Photos by Hillary Ehlen
9th Street South is in the heart of the historic homeland of Hawthorne and Clara Barton. A tree roof frames the long, straight section of the street and invites visitors to marvel at one unique historical house after the other. This neighborhood continues to be identified as historic and it is safe to assume that the neighborhood looks similar to 100 years ago. However, behind the facades of these houses there are interiors that have adapted to modern times without detracting from the charm of their past.
Rebecca Knutson, principal floor-to-ceiling interior designer for Carpet 1, took over three of these houses to get some fresh air while respecting their history. While Knutson is used to designing beautiful rooms of all kinds, she has a soft spot for older houses. After loving growing up in a house in 1908, she took interior design courses that were open to that market. She has an ongoing desire to keep learning more about the subject. “Every time I get the chance to work in an old home, I just love it,” Knutson said. She notes that she enjoys the challenges of historic homes as they are not blank canvases that something can be built into, but require creative problem solving and customization.
In addition to Knutson, Dan Savageau Construction was on each of these projects. Savageau acted as general contractor on these projects, working to keep the history preservation mission going while ensuring that everything was done properly and in accordance with the Code. Every homeowner praised Savageu for its quality of work, professionalism and commitment to the project.
The Pratt kitchen & bathroom
If you’ve lived in a home for 42 years, it’s only natural to update and change it over time. This is exactly what homeowners Brad and Bev Pratt did at their 1928 home on 9th Street. Most recently, the kitchen and bathroom were redesigned to transform the outdated rooms into timeless classics.
Over the years living on 9th Street – raising their children there and now hosting their grandchildren on visits – the Pratts have gone through many changes and redesigns. As the trends around her changed (this house experienced the purple trend of the 1980s) and her needs as a homeowner changed, so did her spaces. The whole house used to be decorated with different wallpapers of different colors and patterns, a green wool rug on top of the original hardwood (which they have now exposed and enjoyed), and the formal dining room has been converted into a living room. These homeowners are not afraid to make changes to better suit the home.
Before designer Rebecca Knutson and the Floor to Ceiling Carpet One team were called in for the renovation, the kitchen in this 91-year-old house was designed with chilli-pepper motifs. White kitchen cabinet doors with chilli-pepper knobs were framed by bright red decorations and wallpaper with chilli-pepper prints covered the walls. Although this space was lively and fun, it no longer suited the style and needs of the Pratts.
As with many historic homes, the beginning of the remodeling process began with evaluating the space and knowing that there was only that much space to work. The Pratts didn’t want to disturb the house by removing walls and changing the structure of the house. In making the decision to keep the current layout, the design team focused on technical updates, ease of use and appearance.
Aesthetically, it was time to say goodbye to the chilli pepper theme. However, the end result still gives a subtle nod to how the room used to look. Red accents in the new gray and white kitchen pay homage to the playfulness of the previous design. Above all, bright red chairs around the dining peninsula provide a special, cheerful note. “The red chairs are so cute because [red] was part of the beginning of the story, ”said Knutson.
Another priority was making sure the house complies with the code. With updates made over time, the breaker box was messed up and not easy to decipher. Other electrical updates included the addition of many more electrical outlets in the kitchen. Another technical priority, especially for Brad, was the addition of a gas stove. Some of the other appliances were updated over time so the kitchen couldn’t be completely replenished, but the gas range was a must have.
The Pratts expressed that they enjoyed Floor to Ceiling Carpet One’s ability to listen to what they wanted and provide them with options they didn’t know they needed. After a family has been in a house for that long, they become animals of habit and are used to certain familiarities with the layout. Knutson was sensitive to this while still seeing the big picture and showing the homeowners how the spaces can flow. For example, the Pratt’s garbage can was hidden in a broom cupboard in the back of the kitchen. The container is now conveniently located next to a new recycling container in a pull-out drawer in the kitchen. The couple laughed and noticed that sometimes they still go to the broom closet with their trash.
Before and after
The move upstairs to the bathroom is the second renovation Knutson has worked on with the Pratts. The bathroom with shell wallpaper and dated details needed a modern refresh. On this third remodeling of the bathroom, the Pratts were ready to transform the space into something timeless and chic. Like the kitchen, there was only so much real estate to work with. They stayed true to the current layout but updated the fixtures, tiles, cabinets and countertop and added an extra deep bathtub.
“I like the challenges and limitations of an old house. They don’t all have to be standard sizes as these are just custom cabinets, ”Knutson said. She designed custom cabinets that made the space more strategic. This included fewer closets, but no less closet space. Where there used to be three narrow cabinets above the toilet, there are now two more suitable cabinets.
When designing individual rooms, Floor to Ceiling Carpet One takes into account the current needs of homeowners, but also looks ahead and plans their future. Knutson said, “It is the aging thought process in place that everyone wants to do and that is always the goal. This is a big challenge in older homes because they have a lot of stairs, but it is now a trend that people want to stay in their home longer. “Additions that allow the Pratts to stay in this house for years include the use of handles on the kitchen cabinets instead of knobs (knobs get difficult to use as they age) and the addition of handrails in the new bathtub / shower .
“That’s a good reason to use a designer. Because we would never have thought of the things that [Knutson] has, ”said Bev. Knutson added that instead of designing spaces for the moment, she works on thinking long term. For rooms that you use every day, such as the kitchen and bathroom, these things have a significant impact on the homeowner’s quality of life.
Brad shared that Bev immediately told him she wanted the house when they were in the market for a new home and first looked at the house over 40 years ago. Over two decades later, instant love for the place lingers, and with some necessary updates, the couple will continue to enjoy it for years to come.
Homeowners Brad and Bev Pratt
Rebecca Knutson, Chief Interior Designer of Carpet 1 from floor to ceiling