Photos by Wing Ho/Canary Gray
If you ever happen to come across the least-attractive house in a Twin Cities neighborhood, there’s a solid chance Tony Videen has already scoped it out, imagining what it would look like after a fresh renovation. As owner of STR8 Modern, a Golden Valley-based full-service real estate firm that also happens to do its fair share of renovations (specifically underloved, underappreciated homes built in the 1950s and ’60s), all he sees is potential.
Unsurprisingly, Videen has developed an impressive eye for these homes after nearly 20 years working in real estate and a decade renovating homes alongside a trusty team of craftspeople who bring it all together. His approach to him is, in theory, straightforward: Videen seeks out existing homes, designs the renovation plans in-house, and then makes over these residences within just a few short months.
“I’ve always been someone who notices and loves the details in a home’s architecture,” he says. “We know we can breathe new life into it. When we’re first looking at a home, we’re looking to create a floor plan that can work for the client with the open feel our designs have.”
With a penchant for midcentury design, Videen took this very same approach in the design of his own house. Six years ago, his firm was renovating a home in a Golden Valley neighborhood, but he fell in love with the house next door: a flat-roofed, midcentury-modern abode. From there, I have happened to form a kinship with the homeowner, Mary, who had lived there for 45 years. “After years of friendship, she sold the home to me,” he says. “Mary was involved during the entire process, including renovating it and turning it into my dream home. I still call it ‘Mary’s house.’”
Within his designs, Videen tends to gravitate toward local, handmade finds to decorate and furnish his projects. “Hennepin Made, Dutton Brown, and Tandem Made are our go-tos for light fixtures,” he shares. “And how amazing to have Blu Dot and Room & Board right here, too.”
But now that he’s living in his own dream home, which was designed with entertaining at the forefront, Videen looks ahead at the future of STR8 Modern. He says, “We typically can complete up to five whole-home renovations per year. We hope that within the next few years, we can increase that to 10 homes per year.” After all, there will always be another old home around the corner, just waiting for a total transformation.
RENOVATOR | Tony Videen
Have you always lived in the Twin Cities? I was born and raised here. It was first working on renovating a loft in Lowertown St. Paul with my dad in the early 2000s that gave me the passion for renovation and using my design skills.
Any style pet peeves? People not using art and accessories. These are the simplest ways to really give an existing space new life.
How can someone make their home more modern? The easiest way is with furniture and, again, accessories. With the ability to shop at local outlets like Blu Dot and Room & Board, modern styling is much more approachable.