Restful Rooms

We’ve renovated and updated our guest rooms and bathrooms. The result?

dakota-bed

Restful and graceful rooms…

dakota-seating

where the light plays softly on walls of charming and calming yellows,

mississippi-bed

and green-grays,

mississippi-seating

giving our rooms a fresh feeling and making our beautiful furniture and lovely art pop.

mississippi-bath

Simple

iminijaska-study

Elegant.

iminijaska-bed-study

Comfortable to the eye, body, and mind.

iminijaska-bed-bath

And still indubitably Victorian.

Come stay, rest, and enjoy!

Advertisements
Published in: on October 27, 2016 at 12:57 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Have a Little Jazz Age with Your Cocktail

An icon has returned to the neighborhood – the Commodore Bar & Restaurant.

Commodore3

The Commodore opened in 1920 as a posh art deco residential hotel, which hosted such luminaries as F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (who added their daughter, Scottie, and the novel “The Beautiful and Damned” to their family during their stays) and Sinclair Lewis, as well as gangsters Al Capone, John Dillinger, and Fred Barker. It was one of THE places to stay in St. Paul.

commodorepatio

Naturally, there were amenities to keep the guests in the style to which they were accustomed. These included a restaurant and an illegal speakeasy, which, on the repeal of Prohibition, became the Mirror Bar, designed by notable architect and Hollywood set designer Werner Wittkamp. Fred Barker’s mother, Ma Barker, met her son’s girlfriend there.

Commodore Fire

The building was gutted by a gas explosion/fire in February of 1978, and was remodeled into condos. Alas, there was no public eating or drinking space.

However, while the space was devastated, the bar itself somehow escaped damage; even its eponymous mirrors remained intact. After remodeling, the beautiful space could be rented for private events. In fact, one of Bill’s daughters had her wedding reception there.

Upper+Bar+7+10-05-15+(1)Lounge+5+10-05-15.

commodorediningroomthe-commodore-bar-restaurant

Now, after two years of renovation characterized by careful research and meticulous attention to detail, the space has been restored to its former Jazz Age glory. Full of warm light from glass chandeliers, black and white checkerboard floors, white leather, and stunning lines, the bar and restaurant offer a comfortable and cozy atmosphere and a feast for the eyes. Both food and drink are influenced by the 1920s and ‘30s, and many of the cocktail ingredients are locally sourced. The owners want to keep the prices reasonable, with the dinner menu topping out at about $30 for an entree. There are plans for live music and dancing, and the vibe is casually dressy and a little upscale, turning an evening out into an event.

Image with the piano copyright City Pages.

Published in: on December 5, 2015 at 9:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

The Kitchen of Our Dreams

In last month’s post about the B&B’s innovative floor washing system, you may have noticed some features unusual for a residential kitchen designed and remodeled just after 1980.

Cooking Area

Like, what’s with the (over?) abundance of appliances?

Well, when we bought this house in 1978, we had five kids, and weren’t ruling out the possibility of a couple more (which happened), and the burnt orange kitchen (with a pantry that took up way too much room) we inherited just wasn’t going to cut it. So Bill (who trained as an engineer) got out his drafting pencils (this was 1980, after all) and designed the kitchen of his dreams, based on logic and reason as well as aesthetics. He wanted it to be beautiful, but above all, it had to be functional. So, he started by figuring out how many meals would be prepared and eaten in that kitchen before he and Katy suffered(?) empty nest syndrome, and came up with 186,000.

Wow.

He figured with a family of 9, 2 stoves, 2 dishwashers and 2 sinks was only practical for a couple of reasons. First, when one inevitably broke down there was a backup (“no washing dishes in bathtubs,” as he says), and second, a larger family needs larger capacity. The two stoves, for instance have been a real blessing on holidays; we don’t have to worry about staging in the ovens and can bake at two different temperatures at the same time. And we get together as a family of 25 or so every Monday night, so two dishwashers are a real help.

He also included a trash compactor, so we wouldn’t be taking the garbage out daily. Given 2 stoves, he built a serious vent hood. The fan is powered by a 3/4 horsepower washing machine motor with 3 speeds built in and has a powered vent on the outside of the house. It’s loud, but really effective, and you don’t have to worry about a draft in the winter.

