Retro Renovation for Browndale Home

The custom -designed kitchen of the Murphy's home.
How a Browndale home gets an overhaul without looking overdone.
The custom -designed kitchen of the Murphy's home.

One particular home renovation in St. Louis Park is so adorable that if it had cheeks, designer Allison Landers would want to pinch them. Smack in the middle of a beautifully landscaped street in St. Louis Park’s Browndale neighborhood sits Tim and Katy Murphy’s darling Cape Cod home, complete with a new second story and oodles of custom-designed details. Big on charm without adding an inch to the original footprint, this home is a sparkling gem and shining example of how to do a renovation right.

The Murphys grew up in Edina and had been on the lookout for a home in St. Louis Park where they would be close to family, friends, parks, lakes and great restaurants. “The Browndale neighborhood seems special,” Katy says. “We knew right away it was a place we wanted to settle and build our family.”

Their 1,200-square-foot home was built in 1939, with a tiny kitchen and two small bedrooms. With one young child and another on the way, the Murphys were interested in adding some extra living space and were referred to Sicora Design/Build, where they met Landers, who helped firm up the Murphys’ idea of a second story to provide additional square footage (as opposed to bumping out into the yard).

“Going up is less messy and more affordable than digging more foundation,” says Landers. But before any decisions are made, Landers encourages her clients to focus on lifestyle. “Many people think they need a giant addition to make a space work. But that’s not true,” she says. And this stylish home project proves Landers’ point.

The design added 864 square feet of usable living space, fashioned to look as if it were an original part of the house. Character-driven details include custom Rift Sawn  cabinetry, hardwood floors, vintage-inspired Cararra  marble tile and crown molding throughout. Upper-level dormers and interesting ceiling angles add to the retro-styled charm. The home fits the neighborhood perfectly and trumps any temptation toward over-construction.

Main Floor~

Visitors first step onto the brand-new covered front porch, large enough for a café table and chairs. Just inside the front door stands the new open staircase, displaying  a terrific sense of a 1940s-era design aesthetic. To the left of the staircase is the original family living space, with wood floors and a brick-faced fireplace. To the right is what used to be a tiny bedroom. Now, that tiny bedroom is a tranquil sunroom with elegant French doors. Glide past the sunroom toward a completely renovated first-floor bathroom, all glammed up in shining chrome fixtures, muted gray walls, stately white trim and elegant marble-tiled floors.

Continue past the bathroom to discover the fantastic new kitchen. Situated where the master bedroom used to be are kitchen walls, lined with custom recessed-panel white enameled cabinets, stainless steel appliances and Cambria countertops. A center island of natural walnut is lit with industrial-inspired pendant lights and a coordinating barrel-style chandelier over the dining table. Behind the dining table, a door opens to what used to be the home’s original kitchen. Today, the space serves as a mudroom with an exit to the garage and custom cabinets surrounding a drop zone for bags and keys. Landers even included a tilt-out storage bin for dog food and a cut-away space for pet food bowls. “No more tripping on dog dishes,” Landers says. Attention to these kinds of details and eliminating wasted space are what add luxury and convenience to a smaller home.

Upper Level~

A second-story window lights the hall at the top of the new open-design stairway. A second-floor laundry is yet another touch of modernity added to this classic home. Two bedrooms flank a kids’ bathroom. And a new master suite is large enough for a king-size bed and boasts a darling reading nook with elegant lighting. A master bathroom and walk-in closet cap off the extraordinarily efficient use of space in this home’s redesign. Katy says she and Tim are most excited “to enjoy the extra space that was so thoughtfully designed” to fit their lifestyle.

Landers believes home design is all about “personalization and daring to be different.” The result is a home that now accommodates the Murphys’ growing family. A home that remains true to ’40s-era design, but is filled with a delicious fresh perspective and personality.


Sicora Design/Build
5601 West Lake St.;