Every Picture Tells a Story

Whole House Remodel

Every picture tells a story…and the pictures associated with this remodel tell quite a few — which should come as no surprise given the history of this home.  Our job was to bring those disparate stories together into one seamless tale of beauty, comfort, and grace.  Mission accomplished!

Vision

This home was moved to its present location in the Boise foothills in the 1960s, at which time an addition was built.  Some 20 years later a second level was added.  The ground floor living space was subsequently divided into several areas, out of which our vision was to open up and integrate an updated kitchen, dining room, and family room.  The dramatic transformation that followed was based on yet another collaboration with Gina Wagner of Seed Interiors.

Challenge

It’s not often that a floor is the starting point for all the elements in a remodel, but the structural reality of this project was that we were dealing with different floor systems from the home’s past.  An even more significant structural challenge that we faced was in removing the posts and walls of the main living area — no small feat when you consider that they were supporting the second level!

Accomplishment

We unified the floor system by starting at its highest point and leveling it using a laser, then laying down a roasted oak hardwood (the color that you see in the photos is natural, not a stain).  We removed the walls and posts of the former kitchen area and spanned it with a steel beam for structural support, then reframed the entire system to raise the ceiling height as much as possible.  By taking out a wall system we created a dining area separated from the kitchen by a large cabinet unit, with a pocket door added for additional separation if desired.  We converted a space that had formerly been a large closet accessible off the main hallway into a kitchen pantry.  For the adjoining family room we kept the fireplace in the same location, but installed a new unit and surround, then wrapped the ceiling beams so that we could stain them the same color as the mantle and flooring.  We also updated the lighting and redid the ceiling texture.

Highlights

To say that this remodel involved some focused effort is an understatement, but the before and after results speak for themselves.  After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

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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.

 

A ’60s Kitchen Gets With the Times

Kitchen Remodel

Good design has a timeliness that remains long after other homes from a similar era become “dated.”  Unfortunately, this isn’t generally the case with kitchens — which are usually one of the first rooms in a home to get long in the tooth.  This architect designed and built home from the 60’s had the bones of a great house, but it was high time to update the kitchen — and in the process create an impact that extended beyond just one room.

Vision

For its time, the kitchen of this home was quite advanced, with amenities you typically wouldn’t have found in homes of its vintage.  It suffered, however, from a lack of access from the “public” spaces of the house.  Beyond just creating a more contemporary look for their kitchen, our clients wanted a layout with an openness consistent with their love of entertaining.

Challenge

The approach to the kitchen was through an area that had been designed to create a dining “nook,” but ended up forcing traffic along its edge rather than a more direct diagonal path.  In addition to being “out of the flow,” the kitchen suffered from a light imbalance, which could be helped in part by not only replacing the existing windows, but also by incorporating a bank of windows that was currently blocked by the dining room wall.

Accomplishment

Removing the dining room wall not only made a dramatic difference in the flow of traffic to the kitchen, but also allowed us to tie in the new and enlarged windows in that room with the bank of windows in the dining room.  To further balance the resulting light, we added two skylights to the kitchen ceiling, along with can and pendant lighting.  In addition to a long marble topped island that served both as a counter and cooking station, we framed in half walls on the left and right in the area between the kitchen and the newly modified dining area, which helped further define the space as well as create an entrance to the room.  We also installed new cabinets, painted the walls, and laid down a cherry hardwood floor.

Highlights

As you look over the before and after photographs of this remodel, it may be hard to believe that they were taken in the same house.  More than just a dramatic kitchen remodel, this project affected two rooms, and improved traffic flow through the entire home.  Notice also that we kept the existing teak wall.  Some things are just timeless.

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Retire…Reflect…Remodel

Whole House Remodel

For an active Boise couple, retirement meant re-examining their lifestyle and priorities.  It also meant rethinking their home’s suitability for the next chapter in their life story.   

Vision

For our clients, retirement didn’t mean slowing down — it simply meant having more time to pursue other interests beyond their professions.  Given their active role in the non-profit sector, these interests included entertaining, and they wanted to make sure their home was up to the task.  This meant improving the functionality of their kitchen and expanding their outdoor living spaces to take advantage of a beautiful vista.  While addressing the issue of public space, they also decided it was time to give their private space a much needed facelift.

Challenge

Situated on four acres of mature trees and stunning views, our clients’ two-story home, built in the early 1900s, had plenty of entertainment potential.  The kitchen, however, had not been updated since the couple bought the home thirty years earlier.  With worn out formica and linoleum, and appliances that barely worked, it needed a serious update — and during the demolition phase we discovered that it also needed new floor joists.  Turning our attention to outside entertaining, we needed to address both the creation of a gathering space as well as improving the esthetics of the home’s east-facing facade.  Meanwhile, on the private side of their home, we focused our engineering on a master bedroom untouched, save for the addition of a six dollar light fixture, since its owners acquired it, and that suffered from a sense of claustrophobia imposed by attic-like angularities.

