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A Dramatic Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen Remodel
Most folks would be forgiven for thinking that the ultimate in customization is to build from scratch. Granted, from both a design and construction perspective, a remodel always poses some constraints — for reasons of budget, if nothing else.  The sign of a great remodel project, however, is to make the “after” appear as though the “before” posed no limitations.  Here’s dramatic proof.

Vision

When the rooms you live in most are too confining, it’s time to think about annexing some interior real estate from the rooms you live in least.  Our client liked to entertain, but the kitchen was too cramped, the dining room was tucked awkwardly behind a partition wall, and the space occupied by the kitchen table obstructed the flow of traffic to the outside of the house.  Our goal was to improve the livability of all these rooms, while updating the look of the kitchen.

Challenge

Adding space to the kitchen meant taking it from the adjoining dining room — which meant taking out a wall.  With a full-fledged second story above the kitchen, this also meant relocating plumbing and duct work.  While we preserved the basic layout of the room, we shifted its location to open up more space between it and the family room.  In the process, we removed one window and enlarged and moved a second and centered it over the new sink.

Accomplishment

Moving the wall back between the kitchen and the dining room gave us an additional five feet of kitchen area.  In the remaining space from the former dining room we created a spacious and far more useful walk-in pantry.  We complimented the added sense of openness in the kitchen by removing the drop down soffits from the ceiling and replacing the old florescent lighting with can lights.  In place of the former sit down bar we created a larger, two-tiered counter that was more appropriate for entertaining.  Rather than the more expensive option of replacing the hardwood flooring, we refinished and stained ti to go with the new cabinetry we installed.  We even had a stainless steel facade fabricated to replace the panel on the existing refrigerator.  Why replace a perfectly good appliance just for the sake of making it “fit in” with its new surroundings?

Highlights

The new kitchen was a stunning success, and redefined the look of the home.  We should mention, however, that one of the children in the family had severe allergies.  We’re pleased to say that because of our efforts in isolating the construction area, no one experienced any ill effects.  We also set up a temporary kitchen in the garage, complete with carpet, so the family could maintain some normalcy in their lives.  When it comes to transforming a family’s living space, we believe in taking the trauma out of the drama.

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Also, a picture video can be viewed on YouTube.

 

Designing Minds: A Foothills Home Rediscovers Itself

Whole House Remodel

However little we may credit our powers of visualization, there are spaces we encounter that whisper to us just what they were meant to be. Sometimes they shout. In the case of our clients Keith and Deborah, one home’s intention was loud enough to be heard during a jog through the Boise foothills.

“We loved to recreate in the foothills, but we thought that a home there would be out of reach,” Keith remembers. “Then one day I was running in a neighborhood we had our eye on and saw that a ‘for sale’ sign had gone up. The house needed a lot of work, but the location was just what we had been looking for.”

What Keith and Deborah most liked about their foothills home was its view location, and also the unique triangularity of its architecture. Unfortunately, neither of these aspects were exploited to their full advantage in their carry over from exterior to interior.

Functionally, the most immediate feature of the home’s interior that the couple wanted to change was the kitchen, which was sequestered from the rest of the main floor living area by three-quarter height walls. Another problem area was the master bath that, thanks to a remodel by a previous home owner, protruded awkwardly into the adjoining master bedroom. Because they recognized that their home’s ultimate reconfiguration would involve much more than one or two isolated fixes, they also had the foresight to realize that it would be better to engage in a more holistic approach than in a series of piecemeal projects.

Because of their longterm view, and the fact that life happens while raising a family, eleven years went by before Deborah and Keith began working with STRITE on the realization of their remodel vision. During this period, however, they thought continuously about the fundamentals of layout and flow, and how best to bring lightness, brightness, and a killer view into closer proximity with their interior life. Toward these goals, Deborah had been collecting design ideas and inspirations with which she filled graph paper and sketch books.

Despite a decade’s worth of homework, Deborah and Keith chose not to put all their cards on the design table at their initial meetings with STRITE. “At first we were more focused on architecture and floor plan than on design specifics,” says Keith. “We also wanted to see what (STRITE designer) Michael Snow would come up with. It’s always good to see what a fresh eye can contribute.”

