From mudrooms to whole-house makeovers

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Jennifer and Todd Williams wanted to keep Todd's grandparents' 1940s rambler in the family. But they weren't too keen about the pumpkin-orange carpeting, dark paneled walls and boxy, chopped-up rooms.

"You could put your arms out and touch the walls in the kitchen, it was so small," said Todd.

Still, the couple bought the 1,100-square-foot rambler, in part for its great location -- St. Paul's Highland Park neighborhood. They intended to add more space for a mudroom and an owners' suite and, because the home was on a small city lot, they decided to build up instead of out.

"Going up was the best bet," said Andrew Sonnen, co-owner of Bluejack Builders in Woodbury. "We saved money by using the existing foundation and most of the exterior walls."

With its new second story and the studs-to-ceiling renovated main floor, the Williamses' home is one of 86 residences on the Remodelers Showcase tour next weekend.

Home before the remodel

The tour, which allows homeowners to study recent remodeling jobs, ask contractors questions and see new products, includes kitchen updates, home office additions, finished lower levels and whole-house makeovers by professional remodeling companies.

While new construction and existing housing sales are down, the Twin Cities is one of the top 10 markets for remodeling spending, according to the Minnesota chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

"Remodelers aren't doing as extensive projects as in the past," said Wendy Danks, marketing director for the Builders Association of the Twin Cities, which sponsors the showcase. "But people are choosing to invest what they can in a house to make it more livable."

To give their rambler enough space for a growing family, Jennifer and Todd virtually built a new home that features a two-story foyer and a spacious kitchen that flows into the family room, which is anchored by a stone fireplace.

"Now it feels open and free," said Todd.

The second-story addition houses four bedrooms, including the couple's suite, with its own spa-like bathroom. Bluejack Builders clad the home's exterior with stone accents and cedar shake siding so it would blend in with the other homes on the block.

"If my grandma and grandpa were still around, they would love it," said Todd. "I can see my grandpa by the stone fireplace, kicking back and watching sports."



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