Gorgeous Minnesota vacation home takes Sugar Land residents to their roots

Having a vacation home in Minnesota felt good to Jeanne and Jeff Megna, Sugar Land residents who moved to the Houston area nearly 30 years ago.

It took them back to Jeanne’s home state and, now, closer to their two daughters and grandchild who live there. It’s been a nice escape from Houston’s worst summer weather, but as Jeanne spent more time there, she grew less satisfied with some parts of the home.

“I love to look at houses — it’s kind of my hobby. I look and think, ‘What would I do differently?’ ‘Would I want to live in that house?’” she said of their home on Lake Minnetonka. “I felt funny remodeling because it was a nice home to start with, but it was outdated. You come in the door and step down, which was dangerous, and they forgot to put a kitchen in the house, it was so tiny.”

So the Megnas launched a substantial remodeling project that touched nearly every room, including using the attic to add a bunk room and rebuilding the garage, taking part of that space to enlarge the kitchen and create a pantry and mud room.

The house started at 3,100 square feet and grew by 1,000 square feet — with five bedrooms and five-and-a-half bathrooms — growing upward without really changing the footprint. They started the work in December 2019 and finished in late July 2020 in time to be featured on a home tour.

Houston interior designer Lynne T. Jones of Lynne T. Jones Interior Design helped them with remodeling and furnishings in their Sugar Land home, and they called her for help in Minneosta since they would be choosing furniture along with counters, tile and flooring.

When they visit the lake house, they like to go boating, kayaking and fishing, and can hop on a boat and drive it to their favorite restaurants since Lake Minnetonka is huge — 110 miles around — and businesses cater to residents.

A lively art glass chandelier in the style of Dale Chihuly greets visitors in the foyer, which opens to a wide great room that includes the kitchen, den, dining table and living room — all with windows looking out onto the lake.

The living room used to be a step-down space with sliding glass doors. Those were swapped out for a wide picture window. On a side wall where there was once a window that just looked out at the house next door, there’s now a fireplace flanked by a pair of built-in bookcases, a new feature repeated at the other end of the room where the den is.

The furniture is covered in performance fabrics, so no one has to worry about wet bathing suits. It also means the couple’s Scottish terriers — Bonnie Jean and Jovi (yes, Jeanne is a Bon Jovi fan) — can hop on anything they want.

“You know people are there to enjoy themselves, and they want it to be welcoming to everyone,” Jones said. “Jeanne and Jeff turned me loose and said, ‘We want lots of color,’ and we used fabrics that are durable and easy to clean.”

Since everything is color coordinated, chairs and ottomans can be moved around wherever they’re needed.

To differentiate the two ends of the room, reclaimed beams were added to the living-area ceiling and beadboard was added to the ceiling at the other end of the space.

The kitchen got new backsplash tile, Cambria quartz on perimeter counters and quartzite on the island.

“We don’t cook much because we don’t want to get it dirty,” Jeanne said with a laugh. “Our kids are always coming over, asking to cook, and we say, ‘No, don’t get it dirty.’”

The Megnas now have a sizable pantry and a mud room, too, and Jeanne said that her favorite thing about the renovation is that everything has a place. The laundry room has patterned floor tile, shiplap on the walls and more gray Cambria quartz on the counters for a simple, casual look.

Coats and boots are kept in the big closet in the laundry room for occasional winter visits, when they like to showshoe or cross-country ski.

The home already had a guest bedroom suite in the basement, and a primary bedroom, two guest bedrooms and the new bunk room all have their own bathrooms.

An upstairs landing between the primary bedroom and the new bunk room was reworked. Before, it had dark, stained cabinets and was wired for an old-style CRT television.

Now a flatscreen TV is hung on a shiplap-covered inset where those cabinets used to be, and a raised fireplace that was never used was removed. A space that was dark and imposing is now light, airy and inviting.

The primary bedroom’s built-in dressers remain but were painted white with updated hardware. Its bathroom got a complete makeover with two smaller vanities and mirrors with integrated LED lighting, a freestanding bathtub and a new shower.

A balcony off of this bedroom gives the Megnas a beautiful view of the sunrise.

The new bunk room over the garage has four bunk beds, each of which has a power station for charging electronics as well as built-in storage. The upper-level beds have built-in rails so no one has to worry about children falling off.

Attic space that accommodates two new guest bedrooms and bathrooms also has a game room for fun, including foosball tables.

Storage is extra important here since it’s a vacation home in a place with long, cold winters. When they’re not here and the home is closed for the season, everything gets put away — so there has to be a place for everything.

The new garage comes in handy for that, with storage all the way up the walls.

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