An Amazing Addition


We approach every remodel project with the intent of having a dramatic impact on the lives of our clients.  You might say that we are in the business of amazing.

Here is an example that takes such a statement out of the realm of hyperbole and into the realm of the day to day.


Our client wanted a dining area that would fit her entertainment aspirations, but her current dining room was just too small to meet her needs.


Rather than try to expand the size of the dining room within the existing footprint of the home, we saw an opportunity to create an addition that would not only serve as a dedicated dining space, but would also transform the backyard.  One thing we needed to be sure of, however, was that we protected the gorgeous catalpa tree was a key feature of the backyard.


With its high ceiling and multitude of windows, the new room made for a dramatic setting for entertaining.  This was especially the case at night, when the landscape lighting made the windows instantly transparent — to beautiful effect!  To protect the catalpa tree, we exposed its roots and hired a tree preservationist to cut and treat the root following his evaluation of the construction’s impact on the tree.


Besides adding a beautiful dining area for our client, the new addition gave a courtyard feel to the back patio.  Since the kitchen had looked into the backyard before the addition of the dining room, we added a skylight to preserve its source of natural light.  Sometimes you can have your cake and eat it too.

Click on photos to enlarge. 

Here is a link to see a before – during – after sequence from one point of view of this dining room addition.






A Healing Remodel

Bathroom Remodel

The most usual challenge with remodeling old homes is dealing with infrastructural wear and tear.  Sometimes, however, an equal challenge can be found in dealing with previous remodel efforts.  In the case of one North End home, we were faced with both!  


This North End home had a long history, beginning with an original farm house structure that underwent several additions between the 1950s and 1980s.  While these additions provided much needed living space, they resulted in an incoherent floor plan that left no central gathering space for the family.  Our client’s vision was to turn this house back into a home.


The first thing to do is to clear all the property as it has a big space for the extension that is full with trees, dirt and garbage, we will be looking for the Land Clearing Companies in Va to clear the land and leave it ready for building purposes. The net effect of several additions over the decades was to move the “public” area of the home farther to the rear of the site, which included the home’s primary entrance.  As you can imagine, this caused many first time visitors to try and enter the home through an unused porch entrance.  Our goal was to keep the home basically intact, but make the structural changes (including the removal of the home’s middle structure) necessary to create a dining space, rebuild the area for a living room, and create a well defined entry to the home.


If a picture is worth a thousand words, the photos below could constitute a novel the size of War and Peace.  As it is, the narrative they portray is the real story behind this project.  The short version of that story is that as we began our work, we discovered  that the original foundation was disintegrating.  As a result, one wall dipped by almost an inch and a half.  Although it hadn’t been a part of the original plan, we proposed removing the old foundation as the first step to building a full second story to replace the former master bedroom/bathroom space.  We’re happy to say that we shaved the budget to make this an affordable, albeit unexpected, alteration to our scope of work.


It never fails to amaze us just how much a remodel can change peoples’ lives.  With the previously fractured plan for this home, the family room was located at the opposite end of the home from the kitchen.  With the remodel completed, the public spaces of the home flowed into one another with a clear line of sight between the living room, dining room, and kitchen.  This was a fun project to design, and to this day we get rave reviews from the owners whenever we bump into them.  Word travels fast in a small city, so in our line of work, you’d better deliver!

Click on photos to enlarge. 

The following tells more about what is going on in various images:

After. Before -The former house had many design issues, primarily due to several additions over the past few decades, which moved the ‘public’ area of the home to the rear of the site – along with the primary entrance. The former entry porch was no longer used – confusing many first time visitors to the home (the real entry is behind that bush on the left). The next 3 pictures will give a brief history of the home.