East Wall

There’s plenty of counter space. The peninsula offers a large stretch of unbroken counter with nothing over it, and accessible outlets on the back. There are flood lights in can fixtures over it for great lighting, and the undermounted sink has a garbage disposal so you can scrape scraps right into it.

Big Sink - Baby Bathing

Katy wanted a sink big enough to bathe two grandbabies in at a time, and that’s what she got.

South Wall

You’ll notice the microwave, next to the door in this picture, has a large surround. Bill bought Katy a $600 microwave before he started remodeling the kitchen, and it was originally mounted there. In the last 35 years microwaves have gotten significantly smaller (and cheaper!), so he put in a frame to support the smaller microwave within its larger space.

Storage is another must in a kitchen. There are 4 rows of storage (all custom-built) on this wall. The cabinets under the ceiling are the soffets and store things that just don’t come out that often, like holiday dishes. Next are relatively standard upper cabinets, but with hidden hinges and fully adjustable shelves. (Bill made the middle upper cabinet on this wall as a dumbwaiter to the second floor where the laundry room is, but after everyone moved out changed it into a regular cabinet.) Next, at counter level, is the original toaster garage, liquor cabinet, meat slicer, and another cabinet. Under the counter is all wide, fully opening drawers with metal slides that hold 100 pounds. There are only three cabinets at this level in the entire kitchen:  under the sinks, and one for large cutting boards and cookie sheets, etc to stand on edge.

Drawer - Glasses

The rest are (custom-built) drawers of varying depth

Drawer Silverware

and configuration depending on what Bill thought might go in them.

Drawer - Pots

This one is up above, I know, but look how deep it is, and it goes all the way back!

Another thing important to a kitchen is adequate lighting and power.

Switches - Back door

These are the switches by the back door, including outdoor lights and basement lights.

Switches - Front door

This is by the door into the kitchen from the front of the house. It controls task and ambient lighting at different levels, the sconces in the eating area, and the winch for the floor washing system. Everything is dimmable, and everything is controlled from this one panel. At its brightest, you could probably do surgery on the peninsula, if you were so inclined. (We discourage guests from doing surgery in our kitchen, btw.) 🙂

The power outlets are similarly available, both on the walls, under the upper cabinets, and in the cabinets where appropriate, such as the toaster garage and the meat slicer cabinet.

Eating Area

The peninsula also acts as a divider between the working and eating areas of the kitchen. The working area is clean surfaces, white appliances, a classic blue and white color scheme, and very modern. The eating area is all warm woods and sconce lighting, reflecting the style of our historic Victorian home.

Loft

However, it’s not all traditional. Bill wanted to use every inch of space, so he cut off the top of the cavernous stairway to the basement, and made it into a play loft for kids.

Loft Stairs

It has its own lighting and stairs, and is a place for kids to be under supervision without being under foot. And it’s definitely kid-sized. The grandchildren have as much fun up there as the kids did.

And Bill used the space under the loft’s stairs for a set of drawers. Did I mention he wanted to use every inch of space?

Table - Seatbelts

This last picture hearkens back to the floor washing system blog entry again. Here’s how the seatbelts that hang the table from the ceiling look at their under-table attachment point. In case you were curious.

So that’s are kitchen. If a lot of this looks familiar, take a look at the current trends in kitchen design, and you’ll see that Bill was way ahead of his time. The extensive use of oversized drawers, the lighting, having more than four burners, the clean lines, extra storage, all of these are things that people want in kitchens now. And I can see why; they make the B&B’s kitchen a delight to use.

This kitchen was two years in the making, and worth every minute.

Published in: on October 31, 2015 at 8:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Yard (And House) Beautiful

We’ve completed the final phase of the outside renovation of the B&B – landscaping.

Last autumn ended with a newly elegant house on a bare patch of ground, soon hidden by the grace of winter. No one expects much landscaping in a Minnesota January.

Landscape 1 - IMG_7051

This spring, we first finished the last details on the house, including completing the lattice under the porch and reinstalling the original porch light fixture.