Accomplishment

Other than rebuilding the floor joists, the main work in the kitchen had to do with updating rather than reconfiguring.  To make the room a more pleasing gathering space, granite replaced formica, and slate replaced linoleum.  Our clients liked their existing cabinets, and elected to add to rather than replace them for this using the best equipment from the BestofMachinery site online.  We worked with a local cabinet maker to customize cabinet facades that blended the new with the old.  To enhance our clients’ culinary interests, we added a prep sink and an under-the-counter refrigerator, along with something they had long wanted: a gas range — then installed a window above it to bring in another necessary component to great cooking: light.  To provide more room for outside gatherings, and to take greater advantage of the view from the east side of their home, we worked closely with our clients to design a patio roof that doubled as a rooftop patio, and connected that space to their ground floor patio via a custom spiral staircase that they helped design.  We also connected it to an existing rooftop space on the other side of the master bedroom.  In this room, we reengineered the ceiling joist system to remove constraining angles and open the room up to become a place of space and light that invited one to do more in it than go to bed.

Highlights

Over the course of a five-month remodel project, the changes to our clients’ home transformed it from a place whose drawbacks they had learned to live with for some 30 years into a home that elegantly and efficiently supported their evolving lifestyle needs.  Getting to that point was made possible by a very close collaboration between our clients, who were very detail oriented and clear about their remodel intentions, and a STRITE designer, project manager, and construction lead, while also using maintenance services for this and people can call Central Penn Contracting to hire these services.  The result of this collaboration for our clients was not just a home they wanted to live in for the rest of their lives, but the satisfaction of having played a major role in its creation.  For STRITE, the satisfaction was not only in a job well executed, but in knowing that we had the people and processes in place to accommodate the level of involvement our clients desired.

Like so many homebuyers, Janet and Russ had to carefully weigh the allure of their ideal home against its affordability — and like so many homebuyers, their decision was to stretch their budget to accommodate a house they knew they could live in and love for many years.

There was indeed plenty to love about their north Eagle home.  Built in the early 1900s, the two-story house was situated on four acres with mature trees and a beautiful view, and it was close to Hewlett-Packard, where both Russ and Janet were employed.  But after 30 years, they were ready to rekindle the love affair with their home, and that meant addressing its imperfections — some of which dated back to when they first moved in, and some that simply reflected the toll of passing years.

It wasn’t as if Janet and Russ hadn’t made home improvements along the way.  Twenty years earlier they had put in an office/closet/bathroom addition, and in 2005 they added a full basement, bringing their house up to 2,600 square feet of living space that better accommodated guests and hobbies.  A few years ago they created a large patio with pavers, leaving additional footers for an eventual roof.

Unfortunately, their initial remodel project created an exterior appearance that didn’t match the rest of the home.  As Russ describes it, “It left an ugly wall on the east side of the house that clearly looked like an addition.”  For Janet, one of the biggest drawbacks to her aging home was its kitchen.  “We had redone the kitchen when we first bought our home, but hadn’t touched it since. We had formica and linoleum that was worn through, and the appliances were getting very old.”  The couple was ready as well for some changes to their bedroom, which Janet described somewhat charitably as “old and dark.”

“It was faded and dingy,” she states more bluntly, “and the only source of light was a fixture we bought for $5.99 when we moved in.  It was just not a place you wanted to be.”  Clearly, it was time to make some improvements — and time was an additional concern of the now retired couple, who wanted to spend the rest of their lives loving their home as much as they had three decades earlier.

Russ and Janet had first talked to STRITE when they considered doing their patio addition — but this was prior to the economic downturn that caused many would-be home renovations to be put on the back burner.

“We ran into STRITE every year at the Tour of Remodeled Homes,” Janet remembers, “and we thought they were very nice people, and we admired the quality and creativity of their work.  They clearly know how to remodel challenging spaces.”  By the end of 2013, however, Janet and Russ were ready to do more than just talk to the nice people.  They were ready to make some major changes of their own.

Russ and Janet’s remodel project, which began just before Christmas 2013, started with the master bedroom.  Constrained by odd angles that made the room feel more like a cave (Russ’s description) than a living space, STRITE set about solving some structural challenges — challenges that the couple could especially appreciate given their engineering backgrounds.  As Janet recalls, “In every spot STRITE had to do some pretty miraculous figuring — and figuring out how to make all those angles come together in a nice cohesive look was a lot of hard work.”  To bring additional light into the room, STRITE replaced an attic vent with a window.

Moving into the kitchen, the project hit a delay when it was discovered during the demolition phase that the floor joist system would have to be replaced.  “It was a mess,” says Janet.  “We were putting in a slate floor, and you want that to be well supported.  The more layers of old house we got down to, the worse it was.”  Ah, the charms of an older home.