Home history (1 of 3): The home prior to a remodel by the previous owners in the early 80’s. What you see here is the original structure, and behind are two additions completed sometime in the 1930’s – 1950’s. Confusing? The new remodel will be the fourth major remodel to the home. Home history (2 of 3): The rear of the home showing to the right addition #1, what appears to be possibly a former Family Room addition. In the center, addition #2, a later remodel adding a bathroom and possibly a Kitchen. In the foreground, the 80’s addition foundation is recently poured. Note the location of the small window as a point of reference for the next photo. This little bump out is incorporated in the 80’s addition, visible in the next photo. Home history (3 of 3): The Master Suite and Kitchen addition (the 80’s addition) by the previous owners. The small window now in the covered entry. A nice addition featuring a full richly detailed Master Suite on the upper level, and a spacious naturally lit Kitchen and Laundry Room on the lower level. This was not an addition completed by Strite design + remodel.

Before – Here is a picture before our start. This portion of the home, for the most part, remained intact. We did include this former covered area into the home to provide a space for Dining. Note the bathroom window, still there, but not for long. During – The first bite.

An 800 lb steel beam to span across the kitchen, being lifted in place. We use steel to allow a continuous flat ceiling in the Kitchen and new Dining space. Note the plywood under the white wall at the right of the picture, this is protecting a cabinet that was saved. More on that later. Dining space framed in featuring direct access to Patio. The entry is now well defined from the entry to the property, and more importantly connects directly to the public area of the home.

After – Installing the paint grade trim work, very detailed and labor intensive – resulting in a dramatic impact. All the wood work mimics the existing home’s details. Note how the hardwood floor is protected during the last stages of the remodel. Before –  Lets take a look at the fractured layout of the former home. The Family Room was located at the opposite end of the home from the Kitchen. To reach the Kitchen from here, there were 3 spaces to walk through. Before – Continuing to the Kitchen, the Dining space with stairs to the Master Suite. The Hall ahead steps down and you must step up again to enter the Powder room on the left. This is the room with the small window mentioned earlier. Watch the red wall… During – Removing the bath, a difficult task due to the old and the new completely encasing it. Backhoe + chain = power.

During – Same view, door removed off of stairwell. Note the stairs were reconfigured to ‘land’ in traffic flow, not in the middle of the room. The space to the left of the stairs contains the Pantry (accessible from the other side) and the Mechanical room. The new hardwood flooring is being installed at the time of this picture, the flooring ties into the existing Kitchen floor. Note the flat ceiling in the Kitchen – evidence of the steel beam doing it’s job. During – The white door was installed to block access to the Master Suite, which remained intact. A temporary insulated wall was installed in the Kitchen to keep the Kitchen warm, and to provide security. The new Family Room wall on the left is newly framed. Note the former mechanical space at the right, this was slightly relocated to accommodate a new walk-in Pantry.

After – Looking into the new Family Room from the existing Kitchen. Note cabinets to the left, with art wall above. The new Patio is accessible through the door at the right. The owners enjoy many of their meals outside, direct access from the Kitchen ideal. Before – One last look at the before, this time from the Kitchen looking down the hall into the former Dining space. Note the step in the hallway. The cabinets in the Hall were saved, and feature lighting will be installed to light the wall above them, as this space is now part of the new Dining area. During – Same view, note cabinets are protected by OSB at the left side of the picture.

A Kitchen Sees the Light

Kitchen Remodel

In reading our stories about kitchen remodels, you’d be forgiven for coming to the conclusion that we have a thing about drop ceilings.  Suffice it to say that we’ve removed more than a few of them in our career.

It’s not a bias per se, it’s just that they generally serve no other purpose than housing florescent light fixtures — and we think there are better alternatives when it comes to bringing light into a living space, as this case study demonstrates.


In this remodel project, our client wanted to not only update the look of their kitchen, but address an issue unique to its original design: the quality of the light.  In the process of improving this aspect of the kitchen, we also suggested a change that enhanced the flow of activity in the adjoining room.  In our business, the obvious is quite often hidden.