It didn’t take Michael long to grasp not only the vision that Keith and Deborah had in mind, but more fundamentally, the vision the home’s very architecture suggested. “The original architect obviously had a great vision, based on the rooflines, and a good floor plan,” Snow explains. “This was a very dynamic space to begin with — we just needed to take it to the next level.”

“STRITE’s design sketches were pretty much in line with our ideas,” says Keith, “since we had already decided to remove walls. The most notable exceptions were Michael’s idea to rotate the kitchen (to improve the line of sight as well as flow), and add a new window to the bedroom, which opened up a view as you walk down the hallway as well as creating another point of light.”

While some features of their home, such as its triangularity, served as design “anchors,” new ideas suggested themselves to Keith and Deborah during the ensuing 20-plus weeks of the remodel process. Among these were replacing “clunky” wooden staircase railings and removing an existing fireplace. The latter inspiration, Keith explains, came much later in the remodel process. “It was actually our decorator who first suggested getting rid of the fireplace. At the time, we were just thinking of remodeling it — but we were also struggling with the flow of the furniture in the room, and taking out the fireplace and fireplace pit ultimately reclaimed a lot of wasted living space. As it turned out, removing the fireplace cost less than updating it.”

Another inspiration that came to Deborah and Keith was the installation of a glass backsplash wall. As Keith remembers, “STRITE was both a bit nervous as well as excited about installing this feature. The glass had to be tempered, and all the electrical cutouts had to be done to customize it for the wall — but it ended up being one of my favorite elements of the remodel for a reason I hadn’t anticipated.” As it turned out, the glass wall made their kitchen and living space look larger by reflecting the trees outside the opposite wall window.

““Not too many people could have pulled off the installation of that glass,” says Deborah. “We didn’t really appreciate at the time just what we were asking from STRITE, since that single sheet turned out to be the size of a truck and weighs a ton. This really demonstrates where STRITE’s abilities show through — the high end skills involved in what they do.”

In addition to the interior remodel, Keith and Deborah wanted to replace an exterior deck system that was not only aging, but functionally irrelevant. STRITE suggested that the couple hire a company whose expertise they could vouch for. “STRITE was good enough to recognize their strengths and coordinate with another provider who had competencies they didn’t,” says Keith. “Their value add was their huge level of expertise in the details, their eye for things, their finishes, and managing a budget based on what we needed rather than add-ons other than our own.”

Looking back, Deborah and Keith see the sheer complexity of the project’s schedule, and its impact on their family life, to have been the most challenging aspect of their remodel. “It’s hard to second guess,” Deborah admits, “but if we had it to do over again, I would have brought the decorator into the process earlier, which Michael suggested. I would also have looked more critically at the project timeline at where there were gaps that could have been more tightly compressed.”

Despite the trauma to daily routine that any extensive remodel entails, there were moments in the process that were truly enjoyable. As Keith recalls, “It was fun to see the walls come out and things opened up. You can’t really understand what a space feels like until it’s empty, and things like the removal of dark, worn out ‘70s carpet and its replacement with light colored wood floors throughout the home, and seeing new windows getting cut out, was really exciting — the feeling that our home was finally going to be what it should be.”

Nearly twelve years after a chance run in the foothills, its reassuring to know that the end of a remodel does much more than justify its means. It validates them.

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Designing Minds: Confessions of a Serial Remodeler

Whole House Remodel

CJ and Melissa hadn’t intended to live in their North End home for more than a few years when they purchased it back in 2005. At the time, Melissa recalls, there just wasn’t much on the market — and when homes did come up for sale, they were often snapped up on the first day. “We bought our house as a ‘fixer-upper,’ and thought at the time that we would just do some upgrades and then sell it when we found something we liked better.”

As it turns out, the “better” home that Melissa envisioned was just a remodel…or five…away.