Other than rebuilding the floor joists, the main work in the kitchen had to do with updating rather than reconfiguring.  Russ and Janet liked the existing cabinets made with quarter-sawn white oak, and elected to add to rather than replace them.  “The biggest changes to the kitchen were going from formica to granite and from linoleum to slate,” says Janet.  Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the kitchen remodel was choosing the appliances.  “We wanted to avoid the stainless look,” Russ says.  “Big surfaces of cold stainless steel don’t go very well with the warmth of natural wood cabinets.”

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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.

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From Tuscan to Contemporary: a Whole House Remodel

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

Vision

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

Challenge

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

Accomplishment

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

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

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

Highlights

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

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A Few Feet from Functional to Fantastic

Kitchen Remodel

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

Vision

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

Challenge

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

Accomplishment

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

Highlights

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

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Good Design = Solving Problems

Kitchen Remodel

It’s tempting to believe that award winning design is all about epic transformation.  The true “design aficionado,” however, appreciates that great remodel design is first and foremost about solving problems in an esthetically satisfying way.  Think of it as the perfect union of right and left brain — and then read about this North End kitchen remodel that resulted in a first place award.

Vision

The kitchen of this North End home had not been updated for decades, and its current owners wanted not only to give it a more contemporary look, but solve some issues that impeded its functionality — while staying within a tight budget.

Challenge

There were a number of problems with this kitchen that had less to do with its size and layout than with its basic design.  To begin with, it was impossible to get to the sink when the dishwasher was open.  In addition, the relative isolation of the range, which we quite often see in North End kitchens, did nothing to make it “cook friendly.”  Finally, some of the kitchen cabinets were awkwardly placed, and the kitchen itself was especially chilly on cold days (you’ll soon discover why).  Due to size constraints and bearing wall placement, we needed to contain our remodel within the existing footprint of the former kitchen — which meant that relocating appliances and moving the sink location was simply not an option.

Accomplishment

Despite the above constraints, we were able to slide the dishwasher two feet to create more space at the sink — which meant that the owners could now actually stand at the sink and load dishes into the dishwasher…at the same time!  We installed a new range and positioned it so that it was centered between two new counter tops and cabinets, which made for a much improved cooking experience.  On the esthetic front, we refinished the existing fir flooring (a typical floor for homes of this era) and updated everything else in the space, which included new (and in some cases, better designed) cabinets.

Highlights

This was a simple upgrade with a couple of modifications that made for a more functional AND attractive kitchen.  While removing the old cabinetry, we did come across a surprise (not that uncommon in older homes): there was no insulation behind the lathe and plaster of the exterior walls.  Needless to say, we added it — making the overall effect a heart warming one for our clients in more than just a figurative sense.

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A Kitchen Loses the Blues…and Gets a New Life

Kitchen Remodel

As important a center of family life as our kitchens have become, there are some that make you wonder if they weren’t designed as an afterthought.  This kitchen remodel not only dramatically improved its utility and appearance, but took advantage of views of the outside to enhance its sense of spaciousness and light.

Vision

The former kitchen in this home reflected an early ‘60s floor plan that might at one time have been open, but which suffered a remodel that separated the galley-style kitchen from the rest of the house.  The prescription was nothing short of a serious makeover that would redefine the space itself.

Challenge

Some kitchen remodels can be effectively accomplished in place.  In the case of this kitchen, however, what was required was a relocation — starting with removing a full height wall and built-in cabinet that had resulted in a cramped dining room and wasted space that could be better put to use.  Adding insult to injury was the blue cabinetry!

Accomplishment

In addition to removing a wall, we also took out the original soffit.  To bring in some nice views of the backyard landscaping, we took out one window and enlarged another.  With the space that we gained, we were not only able to expand the working area of the kitchen through its relocation, but also include a pantry.  To improve the overall look, we installed painted cabinets (bye, bye blues!), a butcher block island, and Cambria counter tops.  We also refinished the hardwood floors.  The before and after photos speak at least a thousand words to the difference this remodel made!

Highlights

A change as dramatic as this remodel can require quite a leap of faith, as well as a financial investment.  To help ease into the transition between the old and the new, we like to employ 3D modeling to help our clients better understand the ramifications of the design decisions we guide them through.  With this remodel, we should point out that the original kitchen included a tile element that the clients wanted to carry over into the redesign.  We took the extra step of scanning it into our model, much to our client’s delight!

Notice the location of the two windows on the right and the hanging chandelier as the location did not change.  Painted cabinets with butcher block island and Cambria counter tops (sussex).  Scroll down for several before, during and after pictures, including a 3D rendering completed during the design phase.

Goodbye blue cabinets…note the ceiling voids showing the former wall location.  We constructed a temporary wall (left) with a secure door to separate the living area from the construction area.  The large pipe is our filtration system to help keep the air clear of dust.

We modeled the kitchen prior to construction – the cabinet to the left of the window was added later.

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