Natural, Neutral New Home

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Written by Bob Freund

Delight for the Long Run

When Kate Jacobsen talks about “timeless neutrality,” she’s not discussing politics; she’s describing her family’s new home. Kate and her husband, Jeff, wanted to build a lasting look and function into their new home on Rochester’s far south side. “I wanted it to be timeless—not get tired in 10 years,” Kate says. 

The Jacobsens chose a blend of neutral colors to tie together the three levels of the 4,950-square-foot house. Neutral doesn’t have to be bland, as many homeowners have discovered. Patterns, shades of color and even sparkle can add interest. The Jacobsen house incorporates all three.


Kate Jacobson, a nurse anesthetist, and Jeff, a teacher for Stewartville Public Schools, lived in a house in northwest Rochester for 12 years before moving last fall to live closer to Jeff’s job. Kate kept in touch with RyMark Homes after being impressed by the features in a model home. “We worked with (RyMark co-owner) Ryan (Ruskell) intermittently for over two years before we committed to him,” Kate says. 



Red Decor

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Written by Cindy Mennenga



Red is one of those colors that gets noticed! Bold, bright and beautiful—red is the color of passion and power. The color most frequently associated with love and romance, red is also a stimulating color that grabs our attention. It’s no mistake that red is used on stop signs and fire engines. Red even has its own special day: Valentine’s Day!


Indeed, red is the predominant color theme at Red44, a new luxury apartment community located a stone’s throw from Apache Mall in Rochester. Red44 boldly utilizes red strategically throughout its common areas by incorporating the color in some of its accent pieces, while in other areas an entire wall has been washed in red. Their interior designer even chose to include paintings with a splash of red here and there, to tastefully pull the various design elements together without overpowering the space. As a result, the overall look is tasteful, sophisticated and elegant. 



Handy Gal's Guide to Home Maintenance

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Written by Cindy Mennenga

What You Can Do This Winter

The concept of home maintenance makes a lot of people wonder where to start. Often stereotypically thought of as men’s work, women shy away from getting involved in the upkeep of their home. Truly, there is nothing about home maintenance that makes it a man’s job, any more than cleaning the house and doing laundry should be women’s work. If you live in a house, it’s in your best interest to ensure it is well cared for and all components are in tip-top condition.

Home maintenance can be shrouded in mystery, so we will be creating a series of articles brimming with tips. We’ll help remove some of the confusion and give you suggestions on how to care for your home—inside and out—as the seasons change.   


One of the most important things you can do to keep your family healthy is to make sure the air in your home is fresh and clean. Indoor air quality is especially important during the winter months because we spend most of our time indoors. One of the easiest things you can do to maintain good air quality is to change your furnace filter. 


Do you junk? If not, after looking at all the amazing things that Sue Whitney has created and restored from junk, you will want to. Whitney is a celebrity in our midst, having appeared multiple times on NBC’s “The Today Show,” as well as HGTV’s “Country Style.” She has published three books, served as editor-at-large and columnist for “Country Home Magazine” and as a contributing editor for Better Homes and Garden’s “Country Gardens” magazine. 


In short, Whitney is a trusted author, and her new book “Junk Beautiful: Furniture Refreshed” will not disappoint. Learn how to refinish antique furniture or create a unique piece out of a thrift store purchase. Whitney says, “We’re a throw-away culture,” and this book will teach you how to reuse and recycle to avoid buying cookie-cutter items from big box stores.



Remodelers Corner: A Room Undivided

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Written by By Bob Freund

Ryan and Sue Ness envisioned an open floor plan when they decided to remodel the main floor of their Rochester home last year. “We knew going in, it was going to be a big job,” Ryan says. 


Standing in the way was a long, load-bearing wall that separated their kitchen from the living room.  It had to disappear without a trace of its prior place. Overhead, the homeowners also envisioned a single ceiling stretching across their two rooms. That meant hiding the main beam holding up much of the home’s interior.

A year later, the Nesses enjoy a renovated kitchen and living/entertainment space. In addition, the decor throughout the main floor is new, and the master bathroom has been redone, along with other touches.


The wall stretching down the center of the Ness’ 1960s-era house was not just a room divider. It also was holding up the ceiling overhead. 



Exploring the Latest in Senior Housing Trends

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Written by By Cindy Mennenga Photography by Fagan Studios

Making Personalized Decisions Based on Individual Circumstances

As our population ages, seniors today are blessed with many housing options from which to choose. Previously, seniors had only a handful of choices for where to live: at home, with family or at an assisted living facility or nursing home. Many of today’s seniors are members of the baby boomer generation, and the boomers have notoriously disrupted every phase of life as they have entered it, insisting that they leave their mark and forcing long-standing institutions to bend to their will. Senior housing is just another stop on the boomer generation’s outside-the-box thinking.   


Part of what is driving these changes is the fact that today’s seniors have seen their parents cast aside by society and wither away in nursing homes, and they don’t want that to be their fate. Most folks want to remain independent for as long as possible. As a result, a very popular type of senior housing which has emerged in recent years is called aging in place. That means that a senior’s home is modified, as needed, to accommodate the resident so that he or she can remain in his or her home as long as possible. For some folks, it means widening doorways to allow a wheelchair to pass through, reinforcing walls to support graspable hand bars in bathrooms and hallways, along with renovating kitchens and bathrooms to include adjustable-height countertops. It often will also include adding zero entry doorways or wheelchair ramps to allow access into the home without steps. An aging in place expert can help determine which changes would be beneficial to help improve safety and functionality.



Remodelers Corner: The Cory Kitchen

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Written by Bob Freund

When Alicia and Matt Cory moved into their home four years ago, the kitchen was a separate room with a doorway. A half-wall provided a limited view into the kitchen. It was a squeeze for their growing family. “The problem for us was traffic flow,” says Matt.

The Rochester couple remodeled the home’s original kitchen and adjacent laundry room last summer and fall. They worked with local Design Studio B to rework the kitchen for efficiency. At the same time, they wanted to complement the home’s existing style, which is dominated by a two-story limestone fireplace. A stone pathway also extends through much of the main living space. 

Topped with a slab of granite that is almost 8 feet long and just over 5 feet wide, the kitchen island is the “epicenter” of the family’s daily life, describes Matt. The irregular shaped island is large enough for their school-age boys to spread out homework on one side while a parent prepares dinner on the other. Furnished with five chairs and stools, the massive countertop also gives the kitchen a social gathering point when guests arrive.


If you’re a fan of the HGTV runaway hit “Fixer Upper,” you will absolutely love the brand-new home that custom  home builder R. Fleming Construction will have on the 2017 Fall Showcase of Homes in September. 

The home, located in wildly popular northwest Rochester at 6408 Summit Point Road NW, complete with shiplap and subway tile, is sure to capture your attention. This beautiful house is much more than a nod to a fashion trend; it’s a graceful, rustic—yet elegant—home that at once feels like, well, home. Acknowledging the latest trends, Lee Fleming of R. Fleming Construction says, “We’re seeing more people go for that farmhouse feel.”


This new-construction home incorporates excellent use of space, making it feel much larger than its actual finished square footage, which is just under 3,000. 


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. 


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.”


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.  


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.” 


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