Renewed with Character

A once-dated Minnesota home has an energetic new look, thanks to rich architectural details and a bold color palette.

Written by:Diane Conrad
Photographed by:Chelsie Lopez
A colorful dining room with a printed rug and wooden chairs

It’s not easy to transform worn interiors without an expensive gut renovation, but that’s exactly what designer Morgan Molitor achieved in this south-metro Minnesota project. “The house had a real 1990s style, with all the golden oak,” says Molitor, who runs the Minneapolis-based design-build firm construction2style with her husband, co-founder and contractor Jamie Molitor. “It really needed a fresh approach, but we had to be very smart and targeted about where we spent and where we saved.”

The team began by crafting a clean, contemporary shell for the public main-floor spaces: the entry, dining room, and living room (or “adult lounge,” as Molitor calls it). Adding custom millwork—board and batten paneling on select walls; new baseboards throughout—and new hardwood floors did the trick, allowing the designer to then add layers of personality and interest with bold paint colors and an inviting mix of materials.

A living room with a colorful rug, dark painted walls, and a sitting nook

The addition of built-in cabinetry with a cocktail and beverage station instantly indicates a grown-up space in this family home.

A living room with a built in bar with Ella quartz countertops

The bar top features a removable slab of Cambria’s Ella™ that the owners can use as an impromptu serving surface.

In the lounge, for example, she went with black paint for the walls, a dramatic choice that makes the bay window and new built-in bookcases and bar (topped with Ella) stand out. A boldly patterned rug centers the cozy seating area along with a plush fabric-upholstered sofa and a pair of slouchy leather chairs. In the dining room, Molitor brought in a hint of glam with an unexpected mix of gold-metallic and pink-velvet upholstered chairs, plus a sculptural, geometric chandelier.

A kitchen with oak cabinets and an island with dark brown cabinets and a Harlow quartz countertop

New floors, Cambria Harlow™ countertops, and handmade backsplash tiles—plus a strategic island paint job—give this existing kitchen a fresh new look without a total redo.

It was in the kitchen that the design-build team really had to get creative, thinking beyond a typical total renovation. “The cabinets were in good shape and the layout was fine, so it seemed wasteful to rip out and start over,” says Molitor. Instead, she figured out a way to work with the existing elements. Replacing the old countertops with Cambria’s Harlow made a huge impact, brightening the room with a cohesive, modern look. Molitor painted the island base black and replaced the over-the-range microwave with a new custom range hood, also black. Finishing touches—glazed terra-cotta backsplash tiles, a new sink and faucet, eye-catching pendant lights over the island—with a clean, contemporary style completed the transformation.

The effect of the update throughout the house is dramatic, and the homeowners—and their neighbors—love it. “The client says people keep coming over to get ideas for their own makeovers!” says Molitor.

(Updated on 12/05/2023)

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