Home & Design | A New Classic

Interior designer and Prospect Refuge Studio owner Victoria Sass loves old houses. The strong bones, unique details, and sense of place and history throughout speak to her as both a designer and a Twin Citian—she lives in an old home herself. But she knows the floorplans of 100-year-old houses, which generally have small kitchens and minimal storage, can be challenging for young and growing families to work with—and she’s passionate about designing solutions to keep people in the houses they love as their needs and families change.

In 2019, she met her perfect match: Erika Reid and Nathan Hopkins, who had a 1920s Craftsman-meets-colonial in Minneapolis’s Lynnhurst neighborhood that they adored, a busy toddler, another baby on the way, and a problem. “We bought our house in 2015, and at that point it was just me and my husband,” Erika says. “We thought it was enormous. But as our son was going through toddlerhood, we realized that we loved the house and that we wanted to stay here, but it would be difficult.”

The home’s back entryway, which led right into the kitchen, didn’t have storage or a drop zone for diaper bags and groceries, and the couple craved a real mudroom area. They also dreamed of refreshing the home’s impersonal white kitchen, adding a casual kitchen seating area—with two small kids, they knew they wouldn’t eat in the formal dining room every day—and building a main-level powder bath. Over the course of the pandemic, Sass and architect Will Spencer began transforming the house: Spencer designed a small addition that included a bump-out for a quartersawn white oak banquette and a new mudroom and vintage-inspired powder bath on the main level. The additions look like they have been part of the house all along.

“I’m loving this phase we’re in as a society, where people are really appreciating old homes,” Sass says. “They may need to modify them to stay in the neighborhood and the property, but they do as little as they have to. It’s not historic preservation—we don’t need to live in a time capsule—but we respect what’s there.”

Interior Design: Prospect Refuge Studio, 4801 Nicollet Ave., Mpls., 612-789-2507, prospectrefugestudio.com  //  Architect: Will Spencer Studio, 6609 18th Ave. S., Richfield, 612-695-1043, willspencerstudio.com  //  Builder: Welch Forsman Associates, 6026 Pillsbury Ave., Mpls., 612-827-4455, welchforsman.com

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