A Kitchen Shows Its Social Side

Kitchen Remodel

The fate of too many kitchens is like that of Cinderella before the arrival her fairy godmother: toiling away in relative obscurity.  Once we worked our magic on this kitchen, however, it became the belle of the ball — long past the stroke of midnight!

Vision

Our clients loved to entertain, but their kitchen’s isolation kept it out of the social mix.  Fortunately, the walls that separated it from the dining and living rooms were not load bearing, which presented us with options that proved both dramatic and economical.

Challenge

Our mission in this remodel was to open the kitchen space up to the rest of the house.  To keep the project within a tight budget, however, we needed to preserve its original footprint.  We accomplished this by removing two walls, including the one behind the range — which meant replacing the old exhaust vent with a drop down hood.  Rather than taking the walls out completely, we left part of them in place to become raised bars.

Accomplishment

Creating raised bars around the former walls had an added benefit of leaving the existing hardwood flooring unaffected — which kept cost down as well as creating social spaces.  We also kept the existing counter tops, and rather than replacing the cabinets we sanded and refinished them and added hardware finishes as an upgrade.  We took out the can lighting and replaced it with pendants.  As a finishing touch, we also added tile backsplash around the new range.  And as you can see from the before and after photos, we even refinished a door leading outside from the kitchen so that it would match the cabinets.

Highlights

One of the benefits of integrating a kitchen into the rest of a home is that it often increases the utilization of adjoining rooms — especially the dining room.  This project is another great example of the “face-lift” kitchen remodel that maximizes the use of existing materials, makes modest structural changes, and with the clients’ excellent finishes choices, creates an entirely new-feeling space while staying within the desired budget.

Click photos to enlarge:

Taking a Balanced Approach

By its nature, an addition remodel is about creating something that wasn’t there before.  This in turn means incorporating something new into something that already existed.  A well executed addition should do this in a way that not only respects the integrity of a home’s design, but enhances it as well.  It’s all about balance.  

Vision

Our clients wanted an exercise space over their garage, and a hallway that would connect this room with the rest of their home.

Challenge

More often than not, when you add an addition you are faced with balancing out the home as well as adding to it.

Accomplishment

In the case of this addition, we not only added the space the clients were looking for, but filled out the home in a balanced way.

Highlights

Looking at the “After” photos reveals a simple but effective design trick for creating balance with a new addition: we replicated the shape of one design element (in this case the vent above the section of the home on one side of the garage) and incorporated it into the shape of a design element on the other side (in this case, a window).  We also picked up on the column elements that appear in other sections of the home and incorporated this design into the facade of the addition.

Click on photos to enlarge

Form Follows Function in a Laundry Room Makeover

Laundry Room/Mud Room Remodel

It’s amazing what you can do with a little bit of underutilized space — especially when you apply it to as utilitarian but important a purpose as a laundry and mud room!

Vision

This interior remodel was the result of a larger project, during which we reclaimed space from a former master shower and tub area whose size exceeded our clients’ needs.  What they DID need, however, was a better laundry area.

Challenge

Not unusual in contemporary design, access to our clients’ home from the garage led through their laundry room.  What was odd, however, was the fact that it also led past the only bathroom on the main floor of the home.  This meant that guests had to pass through the laundry room on their way to the powder room — hardly an ideal layout.

Accomplishment

We relocated the powder room and used this space, along with what we claimed from the adjoining master bath, to create a much more functional mud/laundry room.  The new room included shoe storage, lockers for the kids, storage bins and cabinets, room to hang coats and jackets, counter space over the washer and dryer, and a sink — all of which was well lit with florescent lighting.

Highlights

A functional laundry/mud room is too important in the daily life of a family to simply be an afterthought!  By taking advantage of space from an adjoining area, we were able to give this room the utilitarian due it deserved…while making sure it was esthetically pleasing as well.  Form never follows function by accident — it’s the result of good design.

 Click on photos to enlarge

A Bathroom Matures with its Owners

Master Bath Remodel

No home, however well designed, can continually meet our needs — much less our desires — because these both continually change.  In the case of one couple that we had worked for in the past, ambulatory challenges required a master bathroom remodel that combined convenience, accessibility, and more efficient use of space with a fresh look.

Vision

In previous blogs, we’ve talked about how spa tubs can be not only an impractical, but a huge waste of space.  In the case of one bathroom remodel, ambulatory issues required the redesign of a shower to make it both safer and more accessible.  Creating the space to accomplish this, as well as addressing other features that would better suit our clients‘ needs as they aged, meant removing the old tub — but that was just the start.

Challenge

Besides making the shower easier to get in and out of, including accommodating a chair if needed, we wanted to get rid of the old shower pan.  These will eventually crack and fail and are impossible to clean.  And while new showers have curbs, we wanted to avoid these because of our clients’ ambulatory concerns.  Addressing these issues also required us to make the toilet more accessible rather than have our clients negotiate another doorway.

