Inside a Total White Bear Lake Remodel

Kitchen remodel takes down walls and brings family together.
The Squires' updated kitchen.

After 20 years of living in their Lino Lakes home, the Squires family was tired of their tiny, dark kitchen, whose walls cut off more than just homeowner Michelle Squires’ desire to cook. “We seriously looked into moving, but we really love our neighborhood and our lot,” says Michelle Squires. “We just didn’t love the ’80s kitchen.” After years of deliberation, Michelle, an assistant store manager for Macy’s, and husband Jim, an account manager for Smythe Co., chose renovation. The Squires sought the expertise of local designer Christina Miller of Christina Lynn  Interiors in White Bear Lake and contractor Ryan Schuette of Bald Eagle Construction  to transform the outdated space into an open-concept, updated and functional kitchen that would ultimately help this family of four spend more time together.

This past December, Michelle, Jim, and sons, 14-year-old Carter and 17-year-old Justin, personally took a sledgehammer to the walls that surrounded their dark kitchen, with its fluorescent lighting and cabinetry that featured heavy oak grain and paneled raised doors. “Nobody wanted to be in that room before. It was dark and you were cut off from everyone,” says Michelle. The ultimate space opened the 350-square-foot kitchen to one large area connecting the living room and dining room, and it also opened views from the French doors off the dining area, overlooking the wooded backyard.

“The Squires live in a traditional split-level home, where the front entryway leads to stairs up and the kitchen is the first thing you see. The design plan was to draw your eye up for a wow factor,” says Christina Miller.

“The L-shaped kitchen layout was generally maintained, although space for extra cabinets was made on each end, with room for a larger refrigerator,” says contractor Ryan Schuette. Coffee-colored birch floors were laid throughout the kitchen and dining room, and all-new stainless steel appliances and additional recessed lighting were added in the living area. New maple cabinets, treated with a warm palomino-hued glaze, include functional storage with a pullout pantry and built-in cutlery drawer. Linear mosaic slate and a glass tile backsplash were added to for maximum impact.

But it’s the gorgeous island with creamy amaretto cabinets and an exotic granite counter in a rich golden Cayman that is the centerpiece of this remodel. The island provides ample storage, including a custom wine cabinet, a special request from Michelle. A line of electrical outlets was installed to handle slow cookers and warmers for entertaining, and barstools pull right up to the island’s breakfast bar, which is highlighted by new pendant lighting.

“Jim and I were skeptical at first about doing the island in a different color than the cabinets, thinking everything had to be matchy-matchy,” says Michelle. “But Christina helped us understand that the island is really a beautiful piece of furniture that should be highlighted. We absolutely love the result.”

The new island is now the heart of the family’s favorite time together. “We most enjoy Saturday breakfast,” says Michelle. “It’s usually me and the boys sitting at the island while Jim makes us chocolate chip pancakes or omelets.”

The remodel took six weeks and cost about $32,000. Around that same time, the family also remodeled a bathroom. “Our average gut-remodeled kitchens range about $40,000 to 50,000,” says Schuette. “Our business is major kitchen and bathroom renovations, and we know they are a cost-effective way to bring value to a home.”

However, the real return on investment for the Squires is family togetherness. “Now that the walls are down, Carter and Justin can sit at the table and do their homework or watch hockey, while Jim or I can be in the kitchen making food, and we can all be together,” Michelle says. And the newest member of the Squires family approves of the design. Josie, a Wheaton terrier puppy, has found her favorite spot underneath the island barstools at the feet of her new family.

Christina Lynn Interiors: 4701 Banning Ave., White Bear Lake; 651.274.8832.
Bald Eagle Construction: 5131 Long Ave., White Bear Lake; 651.357.6599

More Kitchen Remodelers

Preferred Kitchens: 4706 Highway 61, White Bear Lake; 651.429.1212.
Pratt Homes Remodeling: 3500 Willow Lake Blvd., Suite 100, Vadnais Heights; 651.429.8032.

Kitchen Trends & Tips from Designer Christina Miller
DESIGN: Pick a focal point, such as an island or coffee bar, and give it character and interest.
COLOR: Keep paint colors neutral and simple; bring in pizzazz through the countertops or lighting. Lighter tones and gray tones are popular for paint.
CABINETS: Mix and match stains and paint, treating areas of the cabinets differently.
LIGHTING: Use a larger light like a crystal, or something that has character and personality.
COUNTERTOPS: White marble is popular. Quartz is also a great choice; it comes in many colors, styles and patterns. Or try using exotic granite—something other than the standard five or six basic styles.