Then we started creating an outdoor setting that would complement our gracious B&B. As the backyard remained untouched through the renovation process, our efforts focused mostly on the front yard, with some attention paid to the side yards, as well.

The first step was cleaning up and grading the front yard. This included a lovely new layer of top soil to welcome the soon-to-be-arriving sod.

Landscape 2 - IMG_7082

We also put in a stepped retaining wall, with room for a planting bed, thus eliminating the hill down to the sidewalk.

IMG_7097 IMG_7084 IMG_7100

We used Chilton Wall Stone both for its shape and its natural varied coloration. It definitely adds pizzazz, don’t you think?

We also put stone borders around the porch, leaving room for a gravel bed (3/4 gray trap),

Landscape 4 - IMG_7110

lined the new herringbone walk, which now matches the width of our grand porch steps,

Landscape 6 -  IMG_7145 Landscape 5 - IMG_7135

and created two interesting, if small, planting beds designed to visually ease the transition between the differing widths of the walk and the cement stairs down to the sidewalk, and play with the fact that those stairs are off-center to the walk. They are, however, aligned with the walk to the street, which in itself is visually off-kilter due to the extra concrete pad designed to make alighting from vehicles less messy due to snow and mud. The visual geometry’s a little complex.

Landscape 3 - IMG_7124

Here we are with the stone in, the sod laid, and the boulevard seeded.

Next, the plants!

Landscape 8 - IMG_7203

We planted tuberous begonias alternating with hostas in the retaining wall bed and just hostas around the tree,

Landscape 9 - IMG_7440

astible in the little beds next to the stairs,

Landscape 10 - IMG_7259

and hydrangeas in the side yard.

Landscape 11 - IMG_7402

Beautiful grounds

Landscape 7 - IMG_7214

for a beautiful house.

Published in: on October 1, 2015 at 6:46 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , ,

The Porch of our Dreams

Cathedral Hill Bed & Breakfast is as beautiful outside as it is inside, with many charming and comfortable places to relax and congregate.

IMG_7210

Put our grand new porch to good use as a scenic spot for a little R&R.

IMG_7224

Behold, our new porch furniture, that not only gracefully complements the style of house, but is also really comfortable.

IMG_7229

While away the afternoon chatting or reading with a glass of something cold.

IMG_7249

The B&B’s wifi is easily accessible.

IMG_7403

And the views can’t be beat. Whether it’s the historic details of the porch itself,

IMG_7410

encouraging you to imagine you’re back in 1897 on the original newly constructed porch surrounded by potted palms,

IMG_7411

or taking in the area’s Victorian architecture,

IMG_7417

and lush greenery. Sit and watch the neighborhood go by, seeing and being seen.

Our front porch is one of the new amenities we’re proud to offer our guests.

Congratulations! It’s Victorian!

So, let’s review.

488 in c.1930s

Here’s the house in about 1942. Our goal and inspiration for change…

488 from the outside, C. 2003, probably taken by Katy Gray

…from this. The legacy of mid-century modernistic tendencies (i.e. clean lines), practicality (because that never-have-to-paint siding really is much more practical than wood), and budget. None of which aesthetically serve a 1896 Victorian built by a banker wanting as gracious a home as his substantial wealth would allow. Our lovingly playing catch-up with that aesthetic service brings us to (drumroll please)…

IMG_5875

…this. Not bad. Pretty darn spectacular, in fact, if we do say so ourselves. Hardly recognizable as the same house.

IMG_5890

No matter what angle…

IMG_5928

…you view it from, the transformation is astounding,…

IMG_5866

…the results elegant, gracious, and welcoming,…

IMG_5939

…and already offering new places to congregate or step away from the crowd.

IMG_5981

Our home feels like a Victorian mansion from the outside as well as the inside, finally,…

IMG_5957

…and it wears its vividly historic colors proudly, from up the block…

IMG_5944

and down.

I think the banker would be pleased. I know we sure are.

Published in: on December 8, 2014 at 7:40 am  Comments (2)  
Tags: , ,

Tying Up the Loose Ends

We’re at the point of cleaning up some final details.

