Creative vision leads to reality for homeowner

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Laura Manson has transformed every square inch of her 1919 bungalow into usable space creating her carefully curated dream home. Above are before (top) and after photos of her enclosed front porch and open wrap-around corner porch. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

Former Clayton Ridge Elementary teacher Laura Manson has successfully transformed her home on River Park Drive in Guttenberg into an idyllic space suited to her needs. 

Many years ago, the single woman worked with real estate agent Jean Green to find a smaller affordable home that was livable in an area of town that was not prone to flooding. "My father came and looked at the home to make sure I was getting what I paid for," Manson began. "He and my mother were very capable, and did many of their own home improvement projects." 

Home improvements

Manson's parents would arrive a couple of times a month ready to tackle any repair projects, such as installing a new furnace and ductwork, and updating the kitchen and bathroom. "My parents loved it in Guttenberg. I would not have the home I have today without their assistance," she said with gratitude. "My parents enjoyed resting on the home's front porch, or on a park bench during a lunch break or at the end of the evening overlooking the Mississippi River." 

Manson's father also remodeled the downstairs space adding a laundry room, bathroom and recreation area. "I trusted him and we worked well together," Manson shared. "My mother loved to garden and we often would find her working outside while we were tackling an indoor project. I have many fond memories of the three of us working together."  

Utilizing every inch

Through the years, Manson has transformed every square inch of her home into usable space, which is filled with a cheery collection of meaningful family heirlooms, and art pieces purchased during her travels throughout the United States and overseas. She finished off the attic and created a heated art studio and sewing room that overlooks Ingleside Park and the Mississippi River and turned an unused back porch into a heated breakfast nook.

Adding on

The retired educator always wanted to expand her home's footprint, but wanted to maintain the integrity of the bungalow's original plan, which paperwork indicates was built in 1919. "It took forty years to come up with an idea that would blend in well with the home's exterior," she noted. 

Through her own diligent online research and the assistance of local contractors Manson finally came up with a plan to build her enclosed front porch and open wrap-around corner porch. The local lumberyard drew up the plans that required a zoning adjustment and her dream became a reality. 

The interior of the porch addition has heated floors and a vaulted ceiling creating aesthetic value. French doors separate the area from the main house enabling Manson to heat and cool the area as needed. "I wanted simple railings installed on the open porch and hired a local welder that specializes in artistic railings and fences," she said. 

Safety and convenience 

Manson reached out to local contractors who  came up with a plan to connect the exterior of the home to the garage. "I wanted a shelter that would protect the area from rain and snow that accumulated on the steps," she explained. "The area had a low spot where water would collect and turn to ice. It was very dangerous."

Outdoor living space

Once the building projects were complete she had to consider landscaping and patio areas. She worked with a reputable landscaper to create interesting patios using stone pavers and plantings that were complementary to the space and also easy to maintain. Manson added a fire pit and stone fountain to enhance the outdoor living space.  

"I really love the way it all turned out," she said with a smile. "I am grateful for my parents and all the talented local contractors that helped me create my dream home."

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