Photos by Spacecrafting
When the kids move out, newly empty-nester couples often consider downsizing to a smaller home. For Kristin Hoaglund and her husband, the only difference was Kristin, owner and principal designer of Kristin Hoaglund Design, had her heart set on designing their new abode herself.
“I guess I was patiently waiting for our sons to get through high school and graduate before taking on a huge project of my own; I knew I was definitely ready!” laughs Hoaglund, who had spent the last decade living in a Lake Elmo house built as a model home—lovely, but not one she could infuse her own design sensibilities into like she wanted.
While browsing possible properties, the couple discovered a formal French provincial home in the suburbs of St. Paul: a 4,300-square-foot brick beauty nestled among towering oak trees and situated on 10 acres of land. Although the house was larger than their current home, Hoaglund saw so much potential in it that she was immediately sold.
“The drive itself was so enchanting—you come through a long, winding drive that leads to this charming home just sitting there, hidden in the woods,” says Hoaglund.
Although the quality of the home’s construction was evident—as was the previous owners’ careful upkeep of the property—the classic French aesthetic had become overshadowed by a mish-mash of design styles inside. While the house had been built in 1974, two additions had added two large wings on either side of the original structure: one in 1990 containing a spacious solarium, and the other in 2001 featuring a new master suite. Plus, the floor plan was much too compartmentalized for ideal entertaining.
“I saw a closed-up, dark, dated space I could make fresh, bright, and connected,” Hoaglund says. “It was the perfect conditions for a remodel.”
The couple, who had built two of their previous homes, undertook the remodel envisioning it to be a quick flip; a passion project for Hoaglund to stretch her creative abilities before they’d sell it and settle into a smaller home. They contracted the labor themselves, going to work on a full gut renovation of the entire home with goals of creating an open floor plan, connecting the main living spaces, and breathing new life into the dated interiors.
“Before, you’d come into the small, dark main entry and look right at a closet,” says Hoaglund, who removed walls and enlarged cased openings in existing walls to create clear sightlines from the front door to the back courtyard. She continues, “People would have to ‘guess’ their way through the house because the main living spaces were completely isolated—you’d never know the solarium even existed unless you went through a tiny door between the kitchen and the original 1970’s family room.”
To wake up the interiors, she covered previously brown windows and trim, beige walls, and ceilings in bright white, and then introduced warmth and color through other finishes such as a rich brown stain for the hardwood floors, a darker stain for kitchen cabinets, and taupe tiles rather than the classic white subway tiles for the kitchen backsplash.
The exterior’s mottled brown stucco brick was also painted white to evoke the spirit of a traditional French home, and Hoaglund finished her remodel with thoughtful touches such as custom light fixtures, furniture and accessories with a more modern twist, and an airy patio space perfect for alfresco entertaining.
While the Hoaglunds undertook the remodel as a two-year flip project, the home turned out so beautifully the couple briefly considered staying there longer.
“We left our last home really wanting to downsize after our boys left, and this was not a downsize—it was the opposite!” says Hoaglund, who has recently decided to put the newly refreshed home on the market and turn her sights toward her next project. “I hope whoever ends up living here long-term appreciates the careful thought that went into every detail of the remodel; I hope they truly find it a charming place to live!”