Should I improve my home? Home Tour homeowners say “yes”

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With today’s uneasy housing market, recent buyers may be wondering “is it wise to improve my home?” While many of the homeowners on the Minneapolis & Saint Paul Home Tour have lived in their homes for a long time, others bought during the recent boom…and all are pleased to have renovated and adapted their homes to meet their needs in the neighborhoods they love.

Looking for home improvement ideas? Visit these happy homeowners on the free, self-guided tour of 50 locations Saturday, April 26 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, April 27, 1-5 p.m. These “real homes, real people, real ideas,” evolve into a celebration of city living and home improvement inspiration.

“We didn’t want to have to drive to get a gallon of milk and a box of Cheerios, so a move was out of the question,” said Rita Pelecis, 3911 Upton Ave. S., Minneapolis. “We loved the charming variety and the interesting homes and cottages found in Linden Hills.” She and Kevin Johnson, with the help of SALA Architects’ Dale Mulfinger, designed a totally new 2,200 square foot two-story house for their family of five, within the footprint of their 1950s rambler.

Gayle and Jim Gallagher built their home in the late 1970s not intending to stay long and without much thought about kitchen functionality. But they’re still at 4800 Portland Ave., Minneapolis, 30 years later. The latest adaptation: “the kitchen from hell had to go,” Gayle said. “We increased our counter space from a cut up six feet to a usable 19 feet” on top of wonderfully bright red and black IKEA cabinetry. Walls of rich Italian tile tie the various hues together, and it’s all within the original kitchen dimensions.

Dialing back through the decades, visitors can also see what folks have done with 1950s, 40s, and 30’s homes. Some of the most prevalent housing stock in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and well represented on the tour, is the 1920s bungalow. Some have been restored and updated with, say, a modern kitchen and bathroom. One in Saint Paul, 2146 Juliet Ave., has been completely “flipped” with a full second story added for the family living, dining, study and hangout space and the 1926 main level reoriented for the family bedrooms. Also prevalent in the cities: homes from the early 1900s.

Some homes have been preserved or restored to their era, and others vastly changed…18 of the homeowners note that they have added space, either through an expansion or by finishing attic or basement.

There is even an 1885 historic-designated concrete block home on the tour. In North Minneapolis, Dayton’s Bluff in St. Paul, and at other assorted homes, docents from historic preservation organizations will be on hand to talk about restoring and preserving homes. At a dozen homes, homeowners and trades people will be available to talk about various “shades” of “green” remodeling and energy efficiency. Learn more about solar, geothermal, renewables, recycled and other earth-friendly building materials.

To help plan your tour, go to www.MSPHomeTour.com. Click on “Homes” for a list that can be sorted by type of renovation or part of town, or just browse through the descriptions and photos. Guide newspapers are available at public libraries throughout Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Hennepin and Ramsey Counties. The Minneapolis & Saint Paul Home Tour is coordinated by the Minneapolis Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) and involves the two cities’ Planning and Economic Development Departments and a total of 25 sponsors.

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