Mary Kay Hammans didn’t have a specific look or style in mind when she and her husband, Craig, decided it was time to remodel their home on Paul Lake, west of Perham.
She just knew how she wanted it to feel.
The house was going to get bigger with the remodel, she knew, but she wanted it to maintain the intimacy of the smaller home they’d come to know and love over the years.
A new great room on the main floor of the Hammans home features vaulted ceilings and tall windows for view of Paul Lake. Incorporated into the fireplace are bricks from Mary Kay’s old high school in Milwaukee, Wisc. (Submitted Photo)
She wanted it to feel warm and open; a place that draws friends and family together and encourages interaction. A home with unique and personal touches, like fireplace bricks repurposed from her old high school, and a big dining room table that used to belong to her mother — a table that has seen many family game nights over the years, and will continue to see many more.
“We wanted to create an inviting place where everybody feels welcome,” explains Mary Kay. “A place where the focus is on the heart and soul of all who enter, and the community we have with one another.”
The Hammans family has a nearly 20-year history with the home. They bought the modest brown rambler in 2002, when their two boys were still quite young, and would spend their summers, holidays and occasional weekends there. The boys would often bring over their friends from the Perham summer baseball program, to swim and play games.
“It was the kind of place where everybody came to hang out and relax,” says Mary Kay. “It wasn’t the lake mansion where you had to take your shoes off and be careful. Those boys would hang out here like they were in their own living room.”
Mary Kay and Craig didn’t want that element of comfort to disappear with the remodel, but with the boys all grown up now, she says they were ready to make some changes and additions to suit their needs and preferences of today.
The lake side of the home, BEFORE the remodel. (Submitted Photo)
A lakeside view of the home this past winter, AFTER most of the exterior remodeling had been finished. (Submitted Photo)
The kitchen, for example, was ready for an overhaul. Mary Kay has a degree in dietetics and loves to cook for large groups; she always wanted her “dream kitchen,” she says, and with this remodel, “I finally got it.”
The new kitchen features spacious white and ecru cabinets, a large kitchen island, a 48-inch, 6-burner stove that’s “better for pan management when you’re cooking for a crowd,” and plenty of counter space for food prep, Mary Kay describes. And since she and the rest of the family are on the tall side, everything in the kitchen is set up 2 inches higher than in a standard kitchen, ergonomically designed just for them.
Other features they worked into the remodel include a great room that overlooks the lake, a “wine cave” for Mary Kay’s wine-making hobby (Craig also has a large “man cave” to tinker around in), a wet bar, a master suite, a formal entryway and more.
Kelli Wegscheid, of Harmonious Architecture in Perham, helped them through the design and build process. The construction timeline stretched out longer than expected due to pandemic-related shipping delays and supply chain issues, but May Kay says she and Craig expect to move into their newly remodeled home this May, and they’re thrilled.
“It really turned out phenomenal,” she says. “We’re really happy.”
A BEFORE photo of the Hamanns home, as it looked from the roadside. (Submitted Photo)
An AFTER shot of the front entrance, visible from the roadside. (Submitted Photo)
While many of the homes’ old bones remain intact, some of the layout was reworked as a part of the remodel, and 1,100-square-feet were added on to the original building. The home still has four bedrooms, as it did before, but one of those is now a master suite. An addition built out toward the lake features vaulted ceilings and large windows that offer great views, while a new TV room lies on the lower level just below that. A new garage was built, and a powder room and bathroom were added off the garage entryway.
“The rest of the house was remodeled with new light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, paint, trim, doors, etc.,” says Wegscheid. “The former family room was turned into the master bedroom, with a lake view.”
Wegscheid says the Hammans project is one of many remodeling projects she’s seen and worked on around the lakes area this past year. Low interest rates and a lack of inventory on the housing market have led to an uptick in remodels in recent months, as has the COVID-19 pandemic: “People are using money previously set aside for travel on house projects,” she says.
Emotional ties are also a major factor in remodels. Many homeowners grow fond of their neighbors and neighborhoods over the years and don’t like the thought of moving, even when their homes no longer meet their needs. Others grew up spending their summers at the family cabin, and want to keep it in the family for the next generation. In either case, remodeling becomes an inevitability.
While whole-home remodeling projects like the Hammans family’s are not uncommon, Wegscheid says the majority of remodels focus on one room or one part of a home, with kitchens, bathrooms and master suites being the most popular remodel requests.
The Hammans kitchen BEFORE the remodel. (Submitted Photo)
The Hammans kitchen AFTER the remodel is larger, brighter, and better suited to Mary Kay’s “volume cooking” needs, she says. (Submitted Photo)
Confirm the state of your foundation. Older homes, especially lake homes and cabins from the 1940s and ‘50s, often have unsuitable foundations, or don’t have a foundation at all. “Don’t spend money on a remodel if the home’s not going to stand up right,” advises Kelli Wegscheid, of Harmonious Architecture in Perham. “Homes that were intended to just be summer cabins are really difficult to remodel… At that point, a lot of people decide to just tear it down and build new.” Homes built later on, from about the 1970s and up, are more likely to have a solid foundation and framing, but may still need costly energy upgrades like new windows, doors, garage doors, heating and cooling systems, and a new roof.
Know the difference between a “redo” and a “refresh.” Take kitchens, for example. Kitchens are the number one design feature in homes today, and Wegscheid says remodeling them can be “a really expensive project; the most expensive room of the house.” A total redo entails changing the layout or footprint of the room, which requires demolition, plumbing changes and possible electrical upgrades. At that point, Wegscheid says, most people decide to just take all the drywall off, too, and replace the insulation, windows, soffits and ceiling, in order to avoid a noticeable contrast between the old and the new. It can be hard to know where to stop with redos, she says, “so that should be taken into consideration” before embarking on that type of project. A less extensive — and less expensive — option is to keep the existing layout of the kitchen and simply install new cabinets, countertops, sinks and fixtures right where the old ones used to be. The cost difference is significant, Wegscheid says, with a simple refresh ranging from $10,000-$15,000, on average, versus a potential cost of about $50,000 for a total redo — or more, if costly new appliances are part of the package.
Consider cosmetic changes. If you’re on a budget, or just want to freshen up the look of your home, Wegscheid says some relatively inexpensive and easy fixes to consider include: new light fixtures, new door hardware, a new front door or garage door, updated paint, and new flooring.