When Eden Prairie residents Loren and Kristen Heeringa bought their Eden Prairie home in 1996, they never expected to live there for almost two decades. “The house wasn’t to our taste at the time we bought it,” explains Kristen. “It was odd that we ended up staying there for 17 years.”
From where Kristen stands, cradling a mug of ginger pear tea in her elegantly renovated kitchen, you’d never guess this was the case a mere two years earlier. What was once a run-of-the-mill home was transformed with the help of Mackmiller Design+Build into a whimsical, sophisticated and highly functional space, perfect for entertaining.
Kristen, her husband and their five children moved into the house after living in Phoenix for several years. Loren, who worked for Honeywell, was transferred back to Minnesota, and the family found the house with the help of Kristen’s mother, their realtor. “At the time my husband was being transferred for work every two to three years,” Kristen explains, “so we had no idea that we would be in this house for so long.”
Eventually the couple realized they wouldn’t be moving anywhere soon.
When the Heeringas began their remodel in 2012, four of their five children had already moved out, gone to college, found jobs or gotten married. Their youngest son, now a freshman in college, was just two years from graduation at the time. “A lot of people were asking why we were doing a remodel since most of our kids had already moved out,” Kristen says. “We got asked a lot about why we weren’t downsizing instead. The fact is that since our oldest is married and has three children, and one of our other children is married, that when our kids would come home to visit, we were bursting at the seams.”
The decision to stay in their large house was mainly a function of the Heeringas’ vision of their future—one filled with family gatherings and entertaining opportunities.
Also, Loren had invested a lot of time and energy into the landscaping surrounding the house. “My husband has put down very deep roots here,” Kristen says. “He literally put his blood, sweat and tears into the landscaping.”
Loren has gone through several job changes since they bought the house, she continues, most recently to Land O’Lakes in Vadnais Heights, but they’ve elected to stay rather than relocate across town.
The Heeringas' kitchen before (left) and after (right) their recent renovation.
The Heeringas chose Eden Prairie-based Mackmiller Design+Build to do their renovation after receiving a recommendation from neighbors. Phase one of the remodel was focused on the second story. “The master bath needed a lot of reworking,” says Mark Mackmiller of Mackmiller Design+Build.
According to Kristen, the bathrooms upstairs were outdated and had suffered some water damage over years of heavy use. The master bathroom was updated with heated tile floors, a glass-walled shower and a double vanity.
The Heeringas also wanted to add a small hallway laundry closet with a washer and dryer to the second floor, as well as build a second story room over what was previously the family room; a two-story room, which, according to Kristen, never worked well in the house proportionally speaking. “Dividing the family room took it from feeling like a tall shoebox set on end to feeling much more balanced, while still remaining spacious and comfortable,” Mackmiller says.
The newly created second floor room above the family room was set up as a type of “bonus room,” with a wall-mounted television, comfortable chairs and a view through floor-to-ceiling windows across the pond at the back of the property.
The family room itself got a fairly extensive makeover. Most notably, the fireplace was moved from the exterior wall to an interior wall, allowing for panoramic windows offering the same view as the bonus room above. “The original fireplace was the ugliest fireplace I’d ever seen,” Kristen says. “The mantle was very, very high and the opening for the fireplace was very small and low, so proportionally it was all wrong.”
The new family room features an elegantly proportioned fireplace, relocated to an interior wall and flanked with glass-fronted built in cabinets. The room’s color palette (and the color scheme for the entire house) was based on the Heeringas’ chair and ottoman, upholstered in a rich dark brown color with flourishes and tendrils of plant life and flowers in a warm range of oranges, vibrant greens and luscious reds. The family room walls were painted dusky orange with a leaf-green accent over the mantlepiece. Hardwood floors add warmth.
Originally there was a wall dividing the kitchen and an informal dining area from the family room; that was removed, creating a more open floor plan. The kitchen was also expanded by about six feet. “The original kitchen was too small for the house,” Mackmiller explains.
By removing lofted ceilings in the family room, the Heeringas gained a bonus room on the second level.
After the room was enlarged, the old kitchen island, which had seating for only two people, was replaced with a new island with two levels of countertop and seating for six. Old oak cabinetry was replaced with gleaming white cabinets, a tile backsplash over the stove and vibrant, almost-lime green paint on the walls. “I’m not big into cooking,” Kristen says (though she does like to bake on occasion), “but I have so many family members who are; the kitchen is set up in a way now that there’s space for a lot of cooks.”
The sunroom off the informal dining room also got a major update. Formerly paneled in pine from floor to ceiling with relatively small windows, this room got the floor-to-ceiling window treatment and a coat of rich orange paint.
The formal dining room and the living room, both just off the main entry, were refashioned in the image of the rest of the first story. With dark wood flooring and trim, the green walls of the dining room feel slightly different from their white-trimmed kitchen counterparts.
On the wall hangs a painting by Tracy Thompson commissioned by the Heeringas, depicting a medieval procession through the Italian countryside. The painting is as personally meaningful as it is beautiful; each of the five members in the procession holds a flag with a symbol of the profession of each of the Heeringas’ children. “My husband spent some time in Italy while he worked for the University of St. Thomas,” Heeringa says.
After Mary Mackmiller, responsible for a lot of the design work and furnishing efforts behind the remodel, suggested she commission a piece of art to cover the wall in the new dining room, Kristen says she wanted to include the beauty of that landscape in some way, as well as be reminded of her children.
Across the entry from the dining room is the living room, with yellow walls, white trimmed windows and old Hollywood-inspired charm. A show-stopping white baby grand piano commands the space, while a delicately upholstered loveseat and chair set stands opposite. French doors open out onto a side patio, just one of the many ways one can make the transition from inside the house to the expansive and carefully landscaped yard. “My husband grew up on a farm, and so the outdoors has always been a big part of his life,” Kristen says, adding that the numerous large windows and landscaped views are a post-renovation favorite for her.
For an indoors-meets-out space to watch the seasons parade by, this home is second to none.