Fern Hill's Small Wonder

On a tight budget, this interior remodeling dramatically changed the character of a classic 1920’s Minneapolis home. The house lacked a fireplace, which after the harsh winter of 2014, adding one suddenly became a priority for this family of four. In addition, they wanted to open up the space by removing the heavy craftsman style bookcases added in the 90’s, along with a chimney stack and closet in the dining room. A refresh of the IKEA kitchen was also on the wish list, as was a place for coats and shoes at the front door.

The solution was to flip the living room and dining room functions, allowing a direct vent gas fireplace to be on an exterior wall. This was made possible by replacing the windows on the side yard with high windows over the new fireplace. Removing the closet, chimney and wall between the kitchen and dining room created enough space for a narrow island. The refrigerator was also relocated, but most of the existing kitchen was retained. The window to the back yard was expanded which improved the natural light. New stone and wood countertops, a refinished floor, and updated lighting created a more modern feel.

Project Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Project Type: RemodelingKitchenLiving RoomPets

Project Team: Abigail Merlis, Assoc. AIAChristine L. Albertsson, AIA, CID, NCARB, Partner

Photography: Wing Ta

Of Note

  • Bookcases and display were also important goals. These were combined with pull-out cabinets flanking the sunroom to cleverly solve the coat storage problem at the entry.


  • RAVE Award - AIA Mpls/ St. Paul | October 2018
  • ASID Award - First Place | November 2017