We are in the process of renovating a hundred year old building to be our live/work space in Minneapolis.
Just in case we’ve accidentally given the impression that this renovation was by any means easy; let me assure you it’s been challenging. Like, the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But worth it! Here’s the same space just a little over a year apart.
This is a european rugshaker balcony that I had on my moodboard forever. I was contemplating having one fabricated, but then Bauer Brother Salvage had a beauty in their collection and it was exactly the perfect width for above our kitchen window set.
When we bought the property, the ballroom and soon-to-be kitchen floors were covered with tar paper. On one hand, this was great as the floors had been protected by years of carpet, tiles, etc. The downside, it needed to come off.
Because we can’t give up on an underdog, we decided to employ the Kintusgi technique which originated in Japan to repair our bathroom tiles. It started as a way of repair cups, pots and plates that were broken. By using gold mortar, the vessel became more valuable after it was repaired than when it was pristine.
This is brick mould. It is something that I didn’t even know existed one year ago. But now we are good friends.
One of the biggest challenges with our space and it's renovation was electrical. The structure itself is all concrete and clay tiles. This is awesome for longevity but really hard for systems! We were lucky enough to meet Matthew Baird of Norse Electric.
We fell in love with this amazing 1920's italian marble sink and dreamed of incorporating it into our "larder" -- the space that once was the kitchen in our building.
Our space was featured on Architectural Digest's Clever as a renovation diary. It was awesome to work with their team to create this story and we've had so many cool conversations because of it. Click to read more!
I'm obsessed with terrazzo. And long before it was popping up in every design trend round-up. Thankfully, it makes total design sense for our building and we are installing it on two levels flanking the existing marble stair.
One of my favorite things about the #maisonbodega history is a lineage of powerful women. Despite it being built in 1920, when ladies in Minnesota were just getting the right to vote, all of the newspaper articles about this property cite a lady at the helm of the story.
Inspired by Vincenzo De Cotiis on renovation / "It's very slow", he says of bringing such a space to just the right moment, one both timeless and out of time, 'and there is no way to speed it up. Imperfection takes longer than perfection".
The windows in this building are a blessing and a curse. Beautiful with their "patina", but oh so much work to restore. Their wavy glass makes for the most incredible light in the space and the proportions of the muntins are one of our favorite things about the interior + exterior.
One of the most enjoyable discoveries in our demo process was layers and layers of vintage wallpaper. Some peeked out from under pink painted walls, others revealed themselves and beautiful plaster walls underneath. Here's a little tour of the highlights.
In the ballroom, overlooking the marble staircase there was an area that was boarded over. We assumed they closed it off during a phase in the 60's as an insurance agency and the space was partitioned off into offices. Delightfully, when we (Liz's Dad) removed the sheetrock, it revealed an original banister in black and a Rapunzel perch! A significant amount of additional light now streams into the space next to the fire place.
In a project like this, there are exactly 5,782 decisions to be made per day. Thankfully, once you have identified the foundational vision, it's possible to bob and weave through the sea of white tiles available in the world! (We have ordered every. single. one. possible.) While there are so many things left to source, we're feeling excited about this mix of natural finishes that can be simultaneously fresh and timeless.
We have the amazing fortune to work with architect Toby Rapson. He is helping us form the slightly Spanish, slightly Scandinavian space into a classic rendering with nods to Bauhaus with rounded plaster staircases and curved rod railings. Beyond his amazing talent as an architect, we appreciate that he allows for true collaboration without ego.
The Borchert Maps Library at the University of Minnesota has a wealth of resources available like this 1892 Platbook that shows the property, though at the time it was owned by JH Gardner, a train conductor and the structure we are currently had yet to be built. It's still compelling and we can't wait to find more!
We felt like it was vital to get to know the structure and understand it before we could design it. Our approach all along has been to "Think twice, demo once" and the same applies to the design -- let's not over-do it.
Depending on the day, we fluctuate between "It's really just adding a kitchen and a two bathrooms" optimism and "Holy crap, this is going to take forever" reality. The goal is to live somewhere in the happy middle...
Our newest project: Maison Bodega. A 100-year old building that we are transforming into a live/work space for our life and business. We are so grateful and excited.