IMG_5898

We created replica lattice for the bottom of the porch. The original idea was to clean up some original we found, but it would have been prohibitively expensive.

IMG_5908

We finished up the faux stone paint treatment on the foundation of the house.

IMG_5815

The front door trim has been created…

IMG_5873

…and painted, giving the front door surround a substantial and clean look. Especially as it’s contrasted by the naturally finished original oak door.

IMG_5870

A new house number display and a painted and rehung mailbox finish off the entry. (The wreath, while fetching, is not part of the holiday decorating plans. The letter carrier would not be happy as the mailbox opens from the top.)

The last big project is a new roof for the house, which, while not adding to the aesthetic, does have the benefit of keeping out the weather. And then we just keep working away at the last small details until the project is finished. At least for this round. You know what they say about historic houses….

Published in: on December 8, 2014 at 6:36 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Pillars!

Exciting developments!

IMG_5823

We have added  most of the standard porchy frills, including…

IMG_5728

fluted pillars, round and square…

IMG_5754

and railings, complete with ranks of turned spindles.

IMG_5769

These elements work harmoniously with the existing trimly furbelows…

IMG_5776

to add a truly elegant character to the sheltering and structural functionality of the porch.

IMG_5921

Some of the round pillars were original to the house, making up the first porch. They were cut down for the little porch, and built back up for our new beauty.

IMG_5810

Unfortunately, measuring twice doesn’t always prevent mistakes, so we had to do some adjusting to get a perfect fit.

IMG_5743

But, you’d never know it from the final product.

IMG_5786

The square pillars were constructed in situ. (That’s almost a visual history of the clamp right there.)

IMG_5705

Those were the last major elements needed to make the house look like it truly belongs in our historic neighborhood.

Published in: on December 8, 2014 at 1:52 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Corbels and Consultations

We’re busy and excited.

IMG_5671

Still no pillars, but lots of activity on site. The fellow in the dark shirt on the right is shaping corbels out of blocks of wood.

IMG_5666

And here they are being painted, along with spindles, and doesn’t the paint gun make that job a heck of a lot easier!

IMG_5610

Here are the corbels installed, along with a glimpse of the finished paint job on the third floor dormer.

IMG_5609

A view of the porch’s completed yellow pine ceiling, and someone already enjoying its expansive shelter.

IMG_5619

A close-up of the faux finish on the house’s foundation. We decided, upon experimentation, that removing the green paint would be way too resource intensive. It’s a much better fit with our color scheme than the green would have been.

IMG_5686

The owner, architect, and contractor consulting. We’re much closer, but there’s still a ways to go before all the details are taken care of.

IMG_5618

A beautiful Minnesota October day, one of the last hurrahs before the snow flies, part of which we spent lunching outdoors. Maybe next October someone will be enjoying lunch on this welcoming front porch watching the world go by.

Published in: on December 8, 2014 at 12:12 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Natural Beauty

While there’re are still some fairly major changes coming (pillars!), there’s also a lot of finishing detail happening.

From Eric Carrington, New Look Remodeling 2014-10-18 151027

The porch trim is all painted out, as are the pillar supports. The front paint job just lacks the black detailing. It’s a very handsome picture. (Picture taken by Eric Carrington of Newlook Remodel, our painting contractor.)

From Dad 2014-10-24 WP15_03_40_Pro

This is from about a week later. If you look closely, you can see that the porch ceiling (yellow pine beadboard) has been completed, and they’re putting up detail trimming under the porch fascia.

IMG_5582

Here’s a better picture of the porch ceiling, as well as a close-up of the fascia.

IMG_5591

The beautiful Douglas fir floor, in all its autumnal glory, contrasting vibrantly against the gray and white of its painted companions.

IMG_5588

The redwood treads of the permanent stairs…

IMG_5573

…and their white painted risers.

IMG_5577

Just finished painting the last pillar support plinth.

IMG_5586

A view of the original front door with its newly painted white surround. I’m not sure what the plans are for the unpainted strip of trim at the top of the door surround. The dental molding will be replaced, at least. I guess every construction project wants to maintain a little mystery!

Published in: on October 27, 2014 at 10:44 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,