Revisiting A Remodel: Looking back at a home with a history
When Robin Schroeder and her husband bought their house, she knew she wasn’t just purchasing a house. She was becoming a steward.
The 100-year-old house, which overlooks a lake in Roseville, MN, was beloved by its previous 80-year-old owner, Mrs. Guthrie, who hoped to pass it on to people who would respect its original character and legacy. Mrs. Guthrie rejected higher offers from developers who wanted to tear it down. Having known her since she was a child, Mrs. Guthrie sold the home to Robin, who she felt would preserve its character while honoring its purpose as a family home.
Robin partnered with White Crane over several decades to remodel almost every inch of her 100-year-old house while preserving the spirit of its original character.
In the decades since purchasing the home, Robin and her family have worked with the White Crane team to thoughtfully transform virtually every room in the house. They have moved the dining room into the living room, shifted the kitchen to the dining room, reimagined the kitchen as a butler’s pantry, transformed a dank basement into a light-filled workout room, expanded the garage to accommodate a fleet, and added a mancave complete with 900-pound pool table.
Robin appreciated that for each remodeling project, White Crane’s designer made suggestions that respected the home’s character, creating a design plan that embraced unique existing details like pocket doors, oversized windows, radiators, antique built-ins, and woodwork installed at different times. White Crane team consistently demonstrated how reimagining spaces while preserving details in an old house could enhance the home and the family’s lives.
White Crane’s remodeling team created a design plan that respected the home’s character, embracing unique existing details like pocket doors, oversized windows, radiators, and antique built-ins, while adding modern amenities. Here, the new island design accommodates an existing radiator and all of the original 100-year-old doors have been preserved.
The sheer number of pleasant surprises
The rediscovered wood floors. The repurposed antique built-in where the cabinet makers determined the historical formula for the finish. The hand-built cabinets for fishing equipment adorned with specially carved fish poles. The reclaimed space at the end of the living room.
Window boxes and grout solved seemingly unsolvable problems.
In a home like this, one of the greatest design challenges is maintaining the integrity of the exterior. But White Crane was able to meet that challenge. When they removed the lower half of tall existing windows to create a working kitchen, they knew they couldn’t easily match the exterior brick with new bricks. So they built window boxes instead—and the Schroeders were able to cultivate herbs. In another project, they artfully used grout to create continuity.
The mix of creativity and listening
“The White Crane team heard what I was saying. And then they surprised me with their solution. I had no idea how they could connect the second floor to the bonus room above the garage. I thought about it for hours. They listened to me and solved it in minutes.”
Leaded glass cabinet doors from an original built-in were saved and reused with new cabinets in the butler’s pantry.
Especially if you have kids, insist on high quality AND low maintenance.
The home was beautiful and historic but also fully lived in. “Low maintenance was a must-have on every project. The White Crane design team never suggested anything where I had to yell at the kids “don’t touch.”
On even the best-run construction project, there are always challenges. “But the recovery is what impresses me. They took ownership. And they fixed it.”
“What’s more, I have two indoor cats. I totally trusted them to work in the house and not accidentally let the cats out. That’s a high level of trust.”
The brick on the new attached garage was selected to match the home’s original century-old exterior.
What I’d do differently
The man cave was less popular than expected.
White Crane took great care with the bonus room which her husband envisioned as a classic man cave, featuring a pool table. They found a 900 lb. pool table that met his standards while fitting the room; they found lighting that felt appropriate to both decision-makers; they even helped hang Robin’s collection of original wildlife stamp photography.
Unfortunately, in a dozen years, her husband played pool about a dozen times. He acknowledged that the room was better suited to her quilting. And the pool table is living happily ever after in a daughter’s basement.
This bonus room above the garage started out as a mancave complete with a pool table. The bonus room is connected to the main house and can be accessed from the home’s second story.
The Schroeder home has a remarkable history. And a remarkable future. White Crane continues to work with Robin—they just wrapped a few projects—to preserve its past and realize its potential.