Who Says Economical Can’t Be Exciting?

Bathroom Remodel

Remodeling can be a bit like a potato chip…it’s hard to stop at just one. This lower level guest bathroom was part of a larger remodel project, and with so many other rooms getting a makeover, it was hard to resist this long overdue update.


While our primary objective was to give this bathroom a more contemporary look, it was a perfect opportunity to address a very obvious issue: the bathtub. At 48-inches long and half again that deep, it hardly seemed useful for more than just a catch basin for the shower…or a good place to wash the family pet!


We kept the layout of the bathroom as it was and replaced the tub with a shower. To make the shower more accessible, we borrowed space from an adjoining closet. The green toilet and matching sink had to go…along with the shag carpet!


In addition to a new sink and toilet, we gave the bathroom a more contemporary look by removing the drop down soffit and putting in a floating cabinet. In place of the previous lighting, which was in the soffit, we added more stylish pendant lights. We replaced the shag carpet with tile that complimented the new counter top.


As dramatic a difference as this remodel made to the guest bathroom, it was a very economical project. While new construction seldom contains any surprises, the same cannot be said for remodeling. In this case, the demolition phase revealed some very interesting wallpaper, and evidence of two previous remodels. We think this last one is the best one.

Click on photos to enlarge:

A Foothills Remodel Takes a ‘70s Home “Back to the Future”

Whole House Remodel

Our clients came to their home for the view, and stayed for the architecture. But before they reached that point, there was a lot to get done — as you’ll learn in this whole-house remodel case study that was featured in this year’s NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry) Remodeled Homes Tour.


Our clients loved the Boise foothills for their beauty and recreational opportunities, and when a chance run high above their North End home led past a certain “for sale” sign, they knew a change of address was the way to take greater advantage of this jewel in Boise’s crown. Although they saw a lot to work with in the bones of their ‘70s era home, they knew with equal certainty that it would take a lot of design talent, engineering insight, and project management — not to mention plenty of good old-fashioned demolition — to pay off their home’s architectural potential.


The architecture of our clients’ home certainly made it unique, and its view of the Boise Valley from amid a cluster of trees was gorgeous — but the home’s floor plan not only failed to take full advantage of its design and site, it also robbed its inhabitants of the daily inspiration they should otherwise have enjoyed. To open up new lines of sight, add more points of light, and take full advantage of the views from around the second floor living space, a lot of walls and other “obstructions” would have to be removed, as would an aging and dysfunctional deck system. In the process, our clients also wanted the aesthetic improvements of an updated look and amenities in their kitchen and master bathroom.


STRITE’s initial focus in realizing out our clients’ vision was to remove anything on the second floor, including the existing kitchen and fireplace, that would obstruct or diminish the views from the south side of their home, and in so doing make possible the corresponding light those views could bring to a more open floor plan.  Accomplishing this goal involved not only the demolition of walls, but also the replacement of an existing wall bearing point with a less intrusive steel beam that, when polished, picked up the metal highlights of the new kitchen fixtures.  By reclaiming an area of wasted space adjoining the kitchen, STRITE was able to convert it into a large, walk-in pantry with enough storage to eliminate the need for kitchen cupboards — thus adding to the clean lines and open feeling that our clients valued, in contrast to the cramped feeling of the original kitchen layout.

To further improve the views from the reconfigured living room, dining room, and kitchen, we added and enhanced window spaces. Although our clients’ original intention, thanks to input from the interior designer who STRITE brought on to the project team, was to relocate the existing fireplace, the fact that they seldom used it made its complete removal a more logical design decision.  By reclaiming the wasted space represented by the fire pit, as well as removing an alcove on one side of the fireplace, we were able to add another 200 square feet to the living room, as well as effectively making a previously “hidden” door to an outside walkway work as another view window.  To carry over the emerging look in other areas of the home, we replaced original carpet with lightly stained wood floors, and updated both the master bedroom (adding another point of light as one approached it from the hall) and the master bath (creating its own space distinct from the bedroom floorplan). On the outside of the house, our clients wanted to replace an aging and unsightly deck with a more aesthetically pleasing and functional option, as well as create a family-friendly patio in a backyard that they had described as “an un-level patch of cheatgrass.” To accomplish these latter renovations, we shared concepts and schedules with chosen local professionals whose expertise in their trades exceeded and complimented our own.


Our clients had lived in their home for 11 years before executing their ambitious remodel plan — but they had been working on that plan for most of this time, and they had a very clear idea of what they wanted as an end result. They hired STRITE to help them get there, and we in turn enlisted the services of an accomplished interior designer to coordinate architecture and decor. Along the way we replaced dated wooden bannisters with custom-designed metal railings, reconfigured the entryway to open up a better line of site, updated the children’s bedrooms, and added unique touches like a single, wall-sized tempered glass backsplash (our clients’ inspiration) that reflected the trees through the windows in the main living area. It was a complicated project that lasted five months (the latter part during which our clients lived in the ground floor of their home), and at times taxed our scheduling abilities — but the end result was what our clients’ have described as a home that “looks and functions even better than we thought it would.” Those 10 words are what we are in business to hear.

