A reboot takes a 1970s Edina ranch home from dreary to fab

As owners of a design-and-build firm, Jeff and Leslie Nicholson have done their fair share of home renovations.

When it came time for the husband/wife duo to find a home they could make their own, a ranch-style home was top of mind.

“It’s something we loved and talked about all the possibilities a ranch style has to offer,” Jeff said.

With their children grown, they were ready to downsize. So the couple traded their two-story Edina home for a one-story classic ranch home, also in the western suburbs.

“We bought the house from the original owners who built it themselves in 1970 and lived there for 40-something years with everything pretty much untouched,” said Jeff, who co-founded Minneapolis-based Quartersawn Design Build with his wife. “It was a great big blank canvas to work with and a really nice layout too. The main floor is laid out in a linear long line with a walkout into the backyard.”

The remodel was done in stages with a main goal of ridding the home of no-longer groovy relics of the disco era: shag carpets, heavy drapery, dated wallpaper and dark rooms.

To achieve that, natural materials were brought in to modernize the home as well as bring in warmth.

“It was installing hardwood floors and new tile and updating all the finishes and light fixtures to take them from dreary, dark ’70s to bright and more modern,” Jeff said.

The most dramatic transformation was the kitchen, which was expanded, reconfigured and outfitted with updated finishes and fixtures, including reclaimed white oak cabinets, quartz countertops, plank limewashed oak floors, and a glass tile backsplash. A wall between the kitchen and family room was taken down to create a more open floor plan and to invite more natural light in. They also inserted a center island and moved a seating area to the family room.

“The two moves allowed us to accommodate a 9-foot island and connect the family room to the kitchen,” Jeff said.

The lower level also received a major remodel with rooms reimagined to create an exercise room and wet bar, as well as updating guest rooms. At the same time, the couple made sure to preserve details such as the original fireplace, where the brick and masonry were updated with an Italian plaster treatment.

“You take some of the quirks of the ’70s and you work with them,” Jeff said.

Other major transformations included extending and reconfiguring the master bedroom and en-suite, as well as adding a large bay window.

“We have a very private backyard with a lot of wildlife. The combination of sunlight coming in, privacy and wildlife makes it all worthwhile,” said Jeff.

At home on the ranch

The exterior of the home also got some love, with the facade being refreshed to make it lighter and brighter. The previous shade of yellow was replaced with white, and a crimson front door was swapped for a modern glass one. It was strategic to add a clean, curved retaining wall.

“The street is in a curve, and how you delineate that space without sidewalks is an interesting circumstance in suburbia,” Jeff said. “We came up with the idea of ​​extending a retaining wall on one side of the house and taking classic Chilton Limestone [prevalent in Minnesota] to imitate the curve of the street and the curve of the driveway.”

To optimize outdoor space, a pavilion and a deck were added. That’s because the goal for the Nicholsons was to be able to enjoy their newly created ranch-style home inside and out.

Jeff considers ranch houses to be full of design potential.

“The homes were solidly built. You can go up with additions on the second floor. There is an option to add a wing on the back,” he said. “In our case, the floor plan was large enough to fit our needs.”

“I’m constantly with homeowners who are looking for more space. With small maneuvers, you can get some dramatic transformations that are often far more accessible cost-wise than adding.”

To show off the transformation, the Nicholsons’ revamped ranch home will be at the Parade of Homes Remodelers Showcase next weekend.

“It’s an opportunity for people who are interested in remodeling to go inside the home and get ideas,” said Parade of Homes spokeswoman Katie Elfstrom. “There are outdoor spaces, there are full home remodels, there are teardowns, there are basements. Every project you can imagine in your home is featured.”

Spring Parade of Homes Remodelers Showcase

What: Self-guided tour of 34 converted homes in the Twin Cities metro area.

When: 12.00 to 18.00, 8.-10. April.

Where: A free guidebook with addresses and maps is available at area Holiday Stationstores and Kowalski’s Markets. An electronic version is also available online.

Cost: Free, with the exception of one dream remodeled home ($5) that goes to the Housing First Minnesota Foundation.

Info: paradeofhomes.org

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