Pulling up to the Lester Park home was a different experience than it was a few months ago.

What was brown with a gaping hole in the roof was now a house in two tones of blue and gray..

The 20-yard Dumpster was gone, and the roof was encased in charcoal colored slats.

In March, the News Tribune checked in on Tim and Angie Allen’s latest home renovation. The couple, who have flipped more than a dozen homes over 30 years, launched their side renovation business Zenith City Design and Renovation more than a year ago, and this spring, they were months into their latest project.

Tim Allen stands in the top-floor bedroom he and his wife added to the Tioga Street house they renovated. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)
Tim Allen stands in the top-floor bedroom he and his wife added to the Tioga Street house they renovated. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

On a recent chilly October afternoon — save for some finishing touches and a deck addition — the house was complete.

Inside 5804 Tioga St., the living, dining and kitchen areas were wide-open and well-lit with decorative hanging fixtures, recessed lighting and large windows. You could see clear through the living and dining room to the little space near the back of the house.

A breakfast nook for coffee in the morning is how Angie would use it, but the space could double as an office, she said. It has a French door, but you could add a panel for privacy.

Envisioning herself in a home is how Angie chooses its color palette, and when the interior walls were torn down, she saw blues, browns, blacks and white. A color scheme ran throughout the kitchen walls, cabinets and granite countertops that have a “bits of rust from Mother Nature,” she said.

For the unsalvageable floors, the Allens went with all dark brown hickory in the dining area and porcelain wood grain tile in the kitchen.

The kitchen design changed a number of times, as did their plans for the spiral staircase, which was “a real battle.”

“At first, we liked that, but then we realized, ‘Who’s going to get anything up those stairs?’” Tim said. So, they straightened it out and added new newel posts and balusters. It has a “wow factor” when you walk in the front door, he said.

Standing on the second floor of the home, Angie peeked her head over the rail. “I can just see, ‘Hey mom, what’s for dinner?’”

They blew out a wall on the second floor, increasing the bathroom size and adding a steel tub and a large vanity. For that, they paid electrician apprentices in pizza to help move it up, Tim said.

One of the renovated bathrooms in the Allen’s latest renovation project. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)
One of the renovated bathrooms in the Allen’s latest renovation project. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

In the bathrooms, the Allens kept consistent the tile flooring, which they installed themselves. They also added longer baseboards in the bedrooms and trim to mesh with the home’s 100-year-old origins.

Go up one last floor to the attic-turned-master-suite, its creation another labor of love in their renovation. The house was two bedrooms before, Tim said, so expanding the attic was key, and it’s the reason the roof came off in March.

Where a shivering reporter had previously stood, as the Allens’ contractor tore large chunks of roof off with a reciprocating saw, was now a carpeted, cozy area with lots of natural light and a long, long, long walk-in closet. In the bathroom, white granite countertops graced the double-sink vanity and a rainfall showerhead.

They paid $105,000 for the house. They put more than $200,000 in, increasing the space from 1,800 to 2,200 square feet. For their three-bedroom, 2½ bathroom space, they’re hoping for $389,500, they said.

The Allens left old brickwork exposed in areas of the Tioga Street house they renovated. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)
The Allens left old brickwork exposed in areas of the Tioga Street house they renovated. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

This house was a lot of work, they said. They wanted it on the market during the summer, but there were personal and structural delays.

The Allens own bed and breakfast A.G. Thomson House, and in the middle of their renovation, they moved out of the inn, hired and trained assistant innkeepers. They purchased and did “a mini flip” on another house, so they could move into it. So, the Tioga Street house went on the back burner.

“You hate to do that with a flip because your goal is to get it done quickly,” said Tim. “Every month, you’re making another payment, you’re paying your property tax, you’re paying utilities, you don’t want to hold onto these things for a year like we did.”

Structurally, one end of the house had dropped 6 inches due to a home addition that was held up by a cinder block on dirt. They knew about this when they bought it, but: “In hindsight, it might’ve been smarter to tear off that end of the house. But we wanted to save what we could,” Tim said.

Another thing Angie would have added was lighting on the upper kitchen cabinets.

They had mixed emotions about selling a house they’ve worked on. It comes with a little bit of separation anxiety, she said.

She gets more attached than he does, he said.

In the end, the Allens are pleased with how it turned out. “We’re really proud of it, she’s a pretty girl,” she said.

View the listing for 5804 Tioga St. at http://bit.ly/30ZjgBa. Stop by from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 20 for an open house.