While the original kitchen was spacious and well designed overall, it suffered from one particular drawback.  Because it faced east, with a wall almost entirely of windows, it received early morning sun.  With no other windows to balance this out, there was a lot of contrast.  To address this, we removed the drop ceiling and added a skylight along with strategically placed can lights to achieve the balance we were looking for.  An additional challenge in this kitchen was that it had only one wall to serve as both the location for appliances and storage.


To update the overall look of the kitchen, we added new cabinets and stained a built-in bench to match them.  We also replaced the existing linoleum with hardwood and put in new windows with a raised sill height to reduce the amount of splash clean up.  To give folks the option of standing at the kitchen bar, we raised the height of the counter.  In addition to improving the light in the kitchen, we also improved its functionality by taking out an existing double oven, which we replaced with added counter space and cabinets.  We then added a range and oven in the center of the kitchen wall, along with a stone tile back splash.


Before undertaking this remodel, we noticed that the existing placement of the sliding door to an outside deck in the adjoining room resulted in wasted space.  We suggested moving the sliding door further along the wall.  Our client’s trust in letting us do this created a more logical pathway outdoors, as well as a better seating layout.  When you look holistically at the relationship between one space and another, good things happen.

Click on photos to enlarge. 






From Tuscan to Contemporary: a Whole House Remodel

Our clients loved their Southeast Boise neighborhood, and while the Tuscan-inspired exterior of their house was attractive, the carry over of that theme into its interior created a number of issues for the couple from the day they bought it.  Although our initial focus was the kitchen, this ambitious remodel soon extended well beyond.


Our clients’ home was certainly large enough from the standpoint of floor plan, but it always felt crowded to them — particularly when more than one person was in the kitchen.  Beyond updating the look of their home’s interior to reflect a more contemporary European style, what our clients wanted was a greater sense of spaciousness, and straighter, cleaner lines throughout.


One of the drawbacks of the original kitchen was inefficient workflow, especially between the cooktop, the preparation space, and the refrigerator.  Our clients also wanted to improve the efficiency of their cabinetry as well.  Besides the kitchen, several other spaces suffered from what our clients repeatedly described as being “cramped” and dark.”  For one thing, the home had a beautiful backyard and patio area, but there was virtually no visual connection to it from inside.  The house had a separate dining room, but it wasn’t large enough to host the family gatherings they had envisioned — while the dining area next to the kitchen gave the term “nook” a meaning more synonymous with “cramped” than “cozy.”  Although it came as something of an afterthought, our clients asked us to address their home’s staircase, which while visually striking, also added to a bulky and dark look that plagued other areas of the home’s interior.


Addressing our clients’ issues resulted in nothing less than a virtual gutting of their home’s interior, beginning with the transformation of their kitchen and dining area into contiguous spaces in which form followed function with a contemporary European sensibility.  Although we didn’t significantly change the footprint of the kitchen, we profoundly changed the nature of the space and visually opened it up — partly by adding a bank of windows over the kitchen sink.  This effect that was repeated in the former breakfast nook, which was squared off to pick up enough additional square footage to make it a viable family dining room (the former dining area has since become a cozy sitting room alternative to the family room adjoining the kitchen).  The bank of windows installed in the reconfigured breakfast nook also had the effect of bringing in views of the backyard to enhance the overall feeling of light and space in the home.  This effect was further heightened in the evening, thanks to the outdoor lighting.  The flow of the great room/kitchen/dining area was further enhanced by continuous cork flooring.

The staircase redesign took many hours to figure out.  The original had a half wall that went all the way up the stairs, and our clients had proposed taking out that wall to create an open bannister with a custom rail to match the curve of the stairs.  This would have been very costly, so we instead proposed demolishing the old staircase and reframing it to create the straight, clean lines that the couple was looking for as a consistent theme of their remodel.

In its original layout, guests who wanted to use the downstairs bathroom/powder room had to walk through a narrow passage way that led to the laundry room, and ultimately to the garage.  We relocated this bathroom to make it more accessible, then expanded the walls and ceiling of the laundry room area to make it a more practical workspace and quasi-mudroom.  We also remodeled the master bathroom, removing the soffits, updating the cabinets and fixtures, replacing the spa tub with a free standing model, and installed a more contemporary looking shower.  By removing the space that had been a separate toilet area, we were also able to expand the size of the walk-in closet, while adding to the overall sense of spaciousness in the master bath and giving it a sense of symmetry consistent with the rest of the remodel.


