A Charming Midwest Tutor Home Remodel

Explore the home remodel before and after of a charming 1936 duplex located in the midwest. Husband and wife Ken and Erin Francois live on the main floor while they lease out the upstairs unit.

Husband and wife Ken and Erin Francois were excited to start the house hunting process, when they came across a 1936 duplex. The charm and quality craftsmanship that so many older homes have drew Ken and Erin to the property. They were also excited about the financial opportunity the house offered when paired with a remodel. Once they purchased the duplex, Erin and Ken  moved into the main floor while leasing out the upstairs. This was a home remodel before and after they were excited about before it had begun.

Ken and Erin were smitten with the first-floor plaster arch that separates the living and dining rooms, visible when you enter the house. The house had been well-maintained, though each room was painted a beige color that needed to be modernized. Their goal was to take one remodel project at a time to highlight the charm, while designing a space that matched Ken and Erin’s contemporary lifestyle. 

Every single wall was painted beige, and it needed modernizing!

Erin Francois

The bones of the house were that of traditional architecture. Ken and Erin were optimistic about adding their collective styles and tastes to the design. They like Nordic, early American, mid-century and Parisian Deco, which is a lot of differing styles to fuse together in a cohesive-pleasing way. Erin believes that mixing styles is easy as long as a unified color palette pulls all of the elements together. 

The Dining Room

The fabulous archway statement feature that drew the couple to the home connects the living and dining rooms. The dining room is one of their a favorite areas of the house. It was originally intended to be a formal space for entertaining guests. However, Erin, Ken and their daughter use it daily for all of their meals. As their kitchen doesn’t have an island – a popular design feature in many homes today – the dining table is also used as a catch-all for projects and kids’ activities. 

The table was a gifted furniture piece from Erin’s family and its ancestral heritage brings an emotional tie to the room. It’s perfectly snug in the space and has a leaf to extend it for entertaining guests. A bench alongside the table is engineered from a single slab of walnut and its pedestal legs were purchased on Etsy. The functional seating can easily move around for greater flexibility, depending on what’s needed at any time.

The dining room is full of light and makes quite a statement. Achieving it was more challenging than a simple light fixture change. The fixture was not originally centered in the room. Because of this, Ken and Erin knew they had to do some rewiring to fix that. They installed a ceiling medallion, which not only added to the character of the room, it also eliminated extra patchwork from the rewiring. 

A favorite project we read about on Erin’s blog are the stacked bookcases along the wall. These three understated pieces from Target create a hutch-like feel to the room. This allowed the couple to create a design hack without spending a lot of money on an expensive unit.

The Kitchen and Mudroom

The kitchen was the first remodeled space in the duplex. It only had one electrical outlet, no dishwasher, and a plastic backsplash that was taped to the wall. Ken and Erin saw this as a unique opportunity to make the space functional and to really feature their curated style. The list of kitchen remodel projects was long: The couple inserted wall insulation, tiled the backsplash, installed new cabinet hardware, updated cabinetry, and planked the ceiling.

We salvaged and reconfigured the original cabinets installing them upstairs to help us save the bottom line.

Erin Francois

They also retrofitted the sink doors from the original cabinets and painted them to match the new ones. That project proved to be useful, as they repurposed the original cabinets to the duplex’s second floor kitchen. Erin and Ken were thrilled that they could extend their investment while also repurposing materials. And, a dishwasher was installed. Really, who could live without one these days? 

After shot of sink and final kitchen with brass gold faucet and white countertops and subway tile horizontal backsplash

When making your way to the hallway mudroom, there’s a charming gallery wall that catches the eye. It balances vintage artwork above  DIY, shaker-style, peg-rail wainscoting, where the family hangs their outdoor gear. The well-curated area is adorable and blends the collected style of the home.

photo of mudroom with items hanging on knobs and 2 art photos resting on shelf

The Living Room

The main living room is the primary hangout. It is reserved for activities such as watching movies, reading, and playing with their two-year-old daughter. It’s the first room off the foyer and is the most used – which means though it’s stylish, it also has to be practical. 

Building on Erin and Ken’s collected style, the living room has a kid-friendly component – more than any other room in the duplex. The sofa is upholstered in a stain-resistant and durable fabric. The DIY Danish round coffee table has no sharp corners. The vintage Persian rug was an investment piece Erin acquired in her early 20s. The rug itself because of the quality and patterns is very forgiving to the inevitable spill. Toys are stored in decorative baskets and hidden in the media cabinet under the TV. This allows for easy access, but also kept out of sight after cleanup. The overall decor comes to life with greenery accents and core furniture pieces. Knick knacks are pared-down in an effort to clear clutter throughout the entire space. 

Final Projects

The duplex’s transformation has come a long way in the past three years – tackling some of the core rooms. They have a few more projects on their remodel list before their home is complete. Their to-do list includes a guest bedroom and the basement. Their beautiful space has come together through a lot of elbow grease, DIY touches and love. We can’t wait to see the next before and after project on Ken and Erin’s list! Follow more of Erin’s style on her blog, Francois et Moi. You can also read about how she changed the hashtag world here.

before and after photo of dining room showcasing a tour of the charming midwest tutor home

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