I first met the Williams family while working on a fun styling project together, and one of the first impressions I had when walking through their home was how intentionally it was designed for a modern family while honoring the home’s original character. In other words, it didn’t look like a 1900s home that was ripped apart and filled with builder-grade/home-flipper gray (I’d like to see a paint color swatch named that one day). The Williams family home was warm and inviting and felt truly lived in, as it should be.
The homeowners, Mark (a custom home builder and owner of Mark D. Williams Custom Homes), along with his wife Melissa (an internal medicine doctor) share their beautiful home with their 3 kiddos ages 6, 4, and 2. The ages I’d like to think are some of the best! Mark and Melissa had recently remodeled their previous home and weren’t in the market to move but as the story goes, they were out for a neighborhood stroll one sunny Saturday afternoon in Minneapolis, Minnesota’s Lakes area, and decided to tour a new-to-market open house. Keep in mind this was pre-pandemic when you actually had time to tour a home before it sold. Once they walked in, they just knew. You know how that goes, if you know, you know. Am I right? One of the reasons they won with their bid was by waiving inspections (again, this was pre-pandemic and not a typical approach of that time) but as Mark knew they would be remodeling most of it, he was prepared to take care of what may need fixing.
At the time of the remodel (the year was 2020), Melissa was 8 months pregnant and they were living in the house (something Mark tells all of his clients NEVER to do) but on the 9th month, they moved out into a tiny rental while they had the baby who was born halfway through the 1st COVID wave–hitting the all-time triple jackpot. Remodel + new baby + global pandemic.
Choosing to remodel the house was easy, especially the kitchen because it was not original to the home. The kitchen had gone through at least one previous remodel in the 1980s.
The kitchen felt dated to these homeowners and a little too small for a growing family. Mark and Melissa wanted more of a clean-lined, modern Scandinavian-Craftsman style aesthetic. And that’s exactly what they achieved.
One thing I noticed when touring their beautifully remodeled home was the attention to detail and how they incorporated charm and old home character (such as keeping the original millwork and built-ins in their dining room) but kept it feeling youthful for generations to come. One way they did this was by forgoing any trends in permanently installed fixtures, and honing in on more updated traditional elements while peppering in some personality into the places that can be easily changed later.
They added in-floor heating, which admittedly feels a little luxurious but VERY practical especially when you live in Minnesota where temps reach what feels like living in the Arctic Tundra. They also went with natural stone countertops (they choose Carrara marble), inset cabinets, a pantry/coffee storage station, and higher countertops. The standard countertop height is 36” but going with 38” is a small detail that just looks a bit more striking. They also added lots of drawers in lieu of cabinets for better storage solutions.
I asked Mark, coming from a builder’s standpoint, what is one tip you’d give for someone remodeling their kitchen and he said “Hide outlets!! Put them on the bottom of the upper cabinets along with LED lights so there are no outlets in the backsplash and a clean tile look. Also, paint your cabinets ON-SITE so all the crown matches perfectly and there are no nail holes that look badly patched.”
Side note: I remember the first time I met the Williams family and set up this pancake shoot and Mark walked in and said “oh yeah, this looks like how we do breakfast,” halfway joking as this was for a styled shoot. I knew what he meant and coming from a stylist, while I look for the “styled shot,” it’s equally important that it speaks to and tells the story of the family that lives there. And when you get smiles like this, you don’t even feel like you’re working.
I’ll never forget their sweet daughter asking me if they get to keep the flowers. I mean…So sweet.
Back to the design. The addition of these gorgeous Pella Architect series windows that are north-facing and wrap to the west, let in so much gorgeous natural light that can bounce around their beautiful kitchen.
Another one of Mark’s design tips is less is more. This is why they chose to bring the countertop up as a backsplash for a more seamless and modern look.
I love the hidden LED lighting under these floating shelves and again, look at all the natural light that just filters through so beautifully.
The family’s choice to go with Carrara marble is a true classic that not only looks good, but gets even better with age.
I also love how these cabinets go all the way to the ceiling, and as you can see, here’s that seamless backsplash Mark loves so much.
Here’s a closer look at how they hid their electrical outlets and the under-cabinet LED lighting so they aren’t a distraction on their beautiful backsplash.
I love the vertical planks on the kitchen island. Another detail that speaks softly and doesn’t leave the sides of the island with a blank surface.
The beverage station with built-in cabinet doors that slide back to reveal the Miele coffee station was another of Mark’s must-haves during the remodel.
The abundance of drawers in their kitchen is truly an organizer’s dream and one that also functions well for the kids to reach their snacks and dishes to help themselves.
Upon entering their home, the kitchen feels so inviting, all the way to the hidden sound system which was playing one of Mark’s playlists and their daughter sparking up “oooo I love Megan thee Stallion!”
Peering into the dining room from the kitchen, the pop from the wallpaper adds a nice touch of their personality and keeps with the modern Scandinavian aesthetic. Once speaking with Melissa, I learned she loved the green in the wallpaper because when it’s winter and all white outside, it is nice to see that extra greenery.
Here’s a sneak peek of the dining room. Look at that gorgeous original millwork!
When I asked Mark what some of the key things to consider when executing a full remodel were, his #1 tip was to LEAVE during construction if you can! Everything will take 10x as long and seem dirty and more expensive if you live in it regardless of the true cost. Mark emphasized also making sure to order everything prior to starting the remodel to ensure there are no delays during construction.
Lastly, I asked the family now that they’ve lived here for a couple of years what would they change. “My wife and I would disagree on this,” Mark replies. Melissa wants to paint the lower cabinets a different color now (which we can do…) Otherwise, it fits perfectly for the space and us. I would probably take the slide-back doors OFF the coffee center, the warm douglas fir wood inside is so beautiful to me and really warms up the space around all the white woodwork.”
Whichever they decide to do it will no doubt be intentional with family in mind.