An Amazing Addition

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.

Vision

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.

Challenge

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.

Accomplishment

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.

Highlights

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!  

Vision

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.

Challenge

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.

Accomplishment

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.

Highlights

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 Remodel of Historic Proportion

Whole House Remodel

Remodeling old homes is rewarding, but it definitely has its challenges.  The wear and tear of years can present structural issues along with the basic deterioration of pipes, wiring, and building materials.

In the case of a home that is on a historic register, these challenges can be exacerbated by the need to place historical integrity ahead of expedience and aesthetic intent.  The results of meeting these challenges, however, are among the reasons we do what we do.

Vision

The vision for this North End remodel was straightforward: restore a basically sound dwelling to something approaching its former glory, and in the process add a garage where none had previously existed.  Unfortunately, that vision was probably the straightest thing about this project, as you’ll soon discover.

Challenge

The original wood siding of the home was covered completely with the kind of metal siding that made many a polyester-clad salesman’s boat payments back in the ‘70s.  Stripping this away revealed the wood siding beneath the metal — most of which we were able to keep.  The back of the home, which was exposed to the most sun, was the notable exception.  To add any new siding to the home, however, was complicated by the fact that the entire house was almost 3 inches off level from corner to corner.  In addition, sections of the roof were sagging, especially in front of the dormer.  The front porch looked as though it should have had a knee wall around it — which would have been historically consistent with that neighborhood.  One of the biggest challenges we faced was convincing the Historical District of this, given the home’s historic standing.

Accomplishment

To straighten the fascia line of the roof, we had a custom brace fabricated from angle bar and ran it all the way across the roof line to straighten out the dip.  We restored or replaced all the wooden siding, constructed a separate garage with details harmonizing the home’s finishes, rebuilt some existing knee braces, and added the pony wall to the front porch.  The net result of these efforts was nothing less than the restoration of an old home to its historic beauty.

Highlights

Building the knee wall around the front porch was crucial to giving the entrance of the home more definition — but getting the approval of the Historical District to build it took some effort.  We researched previous owners to see if we could find photographic evidence of its existence, but to no avail.  What turned the decision our way was the outline of a former wall that emerged when we removed the metal siding from the home.  We took a picture, submitted it to the Historical District, and got the approval we needed — proof that history does repeat itself.

Click on photos to enlarge

Notes on the images:

Looking at the house from the front.  Note the absence of a porch knee wall on the before picture to the above right.  Also note the fascia line of the roof dips along the front of the home, especially in front of the dormer.  Creative use of a steel brace hidden beneath the new fascia straightened out the dip.  Most of the siding on the home was original, whereas the west facing rear yard wall was in rough shape and mostly replaced.

Future garage in back corner of yard and a detail shot showing some of the metal siding peeled way to expose the original wood siding.  See below for an historical picture of this corner shortly after the home was build around 1910.

Hours at the historical library resulted in a list of names of people who had lived in this home. I (Michael Snow) noticed that the first name listed, had the same surname as a friend of mine. I called him, and it turned out to be his great grand parents, pictured above. We were looking for pictures of the front of the home to prove that there once was a porch. When we were told by a relative of my friend that they had a picture of the home with the owners in front of it, we were elated! When the above picture arrived, we found that the picture was of the rear of the home – almost had it…The two windows to the left, have been reduced in size, but the larger windows behind the man are in the same place. Also note that the lower corner above the concrete, is the corner shot shown above of the metal siding peeled away.

 

 

 

 

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.

Click photos to enlarge:

A Creative Use of Garage Space

Home Office Addition

When you think of an office addition over a garage, you would most likely think of a fairly mundane space, with an accent on utility rather than style.  Which is precisely why we present this case study.  We love to confound expectations…as well as exceed them.

Vision

When our clients wanted to add a professional looking office to their home, we decided to take advantage of what might not have seemed like an obvious asset: a deep garage.  The depth of the garage bays, however, allowed for an ideal traffic pattern by providing the space needed to install stairs directly off the main level kitchen.