Melissa and CJ’s home definitely had some challenges. Built in 1915, the Craftsman-style house was large (3,500 square feet), and had undergone a number of modifications that lacked a sense of cohesion — including having been divided at one point into a two-bedroom basement apartment. But the home also had its strong suits, beginning with its North End location, which was situated halfway between the couple’s two families.

“It was kind of a diamond in the rough,” Melissa recalls. “It had been mistreated, but you could see the potential. It was a beautifully shaped home, and the woodwork inside was lovely. It had a nice history, and a nice feel — especially now that we’ve been restoring it.”

The first of what would be a series of projects stretching from 2008 to 2013 began with a full kitchen remodel — precipitated by a DIY gone wrong. “I got in over my head with the demolition before we had an actual plan,” CJ admits sheepishly. “The old kitchen was dated and an eyesore. It had lemon yellow laminate counter tops, and hadn’t been designed to maximize the counter space, so there wasn’t enough room to properly prepare a meal. The appliances were old and placed in free standing positions that were inefficient.”

When it came to getting some professional back up, the couple doesn’t remember exactly how they heard about STRITE, but they were immediately impressed with the company’s problem solving skills. “We were disappointed with the lack of creativity we found in looking at other remodeling resources,” says Melissa, “but STRITE came to us with very specific ideas on how to maximize a small kitchen space and make it work for two people to be in at the same time.”

One of the constraints that STRITE worked around was the couple’s desire to preserve a beautiful built-in buffet on the other side of the kitchen. “We didn’t want to take it out and destroy an important piece of the home’s history,” says Melissa. “STRITE came back with a plan that accomplished this, especially with storage ideas for spaces that would otherwise have been difficult to use. As it is, I love the kitchen — it was thoroughly thought through.”

Three years after the completion of the kitchen, Melissa and CJ expanded their remodel efforts to an area just behind it. “It used to be an open porch where there was a back door,” says CJ. “At some point the porch was closed in, and it still had the original exterior siding. There were some really funky drawers that had been built in but were unusable, so we added a pantry, which meant that all the appliances that we had been storing in the basement now had a place to live.”

One of the features of the room that CJ and Melissa wanted to preserve was its large windows. “They were done in the ‘50s or ‘60s by a former owner,” CJ recalls. “They were really well done for back then, but they leaked a lot of air and made the back of the house really uncomfortable. STRITE did an amazing job of replacing them while keeping the original look, and they trimmed the new windows in with woodwork that matched the rest of the house. They literally took a space that was an outdoor deck providing entry to the downstairs and back door of the house and converted it into what looks today to be part of the original construction of the house.”

One year later it was the turn of the basement and laundry room to go through a metamorphosis. This was an area that CJ describes as, ‘an awful, ugly room” that was just below the kitchen. “It had all kinds of electrical and plumbing issues — exposed pipe and wiring that was an eyesore. It got a lot of traffic because it was the only way from the back of the house that you could go between upstairs and the downstairs basement without having to go outside. It was not functional in the least, so the remodel was about making it a functional mudroom. Again, STRITE made it seem as though that was how it always was.”

In addition to their two children, CJ and Melissa’s household includes her grandmother, who originally moved into the basement where she could have her own kitchen (a feature dating back to when the basement was an apartment, and one that greatly helped the couple get through the inconvenience of their main floor kitchen remodel). As she aged, however, Melissa didn’t want her grandmother to have to go up and down stairs. “We moved her to the main level, but the bathroom was really antiquated, so we did a remodel with a walk-in shower.”

It was during this project that CJ vividly recalls an example of STRITE’s flexibility. “We had done a plan, and we were working diligently to manage our budget when I realized that a stud that would be used to frame the shower would impede the line of sight and make the bathroom appear even smaller than it was. I raised the issue with (STRITE designer) Michael Snow, and he came up with the idea of using pony walls and glass walls at the top of the shower, then tiling it in. This made a huge difference.”

Although CJ and Melissa claim to have “about a dozen projects in mind at all times,” the most recent remodel to their home took place in the basement, where CJ works from home. “It was always cold because the original windows were single pane,” says CJ. “Even with space heaters I could never get the temperature up to 70 degrees in the winter.”