Accomplishment

Removing the old spa tub and replacing it with a vintage standalone bathtub opened up a lot of space for the rest of our remodel, which included integrating the toilet into the main room rather than have it situated in a separate space.  At the same time, we both protected the toilet and maintained some privacy with a half wall.  We were able to forego the use of curbs in the shower by notching out a floor joist where it was being installed and insetting a new floor into the joist, creating a gentle slope toward the drain.  We also built a bench into the shower.  By removing the soffit above the vanity, we created additional space for a cabinet, since our clients had also wanted more storage in the bathroom.  We were able to add even more storage by setting the toilet out just enough to install a deeper cabinet above it.  As a final convenience, we installed heated floors with a programmable thermostat for added comfort on chilly mornings.

Highlights

This remodel project did much more than respond to the changing needs of an aging couple — we created a much better flow to the room, in part by squaring up the angles.  We also updated its appearance through new tile, his and her sinks, and new cabinets.  After all, even as we age, we still appreciate a fresh take on the world.

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It’s the Little Things…and Sometimes the Big Ones!

Bathroom Remodel

When you’ve done as many remodels as we have, you can determine when a home was built with a fair degree of accuracy based on certain telltale bathroom fixtures.  Bathtubs designed for Roman bacchanals are one of them!

Vision

Unless your home was custom built, there will always be those features that made you fall in love with it to begin with, those that you can live with…and those that are just plain annoying.  In the case of this simple bathroom remodel, our client was tired of having a huge bathtub that took up space they would have preferred to use in other ways — such has having more storage.

Challenge

Taking out a fixture such as a bathtub is one thing — the remodel challenge is what to replace it with that does more than simply change the look of a room.  We often find that homes constructed in the ‘90s would feature huge bathtubs that might at one time seemed novel — at least in concept — but soon lost their appeal.  By replacing the existing mega-tub with a smaller one in this remodel project, we were able to create the space needed to add something our client found much more practical: a bank of full-height cabinets.  Our client also wanted to use this project as an opportunity to address some smaller, but no less annoying, issues with their bathroom.

Accomplishment

By rebuilding the tub deck, we were able to install a more practical, and appealing, bathtub.  At the same time, we made some equally practical improvements in the shower.  Because of the way the shower door opened, our client lacked direct access to the shower controls.  We corrected this situation by installing the controls in the pony wall, and we also created a half wall in the shower for additional privacy.  We further updated the look of the bathroom by redesigning the vanity.

Highlights 

While our client’s needs were driven more by practical considerations than esthetics, this simple bathroom remodel addressed both in a way that also saved them from draining their hot water tank every time they take a bath.  Who says you can’t be pragmatic AND appealing?

Click on photos to enlarge.

A Patio Remodel Offers La Vida Fresca

Patio Remodel

For those who enjoy patio living, Boise can present some seasonal challenges — especially for those used to more temperate climes.  Thanks to a patio roof addition, however, a Treasure Valley couple was able to enjoy life in the great outdoors.

Vision

Our clients had kept a second home in Mexico, but eventually decided to sell it and live full time in Boise.  They had become used to spending time outdoors on their patio, however, and wanted to continue that lifestyle in the City of Trees.

Challenge

Although their Boise home had a patio area, it offered very little protection from the elements — a particular problem during the extremes of summer and winter.  While they could have opted for an awning or umbrellas, we wanted to give them a more weather resistant, and permanent, option.

Accomplishment

Since we had already remodeled the kitchen and bathroom in their home, our clients had us build a roof over their patio, which we extended as well.  We installed two skylights to take maximum advantage of natural light, and even added a TV cable hookup to help transform the space into an “outdoor living room.”

Highlights

Tying the roofline of the covered patio into the existing roofline of the home was tricky, but the result was that the new addition looked as though it had always been a part of the home.  To compensate for the fact that the patio roof would block sunlight to the rear of the home, we added another skylight deep inside.  This actually brought more light to the home than it had before the addition.  Viva la vida fresca!

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

Remodel or Move?

From Qualified Remodeler:

RemodelOrMove.com’s U.S. Homeowner Sentiment Report for Spring 2011 reveals that homeowners who are interested in remodeling or expanding their homes have limited options. Of the 5,000 homeowners surveyed, today the average amount of home equity is $106,000 compared to $176,000 in 2009. This trimmed equity is partly due to a reduction in the average home value from $302,000 to $281,000.

If a homeowner moves, the report showed that the new home that meets their needs will cost, on average, $428,000. This is $145,000 more than what they could sell their current home for. On the other hand, the remodel cost estimate is approximately $100,000 to make similar improvements to their existing home. “To remodel or move has always been a difficult decision for homeowners,” says Dan Fritschen, founder RemodelOrMove.com. “This most recent survey reaffirms that both options could cost the homeowner more than $100,000. The calculator on our site can help homeowners to quickly gather information on renovating and moving and then make a recommendation which is best for an individual’s situation.” Fritschen adds that anyone who is considering a move or remodel should work with a real estate agent who can give them three key data points: an accurate estimate of their home’s value, the amount their home could appreciate as the result of a remodel and the price of a different home that would meet their needs.

So, what changes do homeowners want to make if they remodel or move? The Spring 2011 report includes the following data:

  • 57 percent report that they would like to have at least one additional bathroom;
  • 49 percent would like a kitchen renovation;
  • 46 percent are looking for more bedrooms; and
  • 44 percent would like a bathroom remodel.

While home expansion and renovation is on many people’s minds, the majority in the survey reported that they are very satisfied with local schools, their home’s location and neighborhood.  A detailed report is available here.