When Brian and Patti Wagner bought their 1927 Tudor in Minneapolis, it came with an often-coveted amenity for the Midwest’s long, snowy winters: an attached garage. But the couple knew right away it would have to go. They needed that space to replace the home’s small galley kitchen that was awkwardly positioned off the family room.
“We cook a lot,” Patti says. “It was important to have a kitchen work triangle and plenty of counter space to prep.”
Besides adding 300 square feet of kitchen space, the conversion made room for a courtyard in the old driveway. It’s bookended on the other side by a new detached garage. Eventually, they plan to install a fireplace against the new garage wall to make the patio cozier in chilly months. (The tiny former kitchen became a laundry room.)
Although the renovation was a big project, there was no shortage of inspiration or skills to take on the transformation, which the Wagners tackled in part on their own, with help from family and contractors. Brian and Patti have a side hustle renovating rental properties. Brian, a commercial banker, handles demo and some of the building; Patti, who until recently was a product designer at Target, styles.
Traditional subway tile runs from counter to ceiling, and the refinished garage windows add historic charm. “We are inspired by classic design that still feels updated and fresh,” Patti says.
In their own home, the couple extended the character of their house seamlessly into the new kitchen. Red tiles in the foyer inspired the terra-cotta tile kitchen floor, and the dark arched wooden front door and iron hardware are echoed in the faux-wood ceiling beams and zinc lighting fixture above the kitchen island. Brian also carefully measured and mimicked the original arched doorways when he created the new kitchen entry from the dining room.
White-painted Shaker-style cabinets are finished with oil-rubbed bronze knobs and exposed hinges “to look like they had always been there,” Patti says. Patti calls this her baking zone. It's a mirror image to the beverage station on the opposite side of the courtyard doors.
Even in the garage, there were some original details worth preserving, like the two small windows that now reside above the beverage center and baking area. “I get that question a lot on Instagram—whether those windows are truly original,” Patti says. She eventually posted the “before” photo to prove it.
The Wagners put the beverage fridge and glass-fronted barware cabinet near the courtyard doors so that guests can easily serve themselves from inside or out.
A family friend who was renovating his kitchen sold the black Viking range and hood to Brian and Patti for a song.
During the garage demo, Brian discovered 11 steel beams in the ceiling, which were removed to give the kitchen more height. The new beams are faux wood.
But for the family, the best view is the one from the dining room, through the kitchen and the new French doors, to the courtyard. That’s where you’ll most likely find Brian, Patti, and their kids (Ava, Livy and newcomer Jack), enjoying fish tacos or potato soup that Brian prepped in the spot where he and Patti once parked their cars.
This curved stone wall hid the original side-entry attached garage from the street; now it shields the driveway-turned-patio from public view.
Decorating with Contrasts and Color
Black and White
A mix of white and dark surfaces brings the signature high-contrast look of Tudor architecture into the new kitchen. Black granite countertops contrast with subway tile and white inset cabinets; the dark stained-wood island is topped with honed Carrara marble.
And Red All Over
“Our main goal was to keep the original character of the house, which has an old-world feel,” Patti says. Terra-cotta tile was a less predictable flooring choice than wood and repeats the vibe of the home’s 1920s foyer.
Renovation Tips: Divide the Labor
Even as capable DIYers, Patti and Brian left a lot to the pros. Know your limits, and when in doubt, hire it out.
Split the Work
Brian did the demo work with help from his brother. Patti planned the design and sourced materials and finishes.
Use Your Resources
Contractors handled paint, cabinetry, HVAC, electrical, tile work, plumbing, concrete and architectural drawings.