Integral to the success of their remodel efforts has been the couple’s relationship with STRITE — something that Melissa especially appreciates given her background as a graphic designer whose current work with a local hospital is aimed at the creation of “healing environments” through the use of color and art. “My profession makes it more challenging for me to approach a design in my own home — there are just too many options. You get too close to it, so it’s nice to have someone else come in and give you their opinion.”

While some of the couple’s design inspirations came from DIY shows and “tons of booklets,” they credit their collaboration with STRITE as key to preserving the original character of their home and the cohesiveness they knew would be important if they eventually put it on the market. As CJ explains, maintaining this cohesiveness was a distinct challenge that STRITE was able to manage.

“The most challenging aspect of the projects was the upfront design,” says CJ. “STRITE’s execution was always great, but they showed tremendous patience in getting the concept correct in the beginning. Their process is really different in terms of their design development — bringing in schematics, using software to simulate what the final product would look like, and then moving things on the fly as we discussed options. Of course, the hard thing is that by making anything possible, you could let your imagination run a bit too wild,” he adds, “and there ARE practical limits to how much you upgrade a house before you upgrade it right out of the neighborhood.”

At this point in their remodel odyssey, upgrading out of the neighborhood seems like less of a risk to Melissa and CJ. Whether functional, esthetic, or utilitarian in nature, all of their remodel projects have combined to change their attitude toward the longer term livability of their home. Says Melissa, “The remodels have changed the length of time I see us in this space and my overall view of the home. You could say we are invested in the changes, and I attribute much of that to the collaborative working relationship STRITE helped foster.”

Adds CJ, “The most rewarding aspect is having people over and seeing them experience the ‘wow’ factor when they see what we’ve done. STRITE took such great care to ‘map into’ the historic nature of the house, and people are always so impressed with the final outcome.”

CJ adds one parting note regarding “final outcomes” and their relationship to managing a remodel budget — one that he believes everyone contemplating a remodel should take to heart. “I appreciate that everyone wants to manage a budget, but I’ve learned that the last 20 percent you don’t want to put into it is the 20 percent that really distinguishes it in the end. You can decide not to go there and end up with something ‘ho hum,’ or invest it and be glad you did.”

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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.

Vision

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.

Challenge

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.

Accomplishment

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.

Highlights

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. 

 

 

 

 

 

Add a Little…Gain a Lot

Kitchen Remodel

It’s amazing what adding just a little space can do when it comes to redesigning a room.  There are times, however, when creating that additional space uncovers unanticipated structural challenges.  Of course, turning a challenge into an opportunity is the hallmark of a good remodeler!

Vision

The goal of this kitchen remodel was to increase its size and give it a u-shaped layout that would include a large combination food prep area and counter as its centerpiece.  We also wanted to update the look of the kitchen with new cabinetry and hardwood flooring, as well as tie in an existing brick accent by repeating it in a new space for the range and oven.

Challenges

The existing kitchen included a nook that we bumped out to add the small amount of additional space required to realize our client’s vision.  As we got into the construction phase, however, we discovered a structural error in the original construction.  A beam that had been canted out to bear the weight of the wall had been mistakenly cut off by the framers, who then toe nailed an extra length to the beam when the mistake became apparent.  Unfortunately, this resulted in the floor system hanging down by an inch and a half.  We lifted the house up to correct the error, then brought it back down on a load bearing post that was incorporated into the center island (the other post used to make the design symmetrical was strictly decorative).

Accomplishment

The roughly 8×12 area we created with the bump out gave us little bit of square footage we needed to create the u-shaped design for a more spacious kitchen.  We added skylights in the roof of the addition to bring in natural light. Our design approach had an additional benefit by smoothing out the angularity of the home’s exterior.

Highlights

One of the signs of great remodel plan is not only its functional longevity, but its esthetic appeal over time. This remodel was done in the late 1990s, but it still has a fresh and contemporary look.  As for the construction error we encountered in the process?  Rest assured we let the builder know about it.

