The heart of the house is the sparkling kitchen with its glam Masiero lighting and opalescent tile backsplash that reaches all the way to the ceiling.
When Jordana Green and Marc Grossfield found each other, it was a new beginning for both of them. Green, a radio show host for WCCO, and Grossfield, founder of Israel-made Aviv 613 Vodka, met on J-Date, a Jewish dating service (It works! says Green). The two had much in common: Both had been through painful divorces, both have children—his are adults, hers range in age from 9 to 13—both have high-powered careers, and both wanted to live in the eruv in St. Louis Park.
Their desire to live in the eruv, an area outlined by symbolic boundaries that allows Jews to observe Shabbat more easily, meant Green and Grossfield’s search for a new home was particularly challenging. “It took us nearly a year to find the perfect house,” says Green. At least it was on the perfect lot in a charming, eclectic neighborhood near the city lakes. The house? Green doesn’t mince words: “It was a disaster.”
Virtually untouched since it was built, the 1947 rambler had a small, dark kitchen, a tunnel-like living room, and a basement laundry room fit for a serial killer, Green observes wryly. Still the couple was undeterred. They looked at the dingy, dated rooms in the too-small-for-their-brood house and opted for a massive renovation. They would completely gut the main level, add a second story to gain the space they needed, and transform this place into the modern, light-filled home they envisioned for their blended family. (See Green’s eight-episode video series that chronicles the whole process at MHmag.com/JordanaGreen.)
The open floor plan keeps the family together, whether eating meals, watching TV, or doing homework. There’s no wandering off to a basement lair, though a finished lower level may be in the future as the kids become teenagers.
Both having bought (and maintained) houses before, this time around they wanted a clean-lined, open design that would be energy efficient and low maintenance. They needed a private master suite and separate bedrooms for Marley 13, Maddox 11, and Ruby 9. They needed a mudroom for backpacks, boots, and assorted clutter. Also on their wish list: a modern kosher kitchen with two dishwashers (to separate milk and meat dishes), and a radio studio so Green could do her show from home and tuck the kids into bed during commercials. They also wanted an extra sink near the dining room for washing hands before meals and a fantastic bar to showcase Aviv. And, oh, yes, they wanted to do it all on a budget.
Neither Green nor Grossfield had ever undertaken such a renovation, so they looked for professional help. Since Green planned to produce a video blog of the project, she wanted experts who weren’t camera shy. She hired builder Jim Huber of JR Structures, who has been involved in DIY Network and HGTV productions, and Billy Beson of Billy Beson Co., a masterful interior designer and practiced media spokesman. Kyle Snyder, then an associate at Billy Beson, also worked on the project. Beson and Snyder would spec the materials, inside and out, to create the mood, feeling, and ambiance the couple wanted. “The marketplace is flooded with choices,” says Beson. “The designer takes their knowledge of the marketplace and edits them.”
The project hit a major glitch almost immediately: During demo, Huber discovered a crack in the basement. The couple was horrified. The foundation was the only thing they were keeping from the original house! There went the contingency fund, but it was a repair that had to be made. Green and Grossfield swallowed their dismay and forged ahead.
As the second floor took shape, the couple worked with their team to lay out the spaces the way they wanted them. The master suite featured a view of treetops and a sliver of the lake to the north, sizable closets, and a bath with double sinks and a walk-in shower. The kids helped chose the colors and furnishings of their new rooms. Green found budget-stretching ways to incorporate features such as the sliding barn doors for the upstairs laundry and downstairs utility rooms (she made them herself). In fact, the couple spent an entire weekend fitting together IKEA cabinetry for the mudroom—and lived to tell the tale.
Collaboration also created the sparkling star of this house—the kitchen. Green spotted the flat-front Crystal Cabinets on display in the Partners 4, Design showroom in International Market Square and fell in love with them. Partners 4 senior project manager Nicole Sirek soon signed on to design the kosher kitchen—essentially two kitchens in one that includes double ovens, two dishwashers, and a double-bowl sink. The enormous island can seat seven, and its depth and breadth easily accommodates prep and buffet serving.
The kitchen’s custom look is reinforced by the seeded glass in the doors of the upper cabinets, the glossy pearlized gray of the island, the Cambria countertops in Brittanicca, and the sparkling wall of gray porcelain tile with an opalescent finish. “I wanted it to feel light and airy, with some glitz and glamour,” says Beson. When he found that backsplash tile, he knew he’d hit pay dirt.
The new exterior of white fiber cement and black metal gives the house a refined, modern attitude.
Beson’s team also wanted to punctuate the white fiber cement on the exterior of the house with black metal casings. Initially reluctant about the metal idea, Green and Grossfield soon realized it would give them the industrial, modern, low-maintenance exterior they wanted.
The project took longer to complete than the couple anticipated. In fact, they moved in just a week before they got married. Stressful? Absolutely, says Green. “But I’d do it all over again. I tried to have fun going through it, even though it was very stressful. Now, I walk down the stairs every day and say I can’t believe I live here.”
Builder: JR Structures
Interior Designer: Billy Beson Co.
By Chris Lee. Photos by Spacecrafting