Couple turn kitchen, dining and living rooms into one great room

By Janet Lunder Hanafin

When Tiffany Anderson and her partner Percy Travis III host “Friendsgiving” in early November, the turkeys will be roasted in their new kitchen and guests will gather in the new great room of their 87-year-old house in Minneapolis’ Longfellow neighborhood.

The couple traditionally entertain between 15 and 20 people for Friendsgiving, and it was a tight squeeze in their old space where kitchen, dining room and living room were separated by walls. However, the 1933 Tudor where they have lived since 2007 has been transformed by gutting much of the first floor and switching the old kitchen and dining room around. The couple now have a bright and spacious open floor plan, along with new cabinetry, countertops and appliances.

kitchen remodel
Tiffany Anderson and Percy Travis III prepare a salad in their newly remodeled kitchen. Photo by Brad Stauffer

From the outside, the story-and-a-half house with its steep-pitched roof does not look that big, Anderson said. But the upstairs, which they remodeled several years ago, has a master bedroom suite, bathroom with shower and office alcove. The first floor has two guest bedrooms and a full bathroom in addition to the great room.

Working with Castle Building and Remodeling, the kitchen project “kind of grew,” Anderson said. Originally, she had wanted a remodeled kitchen with a center island and a more open floor plan. But when she realized that by flipping the locations of the kitchen and dining room they could gain more usable space, they ended up incorporating the living and dining rooms in the remodeling project.

Anderson and Travis did most of the demolition themselves with the help of family, tearing out the plaster and lathe walls to the studs. They hired someone else to tear down the ceilings. The biggest challenge, according to Travis, was moving everything upstairs to make way for construction and living upstairs for two and a half months. During construction, Anderson prepared meals with two hot plates and a slow cooker. It was like living in a studio apartment, she said.

The couple had hoped to salvage the beautiful cabinets that were part of the original kitchen, but discovered they had been built in place and could not be re-engineered. They also found water damage above the living room ceiling that required the expertise of a contractor to identify the cause and solve the problem.


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kitchen remodel
Pull-out storage shelves make kitchen work a snap for Tiffany Anderson and Percy Travis III. Photo by Brad Stauffer

One of Anderson’s goals was to have a kitchen where the cook was not cut off from the activity going on elsewhere in the living area. “And I wanted more space for people to mingle,” she said.

The couple use their back door more often than the front door. In the old space, two narrow doorways led from the back door to a back hallway and the dining room. Now the back entry has what Anderson calls a drop zone with a broom closet and a bench with storage drawers underneath. Open shelving provides space for kitchen overflow, including cookbooks, large bowls and electronic charging stations. “It’s really convenient for hauling in groceries,” Anderson said.

The front door opens into the great room, “and I’m sure we at least doubled our cabinet and countertop space,” Anderson said. An archway used to connect the living room and dining room. Now all three living spaces are connected by two larger Tudor archways. All of the home’s original windows, and there are many, were untouched.

The new kitchen has amenities that Anderson never enjoyed before, including a garbage disposal, a dishwasher and a kitchen faucet that turns on and off with a touch anywhere on its surface. The stainless undermount double-basin sink is a half-divide model that provides space for washing larger items.

The new cupboards extend to the ceiling and are accented with crown molding. The countertops are made of quartz that was marbled to look like granite. A gas range is built into the large center island.

The kitchen cabinetry is state-of-the-art with soft-close drawers and full-open corner cabinets. Shelves on the side of the cabinet by the window show off little treasures. The remodelers also found space for a pull-out spice rack and another pull-out to store kitchen sink utilities.

The pale grey-green walls of the kitchen catch the natural light and look different depending on the time of day, Anderson said. A sage green subway tile backsplash marries the countertops and cupboards. The old tile kitchen floor was replaced with oak to match the hardwood floors in the living and dining rooms.

The new stainless appliances include a side-by-side refrigerator and a double oven that includes a combination convection and microwave. The new 18-inch dishwasher is plenty large for just the two of them, Anderson said.

One of Anderson’s goals was to have a kitchen where the cook was not cut off from the activity going on elsewhere in the living area. “And I wanted more space for people to mingle,” she said.

Anderson loves to entertain and try out new recipes. “I try to do a lot of healthy Mediterranean meals,” she said. “My absolute favorite meal is Friends­giving. I do two turkeys because I want leftovers, mashed potatoes, stuffing. Percy is more Southern, so we add in collard greens, mac and cheese, cornbread.”

Working with Castle Building and Remodelling was super-efficient, Anderson said. The project got underway on November 11, 2019, and was finished by the first of February. “Castle gave us a very detailed schedule,” she said. “Everything down to the electrical outlets was mapped out before the project began. But they were flexible.”

What Anderson wanted most from the remodeling was “the openness of the floor plan,” she said. “That was absolutely critical.” What she loves most about the openness “is that it is so bright in here,” she added. “I love the cheeriness when I walk down in the morning. Working from home now, it’s great to sit at the island and work.”


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