Hit on any of the following images to see larger versions in a gallery.

Click here to learn more about this project.

2013 NARI Remodeled Homes Video Tour


For those of you who were unable to attend this year’s Remodeled Homes Tour, we wanted to share the story behind the two projects we featured.  Since a picture is worth a thousand words, we thought we’d save a whole lot of pages by simply putting together this five minute slideshow presentation.

You’ll not only see the obligatory “befores” and “afters,” but the “whys and wherefores” as well!

From Danger to Delight: a Trellis Deck Addition

Deck Addition

A beautiful deck can add a lot to ones quality of life…until it ages to the point of becoming a hazard.  Remodeling to the rescue!


When a deck begins to wobble, it has become more than just an eyesore.  It’s just plain dangerous.  Our client wanted us to not only make it safe, but more appealing.


Our client wanted to keep the basic configuration of the old deck, but add a new design element in the form of a trellis that would offer both an element of visual appeal as well as a source of shade for a southern exposure.


We removed the old slab that the original deck was built on and poured a new slab for the deck’s foundation.  The new deck was a two-tier version of the original, with decorative metal railing to define the upper and lower areas


With a southern exposure, you want to limit the negative effects of the sun, but not at the expense of blocking the view from a hillside lot.  We used a clear rail system to balance these considerations, as well as opting for a more durable material than the previous deck’s wooden railing.  Ah, the good life!

 Click on photos to enlarge. 

And Baby Makes Five


When a family increases by one child more than the number of bedrooms, it’s time to consider a larger home — but that doesn’t mean buying a new one.  Think of this situation as an opportunity to customize, as well as add on.


Our client’s family had increased by a child, and with only two kids’ rooms in their current floor plan, they needed to add a new bedroom to accommodate number three.  Having recently spent some time overseas, however, they wanted a design that would reflect a new esthetic sensibility as well as provide more space.


The original floor plan design for the new addition had been created by an architect whom our clients had hired.  As the folks who were responsible for building it, however, we found some aspects of the design to be a bit awkward.  The first thing we did in redesigning the space was to create a larger family area as part of the new bedroom addition.


We ripped out the two original kids’ rooms and used the space over the home’s garage to frame three bedrooms and a family room.  This was a more technically demanding project than it might seem on its surface, since we had to accommodate existing duct work in the construction.  In designing the layout of the new rooms, we made sure that each of them had windows on two sides — something we are big believers in doing.


Along with the windows in each child’s bedroom, we added a skylight to the new family room space to bring in more natural light.  The result of the project was a balancing of personal and communal space that appealed to the newfound sense of esthetics that our clients had acquired while living overseas, and gave new meaning to the expression, “one big happy family.”  Great design, when applied to where we live, has a way of bringing joy to our lives.

Click on the photo to enlarge:






A Challenging Hillside Addition

Family Room Addition

If you are at all familiar with the Strite culture, it should come as no surprise to learn that our most rewarding remodel projects are often our most challenging — and among our most challenging are those associated with hillside lots.  


Our clients’ home was notched into a hill with a second level that included a bedroom and bathroom.  What their home lacked — and what they wanted — was a bonus room that would provide a better entertainment space and take advantage of a view of Bogus Basin.


With its hillside placement, getting to our clients’ ground floor from their front door required going up about eight steps.  That being the case, if we were going to add a second level with a standard 9 foot ceiling, we would have had to add additional steps up to the new bonus room.  We didn’t want to do that, so we instead spanned across the depth of the garage with a four foot deep floor system using a web truss rather than a joist system design.  Pulling this off required a lot of design studies to get right, and we also had to accommodate for the return plenums in the HVAC system that were situated right where the entry to the addition would be.  Crunch time!


As we were constructing the new 660-foot bonus room, we marked out the best window placements for optimal views.  Since our clients wanted to augment their kitchen capacity to better entertain, we not only added a compact but highly functional kitchenette, but also created cutout models of gaming tables, seating areas, etc. to make sure the space fulfilled their needs.  While the existing HVAC ductwork created a hiccup, we took advantage of the deep crawl spaces associated with hillside slopes to relocate the furnace and hot water heater to an existing crawl space area.  For the sake of design continuity, we replicated the garage gable bump out with a window seat bump out to the addition.


