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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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.

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

Whole House Remodel

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

Vision

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

Challenge

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

Accomplishment

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

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

Highlights

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

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From Danger to Delight: a Trellis Deck Addition

Deck Addition

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

Vision

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

Challenge

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

Accomplishment

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

Highlights

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

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Deck the Hills

Deck Remodel

A deck can be a double-edged sword when it comes to a home’s value.  Given a killer view and the right orientation, a spacious deck can be ground zero for a gracious, outdoor lifestyle — that is, until it ages to the point of being not only an eyesore but potentially hazardous.  

A timely and well thought out remodel will not only ensure this won’t be the case, but can enhance a home’s appeal and take full advantage of its location.

Vision

Our clients loved their wooden deck, but as is the case with any wood structure faced with the extremes of weather in southwest Idaho, it was showing its age.  We not only wanted to make the deck a safe and attractive center of enjoyment, but also enhance the overall attractiveness of the home.

Challenge

The railing of the original deck was spaced further apart than would today meet code.  To remedy this, the owners came up with a practical solution: they simply spanned the rail with horizontal slats.  This mitigated the safety hazard, but unfortunately obstructed both the view from the deck and the view of the home’s otherwise appealing facade.  We completely removed the old deck, but were able to use some of the original structure in constructing a new one.  We added support during the construction process to prevent cracking.

Accomplishment

Our new deck included a painted metal rail system that dramatically improved the view from the deck and from the windows looking out onto it.  The existing 3 1/2-inch posts were still structurally sound, so we built them out to an 8-inch square — which not only gave them more architectural appeal, but also gave us a place to run plumbing.

Highlights

Twenty-five is a youthful age if you’re a person…but not so much if you’re a deck.  In addition to rebuilding the deck on this home, we also did a kitchen remodel (see our case study blog, “A Kitchen Sees the Light”).  As part of this larger remodel project, we changed the layout of windows looking out on the deck to take better advantage of the view, as well as create a better flow of traffic from indoors to outdoors.  With its new lease on life, the deck became, if not the lead man in this remodel story, at least a much loved supporting actor.

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A Patio Remodel Offers La Vida Fresca

Patio Remodel

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

Vision

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

Challenge

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

Accomplishment

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

Highlights

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

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