Client Spotlight: Marilee and Jack’s Kitchen and Bath Renovation

Our most rewarding renovation projects enable our clients to improve the function, beauty, value, and versatility of their homes in a way that reflects their unique personality, style, and goals.

Along with Minneapolis based interior designer Sarah Bernardy-Broman, we recently renovated the kitchen and bathroom of Marilee and Jack’s 1920s home.

Marilee and Jack brought Sarah an exciting project: To update the design and maximize the space of a 9-by-9-foot kitchen and lackluster bathroom, all while preserving their home’s historic character. When Sarah recommended us for the project, we were drawn to the unique challenges of working within a limited square footage and excited to collaborate with such a stellar interior designer.

Jack and Marilee’s kitchen cabinets waiting to be enameled.

The result is a more enjoyable home that better suits Marilee and Jack’s needs and lifestyle. As Marilee puts it, “There’s a sense of satisfaction that I helped create something from scratch. And not only is it functional, it’s very aesthetically pleasing.”

It’s All in the Planning: Launching the Renovation Process

“Even though it’s a kitchen, there’s really no food in it,” Jack told us jokingly at the start of the project.

Their original kitchen was cramped and offered very little counter space. Marilee’s beautiful collection of fine, antique place settings took up much of the kitchen storage space, and they had no pantry or extra shelving.

When Tim Purcell Jr. met with Marilee and Jack for the first time, he took time to get to know them, understand their goals, and discussed the various renovation options available to them. In addition to creating more counter and storage space, he also learned they needed to upgrade their 30 year-old appliances and improve the heating in their kitchen.

In their initial meetings, Tim, Sarah, Marilee, and Jack discussed every aspect of the renovation so the team could carefully prepare and minimize surprises throughout the project. They covered:

● The renovation budget, timeline, and level of finishes.
● Options for utilizing the space efficiently.
● Ways to minimize the disruption to Jack & Marilee’s lives.


Maximizing Space in a Small Kitchen

Marilee and Jack’s existing kitchen was tight and confined, with only two walls with cabinets and one wall taken over by a side-by-side stove and refrigerator. Marilee was also plagued by blind corners in her cabinets where items tended to disappear out of reach.

With painstaking measurements and creative problem-solving, we arrived at a new kitchen layout that is ideal for daily use and entertaining and maximizes every square inch.

Since we couldn’t expand the kitchen into the backyard, we reorganized the layout to create more usable space. To accomplish this, we:

1. Changed the placement of appliances to increase counter space.
2. Installed new, custom cabinets with functional shelving to eliminate blind corners.
3. Relocated the kitchen sink to a window overlooking their backyard garden.
4. Created a pantry from previously unused space.

Sarah had the idea to design and build the new pantry space around a charming feature of their home: a small 1920s telephone nook that had a window from the kitchen onto the dining-room. We were able to preserve and highlight this historic element while giving Jack and Marilee a much-needed, functional pantry.

Sarah also suggested placing their attractive farmhouse sink at the kitchen window. This not only created a fresh layout with more counter space, but also gave them a pleasing view of their garden and highlighted the sink by making it visible from the dining room.

“I was thinking I would just get new appliances in the same places,” reflects Marilee. “But that’s the point of having a designer and a contractor who will show you all the options that you don’t see yourself…. Tim measured over and over to maximize every bit of useable space, and in the end it came 1/16th of an inch!”

Designing the Details

Attention to detail is critical to both our design and construction process. Sarah has worked with Marilee and Jack before, so she brought her intimate knowledge of their style and preferences to this renovation.

A long-time embroiderer and needleworker, Marilee loves lush textiles and rich patterns. Sarah knew Marilee’s tastes and began bringing her color schemes, tiles, fixtures, and fabrics that reflected her old-world style.

One way Sarah captured Jack and Marilee’s style was through a unique tile pattern for the backsplash and floor. They chose a gray color scheme to complement and coordinate with their new stainless steel appliances.

In the bathroom, Sarah used two different types of tile on the shower wall to create a subtle yet beautiful pattern. We added a marble floor, ice-gray KOHLER fixtures, and an elegant new vanity.


While we did not need to rearrange the bathroom layout, Marilee notes that it has been significantly upgraded. “It’s very luxurious, where before it was plain,” she explains.


We loved seeing Sarah unleash her creativity while designing these tight spaces. Less square footage doesn’t mean your home needs to be boring.

Planning a Simultaneous Kitchen and Bathroom Renovation

Home renovations can be challenging to live through, so we work hard to make the experience as smooth as possible. While planning this kitchen and bathroom renovation, we knew that the timeline needed to be accurate. Because Marilee and Jack were living in a temporary home, we wanted to minimize their stay and prevent delays.

There are a number of benefits to a simultaneous kitchen and bathroom renovation. Namely, we can schedule subcontractors more efficiently and have them work on both rooms in one project, instead of scheduling them twice.

This specific type of efficiency isn’t always possible, but we always work to maximize efficiency in every project. Whether we’re working on one room or three, the right planning means the project can progress as smoothly and conveniently as possible.

“Let’s face it, if your contractor is good at what they do and has the experience to back it up – there are no ‘unknowns’ or ‘surprises’,” says Tim Purcell.

Minimizing Surprises with Proper Preparation

We take the time to thoroughly plan and prepare, offering an accurate price and timeline and working closely with you throughout the project. From drawing up the plan and specifications to applying the finishing touches, our goal is to never surprise clients with cost overruns, work delays, or unresponsive contractors.


Unfortunately, this level of preparation and reliability is somewhat rare among home renovators. “We got a lot of negativity and warnings from friends who had renovated their homes before,” says Marilee. “Other contractors start a job and then make decisions as they go, and that’s where people end up spending more time and money. Tim doesn’t work like that. He has all the decisions made up front. He told me at our first meeting it would take three to four months, and it took about three and a half.”

Marilee and Jack soon came to “trust Tim implicitly.” They cited his attention to detail, timeliness, and straightforward nature as being vital to the success of their home renovation – and to their peace of mind throughout the process.

Hiring the Right Team for Your Home Renovation

Tim, Sarah, and the project manager communicated with Jack and Marilee regularly. They knew they would see their project manager every time they went to the house and never felt they had been left out of the loop. What’s more, they also trusted that we were engaging reliable, high-quality subcontractors for every phase of the renovation.

Assembling the right team is the best way to ensure the success of your home renovation. We take the time to build relationships with the right subcontractors because we know these relationships are the foundation of our business. From architects and interior designers to plumbers and electricians, our staff and subcontractors are some of the best in the business and we’re honored to work with them each day.

Are you looking for a way to fall in love with your home again? If, like Marilee and Jack, you want to have confidence in your home renovation team — and be thrilled with the final result — choose a company that leaves nothing to chance.

We are here to plan and execute a beautiful, functional design you’ll be happy to live with for years to come. Give us a call at (651) 748-1304 to begin bringing your home renovation vision to life.