This 1955 split-level home originally belonged to the owner’s grandparents. That said, the surgical facelift of its dark, inefficient kitchen had to be handled with care so as not to disturb the nostalgia. Expanding the footprint was not an option due to budget, but the simple removal of some non-structural walls and re-jiggering of countertop and appliance locations allowed more natural light in and connected the space beautifully to its adjacent rooms.

The new, clean-lined kitchen relates nicely to the rest of the house without feeling like an old school replica. “Kitchens in the Twin Cities during the 1950s were known for using oak, understated hardware, solid-colored countertops, and distinctive light fixtures, so we kept the palette fairly honest and neutral,” says designer Greg Kraus. Many of the ingredients, including dark-stained (low-VOC) rift-cut red oak cabinets, oak floors, and two-tone Cambria countertops, were sourced within 500 miles.

Bold in its use of contrast, the space balances traditional allegiances with some playful elements.  The upper cabinets are stacked in a tri-level arrangement that mimics the muntin bar pattern of the kitchen's original casement windows. But their grass-embedded eco-resin panels introduce an unexpected, organic texture against the matte black wood and steel hardware. The backsplash is set with skinny orange "tiki-style" tile accents -- a pattern Kraus says was inspired by retro fabrics of the ’50s and ’60s.

Entrant/Builder: Otogawa-Anschel Design-Build, Minneapolis

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN.