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Designing Minds: Something Zen


Lynn and Greg loved their home in the foothills above Warm Springs.  ”Everything about this house is just us…it’s very eclectic,” says Greg.  But there were aspects of their home that didn’t quite sustain the magic — most notably, the bathrooms.

Lynn and Greg came to Boise from Berkeley, California thirty years ago, and made their home in the foothills above Warm Springs — an area of the city that was then still largely undeveloped.  It was a location choice that Greg describes today as “serendipity” — and one that they have never regretted.

Welcome to the treehouse! Welcome to the treehouse!

There was something about the floor plan of their home that gave Lynn the intimate feeling of “living in a treehouse” — and however unique that floor plan may have been in 1979, it managed to maintain its magic for the couple through all the years of raising a family.  “Everything about this house is just us…it’s very eclectic,” Greg explains.

That said, there were aspects of their 1,900 square foot home that didn’t quite sustain the magic.

The master bathroom — Before

“We wanted more room from the get go,” Lynn recalls, “and we didn’t like the master bathroom from the day we moved in.”  The size of the home was workable while the couple’s children were younger, but as the years went by the bathrooms not only seemed increasingly outdated, but also showed the wear and tear of nearly three decades.  Remodeling was something that was never far from Lynn’s mind, even as she and her husband focused on other priorities.

“We spent a lot of years working on the yard, landscaping, putting in a pool, getting our kids through college,” says Greg.  Life happens, after all.  By the time the kids had grown up, however, Lynn had reached the “enough is enough” stage.  “I had spent 28 years saying, ‘Someday, when I have a new bathroom…,’ and we finally decided to just go for it,” she recalls.  They contacted Strite and asked them to put together an estimate for updating both the master and guest bathrooms.

At the time, the master bathroom was the top remodeling priority for the couple, while remodeling the guest bath seemed, as Lynn put it, “frivolous”  — that was until a closer inspection of the tile revealed that it was rotting out.  “Frivolous” suddenly became “unavoidable.”

The master bathroom -- After The master bathroom — After

When it came time to share her remodeling vision with Strite, Lynn had accumulated nearly three decades of ideas collected from magazines, other homes, and even travel experiences.  “We once stayed at a place with high counter tops in the bathroom,” she remembers, “so that went on the wish list.  By the time we met with Strite, I knew exactly what I wanted — and they listened.”

One of the things Lynn did to get in touch with her remodel muse to was do a web search with the key words, “zen bathrooms.”  A lot of what she saw from the flood of digital images validated the things she instinctively gravitated toward as a matter of personal esthetics.  The master bathroom was dark and felt cramped, the original wall paper was peeling off, and the crank window that had originally been installed no longer functioned.  Lynn wanted softer colors and more light as the basis for her “zen bathroom” experience.  For the guest bath, she wanted glass tile that would “be like water and make me feel good.”  With the help of project manager Matt Mundy, Strite painstakingly ferreted out exactly the elements that fit with Lynn’s design vision.  “Strite didn’t come in with an agenda,” she says.  “They just listened to exactly what I wanted and did it.  Even when there were last minute changes, they were right on it.  That really took the stress off.”

Among the happy surprises with Lynn and Greg’s bathroom remodel was Matt’s discovery of an affordable frameless glass shower enclosure and a frameless mirror for the guest bath that created what Lynn describes as a “floating” effect.  “I didn’t want the frame around a conventional bathroom mirror to detract from the tile work,” she explains.

The "zen" guest bath The “zen” guest bath

Lynn found just the color tile she envisioned for the water effect she had in mind for the guest bathroom, while the master bath was completely transformed without changing the layout of the room itself — an important consideration in controlling remodel costs.  What emerged was a room that was light, seemingly more spacious despite the fact that no actual space was added, clean and contemporary — yet still in keeping with the feel of Greg and Lynn’s “treehouse” home.

One year after the bathroom remodel completion, Lynn states, “If I had to do anything over again, there is nothing I would change.”  While that’s a powerful testimonial for a remodeling company, it reflects even more powerfully on Lynn’s design vision.  Our experience is that great remodels start with design clarity on the part of our clients, along with our ability to guide their vision down the path of constructability — then offering value added options along the way to ensure that everyone has as positive an experience as Lynn and Greg’s.

The "floating" mirror. The “floating” mirror.