Challenge

Since we weren’t starting out with a second story in this addition remodel, new stairs were required.  Fortunately, the garage bays were deeper than typical, which allowed space to place a stairwell without major interior remodeling.  That sure helps the budget.

Accomplishment

Tip Top Garage Doors – Nashville TN wanted to surround the office space with natural light, but also provide a sound barrier from the stairwell which is open to the kitchen below, garage doors supplier Brisbane is a company with high knowledge in maintenance and installation. The solution was a sheet of tempered glass, which blocked sound without obstructing the light and views of the mountains through two corner windows.  The completed office, while convenient to the rest of the home, was spacious enough to provide for an additional bathroom as well.

Highlights

In going vertical with an addition, we are always conscious of how our design effects an existing roofline.  In the case of this project, our approach was to keep the gable over the garage to break up the two story plane — an architectural element that actually enhanced the roof line of the home thanks to our addition.  Our clients were so delighted that they asked us to handle another remodel project for them.  We also received a very nice letter.  In our business, you can’t afford to rest on your laurels — but you can feature them.

Click on photos to enlarge. 

Shade Trellis: a Study in Functional Beauty

Trellis Addition

Our client was an avid gardener, but was not able to spend extended periods of time in the sun due to health problems.  We wanted to ameliorate this situation with a trellis structure that would add beauty to the home’s facade, as well as needed shade.

Vision

Trellis structures are something you often seen in the backyards and patios of homes, but since our client wanted to garden in a front yard with a southwest exposure, we wanted to not only provide protection from the sun, but also enhance the appearance of the home — striking a balance between the functional and the esthetic.

Challenge

Since the shade trellis was to be a structural addition to the front setback of the home, the first challenge we faced was obtaining a variance — which meant the completion of an extensive Building Department and neighborhood review.  This was a long process, but we were finally able to get approval and move ahead with construction just before summer.  To be sure the structure would provide adequate protection from the sun, we did extensive 3D modeling that allowed us to study the shading as the day progressed.

Accomplishment

In addition to constructing the shade trellis according to our 3D models, we raised up the entry to the home and re-poured the sidewalk.  As the “before” and “after” photos in this case study demonstrate, the completed structure matched our 3D rendering perfectly — both in form and function.

Highlights

The structure was stained prior to installation – a one coat process with our favorite dark exterior stain. Structures like this appear to be relatively easy, but they do require an enormous amount of upfront effort during the design phase to work out all the details.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure…if not a tube of sunscreen.

The Ultimate Man Cave: Building a Garage Addition

Garage Addition

Our client’s passion for working on cars was more than a serious avocation…it was also a source of income.  We gave him a garage addition that satisfied both of these manly impulses.

Vision

Our client had an existing free standing garage, but it could only accommodate two cars.  He wanted to expand that capacity…and have a nicer facility to work in as well.

Challenge

Rather than replace the original garage structure, our client decided to add onto it, which we did while incorporating one of the existing structure’s bay doors as the connecting point.  Our goal was nothing short of building a commercial quality automotive shop space.

Accomplishment

The new garage addition accommodated six cars and included lots of windows and three skylights, along with plenty of florescent lighting to create a well lit work area.  The structure was constructed on concrete slab, and we added a nice walkway to connect the original and new structures.

Highlights

Although designed primarily for utility, the garage addition also featured an enviable “man cave,” thinly disguised as an office.  It’s good to be king.

Click on photos to enlarge. 

When Does it Make Sense to Remodel?

While people often think of home remodeling as synonymous with building an “addition,” there are a number of reasons it makes sense to remodel besides adding needed living space. Some of the most common reasons that we have seen in our 40 years of residential design and remodel experience are the following.

