How do you fix up a more than 100-year-old home to make it feel practically new?
When Adam Koch purchased a two-bedroom, one-bathroom 1917 house more than a year ago, it was his passion project. He set out to give the house in Minneapolis' Bryn Mawr neighborhood all the bells and whistles before putting it back on the market for the next homeowner to enjoy.
"This was really unique because we wanted it to have a new construction feel of a 4,000- square-foot home, but it was an older home with a smaller footprint of 1,900 square feet," he said. "It was very dated, dark and kind of depressing. The main thing is we needed to pump some life back into it."
Koch, a builder by profession, was not new to remodeling or building new homes. He brought in Kimberly Niosi of Niosi Interior Design to collaborate on the project.
They decided to remove the original windows and replace them with contemporary, black-framed ones. The kitchen was outfitted with quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances and French doors leading to a new, expansive deck.
They added a mudroom to the back entrance and upgraded the upstairs bathroom with amenities such as a walk-in shower.
In the renovation, Koch sought to maximize every square inch of space by making existing rooms more versatile and by adding new ones.
"I thought of a family with kids living here and what they would want, so I added more bedrooms and bathrooms," he said. "The basement was unfinished so that was a lot of potentially usable space."
Koch built out the lower-level walkout with a bedroom, bathroom and a recreation room with a wet bar.
He also designed for versatility. On the main level, French doors were added to give a bedroom an updated look, but also to make the room function as a sunroom or office.
Koch also thought it would be nice to have a bathroom on the main level, and an unused nook next to the bedroom/sunroom/office provided that opportunity. While he was at it, he added a laundry hook-up to the new bathroom.
"A lot of people like their laundry units upstairs nowadays, and I wanted to at least give the option," Koch said.
He left room for customization in other ways. As part of the listing — and in the not-something-you-see-every-day category — Koch is throwing in $3,500 so the next buyer can create new closet storage systems for the upstairs bedrooms.
"Both bedroom closets are quite small, and the construction of a closet system would go miles," he said. "With closet spaces, it's catered toward the buyer. One person might love the closet system I put in there whereas the next person might hate it. So I wanted to leave it open for whoever bought it."
A nod to Cape Cod
Koch and Niosi didn't want to diminish the house's classic style, but rather enhance it.
"We thought it had a lot of charm; it just needed some color and change to the front. We wanted to create a modern Cape Cod look," he said. The exterior was given a spruce-up that involved repainting the house from a tan to a sea blue hue and installing cedar shakes to the front gable.
While they made many updates, they didn't touch the timeless features.
"Pretty much all of the woodwork is original to the house — wood treads, risers, railings," Koch said. "We refinished the hardwood floors and kept them. And then some of the exterior brackets and corbels were kept."
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The job is done
Now that Koch is finished with updates, he's listed the three-bedroom, three-bathroom abode.
"Part of the fun of buying and fixing and selling is to put your thumbprint on what you feel a family would like and make it that way," he said. "That's really my main niche and comfort zone is fixing things up for homeowners and then moving on to the next project."
Listing agent Betsy Bohlig said in addition to the fresh update, the home offers a great location. Not only is it within walking distance to neighborhood amenities and a few minutes' drive to downtown, she said, but it also feels like nature is at your doorstep.
"Bryn Mawr is a gem of a neighborhood. It is a charming, older, walking community with access to coffee shops, quaint restaurants and wooded walking trails," she said. "It provides immediate access to Theodore Wirth Park, home to some of Minnesota's best mountain biking and cross-country ski trails."
Betsy Bohlig (email@example.com; 612-581-6746) of RE/MAX Results has the $499,900 listing.