Overall, this was a project that involved not only issues of esthetics and flow, but also a number of structural challenges as well — most notably with the staircase and dining room remodels.  Although Strite brought the best of its design and construction acumen to bear on the successful conclusion of this whole house remodel, that success was due in no small part to our clients’ participation in the design process.  The old adage in our profession remains true: the best work is engendered by the best customers.

Hit here to go to another post with more images of this home.

Hit on any of the following images to enlarge.




What Are the Advantages to Working With Strite design + remodel?

It’s important to keep in mind that retrofitting a space is more complex than building something from the ground up. This is true even when adding onto your home, as it will still require blending the new structure into an existing one and connecting all the necessary services (e.g., electrical, heating and plumbing, etc.) to the original home.

Other factors involved include maintaining the livability of the existing home for family and pets throughout the process — which is a situation unique to remodeling, and one that STRITE is experienced at handling.

There are many advantages to working with STRITE when considering the above. Among these are:

  • STRITE design + remodel incorporates design and planning into all of our remodeling projects, and we have in-depth remodeling experience as well as a thorough understanding of its cost.
  • Having in-house design professionals allows STRITE to keep the budget in mind throughout the design process. This solidifies the cost effectiveness of STRITE’s systems and processes.
  • STRITE has a reputation for excellence. We invite you to view our client list and talk to past clients about their experience with us.
  • STRITE’s team approach — maintaining its core team members for the past 20 years — has been a primary factor in providing excellent customer service.
  • STRITE is a local and national award-winning company that has served the remodeling needs of Treasure Valley residents since 1975.
  • STRITE is a member of GuildQuality, a third-party customer satisfaction survey and reporting company, and has been recognized as a Guildmaster or Guildmaster with Distinction for the last five years in a row. According to GuildQuality, over 97% of our customers surveyed since 2006 would recommend STRITE design + remodel to others, compared to a national average of 60%.

The Emotional Roller-coaster of Your Remodel

Ever wonder how you might feel while remodeling your home?


We understand the difficulty making decisions, allowing newly-met people into your home, seeing your house under demolition and construction, and above all trusting a remodel contractor with your investment. Understanding what you’re going through helps us cater to your needs and our unique process allows us to work together on your remodel.

A Few Feet from Functional to Fantastic

Kitchen Remodel

A little extra square footage can make a huge difference in the functionality of a space — as can the addition of high-end amenities and finishes.  In the case of this remodel, the combination of the two transformed a kitchen from barely adequate into an exceptional entertainment area.  


Our clients enjoyed entertaining, but their existing kitchen allowed little standing room for gatherings.  It also had low ceilings and was closed off from the rest of the home.  With a little “borrowed” space, and some contemporary zest, we saw the potential to change all that.


The former kitchen’s nook was too small to be of much utility to the family, so the most obvious step in the remodel was to incorporate this space into the new kitchen (which also meant removing a fireplace).  To further increase the size of the kitchen area, however, we would have to move some walls while keeping the same roof line and using the same trusses.


While preserving the basic U-shaped layout of the kitchen, we bumped out one wall by three feet, and another by two (we adapted this structural change into a gable on the home’s exterior).  This created a wide open space inside for a large central island with seating for four.  To further increase the sense of spaciousness, we also removed the former kitchen’s drop down ceiling.  We replaced the original windows in the kitchen and adjoining dining nook with new, commercial-grade windows.  Along with the kitchen’s expansion, we installed a main sink and a prep sink, two dishwashers, a huge single level island, and a separate fridge/freezer side-by-side setup.


