Years ago, when they were newlyweds living in Uptown, Lisa and Rick Noel would admire the stately vintage homes that ring the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes and dream of living in one.
"Some day we'll have a big old house," Lisa recalled of their conversations. "We both have an appreciation for older homes and natural woodwork."
The Noels got their chance in 2005 when they found a Queen Anne Revival house in Kenwood, just a few steps from Lake of the Isles.
It was far from move-in ready. Much of the 1892 house had been gutted to the studs in a restoration attempt that had been abandoned.
"You couldn't live in it," Lisa recalled. "There was no kitchen."
But the house still had many charms, including abundant woodwork, oak pocket doors, art glass windows and its original character.
It was classic Victorian, with a big wraparound front porch and a turret, said Rick. It even had an architectural pedigree: It was designed by Harry Wild Jones, the architect who created Lakewood Chapel.
So the Noels bought the house and undertook an intense two-year restoration to turn it into a comfortable, modern-day home for themselves and their three young daughters.
A four-story addition nearly doubled the home's size, from about 4,500 square feet to its current 8,632 square feet, which created space for an owners' suite and laundry room on the second floor, as well as a family room and an informal dining room on the first.
The Noels also finished the basement ("a scary old Minneapolis basement with a dirt floor," said Lisa) to create a media room, an exercise room, a little stage for karaoke for their girls and a mudroom with a walkout to a brick patio and the private fenced backyard and gardens.
The couple hired designer David Heide, David Heide Design Studio, and Frost Cabinets to create spaces that are as elegant and character-rich as the original house, filled with built-in benches, window seats, molding and wainscoting that echo the home's original aesthetic.
The house had been converted into a boardinghouse during the Depression, then converted back into a single-family home in the 1970s. But the Noels inherited many vintage photos showing the house when it was newly built. The original owner, a machinist and his wife, had shared their home with his brother, a photographer who documented the house in lavish detail. His glass negatives helped guide the restoration.
"We knew what it looked like so we were able to replicate that," said Lisa.
The original house had four fireplaces with distinctive tile surrounds, and the Noels added two more, one in the sitting room of the new owners' suite and another in the new family room. Five of the six fireplaces have been converted to gas.
"We created a kitchen from scratch," said Lisa, with cherry cabinets and paneling, granite countertops, commercial-grade appliances and a cherry butler's pantry with wine refrigerator.
All the bathrooms were updated with custom tile work, new fixtures, lighting and stone and marble-topped vanities.
"I've never seen a restoration done as well," said real estate agent Cari Ann Carter, Edina Realty. "The homeowners really respected the era," resulting in a home that would cost at least $6 million to replicate today, she estimated. "It was a labor of love."
Unlike many houses of its era, the home has a light and airy feeling, thanks to its large windows and high ceilings — 11 feet on the main floor, 10 feet on the second and 9 on the third, Carter said.
"It's quite a storied property — the turret, the curvature of the glass," she said, with all the updates and amenities "to live the way we want to live" today.
The six-bedroom, five-bathroom home is now on the market for $1.995 million.
"We're becoming empty nesters next year," said Lisa. "We don't need a house this big."
She'll miss her cherry dressing room with its mirrors, petite sink and abundant storage. "It's my favorite room," she said.
Rick will miss their owners' suite, which includes a sitting room with cozy fireplace and a cherry walk-in closet with a stained-glass window. "It's fantastic. The bathroom is stunning," he said.
The home's main level and second floor interiors have been freshly repainted in light neutral colors to appeal to today's buyers, Carter said. "It's ready for 21st-century living."
Cari Ann Carter, 612-926-9999, Edina Realty, has the listing.