How do you maximize space that seems to lack wiggle room? How do you facilitate flow in an old home that’s had a new addition? How do you make life better in your favorite room of the house? Such questions nagged at Marsha and Tom Hystead. Armed with knowledge about architecture, design and construction, they wanted direction that would bring everything together seamlessly in their kitchen remodel—at a price they could afford.
The Hysteads had accomplished a lot together in the course of 28 years in the same Duluth house. From their home base in a vibrant university neighborhood, they’d established successful careers, guided children into college and made many lasting friendships.
As times changed, so did their house. There was a major addition. Basement and bathroom remodels. Even a new garage. Now, they wanted a kitchen to match their sensibilities, both practically and artistically. Still, they had reservations about tackling such a project.
“This really is the heart of our home,” Tom says. “The notion of tearing it out and replacing it was like the prospect of doing a heart transplant. When we told the kids, they were excited—but really concerned we’d change things too much.”
This was, after all, where they huddled to eat, talk or even just touch base on route to everyone’s practices and meetings. Now, they’d be crafting a space to make new memories.
“We loved to cook, gather around and share some real good times in that old kitchen,” Marsha says. ““But it just didn’t flow. That’s where Rebecca (Lindquist) advocated for changes that made a big difference. She looked at the big picture: how the whole house works in relation to the kitchen.”
The remedy began with slightly readjusting the placement of doorways, eliminating an old basement staircase to create a new walk-in pantry, and reevaluating the counter connecting the kitchen and dining room. All told, it meant more room—without adding on.
“Just creating the pantry alone added 42 feet of shelf space, which is 10 feet more than our entire old kitchen,” Marsha says.
They discovered it wasn’t just the increased space and flow patterns they appreciated, but upgrades to appliances, countertops, cabinets and more.
“Honestly, every single day is a joy to be in this kitchen. We can’t decide if we love the functionality more, or the sheer beauty,” Marsha says. “We actually fight over who gets to cook. It’s not normal.”
The prospect of major remodeling can raise doubts and fears long before a homeowner rips out walls or countertops. One of Marsha’s biggest fears was that she’d clash with Lindquist designers who, she worried, might push their tastes on her. As an advertising creative director, Marsha has a lifetime of design experience. And like anyone, she has personal preferences about her home.
“Rebecca doesn’t dictate what you should do. She brings your desires to life. She listens incredibly,” Marsha says. “She’s really good at taking the fear out of the process.”
In fact, the process of going from design to life was Marsha’s favorite part.
“It was amazing to discern your likes and dislikes, dreams and goals, then have budgets addressed right up front that are exactly what you pay in the end,” she says. “I kind of felt like Cinderella. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it’d be this beautiful.”
Tom’s favorite part was watching everything take shape over the weeks, from demo to the finishing touches. As an affordable housing consultant who’s worked extensively with contractors and developers, it’s a process he knows well.
” I was truly in awe at how fluid the process was between Lindquist as the project manager and the contractors they bring to the project,” he says. “Everyone had a similar desire to do outstanding work. It well worth what they charged for it.”
When carpenters removing a wall found pipes and electrical wires in the path of a new doorway, the right trades people for the job were called—and instantly responded.
“In renovating, it’s key to keep the stuff on track,” Tom says. “The trust and goodwill Lindquist has established with other contractors keeps everything moving forward. Bob’s skill in expediting that is just amazing.”
Through it all, communication is the glue that keeps everything moving so fluidly.
“You see it in everything from the daily status reports to the checklists asking you things like ‘where would you like the sawing done?’ or ‘Can we play music while working?’ Lindquist doesn’t miss a beat,” Marsha says. “Rebecca won’t settle for anything less than perfect, which is exactly what you want, and Bob is more the carefree type who doesn’t get ruffled. It’s a great balance.”
The Hystead favorites:
Silestone countertop: “I love this counter. I already knew I wanted black countertops and white cabinets. The idea of using plates and cups to infuse a splash of color made it work even better.”
Gas range with continuous grates: 3 different burner sizes offer functional versatility.
Microwave: Combined with an exhaust system to the outside is a major plus.
The refrigerator: With its bottom drawer freezer and automatic ice maker, Tom says “this is probably the coolest thing in the kitchen.” Namely: No more empty ice trays to contend with.
Deep sink: It’s a functional and aesthetic improvement, Marsha says, and the soap dispenser balances the look of the faucet.
Pantry: “You don’t need to walk up and down the stairs from the basement anymore. Now, it’s all right there.” Tom says.
Carole and Gary Turner, Sunshine Lake Duluth, MN
"I always feel a little sadness when our [projects] are over. Gone is the fun in planning, the excitement of building, and the final stages of seeing a vision become a reality! We are so pleased with how everything turned out… It was a delight working with you… you made planning such an easy process and handled the husband/wife issues with great finesse! With Bob there… we never had to wonder about who was coming, when they were coming or why they were coming. Everything worked so smoothly that we never felt worried about anything… the great care and detail that goes into each project is always very impressive… Gary and I feel very privileged to have been able to have you design our kitchen… Thank you for all of your time and the great consideration you gave us."