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Designing Minds: Going from Good to Great

Kitchen Remodel

When Don and Patty moved from California to Boise, it wasn’t with the goal of either upsizing or downsizing their household; they moved to be closer to their children and grandchildren.

They rented a home in southwest Boise with idea of eventually finding a more permanent place to live. Although the kitchen fell short of their expectations, they loved the location of their rented home and its view of the New York canal, which was clearly visible from their dining nook and backyard deck. When the opportunity to purchase the home presented itself, the couple decided that it would be far easier to remodel the existing kitchen than it would to find a new home with a location and view they liked as much.

While both homeowners felt that the kitchen in their home was dated, a more serious issue was its size and the amount of storage space it offered. “Our kitchen in California was much larger,” says Patty, “and a lot of our kitchen stuff was still packed away because we didn’t have room for it in our Boise home. We definitely wanted more cabinetry to use for storage.”

Another issue with their kitchen was its sense of isolation from other rooms in the house. It was available to the formal dining room only through a door, while a bank of cabinets above the kitchen counter obstructed the line of sight to the dining nook and its view of the backyard beyond.

The couple learned about STRITE from a lady that Patty was swimming with at a local health club. “She had used STRITE twice, and she recommended them when I told her about our plans for the kitchen remodel.” Although they had intended to get three bids for the project, after their initial meeting with STRITE designer Michael Snow, Don and Patty decided to look no further. As Don remembers, “After meeting with Michael, we were both convinced that STRITE would be the best choice for us. He was so professional, and we’d heard so many horror stories about flaky contractors. We trusted STRITE could do a quality job on time and at a fair price.”

Looking back at how they approached the design of their new kitchen, Don recalls that he and Patty focused in on a couple of things beyond increased storage in their discussions with Michael. “We wanted a more open kitchen,” says Don. “The cupboards that were hanging from the ceiling blocked the view. We wanted those gone, but we still wanted an island in the kitchen…and we wanted a more modern look like the newer houses that we had seen when we were originally shopping the real estate market.” At the same time, Patty remembers, they recognized that they faced some constraints in design options. “We were limited with the space in which we could do this remodel. We had thought about moving our appliances to other places, but it just didn’t work out, so we had to keep them pretty much where they are now, with the exception of the dishwasher.”

Like most homeowners, Patty and Don faced the challenge of visualizing how a kitchen that would meet their needs would actually look once it was finished. Once STRITE came back to them with drawings, however, their confidence rose immeasurably. Says Patty, “How do you visualize this? Until we had the drawings, I wasn’t really sure. But once STRITE presented them, we could see it was going to be a beautiful kitchen when it was all done.”

As STRITE prepared for an August demolition of the old kitchen, Don and Patty went shopping for appliances and finishes. Somewhat to Patty’s surprise, the granite they decided on as the replacement for the existing counter tile was “Cosmic Black,” for which they selected a matching tile backsplash. They combined dinners out with visits to suppliers STRITE had recommended, which included local partner Chapel Hill for the creation of the cabinetry, which would be extensive given the expansion of the kitchen storage area. With Don’s handyman skills as a commercial carpenter, the couple decided they would take on the installation of new laminate flooring, while Chapel Hill would produce and install baseboards with a wood and stain that matched the cabinets. In choosing a new set of kitchen appliances, Don and Patty were particularly pleased to be able to replace the existing electric range with one using natural gas, which the couple preferred to cook with.

During the remodel process, STRITE created temporary walls to partition off the construction area from the rest of the home, and set up a makeshift kitchen in the couple’s family room. By the end of September, however, Don and Patty were once again cooking in their kitchen — a kitchen that bore little if any resemblance to the one that STRITE had demolished a month earlier. Gone were the extended counter and overhead cabinets that blocked the line of sight into the dining nook. In its place was an island with raised counter top and seating on one side, and additional prep space on the other. Says Don, “The island makes the kitchen look bigger, and it definitely makes it more functional. In addition to the line of sight being opened up, there is a walkway between the kitchen and the dining nook, which we didn’t have before.”