This remodel, which was featured in the Idaho Statesman, effectively doubled the size of our clients’ kitchen.  In addition to ensuring that they will be able to entertain not only in comfort but also in style, the high quality products and sleek, contemporary design will bring years of enjoyment.  We’d be remiss without acknowledging the some great local companies we worked with to make this project a success: Jaymark cabinets (cabinetry), Seed Interiors (interior design), and Jim’s Appliances (Thermadore appliance package).  We like to think that we’re known by the company we keep.

Click photos to enlarge: 


What to do?

When folks are considering remodeling, the question that often arises is should we stay and remodel, or should we find what we want and move.

Lets assume your home is a 3 bed, 3 bath, 2,100 square foot home.  You would like to add another bedroom and bathroom because one of your bedrooms is small and is being used as an office.  The size of this addition would be about 200 – 250 square feet (bedroom, closet, bath).

Several factors to consider:

  • Costs of moving, inconveniences, neighbors.


  • Listing and commission costs.  Showing your home.  Moving costs.  Fix up prior to selling.  Buying new furniture for new home.  Typically 6% of the home’s price.
  • Surprises – you know what you have now, but what are you getting?  Even a good inspection will miss something, we see often (see this post about shower).
  • Packing and moving costs: we called Chris Borchers who is the manager of Crosstown Movers (many of our clients have used and have great things to say), and he states that a 2,000 square foot home will cost about $1,560 plus materials estimated in the $400 range.  This includes packing up the contents, loading onto truck, and unloading at new home – but not unpacking (you get to do that…);
  • Larger house, more property taxes.
  • Larger house, more operating costs – insurance, gas, electrical, landscaping, etc…
  • Other fees – closing costs, change in address,
  • Fixing up existing home for resale, estimate $2,000 (can vary widely);
  • New furniture/appliances, blinds, etc.  for new home, estimate $2,000.
  • Neighbors, school district.  One level home.
  • Depending on situation, home equity may be eaten up in new purchase.

Not Just Another Pretty Face


We are pleased to announce that STRITE design + remodel has once again been recognized by NARI Idaho as “Remodeler of the Year” in the category of completed projects totaling $1 million or more over the past 12 months. We’re certainly no strangers to this recognition, and you might imagine that receiving this news from our local chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry would be an occasion for high fives, fist bumps, and a few “booyahs.” And you’d be right. After all, as the man said, “It ain’t braggin’ if you done it.”

But aside from the bragging rights that go with the award, which STRITE has won repeatedly since its creation, we are sharing our triumph with you for reasons that are more subtle and, we believe, more important to anyone in the Gem State who might consider embarking on a remodeling project somewhere down the road. These reasons have more to do with the state of our industry and what that means to homeowners. Let’s just put it this way: if you hear us shouting, “We’re number one, baby!”, we are being VERY inclusive.

To begin with, it is significant for our industry in the great State of Idaho that we even have a company in the “over $1 million” category — let alone that there were two other local remodelers besides us in that category in 2014. In 2010, given the economic doldrums we continued to find ourselves in, we were barely able to hit the million dollar mark — and there were no other Idaho companies in that category at all. It’s welcome news to our industry and the clients we serve that our market is once again healthy enough to support the talented and dedicated people who offer some very valuable skills to our community. This return to health was also recently evident in the story we shared a few months back about the continued uptick in the “cost vs. value ratio” — an index that bodes well for homeowners and remodelers alike after years in decline.

Even more important, we see our Remodeler of the Year award as a validation of the work that NARI has done nationwide to raise the standards of our industry. We can make so bold as to say this because the annual NARI awards are not a beauty contest. Earning the designation “remodeler of the year” isn’t based on impressive “before” and “after” pictures, however many we’re willing to offer — it is based on feedback from clients, suppliers, contractors, and vendors. This feedback is generated via questionnaires that are scored to rate not only the quality of work of participating remodelers, but the quality of the experience of working with them. The highest score wins.

Jim Strite -- the remodeler who founded not only the company named after him, but NARI of Idaho as well!

