All in the FAM­ILY

Cou­ple re-en­gi­neer ’90s house for multi­gen­er­a­tional liv­ing

Winnipeg Free Press - Section F - - HOMES - By Kim Palmer

BLOOM­ING­TON, Minn. — When Joan and Reed Nel­son built their house 22 years ago, it was a great fit for a young fam­ily with three ac­tive boys. The Nel­sons in­stalled a pool in their big back­yard and a full kitchen on the walk­out lower level where they hosted their sons’ soc­cer-team par­ties. “It served us well, rais­ing three kids,” said Joan of their west Bloom­ing­ton two-story.

Over the years, the Nel­son fam­ily changed. Joan’s fa­ther died, and her wid­owed mother needed more day-to­day help. Their three sons were now young adults with in­de­pen­dent lives.

But the house didn’t change with them. It lacked some of to­day’s ameni­ties that the cou­ple craved, in­clud­ing a mas­ter suite and a more open lay­out on the main floor. “We wanted bet­ter en­ter­tain­ing space,” said Joan. “We host big gath­er­ings, and the kitchen was cramped.”

They con­sid­ered build­ing a new house from scratch and looked at sev­eral lots. But noth­ing was as ap­peal­ing as the lo­ca­tion they al­ready had, with its pool, a big yard for their dog, and a nearby na­ture cen­tre with wooded views. “We’re close to free­ways, the air­port and Reed’s work,” Joan said. “If we moved, we’d be far­ther out.”

So they de­cided to rein­vent their ex­ist­ing home.

The cou­ple be­gan brain­storm­ing ways to re­con­fig­ure the spa­ces they had.

Their two-story fam­ily room and foyer wasted a lot of space. If they low­ered the vaulted ceil­ings, they could cre­ate sec­ond-floor space for a mas­ter suite with a new bath and a big closet. If they re­worked the lay­out on the first floor they could get a roomier, more work­able kitchen and mud­room. And if they re­mod­elled their lower-level fam­ily room and kitchen, they could cre­ate an invit­ing apart­ment for Joan’s mother.

To carry out the am­bi­tious whole-house trans­for­ma­tion, they turned to Amek Cus­tom Builders of Bloom­ing­ton. Many of Amek’s re­cent pro­jects have in­volved con­vert­ing tra­di­tional sin­gle­fam­ily houses into multi­gen­er­a­tional homes, said owner Matt Sch­midt. “For sure it’s a trend,” he said. “When the econ­omy crashed, peo­ple started mov­ing in to­gether to avoid nurs­ing homes.”

The econ­omy has im­proved, but the trend con­tin­ues, in part, he said, be­cause the baby boomers are get­ting older. While most multi­gen­er­a­tional pro­jects re­quire adding space, the Nel­sons just needed to make bet­ter use of the square footage they al­ready had. “They hap­pened to have this great space par­tially set up,” Sch­midt said of the lower level with its ex­ist­ing kitchen.

Re­work­ing the up­stairs was a bit more com­pli­cated. To cre­ate the new mas­ter suite, Amek built a new mas­ter bath in what used to be one of the boys’ bed­rooms. “It was chal­leng­ing to get the plumb­ing into an area with no plumb­ing,” Reed said. (The cou­ple’s for­mer bed­room is now a work­out room.)

On the main floor, a small ad­di­tion added 100 square feet, cre­at­ing space for a big­ger mud­room

This loft area pro­vides ex­tra pri­vate space for mul­ti­ple fam­i­lies liv­ing to­gether in one house.

The cur­rent res­i­dents of the Nel­son home in Bloom­ing­ton, Minn., are, from left, el­dest son, Quinn, 24, Reed, Joan, and Joan’s mother, Jan Mc­Cabe, who moved into a gar­den apart­ment that was part of their whole-house re­model last year.

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