19th Century St. Paul Kitchen Gets a Modern Makeover


This post is presented by: ASID KitchenTour

Shawn-Leetz-Headshot_XThis post is a part of a series that gives an inside look behind the creative process of homes featured on the upcoming ASID MN Designer Kitchen Tour on April 18-19, 2015. You’ll get to see each designer’s challenges and joys behind creating the perfect kitchen for their client.Today, we’re featuring the work of Shawn Leetz of Leetz A’Marie Interior Design.

Below: The kitchen before the remodel. 

Shawn-Leetz_Kitchen_Before_XAbout this kitchen: 

Built in 1886, this 135-square-foot kitchen had the same footprint today as it did when it was first built. It lacked warmth, character, and an efficient use of space. In 2013, the kitchen was demolished, revealing a hidden doorway to the dining room. They traded doorways, creating a pass-through from the kitchen to the dining room, bringing in more sunlight, and added a peninsula and custom cabinetry. The adjacent mudroom was replaced and rebuilt as well. The cost? Under $20,000.

What was your design dilemma?

The biggest design dilemma was dealing with the size of the space and the multiple doorway openings. The kitchen was not functioning well with the existing layout, so something had to be done to remedy that. Closing off one doorway and opening another was the best solution. Did it create more work and mess? Of course, but it was necessary to increase the functionality and purpose of the remodel.

Tell us about your sources of inspiration for this project.

As an artist and designer, my sources of inspiration come from so many avenues, it is hard to nail down a particular one. I always take cues from nature, architecture, sculpture, and other fine art sources. The original design ideas are always gently massaged as we problem-solve throughout the design process. Staying true to the age of the home was important to us, and I was excited about trying a gray-brown stain on our new oak cabinets. We chose a quartz countertop that resembled marble, and from there, the rest of our design choices grew.


What were your top three go-to tools to get the job done?

  1. I am a true space planner at heart. I use ¼” graph paper, pencils, and AutoCAD to lay out my designs. They are a must in my dossier.
  2. Next would be showrooms. Nothing beats going to a showroom to lay eyes and hands on your materials and fixtures. Shopping online is great; I do it all the time; but to feel the hardware in your hand, or see how lovely a light sparkles, there is no substitute.
  3. Another tool I use is visualization. I take the time to reflect about each project and visualize what the final outcome will be. I imagine myself moving through the space to see how it feels. When you are neck deep in a project, I find this to be extremely helpful because it allows you to take a step back and take a look at your work. I do the same thing when painting in my art studio.


Tell us about the biggest challenge you encountered while executing the project and how did you overcome it?

Our biggest challenge was correctly fitting all the appliances into the room, and utilizing as much space as possible, all while being extremely thrifty. Purchasing a smaller refrigerator and adding a peninsula for more functional storage were two items on the list that helped our situation. I loved the “small space” challenge that this kitchen offered; it was a fun puzzle to put together.

What part of this project are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the light and functionality we brought into this turn of the century kitchen. We kept true to the architectural integrity of the structure and made use of the space at hand, which in turn also saved a bit of money. This kitchen is warm and inviting and has artistic touches that are unique to the home.

See this kitchen and others on the ASID MN Designer Kitchen Tour on April 18-19. Info and tickets can be found on mhmag.com/designweek

By Jennie Eukel, presented by ASID MN
After photos by Alyssa Lee



  • This kitchen’s number on the tour: #1
  • Home’s location: 826 Ashland Ave, St. Paul, MN 55104
  • Designer on project: Shawn Leetz
  • Company Name: Leetz A’Marie Interior Design
  • Website: leetzamarie.com



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