Design conundrums come in all shapes and sizes—especially when you’re building new. Just ask Steve and Marcia Johnson. In constructing their dream home a few yards from Lake Superior’s pebble-strewn North Shore, the couple looked to an architect and general contractor to develop an oddly shaped property. But when numerous design questions surfaced inside the home—from the kitchen and baths to office and den—the Johnsons turned to Lindquist & Company for specialized advice.
A majestic swath of vast blue water greets visitors at the Johnson home in Knife River. With an arts and crafts style befitting the stunning simplicity of its natural surroundings, the house was designed to welcome lake views and an abundance of guests.
Visitors can tell it’s a special place. But there’s deeper significance for Steve and Marcia, who owned a cabin on the property with her late husband. In building this new home, they were acknowledging the past while creating a living reflection of a new life together. And they wanted to do it right.”
“At first, we just needed kitchen advice. I’d thought about the design and was set on a U-shape counter, among other things. But right away, Rebecca (Lindquist) convinced us to create an island so we’d get the desired traffic flow. She was completely right.”
The kitchen ergonomics, with smartly placed drawers for pots, pans and a host of other items, pleased Marcia. As the manager of a rehabilitation center, she’s particularly attuned to physical needs as people age. She wanted a home that would serve her well into the future.
“Rebecca didn’t balk for a second when I said I wanted grab bars in the shower and wide doorways. From the first moment we sat down to discuss our project, she listened, and she just got it right away,” Marcia says. “She established a lot of trust. And I have to say, there’s nothing I would change. The use of space. The form with function. Everything has its place.”
Lindquist often suggests slight adjustments during the design stage of new construction that can make a world of difference for homeowners who want a new house to feel like home. For the Johnsons, it meant insightful touches like moving a bathroom window a few inches in one direction to accommodate a built-in cabinet. The ingenious placement of an ironing board. Seamlessly incorporating a laundry chute into an upstairs bookcase. And adopting color schemes—from walls and trim to floors and more—that would bring everything together as smoothly as water lapping onto front-yard stones.
“I see Lindquist as a real bargain,” Steve says. “We got so much more than a kitchen designer. We got advice on every aspect of our home, and we can feel the impact in every room. It’s been four years since we built our home, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.”
Homeowners often can’t fully envision how a design will impact their life until a house is finished. That’s where Lindquist’s signature process plays a crucial role.
“Lindquist has a great way of steering you in the right direction so that everything works out really well,” Steve says. “This design process is about how you’re going to live your life. It’s not just about functionality. It’s about how and where you entertain. Where you cook and eat. Where you live.”
It’s a process built on trust—easing the burden for homeowners overwhelmed by options.
“The sheer number of decisions could drive you crazy, but Lindquist made it simple,” Marcia says. “For example, after understanding what we liked, they’d bring in product choices. We just chose one and they took care of it. That’s a lot different from my friends who’ve built and tell me how much time they still spend going here and there to buy products and look for things.”
For busy working professionals, time is money. Its one reason the Johnsons appreciated Lindquist’s turn-key service.
“You may think you’re saving money by doing it yourself, but you’re not,” Steve says. “Hiring Lindquist was such a bargain because of the ways they went above and beyond. We knew the budget upfront and it met all our expectations. I can’t think of one cost overrun.”
They also valued advice that helped their money go further.
“Rebecca was pragmatic. She talked us out of certain expensive items when they weren’t necessary, and suggested where we could instead invest our resources,” Marcia says.
The Johnson favorites:
In the kitchen: The Viking range with griddle was always on Steve’s wish list. “But we were introduced to products we never knew about or knew we’d really like,” he says, like the warming oven, hot water dispenser and vertical storage shelves. They wanted a wet bar, so a kitchen counter was designed to seamlessly wrap around a wall into the great room to form one in a minimal amount of space.
In the master bath: A steam shower offers functional luxury in a small space originally pegged for a sauna. The undermount tub deck flows seamlessly into bench seating. Lindquist’s vast product knowledge helped the Johnsons make better choices on everything from the faucet to the toilet.
Closets: “Lindquist even had clever solutions for things like where an ironing board should go. Upstairs, she created a board that folds out from our custom built-in dresser,” Marcia says.
In the den: A custom entertainment center frees up more lounge space for family and friends.
Task lighting: From kitchen to office to den, accents were added to bring out the best in each space. “The electricians told us we didn’t need so many lights in a room,” Steve says. “But as your eyes age, you realize how essential that light is.”
Guest house: Located next door behind the garage, this room with a view features a Lindquist designed kitchenette, bathroom and space-saving approaches like a hide-away Murphy bed flanked by storage cabinetry.
Laundry/office: “I spend a lot of time in the pantry as a kind of home office,” Marcia says. She can throw in a load of laundry and do paperwork amid ample natural light on an expansive countertop. Details like pull-outs for dog food, an ironing board hidden behind a mirror and a powder room close to the home’s entryway make everyday living smoother.
Mudroom: “Everything has its place and you don’t have clutter flowing out into the house,” Steve says. “It’s designed so smartly, from the tile floor for boots to the spot for the mail you have in hand.”
“It’s really hard to say which space is my favorite, because the whole house was so carefully thought out and designed,” he says. “You know they’ve done a good job when you can’t say ‘I wish they would’ve done this or that.’ We can’t say that. I wouldn’t change a thing about this house. And that’s the true test.”
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."