrich the decor. 

In fall of 2015, Patty, a microbiologist, and Jim, a software programmer, decided to explore remodeling. They found The Kitchen Design Studio of Rochester on the internet (houzz.com), and KDS designer Don Gustason found underused space in a short hallway bordering the kitchen. By tearing down a wall, the Wrights and KDS were able to close off the pantry, move in a new refrigerator and add counter space to the kitchen. There also was enough room left on the far side of the hallway to replace the pantry with a bank of cupboard cabinets for food storage.

 

Why is it that the garage, by default, has been relegated to male territory? What do women get in exchange—a kitchen? We already have that. Let’s look outside the sexist pre-assignments and consider why we gals might just want to claim some of that precious garage space as our own.

When you think about it, there is a lot of potential in the garage. It’s a blank slate, ready to be whitewashed with your dreams and transformed into a great craft room, an office, a family room, a gardener’s potting shed, a theatre room, etc. The list is nearly endless, especially if you think of this space as another room in your home, rather than the dingy old dirty garage.

We all know at least someone who has a man cave in his garage. With a little creativity, your garage could be transformed into an awesome diva den or ma’am cave. Putting your own decorative pizzazz on a tired garage can renew the space and add a functional and fun living area to your home. 

 

May/Jun
2017

Rochester Real Estate: Our Blazing Housing Market

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Written by Gina Dewink

Last spring, my family and I relocated to Rochester from St. Paul. Naive to the housing market at that point, my husband and I proposed putting our house up for sale months before our move date. Our real estate agent laughed. Why? Because he was tuned into the competitive housing market.

BUYERS BE READY TO JUMP

“Right now, we are seeing a seller’s market,” explains Karen Becker, CEO of Southeast Minnesota Realtors. “Homes priced correctly are selling quickly, often with multiple offers.” 

The intense market is driven by the low inventory, which Becker points out is indicative of markets across the country. Becker continues, “This type of market can create frustration for buyers. Buyers need to be ready to move quickly and practice a lot of patience.” And with interest rates low, it's still a good time to buy. Becker advises receiving pre-approval for a loan before beginning the search.

ROCHESTER RIGHT NOW

Several factors are influencing the shift in the market. Melanie Schmidt, a licensed Realtor in Minnesota with an independently owned RE/MAX Results, has lived in the Rochester area for 33 years. "I've watched the market shift," Schmidt recalls. "As more families relocate to the area, houses simply aren't being built fast enough to accommodate them. And there are too few affordable houses to keep up with the demand. But we Realtors are doing the best job we can to find each family a home in our community.” Schmidt also frequently sees multiple offers, cash offers and contingent offers, saying, “Sellers need to be sure they have a home to go to when their home sells.”

 

In 2014, Connie Hawley quit her job as an aviation security inspector to open up an artistic, one-of-a-kind shoe shop in Zumbrota. She found herself driving down the main street and noticed a “For Lease” sign on one of the buildings. She jotted down the phone number and made the call. After that, she found out that things have a way of coming together at just the right time. 

“Everything fell into place. Once I made the decision, the universe conspired to help me do just that,” Hawley reflects.

LUYA SHOES AND OTHER FINE THINGS

Connie sells more than shoes in her shop, although shoes have always been her first love and main passion. She sells accessories from around the world and from local artists. 

 

Jerry Holecek didn’t take a gradual approach in remodeling the country rambler that he grew up in during the 70s and 80s. He modernized both the house and its surrounding grounds in a year-plus remodeling binge. “It’s quite a transformation,” Jerry says. “There was updating done inside and out.” 

Jerry made much of the transformation possible with his own expertise. He owns and operates H&H Company of Rochester, LLC, which builds custom homes, remodels residences and specializes in unique decks, porches and other outdoor structures. He spent his workweek putting up other clients’ homes and then went home to fix up his own house, located just inside the Dodge County line south of U.S. Highway 14. 

MODERN WITH RURAL REMINDERS 

Jerry and his partner, Kim Banfield, describe the style of their home as a “modern farmhouse,” placing the emphasis on “modern.”

The couple created an open design in the main living areas, featuring plenty of space and some accents reminding them of the home’s rural heritage. They tied them with a light gray color scheme and brown, rustic-looking wood laminate floors. They wanted their surroundings to be flexible for decor. “Gray is the new neutral,” Kim notes.   

 

Mar/Apr
2017

Spring Gardening: A Time of Renewal and Rebirth

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Written by Cindy Mennenga

It’s always a sure sign that spring is just around the corner when the seed and flower catalogs begin arriving in the mail. Spring is such a hopeful time of year, and the prospect of seeing young shoots break through the soil can help pass those seemingly endless winter evenings. Leafing through colorful catalogs helps people dream about spring, with its longer days and the awesome flowers and edibles they may want to plant.

GARDEN TRENDS 

Spring is, of course, the busiest time of the year at area garden centers. Nina Sargent, co-owner of Sargent’s, says, “There is definitely a shift toward more folks growing their own veggies.” She shares that people want to control what they are eating and know how their produce
was grown. She adds that the availability of organic products that
really do work has contributed to this growing trend.

 

Have you ever enjoyed a soothing soak in a hot tub or experienced the restorative heat from sitting in a sauna? Aside from the obvious appeal of warmth and relaxation, people enjoy using them together.

In recent years, saunas and hot tubs have expanded beyond health clubs, upscale hotels and chic spas. As saunas and hot tubs designed for home use have increased in popularity, enthusiasts have begun to realize the benefits of having access to a sauna or hot tub (or both) in the comfort of their own home.  

SAUNAS AND HOT TUBS HAVE BEEN USED FOR MILLENNIA

The word “sauna,” which means bath or bathhouse, is the only Finnish word to make its way into the English language. Frequently mispronounced, the correct pronunciation of the first syllable is “sow,” which rhymes with “wow.” Saunas have been in use in Finland for over 2,000 years, and sauna use in the United States has been traced back to 1638 in what is now known as Delaware. 

 

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