To further enhance this line of sight, STRITE created an opening in the wall between the kitchen and formal dining room and living room — which meant that a person standing at the stove could see and communicate with people at either end of the home. The kitchen was further opened up by extending it along the wall of the dining nook, which now comprised the additional counter and storage space that had been Patty and Don’s goal at the inception of the project.

The Castles couldn’t be happier with how their kitchen turned out. Says Patty, “It was hard to envision what it was going to look like on the plans, but as it all came together it opened up the kitchen tremendously, and there was no point in the process that seemed overwhelming because we did things at our leisure.” The Castles were also able to do things according to their budget. “We started with a figure that we gave STRITE right off the bat, and which they stuck with,” notes Patty. “We got everything we wanted for the price we wanted.” It didn’t hurt, of course, that Don was able to do some of the work himself. As a result of the remodel, the Castles also had the opportunity to get to know some really great trades folks. “We were really impressed with the people that STRITE hired,” Don says. “They were very responsive, professional, and easy to work with. I was really impressed with the quality of their work. Since then we’ve hired the plumber to do some other repairs around the house.”

Looking back at their remodel experience, Patty is particular struck by the difference the feeling of openness makes to her new kitchen, and the way it connects to the rest of the home. As to the biggest challenge the project posed? “Having to eat in the family room and wash the dishes in the laundry room sink,” she recalls. “It was like camping…but nicer.”

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A Kitchen Expands its Horizons

Kitchen Remodel

No other room in our homes combines functionality and esthetics in quite the same way as the kitchen. When both these elements need improving, it’s high time for a remodel.

Vision

Our clients loved the setting and overall layout of their recently purchased home in south Boise, but their passion waned a bit when it came to the kitchen. Not only did it feel isolated from the rest of the home, but that sense of constraint carried over into the available storage space. STRITE solved both issues with a new design, while also updating the kitchen’s overall look.

Challenge

While our clients’ kitchen was workable, they were used to having more available storage in their former home. Not only was the storage in their new kitchen limited, but part of that space was composed of over-the-counter cabinetry that created a visual barrier to the adjacent dining nook, and made the kitchen feel cut off from the rest of the home.

Accomplishment

We replaced the kitchen counter with an island that combined both seating and prep space, while allowing for traffic flow on either side of the kitchen to the dining nook and family room. Removing the overhead cabinetry further opened a line of sight between the kitchen and dining nook, while creating an opening over the cooking station further extended the line of sight all the way into the formal dining room and living room. We added matching granite counters to the left of the sink all the way along the wall, and installed cabinetry above and below for the added storage our clients were looking for. New cabinets, appliances, and laminate flooring combined with the new granite counters and matching backsplash to update the look of the kitchen as well as improve its functionality.

Highlights

One of the keys to STRITE’s success as a remodeler is the quality of the trades people we work with on our projects. In the case of this remodel, one of those skilled trades folk turned out to be our client. Recently retired as a carpenter, he elected to install the laminate flooring himself. Our cabinet maker crafted the matching baseboard, and the results were not only beautiful, but also saved our clients some money on their project. Part of a good do-it-yourself effort is knowing the limits of your skills and making sure that they compliment the competencies of your remodel partner. In this case, the fit was as perfect as the finished product — as the “after” picture below will attest.

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Managing Chaos

Remodeling Experience

In thinking about the process of a home remodel, I’m reminded of an old blues song: “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.”  The inescapable fact of any significant home makeover is that in between the “before” and “after” is the rather messy “during.”

Walls come down, soffits are demolished, plumbing and wiring are relocated, trades cadres come and go as their craft requires…it’s like living in a construction zone.  Which is, of course, exactly what it is.  And while it’s not as though a new build doesn’t have its share of dust and drama, the difference is that folks don’t generally try to live in a home while it’s being constructed.  By the time they turn the key in the front door and walk inside, it’s all bright and shiny, with everything in its place.  At least, that’s the expectation.

