Designing a Dream Home

Jolynn Johnson remodeled her new home for life’s golden years.
New exterior

As an interior designer, Jolynn Johnson has made a career out of remodeling other people’s houses, but a recent project gave her the opportunity to work on her own. Earlier this year, Johnson moved from St. Michael to New Hope, swapping a lakefront home for a rambler close to her office at Crystal Kitchen + Bath. She gave the house a complete makeover to ensure that it will be the perfect place for her—both now and in the years ahead.

Time was the motivation behind Johnson’s move to New Hope. “It was 100 percent that I couldn’t take the commute anymore,” she says. "As you get older, it’s not about money, it’s about time, and I just wanted more time.”

While driving to a job site one day, Johnson spotted a for sale sign for a rambler—what she was looking for—three blocks from work. “It was just a simple, small house, but what I saw from the outside was great,” she says.

Although it had good bones, the inside needed an update. The house was gutted, and nearly everything was changed, even the layout of the rooms. “Every room got moved, except for one bathroom,” Johnson says. Also, two bedrooms were added in the basement, along with a darkroom for Johnson’s husband, who works as a photographer.

The start-to-finish process was “a major transformation,” as interior designer Chelsey Preuss says.  Johnson enlisted her, along with the rest of Crystal Bath + Kitchen’s team of designers, to assist in the remodel. “When Jolynn bought the house, everything was really dated, especially the cabinetry and paint colors, so now everything is visually updated,” Preuss says. "Making the new digs fit Johnson’s personality was especially fun. Jolynn really loves brown, so even though a lot of trends we’re seeing right now are gray, staying true to what she likes was important to us.”

The remodel has caught a lot of other eyes. It was featured in this year’s Fall Remodelers Showcase in the Parade of Homes and was named the Builder’s Association Dream through the Builders Association of the Twin Cities as well. However, in addition to being aesthetically pleasing, it’s also functional. Features such as  pocket doors that slide instead of swing ensure that Johnson and her husband can live comfortably in their new home as they age.
Some of those features are coming in handy sooner than expected. Johnson broke a bone in her foot shortly after moving into the house and has appreciated the spacious, handicap accessible bathroom as she recovers. “My employees just laugh, because the whole thing about the house was that it would be handicapped accessible throughout the years just in case,” she says. “Well, who knew that a month after moving in that I would actually be on crutches? So, my curbless entry shower is just wonderful.”

Johnson says that it’s nearly impossible for her to choose a favorite room in the house. “There’s so many things I love about all of them,” she says. Her walk-in closet is certainly a standout, but she says that the house’s ability to accommodate her needs, both present and future, is the best part. “The big thing for me is that it’s a house for empty nesters,” Johnson says. “It’s a house for the second phase of my life."