The moment Sioux Falls natives Robb and Mary Schlimgen laid eyes on the 1930s Cape Cod in the iconic McKennan Park neighborhood, they knew it was the one.
“We put an offer in the first day it was on the market,” said Robb. “We’d been looking for a year in this area. Things go quickly in this area, or need a lot of work. When we drove up and saw the street, we knew right away that if it was okay on the inside we’d make an offer.”
What they found on the inside wasn’t perfectly to their taste, but it had a lot of potential. Other pluses include its location one block from the park, and being just a stone’s throw from family and friends. Over the next year, they worked with contractor Joe Meier to update the main floor. The closed-off kitchen was opened up, dated elements were ripped out, new flooring was laid, and a cohesive, cool color palette was established.
When one steps inside now, they are greeted with a contemporary living space in harmony with the home’s historic character. To the left is a living room with a grey sofa and chairs, which the couple custom designed with Montgomery’s Furniture. The end tables, along with the round dining table are from Pier One. In the dining room to the right of the entryway, a curved metal pendant light fixture hangs above the table, surrounded by chairs upholstered in a grey and white fabric with a design reminiscent of intertwined treble clefs.
Each surface, fabric choice, and detail was selected by the couple alone. Mary fondly remembers the process of bringing home samples and creating an environment that truly reflects their tastes.
Where there was once a wall with a narrow walk-through to the kitchen is a quartz bar with stools. The snowy white surface wraps around the kitchen, bringing a bright, modern vibe, as well as plenty of functional counter space. Updates include painting the oak cabinets, updating to stainless steel appliances, and installing a backsplash of quatrefoil tiles.
“We wanted contemporary, fresh design,” said Mary. “I love that backsplash. That shape is, as you can see, all over the house. In the dining room light fixture and our mirror. We had a couple different choices, we looked at subway tile, but I always knew I wanted that.”
Behind the kitchen is an addition built by previous owners. Because it was a bit dated, Robb and Mary included it in the remodel.
Half of the addition is a family room with a vaulted ceiling. The couple had the old oak built-ins removed, and replaced by cabinets with quartz tops that echo those in the adjacent kitchen. They also added a bay window and back door with a large pane of glass, to bring in more natural light than was previously allowed by the single skylight. The room is furnished with comfortable, casual pieces, and art that reflects their love for their home state.
“The house came with over 70 years of other people’s layered on choices, that weren’t always our style,” explained Robb. “It was kind of muddled. The back room wasn’t the style of a traditional McKennan Park House. Now it just feels more on the inside what we envisioned when we saw it on the outside. It just took us a few years to get here.”
The other half of the addition is the master suite, which has been expanded and re-carpeted in a lush grey. What was once a Jack-and-Jill bathroom has been closed off and turned into a true master bath, with a large tiled walk-in shower and a gleaming white countertop, peppered with flecks of grey and subtle sparkle.
On the opposite side of the wall, a half bath has been added for guests. The next door bedroom lost a bit of square footage in the remodel, but remains an ideal size for an office, or as the couple plans, a future nursery.
The home’s second floor and basement remain largely untouched, but Robb and Mary have plans for updates. The upstairs is full of architectural detail, with original built-ins and bedrooms overlooking the front yard below angled, attic-like ceilings. Robb says it reminds him of a tree house.
It’s this character, he says, and the personal touches, that make their house feel like home. “We love it here. We think we’ll stay for at least one baby. If we have more than one we might outgrow this space, but we love walking our dogs around the park.”
Mary added, “All the mature trees and having all of our friends and family so close. Just being able to have this house be such a representation of us. We love it.”