Refined Homes is an award-winning design-build construction company based in St. Paul’s Mac Groveland neighborhood. It specializes in remodeling older homes for families who want the benefits of urban living without sacrificing suburban amenities. Projects include designing and building custom kitchens, master suites, basements, bathrooms and room additions.
Owners Tricia and Ian Wiitanen schedule no more than three jobs at a time so they can personally focus on each project and provide superior craftsmanship and customer care. In fact, you may feel like you are on HGTV with their high-touch, remodeler couple approach.
Refined Homes is a 2X Minnesota Contractor of the Year recipient and NARI Universal Design Certified Professional. It primarily works in St. Paul, Minneapolis, Edina, Eden Prairie, Bloomfield and Oakdale, MN.
Tricia Lahti Wiitanen
Tricia joined her husband to grow Refined homes in 2016 after a thriving career in corporate staffing, management and sales. Having grown up with a family business that valued its customers and focused on the needs of the community, she always had ambition to do the same.
Tricia’s contribution is a systems-level understanding of business management and a true heart for customer service that meshes beautifully with Ian’s attention to detail and old-world craftsmanship. While he cares for the projects, she minds the business and the clients. The result is a concierge-level remodeling team that partners with homeowners to produce outstanding projects.
Many of the Wiitanens’ clients are families like their own who want to get the most out of their urban home lifestyles. For Tricia, the connection is personal. “If the clients are happy, I am happy. If not, I’m not. So we work very hard to please,” she smiled.
At one time, Tricia reveled in making million-dollar presentations in major corporations headquartered in Minnesota and across the Midwest. She also loved supporting smaller, family businesses where she owned accounts top to bottom. From growing up in Edina with a broad range of friends to working summers in her uncle’s 3rd generation Wisconsin grocery store and caring for her grandfather there, she relates to anyone, including Packer fans.
While some couples have rules to keep family and business separate, it’s seamless at Refined Homes. “We talk about projects at the dinner table. It’s good for our kids to see mom and dad working together and to experience what it looks like to operate a family business and earn clients’ trust,” Tricia explained. Going into business with Ian has only deepened their relationship and mutual respect.
Tricia has expanded her design and construction knowledge by getting certified as a Universal Design Professional, serving on the National Association Remodeling Industry’s NARI Cares nonprofit board and joining industry roundtables that include veterans in the remodeling industry who have become mentors.
She makes a habit of dropping by jobsites toward the end of the day so she can check in with customers (and occasionally do a bit of sweeping). She schedules trade partners, orders products, manages the finances, oversees marketing and represents the company in a Rotary Club and on the Highland Business Association board. She enjoys traveling, waterskiing, scuba diving, trail hiking and spending time with the family at their Northwoods cabin.
And in case you are wondering, Tricia is not short for Patricia.
Ian (it’s pronounced EYE-in, not EE-in) is a quiet craftsman who prefers achievement to talk, unless the topic is building science. As a young boy, he was drawn to science and shop classes. Now he combines fine workmanship with his passion for balancing building systems to create living spaces that are healthy, comfortable, energy efficient, durable and beautiful. Considering Minnesota’s extreme seasons, that’s a tall order for any contractor. But Ian relishes the challenge to get it right.
He doesn’t gauge his best project by cost or scope. “Large or small, every remodel is a series of steps that require attention to detail and quality at each stage. What you don’t see is every bit as important as what you do,” he explained.
Ian credits his Finnish grandfather for starting him on the path to becoming true craftsman. He owned a paint and varnish company and was a paperhanger. “When I was a kid, he always bought me tools for my birthday and Christmas. His patience and attention to detail always showed in the finished work. Ian learned construction hands on, one tool and project at a time.
Ian’s skills are broad and eclectic. He loves to pass on his interests to his daughters. That includes teaching them to design and build their own desks and to make jam from the cherry trees in the yard. He’s also known to bake bread from scratch and always makes an extra loaf to share with a neighbor.
Ian is driven to teach and collaborate. Expect him to explain his thinking behind mechanical and structural options. And if he notices a potential deficiency in your home, he’ll suggest a solution. “I’ll build it and they’ll love it,” he said.
He is responsible for estimating costs, managing construction and directing trade partners. He also does some of the construction himself. Unlike contractors who quote a single figure price with no breakdown, Ian lets clients know general categories of costs so they understand the impact of their decisions.
Ian is an avid outdoorsman with lifelong enjoyment of water skiing, scuba diving and boating. Although he spends much of his life improving homes, he prefers to bond with family and friends outdoors and when traveling.