If a remodel project is extensive enough, our clients will, on rare occasion, choose to relocate to a hotel or rental until their remodel is accomplished.  More often, however, we simply devise temporary solutions that minimize the impact of the project on their daily lives.  Take this current kitchen remodel in south Boise for example.  The following pictures illustrate the ways that STRITE helps our clients “manage the chaos” that ensues in the necessary transition between “before” and “after.”

The demolition phase of any remodel project is probably the most traumatic, but we’ve learned a lot of ways over the years to minimize its impact on our clients’ lives.

 

The demolition starts now!

The demolition starts now!

 

The door between calm and chaos (or an orderly sort). We've constructed a temporary wall between the kitchen and dining room with a door for access between the space under construction and the rest of the home.

The door between calm and chaos (of an orderly sort). We’ve constructed a temporary wall between the kitchen and dining room with a door for access between the space under construction and the rest of the home.

 

During a kitchen remodel, we will usually set up a temporary food preparation area in either the garage or in another room, based on whichever option is most convenient for our clients.

During a kitchen remodel, we usually set up a temporary food preparation area in either the garage or in another room, based on whatever option is most convenient for our clients.

 

All the comforts of home.

All the comforts of home.

 

Separating the family room from the kitchen/dining nook during the demolition and construction phases.

Separating the family room from the kitchen/dining nook during the demolition and construction phases.

 

Protecting the furniture in the living room, which also serves as a holding area for furnishings we removed from an impacted dining nook.

Protecting the furniture in the living room, which also serves as a holding area for furnishings we removed from an impacted dining nook.

 

Why do these people look so happy about their kitchen being demolished? Perhaps its because they know what awaits them when their remodel is finish.

Why do these people look so happy about their kitchen being demolished? Perhaps it’s because they know what awaits them when their remodel is finished.

 

Party Time!

Inside A Trades Party

If you think of celebration in the context of a residential remodel, its timing would more logically be at the completion of a project rather than at its beginning — but then, a “trades party” is not your chip and dip, lampshade on the head, pony keg type of affair.

Although we certainly keep it congenial, it serves a serious purpose — one that is essential to bringing a project to completion on time, within budget, and in alignment with the expectations of our clients.

 

STRITE president Bob Mundy looks for possible complications.

STRITE president Bob Mundy looks for possible complications

If you’re unfamiliar with the “trades party” concept, it helps to place it in the scheme of our overall remodel process.  Between our clients’ approval of our preliminary remodel plan and their authorization for us to proceed with it comes the all-important step of inviting our construction partners to review the project and provide their input.  More than just sitting down over a set of drawings in our offices, this review takes place at the project site — the real world environment where our project management and trades will be operating.

STRITE designer Michael Snow -- the man with the plan.

STRITE designer Michael Snow — the man with the plan.

Depending on the type of work to be accomplished during the project — cabinetry, flooring, plumbing, electrical, etc. — the experts in these disciplines have the opportunity at a trades party to assess the scope and possible challenges they will face, and provide their feedback accordingly.  This information is vital to helping us prepare a comprehensive description of work (DOW) detailing each step of the construction process, from framing to finish work, as well as specifications and details about the product and material selections.

Besides its role in creating the DOW — and the subsequent fixed price remodel agreement that is standard with any STRITE engagement — the interactions between our design staff, project management team, and trades is invaluable in anticipating potential “gotchas” that could adversely affect the budget and timetable of a project if not anticipated through the trades party.

 

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Terry Scott of Western Electric considers the electrical requirements of the project.

By giving our trades partners the opportunity to share their expertise and experience at the onset of a remodel, we not only identify potential challenges, but also potential savings.  We also ensure that our trades folk fully share the knowledge we have of the project plan, and can safely and profitably fulfill their part of its completion.  According this professional courtesy to our trades partners is one of the reasons that the best in the business want to work with us.  Chips and dip aside, that’s reason enough to celebrate the trades party process!

A trades party brings a third dimension and more to a set of drawings.

A trades party brings a third dimension and more to a set of drawings.

 

2013 NARI Remodeled Homes Video Tour

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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!