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Photos by Kim Cornelison
The Colemans chose two countertop surfaces in the kitchen—honed black opalescence granite on the perimeter and honed Carrara marble on the island. Red oak floors contrast with the crisp white cabinets and subway tile.
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A partial floating wall is a clever solution to visually separate two spaces, like the Colemans' dining room and kitchen. Brownsmith Restoration designed this wall to have storage (a pantry, shelves for cookbooks) on the kitchen side, and as a place for art on the dining room side.
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Melissa Coleman loves matte finishes, so even though she doesn’t write on the chalkboard-painted wall in her home office, she smeared chalk all over it to get a vintage look
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In the living room, the homeowners combine their love of mixing modern with vintage pieces, like the Gus Modern sofa and yellow chair found on Craigslist.
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A simple built-in wood bench in the Colemans’ front entry, above, provides a spot to slip off shoes.
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In the master bath, a fresh mix of finishes combine—brushed gold faucets, honed Carrara marble countertops, and a walnut vanity.
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The Colemans decided to make their three upstairs bedrooms, including Hallie’s room, small so they could pack more space in the downstairs areas where the family spends most of their time together.
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The family hangs out on the front porch of their new modern-farmhouse home in Seward.
When it came time for the Colemans to make the move from Connecticut to the Twin Cities, a real estate crisis ensued. Kevin’s job at the St. Paul campus of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota pulled the couple closer to the east side for a quicker commute, however his wife was set on living in Minneapolis, a city she’d eyed for years as a food and lifestyle blogger. Melissa, AKA “The Fauxmartha” to her 67,000 Instagram followers, wanted to be in the creative vortex that so many fellow food bloggers called home. The Seward neighborhood, just west of the river off Highway 94 and a mere 10 minutes from the hospital, became a happy compromise. Next came the happy accident of buying a derelict slum house.
In the middle of a lackluster house hunt, their realtor, Michael Smith, who also co-owns Brownsmith Restoration, mistakenly copied them on an e-mail about a teardown for sale. The structure was on the verge of collapse, with holes from roof to basement that hadn’t been cared for in decades. Like any old house Smith encountered, he desperately wanted to restore it, however this home was beyond repair.
“Building was never in our thought process,” Melissa says. “And at that point, Brownsmith had never done a new build, only restorations.”
With both parties in unfamiliar territory, they went into the project armed with plenty of Pinterest boards and a mutual goal of keeping the design simple and the budget small. They wanted an efficient, 1,800-square-foot, all-white modern farmhouse with minimal clutter and a few bursts of color.
“We’re reductionists. We like simple, clean lines. I guess it’s very Scandinavian,” Melissa says.
Craving an open floor plan, the couple wanted the kitchen, dining, and living rooms to flow together with sophisticated spaces as well as play places for their daughter Hallie. Smith, who was resistant to the open plan, compromised by devising a floating divider between the kitchen and dining area. The wall—which doesn’t touch the ceiling, allowing light to pour through the home—lends a visual break to the dining side, while the opposite serves as a pantry, complete with a cookbook tower.
Since Melissa works, cooks, photographs, and blogs from home, she also wanted a home office with plenty of storage and privacy, but one that still kept her in the thick of things. Glass sliders create separation without the feeling of being removed from the family. Upstairs, three bedrooms are small and neat. Melissa gave Hallie her childhood dream bedroom, adding books within reach and a teepee reading nook.
The team thought through every detail, such as where to stash mail, store laptops, and separate dishes so everything functions seamlessly. To keep costs down, they used a low-grade red oak on the floors, which they repeatedly whitewashed, and inexpensive pine—a soft wood that will ding and patina with time—for the island (where all those dishes live). The range is a Verona, which Melissa vows is the lowest end of a professional range you can buy. Every material, from white subway tile on the backsplash to honed marble and granite countertops to a green enamel Rejuvenation pendant, is a matte finish, as Melissa doesn’t like shiny things.
“In the process of building a house I learned a lot about myself, the way I plan a pantry, the way I cook,” Melissa says. “If things aren’t easy or intuitive it drives me crazy—that’s the designer in me.”
Loving their #fauxhouse (which Melissa blogs and posts about frequently), the Colemans are also digging their new live-work-play balance in Minnesota. “This feels like home to us,” Melissa says. “And I absolutely love my kitchen, I get to make a mess of it every day.”
Designer/Builder: Brownsmith Restoration, 4023 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-886-3603, brownsmithrestoration.com