Updating the Look of Your Home

Like fashion in general, what was once fresh in the layout and design of a home can become stale over time. Believe it or not, harvest gold and avocado were once trendy, but unless you’re way into the “retro” look, you’d probably prefer a more contemporary style for your kitchen. As our case studies demonstrate, Strite has a long track record of design and build updates that wear well with time.

Improving the Functionality of a Living Space

Unless your home was custom built, its design made generic lifestyle assumptions that simply may not apply to you. We find this to be particularly true in the kitchen, where your own unique approach to food and entertaining can make a huge difference in a room’s size, layout and finishes. Your lifestyle and interests are paramount when we address the functional remodel of your home.

Aging in Place

Homes age…and so do we. As we age, we eventually face mobility issues that in turn affect the livability of our homes. Rather than going through the dislocation of moving to a new house, a remodel that transforms obstacles into conveniences (particularly with regard to bathrooms) can be a better option for how we deal with aging in our homes.

To read more about how STRITE design + remodel addresses these and other needs, view the Services page of our website.

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An Addition Serves as Guest Room and Library

Addition

It would be wonderful if every room in our home could be devoted to one single purpose, but most of us need to take a more practical approach to efficient use of our living space.  In the case of this addition remodel, our client chose to combine the part time function of guest room with the full time function of library — while including a bathroom that could switch hit.

Vision

Our client wanted to add a space to the front of her home to provide overnight guests a place to stay.  At the same time, she wanted the space to function as a library for the majority of the time that it would not be inhabited by visitors.

Challenge

At the point where the new addition was to join the home there was a multilevel walkway.  We raised the addition to connect to this walkway via a porch entry.  Rather than simply add a room, we wanted to create a more self-contained suite to include a bathroom that would be available both to those staying in the guest room, and to anyone else in this part of the home — which up to this point had not been served by an accessible bathroom.

Accomplishment

To ensure that the bathroom served its dual purpose within a limited space, we created an oversized room with a pocket door that separated the full bath accessible to the guest room/library from a powder room accessible to the public space within the addition — a feature that truly defined the new room as a place for overnight guests, and not just a space for those wanting to enjoy a good book in a tranquil ambiance.

Highlights

Our addition was too small to have its own furnace, so we solved the problem of how to control the climate of the area by using a ductless heating/cooling unit that we discreetly  installed in the library shelving unit.  Since our client wanted to incorporate an original window treatment as part of the addition’s decor, we had a custom window created to accommodate this.

Click on photos to enlarge. 

 

 

 

Garage Addition Design Study

Garage Addition Digital Renderings

“Begin as you mean to continue” is a great philosophy for living in general.  In remodeling, however, intentionality in execution begins with intentionality in design.  In the case of some remodel projects, the number of options that face a designer require the kind of scrutiny that only 3D modeling can provide.

Vision

Our clients wanted to add an additional garage to their home, and had thought through their remodel criteria very carefully.  They wanted high ceilings, an overall sense of openness, and an orientation that would take advantage of the view from their foothills home.

Challenge

As we attempt to gain ceiling height in the new garage (the existing garage roof is just under 8 feet), the fascia tie-in between the new and old structures presents a challenge that is best addressed by carefully modeling different roof options.

Accomplishment

We have invested in 3D modeling capability for precisely the reasons this case study presents.  Using this technique with a home that already has an unusual roof line, we were able to look at shed roof designs that included clipped and unclipped versions of the existing garage roofline, then study the ramifications of these options from different perspectives.  We also modeled similar hip roof design options as well.

Highlights

While we still have a couple of studies remaining, our 3D models have already led us to the conclusion that the clipped roof doesn’t tie in well with the rest of the overhangs, so we will look at retaining the existing roof line while looking at the connection with the shed option and the hip option.  You can imagine the sense of confidence these models will give our clients as they make their final decision on the design of the new addition.

Click on images for a larger view.

Addition with shed roof and no clip on existing roof

Shed from side. but wait, keep reading more