A Revived Mediterranean by Anne McDonald Design

An improved floor plan and dramatic finishes by Anne McDonald Design allow these Minneapolis homeowners to entertain in style

Photos by Amanda Marie Studio

There’s no shortage of pattern or texture throughout the 1926 home, which is beautifully balanced with cozy, neutral selections and dark, dramatic details around every corner.

There’s something romantic about Mediterranean Revival architecture. Easily recognized by terracotta roofs, crisp white stucco, and wrought-iron details, these homes bring to mind a sunny Italian villa or old Hollywood hideaway. And while Erin and Bryan Newman weren’t specifically seeking out this style for their new home, they weren’t immune to its charms. “We were looking for an older house with beautiful architectural details,” Erin explains, “but we also wanted lots of natural light and more modern features like a mudroom and open kitchen.”

The 1926 house they found in southwest Minneapolis delivered on both accounts. Situated on a quaint corner lot, it was well-maintained by previous owners who had built an addition that—save a few unfortunate “one of these things is not like the other” moments like casement windows and a clunky built-in entertainment center—left most of the home’s period details intact. 

Busy with careers and raising their sons, the Newmans waited five years before remodeling. During that time, they lived in every inch of the house, often hosting parties and informal gatherings for friends, including designer Anne McDonald, who they hired to spearhead the project in collaboration with McDonald Remodeling. For McDonald, knowing the Newmans personally and having spent time in the house as a guest was a huge advantage. “I knew this house and this family—how they roll on a day-to-day basis, how they entertain,” she says. “I knew this space would have to feel spicy and have an energy to it.”

One of Erin’s pinch points was the galley kitchen locked between the front and back of the house. “During our annual Christmas party, there would be 50 people crammed in there against the oven door,” she says. “There was no flow.” Open to the family room but hemmed in by a staircase on one side, it presented a tough design challenge for McDonald, who was determined to maximize the budget by staying within the existing footprint. The space was big enough, but it needed a smarter layout.

After many iterations, the solution McDonald landed on was to push the kitchen back a bit, shrinking the size of the family room but opening up space for a dramatic butler’s pantry between the dining room and kitchen. A small archway punched between the kitchen and living room added circular flow on the main floor, which relieves some of the pressure while entertaining and allows an abundance of light to flow through.

The lion’s share of the budget went to high-quality finishes, which extend mostly to the home’s vintage with a few splashes of “va-va-voom” here and there. White walls are in keeping with a traditional Mediterranean palette while inky black in the butler’s pantry (including on the ceiling), on the kitchen island, and on a glamorous La Cornue range speaks to a more daring aesthetic. Classic details like curved archways, custom inset cabinetry, Italian marble countertops, and a new plaster fireplace in the family room look like they could be original to the home. “The trick was honoring this traditional home and what it wanted to be while adding a little sparkle and shine that reflects Erin and Bryan’s style,” says McDonald. 

Star and cross terracotta tile was a splurge for the mudroom—a classic material in a pretty shape that’s also hard-wearing. In the adjoining powder room, the Newmans had originally selected a bold botanical wallpaper, but after mulling over the selection, opted instead for a sophisticated turquoise design by Kelly Wearstler with curves that mimic
the abundant archways throughout the house. Paired with brass art deco sconces, the space is a modern interpretation of 1920s style and feels as special as it looks. McDonald reflects, “Throughout this project, there was a rattling in my head over if we could have designed it better, but that went away as it started taking shape. This is what the house wanted to be. This is who the Newmans are.

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