Designing Minds: An Eagle Remodel Looks at the Big Picture

There’s not a bit of hyperbole in saying that David and Pat’s home truly reflects all the best of what we associate with the southwest Idaho lifestyle.  Nestled into five acres of the Eagle foothills, it’s an ideal setting for horses, dogs (David trains hunting dogs as a pastime), as well as appreciating sweeping vistas of the Treasure Valley below and the Boise mountains all around.

It may seem surprising, then, that the couple would want to remodel a home that was custom built — but their motivation was familiar to STRITE design + remodel: a change in lifestyle and a corresponding re-evaluation of how their space accommodated that change.  Since the couple had retired, they were able to spend more time at home, and they wanted to spend more of that time entertaining and enjoying the beauty surrounding them.  Unfortunately, the original configuration of their home was less than ideal for either of these pursuits.

It was very apparent to both Pat and her husband that the best views from their home were provided by outside decks — a nice place to be for part of the year, but not so practical during the hottest and coldest seasons of Boise.  “I really wanted a more pleasant place to hang out inside, now that I was home pretty much 24×7,” Pat explains.  “Although our home was 2,800 square feet, it was divided into rooms that weren’t a practical size for entertaining.  I also wanted to be able to take advantage of the view and open the home to more light.”

Pat and David discovered STRITE through a NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry) Tour of Remodeled Homes.  They were immediately struck by STRITE designer Michael Snow’s design approach, as well as examples he showed the couple from a book he had written on the design of decks, patios, and porches.  “The way Michael takes advantage of light drew us in immediately, and we had confidence in STRITE from the very beginning,” Pat recalls.

“When you consider the placement of the kitchen, the separated dining room and the family/living room, it seemed obvious that Pat and David’s house was more or less oriented to look back,” notes Michael Snow.  “Even though it was situated on a site lot, the original design did not take advantage of the view — in fact, the only public view was from a rarely used front office off of the entry, and from the upper master area, which of course is private space.”

Working with STRITE, the couple decided to add roughly 800 square feet adjoining their kitchen that would serve the combined functions of sun room and casual living room.  STRITE also took out a bearing wall between the dining room, kitchen, and new living room/sun room, which opened up the whole interior of the house.  The room was further designed to open to a covered patio, which STRITE included to compensate for a rear deck that the couple seldom used it because it was situated in such a way that the hillside and house funneled winds through the space.

“What we were looking for was basically all windows, with sufficient sliders to allow for good cross ventilation,” says Pat.  There was a deck that came along the side of our house, with a bay window where the addition begins. We had used the deck quite a bit, but it was so sunny that we wanted something that was partially covered.  We also had a beautiful Japanese Maple next to the deck that we were sure we would lose as a result of the remodel construction, but STRITE found a way to save the tree by digging down under the foundation without damaging it.”

The key to the addition’s design is its understatment.  Like any good remodel, walking into this new section of the home leaves the impression that it was always there, but its impact comes from the vistas it opens the home to, rather than from the architecture itself — a simple elegance that Pat puts quite concisely: “The drama comes from the setting.”

Along with the new addition, Pat and her husband had STRITE address other features of their home that they wanted to improve.  These included a kitchen update, a reconfiguration of the family room that allowed the couple and their guests to no longer choose between a television and a fireplace as a focal point, and even an attic modification above their garage that not only created a more usable living space, but also added a roofline that improved the homes “curb appeal.”  The net effect of these changes, Pat explains, was to make their home more livable.

“Because so much of our living area was chopped up, there just wasn’t much space to spread out when we wanted to entertain larger groups of people.  We can now take advantage of the whole interior of the house, as well as the outside areas when we host larger events.”

Despite the scale of the remodel, the entirety of the projects took under four months to complete.  “We began in the fall, and were back to normal around Thanksgiving,” Pat remembers.  “(STRITE president) Bob Mundy gave us good suggestions on what things to store and how to store them during the remodel, and STRITE was great about partitioning space so we could still use our home.  Their team was great to work with and gave us excellent ideas as well as being extremely good about supporting my concerns.”

With all the added glass, one might expect that along with killer views the new addition would have included higher energy costs.  Surprisingly, this hasn’t been the case.  “The added space hasn’t affected our gas bill,” says Pat.  “We are on a level pay, and it is low.  We’ve seen some increase in our electric bill, but that’s happened since we both retired.”

What has increased for Pat and David since finishing their remodel is their affection for their home.  In thinking over the most rewarding result of their work with STRITE, Pat summarizes it this way.  “It’s added a lot more serenity and appreciation for the outdoors in our lives, and we enjoy having people over so much more now.  There are so many spots where we can just sit and enjoy the outside while reading a book, and it’s nice in the winter to be able to look at the snow and still be comfortable. We still have some work we’d like to do on our upstairs bathrooms, but at this point we’ve changed our home from something that was plain but had a dynamite view, and turned it into something we’re really proud of.”

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