Photos by Hillary Ehlen
9th Street South is in the heart of the historic home district of the Hawthorne and Clara Barton neighborhoods. A canopy of trees frames the long, straight stretch of street, welcoming visitors to gaze upon unique historic house after house. This neighborhood holds fast to its identification of being historic and it’s a safe bet to guess that the neighborhood looks similar to it did 100 years ago. Beyond the facades of these homes, however, are interiors who have adapted to fit in the modern age, without sacrificing the charm of their past.
Rebecca Knutson, Principal Interior Designer of Floor to Ceiling Carpet One, took on three of these homes to bring in a breath of fresh air while still respecting their history. While Knutson is accustomed to designing beautiful spaces of all types, she has a soft spot for older homes. Having loved growing up in a 1908 home, she took classes in her interior design schooling that lent themselves to that market. She has a continuing desire to continue to learn more on the subject. “Any time I get the chance to work in an old home, I just love that,” said Knutson. She notes that she enjoys the challenges of historic homes, as they are not blank canvases to install anything into, but require some creative problem-solving and customization.
Alongside Knutson on each of these projects was Dan Savageau Construction. Savageau served as the general contractor on these projects and worked to maintain the mission to preserve history while also making sure everything was done properly and up to code. Each homeowner sang Savageu’s praises in his quality of work, professionalism and dedication to the project.
The Pratt Kitchen & Bath
When you’ve lived in a home for 42 years, it’s only natural to update and change it over time. This is exactly what homeowners Brad and Bev Pratt have done in their 1928 9th Street home. Most recently, they underwent a kitchen and bathroom remodel, turning the dated spaces into timeless classics.
Over the years of living on 9th Street —raising their kids there and, now, hosting their grandchildren for visits— the Pratts have seen through many changes and redesigns. As trends around them changed (this house lived through the 1980s mauve trend) and their needs as homeowners shifted, their spaces have adapted, too. The whole house used to be decorated with different wallpapers of various colors and patterns, a green wool carpet used to sit atop the original hardwood (which they’ve now uncovered and enjoyed) and the formal dining room has been transitioned into a living room. These homeowners aren’t afraid to make changes to better suit the home.
Before bringing in designer Rebecca Knutson and the Floor to Ceiling Carpet One team for the remodel, the kitchen in this 91-year-old home was chili pepper themed. White kitchen cabinet doors with chili pepper knobs were framed by bright red trim and chili pepper printed wallpaper covered the walls. While this space was vibrant and fun, it no longer served the style and needs of the Pratts.
As with many historic homes, the beginning of the remodeling process began with assessing the space and knowing that there’s only so much room to work with. The Pratts did not want to disrupt the house by removing walls and changing the structure of the home. With the decision to maintain the current layout, the design team focused on technical updates, usability and appearance.
Aesthetically, it was time to say goodbye to the chili-pepper theme. However, the end result still gives a subtle nod to what the space used to look like. Red accents throughout the new grey and white kitchen play tribute to the playfulness of the previous design. Most notably, bright red chairs around the dining peninsula make for a special, cheerful touch. “The red chairs are so cute, because [red] was part of the beginning of the story,” said Knutson.
One other priority was ensuring the home was up to code. With updates happening over time, the breaker box was jumbled and not easy to decipher. More electrical updates included adding many more outlets in the kitchen. Another technical priority, especially to Brad, was the addition of a gas stove. Some of the other appliances had been updated over time, so the kitchen didn’t get a full restocking of appliances, but the gas stove was a must-have.
The Pratts expressed that they enjoyed that Floor to Ceiling Carpet One’s ability to listen to what they wanted and providing them with options they didn’t know they needed. When a family has been in a home for so long, they become creatures of habit and are used to certain familiarities with the layout. Knutson was sensitive to this, while still seeing the big picture and showing the homeowners how the spaces can flow. For instance, the Pratt’s garbage bin used to be tucked in a broom closet in the back of the kitchen. Now, the bin, alongside a new recycling container, are conveniently in a pull-out drawer in the kitchen. The couple laughed, noting that they still sometimes find themselves walking to the broom closet with their trash.
Moving upstairs to the bathroom is the second renovation Knutson worked on with the Pratts. The bathroom with seashell wallpaper and dated details needed a modern refresh. In this third remodel of the bathroom, the Pratts were ready to turn the space into something timeless and chic. As with the kitchen, there was only so much real estate to work with. They stayed true to the current layout, but updated fixtures, tile, cabinets, the countertop and added an extra deep bathtub.
“I like the challenges and restrictions of an old home. It doesn’t have to all be standard sizes, since it’s all custom cabinets,” said Knutson. She designed custom cabinets that made the space more strategic. This included going with fewer cabinets, but not less cabinet space. Where there used to be three cramped cabinets above the toilet are now two better-suited cabinets.
When designing custom spaces, Floor to Ceiling Carpet One takes into account the current needs of the homeowners, but also look ahead and plan for their future. Knutson said, “It’s the thought process of aging in place, which is what everyone wants to do and that’s always the goal. In older homes, that’s a big challenge because they have a lot of stairs, but it’s a trend now, people want to stay in their home longer.” Additions that will allow the Pratts to stay in this home for years to come include using handles on the kitchen cabinets rather than knobs (knobs become difficult to use with age) and adding hand-rails in the new bathroom tub/shower.
“That’s a good reason to use a designer. Because we would have never thought of the things that [Knutson] did,” said Bev. Knutson added that instead of designing spaces for the moment, she works to think long-term. With rooms that you use daily, like the kitchen and the bathroom, these things make a big difference in homeowners’ quality of life.
Brad shared that when they were on the market for a new home and first came to look at the house over 40 years ago, Bev immediately told him she wanted the house. Over two decades later, the instant love for the place remains and, with some needed updates, the couple will continue to enjoy it for years to come.