Present Perfect in St. Paul

Thanks to Larson + Kerrison Interior Design, a 1916 Arts and Crafts home in St. Paul is lovingly restored to its period glory

Photos by Spacecrafting

Both tasteful and traditional, the kitchen transformation inside this St. Paul Arts and Crafts abode nods to its original 1916 style.

When Karen Pervo and her late husband bought their Arts and Crafts-style home in 1999, it was perfect in many ways. Karen grew up in a midcentury home and craved the detail, warmth, and graciousness of the earlier style. Her husband, a biblical scholar, loved the location across from Luther Seminary’s research library. They both reveled in the home’s abundant windows, beautiful tree-filled yard overlooking a ravine, and camaraderie of the St. Anthony Park neighborhood.

Not so wonderful, though, were the many “updates” the former owner had completed, including a bizarre staircase with plyboard bookshelves at the home’s entry, a cramped kitchen with cheap boxy cabinets, and an uninsulated back porch serving as a catchall for coats, boots, and recycling. The couple endured it, but after Pervo’s husband died, she began planning a renovation that would return the home to its original 1916 glory. 

“It all came down to the built-in buffet, which became the point of reference for all of our work,” says Andrea Kerrison, principal at Larson + Kerrison Interior Design in Spring Park,  Minnesota. The red oak buffet, with a window overlooking the backyard, “is square in stature and designed with beautiful raised woodwork,” she adds. “It’s a big, proud presence in the home.” 

Kerrison started in the kitchen, which featured many windows and doors that had to stay put. After intensive space planning, the designer took one of the buffet doors to J & B Wood Products and Millwork Specialties, which created matching quarter-sawn red oak kitchen cabinets. Kerrison maximized storage by building them to the ceiling, incorporating well-organized drawers, and inserting a large island with a cooktop and quartz countertops. “It’s my command center,” Pervo says. “I live in the kitchen.” 

The home also has red oak floors throughout. In the kitchen, however, the former owner installed white tile using concrete. “Those were too costly and difficult to remove,” Kerrison says, “so we put engineered red oak hardwood over the tiles.” Custom green glass windows inspired by the Arts and Crafts aesthetic now adorn the upper-level cabinets. For continuity, Kerrison chose the same glass, created by Potekglass, for the buffet and staircase windows. 

The kitchen features ample room for cooking and enjoying backyard views.
A powder bath flaunts a classic penny floor tile arranged in a simple floral design.

“The glass is a wash of two greens, a lighter white, and gold—with a gentle texture,” Pervo explains. “The home should have had such a feature when it was first built. Now, it does.” Beneath the window, the new staircase also looks original with its Arts and Crafts detailing and square spindles inspired by the buffet. “I wanted to restore the oak balustrade and spindles since I first saw the house,” Pervo admits. “The plywood bookcase was a tragedy and desecration, and now, the stairs are a joy to me every time I use them.” 

The last project was the back porch. “It was completely useless,” Pervo says, “but obviously a space I could enjoy and inhabit.” Kerrison again worked her space-planning magic, inserting a three-quarter bath, laundry room (excellent for aging-in-place concerns), and a bench next to a closet with outlets and storage. The back porch also
features red oak millwork and a vibrant
William Morris-style wallpaper. 

“I wanted a celadon tone, the sophisticated green of Asian ceramics,” Pervo says of the wallpaper designed by Timothy Corrigan for Schumacher. “The dark stripes and bold ribbon bring in all the other colors I would ever want. It’s like gazing at ferns and flowers.” This, in fact, is what Pervo loves to do from her new kitchen, where light streams in through the windows that frame views of her gardens and yard.

“I sit at my island, look out all the windows, and feel like I’m in a private place nestled in the woods,” she adds. “I think that was a large part of my knowing instantly that this was the home I wanted. With Andrea’s help, I’ve now brought the past forward to the present.”

After Floor Plan

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