Jim Strite — the remodeler who founded not only the company named after him, but NARI of Idaho as well!

Given the selection criteria, you can appreciate how achieving first place status over the course of more than a million dollars earned from satisfied customers would put a little spring in our step — something I recently confirmed with our founder, Jim Strite, whose comment was, “I’m elated — it shows that our company is continuing to do the kind of work that it was intended to do for the public we serve. It makes us stand out as significant.”

Of course, you would expect the founder of our company to say just that…or words to that effect. What is surprising is that Jim actually went on to say that he’s just as delighted to see other companies besides STRITE receive the same recognition. That sentiment would probably seem hopelessly altruistic if it weren’t for the fact that Jim Strite founded the Idaho chapter of NARI some 25 years ago. As far as Jim is concerned, every Remodeler of the Year award that NARI Idaho hands out is proof that the organization’s mission is thriving.

“Being the founder of our NARI chapter, it’s gratifying to see anyone win,” says Jim. “Our mission has always been to educate remodelers on what it means to run a professional business, and to educate consumers on what it means to hire a professional remodeler. The award is really a recognition of achieving high standards, and if the same company continually won, it wouldn’t say much for our success in proliferating the value of professional business practices.”

Every NARI member is required by the organization to sign a Code of Ethics in which they agree to adhere to good business practices and performance specifications. This is especially significant in a state like Idaho, which does not require contractors to be licensed (they are required to register with the Bureau of Occupational Licensing). As the NARI website explains, “By using a NARI member, you can rest assured that you are working with a remodeling professional who is willing to stake his or her reputation on providing the best of service excellence.” To further its mission, NARI also offers certification programs for critical trades such as lead carpenter.

To Jim, however, the most important contribution that NARI Idaho has made since its founding has been helping remodeling companies “understand their numbers.”

Brad Milspaugh, STRITE's vice president, and a man who knows his numbers.

Brad Milspaugh, STRITE’s vice president, and a man who knows his numbers.

“When people hire a remodeler, they typically think in terms of product, deadline, and cost,” says Jim. “But the real question is how well the remodeler understands the business of remodeling. Most individuals entering the market locally are very talented technicians, with a great amount of technical knowledge, but they haven’t had the exposure to the financial portion of the business. It’s a service business, not a production business — and it doesn’t follow the same pricing models as new construction. Understanding this is ultimately beneficial to the client, since it makes it more likely that the remodeler will be around to do the warranty work and won’t saddle the client with the burden of an unfinished job or unpaid bills. You don’t want to pay the price twice.” You also don’t want a construction lien on your home.

Although retired from STRITE, Jim remains actively involved in NARI Idaho, and will probably teach another “numbers class” this summer through the organization. In the meantime, he’ll savor the success of the company he founded winning the most prestigious award offered by the trade organization he founded.

“I think the industry is definitely improving, and I think this is great. For STRITE, winning this award indicates that our business acuity is there, since our clients were obviously satisfied with not only the product but the process that created it — and NARI Idaho’s success will continue to mean that we are competing against people who similarly understand what it means to be successful in our industry…and that’s good for everyone.”

Of course, when you consider that the criteria for the NARI Remodeler of the Year awards focus on the experience of the homeowner, receiving an award is a testament to the people charged with delivering that experience on a daily basis.  In the case of STRITE, this starts from the top with Bob Mundy, STRITE’s current president, and the the project management team he oversees.  Matt Mundy, Ed Lee, and Bob himself are the faces that greet STRITE’s customers at virtually every step of the remodel project, along with folks like Michael Snow and Caitlin Tucker, whose guiding hands shape the design goals that realize the lifestyle aspirations that drive a remodel to begin with.  And, of course, there is the oversight of office administrator Rita Galbreaith who makes sure that the “i’s” get dotted and the “t’s” get crossed along the way.  The truth is that at STRITE there is no such thing as a job position that doesn’t touch the client, which makes all of our staff the true Remodelers of the Year.

Designing Minds: Worth The Wait