As you’ve probably guessed, this was a very technical remodel, with challenges that ranged from the hillside lot itself, to engineering and mechanical issues, as well as basic design issues.  Our clients put a lot of faith in us — which we’d like to think had something to do with previous remodel projects we had handled for them — but the results more than justified their confidence in us.  That’s a good feeling.

Click on photos to enlarge.

To see a before-during-after sequence, visit this link.

Barbacoa: The Phoenix Still Rises

Commercial Bar and Bathroom Remodel

Looking at Barbacoa today, it’s hard to believe that just a little over three years ago the predawn skies of Southeast Boise were illuminated by a devastating fire that reduced the dream of Robert and Martine Castoro to ashes.  While the restaurant structure may have been destroyed, however, the dream was not.  Standing in front of the rubble that just a few hours before had been one of the Treasure Valley’s most unique dining venues, Robert Castoro vowed, “We will rebuild.”  Strite has been honored to play a small role in the fulfillment of Castoro’s pledge, and with the completion of a remodeled rooftop dining area, we wanted to celebrate the vision of Barbacoa’s owners — and the restaurant’s reemergence from the ashes of January 2010.  

The tagline on the sign next to the front door tells you a lot about what you can expect once you walk through it: Stimulate your senses.  Elevate your mind.  If you’re tempted to dismiss this as mere hyperbole, you’re bound to do a quick reality check once you cross the threshold of Barbacoa.  If anything, the southeast Boise restaurant’s tagline seems suddenly understated.

“We want to bombard every single one of your senses the second you walk through the front door,” says manager Brian Hurzeler.  “Whether you are taking in the ambiance through the music, the scenery from our patio or rooftop, the art, the fragrances we’ve customized for different areas of the restaurant, or of course, the food…we want you to be moved by what you experience.”

As people who love good design, we often think thematically.  That’s a mindset that somewhat misses the point of the Barbacoa experience, however.  As Hurzeler explains, owners Robert and Martine Castoro combined a shared love of food and art to create a venue that is equal parts art gallery, museum, and restaurant — with much of the art created by local artists, including Martine.

The jambalaya of ethnic influences that exude from Barbacoa share their origins with its name, from which our word for barbecue is derived.  Latin, European, and even North African flavors permeate the decor — sources that Martine alludes to in a painting she did on a wall of the lounge navigating the cultural influences of the art and antiquities on display.

From a reception area where Egyptian fabrics and balsam wood roots vie texturally with exotic upholsteries, through a wine bottle tunnel supported by pillars from on old Roman library, past a lounge dominated by a metal sculpture of Medusa, the journey just gets more visually stimulating.  A Greek aqueduct hangs over the bar, dripping suspended crystals.  A glycerin water fall shares a space with its elemental opposite, fire.  Antique doors that include those from a 14th century Turkish castle open into a conference room just a few feet from a bar crowned with sandstone from a more local source, Table Rock.  The centerpiece of the main dining area is the hand blown “Iced Antlers” chandelier created by local glass sculptor Filip Vogelpohl, owner of Boise Art Glass.

Barbacoa’s muse finds its way into its menu as well — or as Hurzeler puts it, “The artwork flows into the food.”  The culinary interpreter of that muse is the restaurant’s head chef, Enrique Martinez, who brings a Latin influence to his cuisine.  Hurzeler’s personal favorite menu item is the Hot Rock.  “It’s a 10 oz. filet mignon prepared on Idaho river rocks that are heated to 600 to 700 degrees, with a cognac sauce over the top to flame it.”  For further temptation, we suggest you check out the restaurant’s menu online — which also includes some amazing visuals of its decor.

Although Strite’s reputation has been built on residential remodels, our focus on adding value through great design resonated with Robert and Martine’s creative vision, and we were asked to handle the remodel of Barbacoa’s rooftop lounge, which included a restroom addition.

As with the restaurant’s other spaces, customers should expect the unexpected with the rooftop bar and dining area — along with a killer view of the Southeast Boise foothills and Parkcenter Pond.  Additions include new lighting and misting systems, new flooring and fabric shade “sails” anchored to sculpted metal tree posts. We especially encourage you to visit the rooftop restroom, if for no other reason than to admire the tile work we supervised.  We don’t know if it will inspire a new trend in home bathroom decor…but we’d love it if it did.

Physically, the few things that survived the fire of 2012 are some picture frames and door handles, which have since been integrated into the new restaurant decor — along with a door that now forms the entry to the rooftop bathroom.  The art and antiques that were destroyed would probably be a constant source of heartbreak for Robert and Martine if they chose to dwell on what they lost.  Instead, they focus on what remains: a bold sense of adventure, a love of beauty, and the belief in the transformations that take place when we sit down to eat together in settings that elevate our minds by stimulating our senses.  At Strite, we get that.

Click on photos to enlarge.