When Amy and Butch Kuronen moved into their 100-year-old home in the heart of Duluth’s Congdon Park neighborhood, they loved everything about it—lavish woodwork, ample yard, kind neighbors, premiere location. Everything that is, except for the outdated kitchen and lack of a main floor bathroom.
They imagined that modernizing while remaining true to the home’s historic charm would be challenging. So they called the region’s foremost kitchen and bath design experts. The result: a family discovered ways to timelessly blend old with new. And along the way, they enjoyed a people-focused process that put their interests and lifestyles first.
With two preteen daughters, Anna and Maria, as well as a pair of energetic dogs to complement professional careers in law and sales, the Kuronens lead busy lives. Amy and Butch wanted more than just smart design advice. They wanted a way to transform the heart of their home into a timeless gathering space without creating major havoc. And they wanted the right results.
When they’re not skiing, gardening and romping with their dogs, the family is centered in their kitchen. Butch loves to cook. The girls do homework at the counter. And whether they have dinner guests or it’s just the four of them, this is where they gather.
“I live in the kitchen,” Butch says. “For me, cooking is an outlet and a way to relax—particularly in the winter.”
A new design would seek to transform the kitchen and seamlessly incorporate functional spaces on its periphery for an entirely more livable experience. That meant adding a small bathroom, office area and a mudroom with lockers and built-in dog kennel.
Why the change? Namely, because the previous 1960s-era kitchen didn’t fit the home’s form or function. While certain elements, like a butler’s pantry, captured the identity and warmth of the original space, the overall effect of the kitchen felt cramped and non-functional. What’s more, the flow through the room resulted in a dead-end.
“It was hard to let go of the Butler’s Pantry, but Rebecca was right,” Amy says. “Removing that wall added 60 to 70 percent more kitchen—and a lot more functional space.”
Now, a circular design allows people to move around and through the kitchen from the formal dining room to the entry area to the outside deck.
“It can handle a crowd,” Butch says. “People don’t get clogged by the walls like they did before. Now the kids can have friends come in and out easily.”
“The “function first” mantra of Lindquist helped achieve this flow,” Amy says, “as well as create a baking station that centers the kitchen and the way the family uses it.” It’s why, when you look closer than the creative use of the footprint, details emerge that make this majestic new kitchen not just universally appealing, but uniquely designed for the Kuronens.
For instance, Lindquist took careful consideration of Butch’s bad back and the fact that he is left-handed. The resulting countertop height and organizational systems accommodate him better—yet work well for Amy—with an overall affect that draws widespread family interest.
“Maria loves to cook with me, and Anna is more into helping now, because there’s space,” Butch says. “Before, you couldn’t cram more than two people in here.”
From the exceptional use of the footprint to storage solutions that makes it easy for the kids to put things away, this smart space has brought everyone closer.
“This fits our home and our needs so well, in such an attractive way,” Amy says. “We’re spoiled now. We can’t ever leave.”
Arriving at the perfect result started with thorough consultation that brought everyone to the table. This happened despite the couple’s initial idea that Amy alone would need to share her aesthetic desires.
“Lindquist insisted we both come to the planning stages, and I’m so glad Butch did,” Amy says. “It required extra time on their part, and that extra time made a big impact.”
Just as the subtle details of design make a difference in the outcome of a space, the nuances of skilled customer service and effective management helped Amy and Butch feel completely at home during the entire process of envisioning, budgeting and remodeling.
“They were really respectful of what I was going through. Rebecca explained and helped me work through decisions. In hindsight, she was 100 percent right,” Amy says. “She’s good at getting you to a decision without being bossy. She helps you feel empowered.”
Butch says he never felt rushed. He had the impression Lindquist would take as long as needed, and give them as much attention as needed, to get the job done right. Even surprises that can eat away at a budget and timeline—like discovering no insulation within walls—were treated in stride.
“Yet we stayed on track and the project was finished on time and on budget. It was amazing,” he says. “Having never done this major of a remodeling project, we had no idea how much detail and how many decisions went into it—but they helped us prioritize throughout.”
Lindquist strives to make it easier. The key: connecting each project to a homeowner’s specific needs and desires, and making choices feel manageable. It’s how the Kuronens prioritized a custom-built dog kennel. It’s the reason pots and pans were measured to ensure cabinet space was correct. It’s why the overall design was crafted to ensure it not only matched, but improved, the house and how they live in it.
As full time professionals with school-aged children, Butch and Amy needed a team that would manage the project from start to finish—and keep everything running smoothly. Turnkey service made it happen.
“Bob (Lindquist) was great,” Butch says. As project manager, he kept all of this moving and touched base with us every day, giving us a really helpful peace of mind.”
That continued when the family left town during remodeling: Lindquist cleared their driveway after a blizzard so that contractors could easily get in and out. And when the skilled tradesmen worked around the family, they were noticeably respectful—including to their beloved pets.
“It was a fabulous experience,” Amy says. “It could have been overwhelming, but Lindquist made it applicable to our lives, helped us narrow down choices and made it enjoyable.”
“We felt a lot of confidence—before, during and after the project.
We’ll hire Lindquist when we make upstairs improvements. And I’m confident that when it comes time, say, for our daughters to sell the house one day, it’ll still be functional and beautiful.”
The Kuronen favorites:
The cabinetry looks and feels excellent, with ample storage that maximizes the available space within the kitchen.
Silestone® engineered quartz countertops are pretty, easy-to-clean and low maintenance.
A Wolf® gas cooktop provides instant heat that makes it easier for Butch to achieve culinary feats.
Drawers were designed to reduce clutter by creating a specific location for everything the Kuronens use. Some systems were installed after observing how the family lived and cooked in their kitchen.
“It was so smart,” Butch says. “They came back to fine-tune details that have made such a big difference for us. It’s why they call it ‘Design to Life’.”
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."