The Topie’s Kitchen

The Challenge:

Jim and Julie Topie wanted to fix a prior remodeling project in ways they’d never regret. Aiming to revive a classic home’s kitchen to feel bigger, warmer and more functional, they called Lindquist &company for guidance.

They got a turnkey response with a level of attention and affirmation they’d never experienced. They achieved outcomes that surpassed their expectations. And despite a few surprises that lurked behind their walls, everything stayed on time and budget – thanks to a team that made a massive renovation seem remarkably easy.

Life

An active couple, Jim and Julie enjoy being outside as much as possible – biking, running, hiking, canoeing, skiing and more. When indoors, they relish gathering with family, friends and neighbors.

It’s a big reason why, for the past 20 years, they’ve enjoyed cooking and baking together in their century-old colonial home tucked in a charming wooded nook of Duluth’s Congdon Park neighborhood.

But neither host enjoyed bumping into each other while maneuvering around the kitchen amid the preparation for a big meal. What’s more, during the winters that grip northern Minnesota, Julie always felt cold in a space that should be every family’s quintessential warm place.

The couple needed an upgrade. So when their sons moved out for college, Jim and Julie decided it was time.

 

Design

The family had remodeled the kitchen just 15 years earlier when adding on to the home, creating a family room above a new garage as well as a host of other improvements. This time, they’d incorporate more of what they wanted in the kitchen – including in-floor heat, high quality countertops and above all, better cabinetry.

They found Lindquist & Company through the recommendations of numerous neighbors who’d done projects in recent decades—and continued to rave about the results. The Topie’s project, finished just before Thanksgiving 2013, transformed the heart of their home while better blending the kitchen with the existing family room. They also upgraded a bathroom, created a new drop zone, added ample more shelf space and upgraded to the amenities they’d dreamed about.

“I got all of my ‘wants,’ plus the desires I didn’t know I had,” Julie says. “Rebecca (Lindquist) opens your eyes to things.”

As a music lover, Julie hadn’t considered speakers in the ceiling. They’re now a favorite part of her kitchen. And it’s just the start. A desk area, wired for electronic needs, was adapted into a new seating area. An organizational drop zone was added. Cabinets expanded to the ceiling created more storage room. And an old closet was removed, opening up space while becoming an attractive coat hang area.

“Using the same footprint, the remodel created the feeling of more overall space,” Jim says. “Lindquist looked at the entire space with vision. She really looks at the lifestyle you want and then designs your space around those wants and needs.”

From the beginning, the design team met with the Topies numerous times to discuss everything from cooking levels and entertaining lifestyle to dream lists, product priorities, budget and timeline.

“Lindquist returned with three different options for layouts. The one we selected was one we hadn’t even considered. An experienced designer, Rebecca created not just a fantastic kitchen, but married it into the adjacent space by expanding the kitchen by six feet into the family room.”

The kitchen design infused the Topie’s desire for two separate sinks, a prep island and separate peninsula, which accommodates a seating area as well as ample storage. The island is a focal point that draws guests, proving the allure of a finely crafted kitchen.

“The details make all the difference. The way Rebecca designed it, we can share the space and work together really well,” Jim says.

It’s the details you may not see at first glance that truly elevates this kitchen from beautiful to perfectly customized for the Topies. The design infuses places to put pots, pans and lids. Drawers organize everything from utensils to spices and towels.
Fine cabinetry that boxes in the refrigerator creates yet another unexpected appeal.

“Those details Rebecca (Lindquist) sees and has experienced time and again really help you. Her experience, particularly with the older housing stock of Duluth, makes such a huge difference,” Jim says. “The flow of the space is so much more functional – from backdoor to kitchen to entertaining area – everything comes together seamlessly.”

Julie particularly appreciated being able to share ideas, and receive options in a way that didn’t feel overwhelming – whether it was for tiling the kitchen, painting the family room or remaking an entire space. “She listens really well. I never heard ‘we can’t do that.’ Over the years, so many contractors had told me ‘that won’t work.’ But Rebecca makes it work.”

Process

It’s not just superior design, but the customized and fluid way Lindquist works with people that’s key to the right outcome.

“What you don’t see sometimes makes all the difference,” Julie says. “We’d had bumps in the road on our project 15 years ago, like contractors not showing up or calling. This time remodeling was so different: It was done when they said it’d be done – and on budget.”

As a total teardown to the studs, the renovation required experts from various trades – and the ability to coordinate the work in a way that was respectful of the Topies’ time and space.

“Rebecca and Bob do a great job. They have multiple projects, but know how to balance work at different sites and keep everything moving,” Jim says. “With a major disruption like a kitchen remodel, they try for as few disruptions to your life as possible.”

Together, they seek to creatively overcome any obstacle, like an old radiator that was seemingly in the way—but ending up being refurbished and accented with a glassware cabinet above it. Successful solutions like these reflect the strong relationships between Lindquist and subcontractors who shine in everything from the installation of electrical, plumbing and heating changes to the finish carpentry accents.

“I was very impressed with the various trade persons that Lindquist used on our project,” Jim says. “Right from the start, we could tell everyone was used to working with each other and did high quality work.”

That seamless cooperation was vital when surprises behind the walls were discovered and creatively solved. The remodel went on without a hitch – and without the kind of excessive costs homeowners have nightmares about.

“Had anybody else been doing this project, it would’ve taken additional weeks,” Jim says.

Julie agrees: “They bend over backwards to make it easier for you. I really felt they took care of everything.”

Products

The Topie favorites:

New ‘in-floor’ heat combined with stylish tile warms everything up.

Ceiling speakers literally bring the music, and magic, of the kitchen to life.

Fantastic lighting, combining recessed LED and pendant fixtures as well as natural sources, bring a whole new feeling and function.

A double oven and flat top stove were must-haves.

Countertops made of Silestone engineered quartz play a prominent visual role in the space.

The island features one of two new sinks that make prep work and washing a cinch.

The peninsula that connects the entertainment room and kitchen offers more seating and more storage for better organization.

Cabinets that extend from floor to ceiling, with so many interior extras and exterior finish details, are hard not to fall in love with.

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"We are very happy with our kitchen remodel. Rebecca [created] several designs for us to choose from… the kitchen is beautiful! [You] were very easy to work with, always willing to listen to our ideas and incorporate them into the design. Your attention to detail is incredible and [you] took care of things we never would have thought of. The carpenters were fantastic craftsmen. They always showed up as planned, worked hard, resolved any problems that arose, and left our home clean every day. We miss visiting with them, now that our project is complete!"

Lee and Julie Harris Cloquet, MN

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