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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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!
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.
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).
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.
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.
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No other room in our homes combines functionality and esthetics in quite the same way as the kitchen. When both these elements need improving, it’s high time for a remodel.
Our clients loved the setting and overall layout of their recently purchased home in south Boise, but their passion waned a bit when it came to the kitchen. Not only did it feel isolated from the rest of the home, but that sense of constraint carried over into the available storage space. STRITE solved both issues with a new design, while also updating the kitchen’s overall look.
While our clients’ kitchen was workable, they were used to having more available storage in their former home. Not only was the storage in their new kitchen limited, but part of that space was composed of over-the-counter cabinetry that created a visual barrier to the adjacent dining nook, and made the kitchen feel cut off from the rest of the home.
We replaced the kitchen counter with an island that combined both seating and prep space, while allowing for traffic flow on either side of the kitchen to the dining nook and family room. Removing the overhead cabinetry further opened a line of sight between the kitchen and dining nook, while creating an opening over the cooking station further extended the line of sight all the way into the formal dining room and living room. We added matching granite counters to the left of the sink all the way along the wall, and installed cabinetry above and below for the added storage our clients were looking for. New cabinets, appliances, and laminate flooring combined with the new granite counters and matching backsplash to update the look of the kitchen as well as improve its functionality.
One of the keys to STRITE’s success as a remodeler is the quality of the trades people we work with on our projects. In the case of this remodel, one of those skilled trades folk turned out to be our client. Recently retired as a carpenter, he elected to install the laminate flooring himself. Our cabinet maker crafted the matching baseboard, and the results were not only beautiful, but also saved our clients some money on their project. Part of a good do-it-yourself effort is knowing the limits of your skills and making sure that they compliment the competencies of your remodel partner. In this case, the fit was as perfect as the finished product — as the “after” picture below will attest.
Click on photos to enlarge.
In thinking about the process of a home remodel, I’m reminded of an old blues song: “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.” The inescapable fact of any significant home makeover is that in between the “before” and “after” is the rather messy “during.”
Walls come down, soffits are demolished, plumbing and wiring are relocated, trades cadres come and go as their craft requires…it’s like living in a construction zone. Which is, of course, exactly what it is. And while it’s not as though a new build doesn’t have its share of dust and drama, the difference is that folks don’t generally try to live in a home while it’s being constructed. By the time they turn the key in the front door and walk inside, it’s all bright and shiny, with everything in its place. At least, that’s the expectation.
If a remodel project is extensive enough, our clients will, on rare occasion, choose to relocate to a hotel or rental until their remodel is accomplished. More often, however, we simply devise temporary solutions that minimize the impact of the project on their daily lives. Take this current kitchen remodel in south Boise for example. The following pictures illustrate the ways that STRITE helps our clients “manage the chaos” that ensues in the necessary transition between “before” and “after.”
The demolition phase of any remodel project is probably the most traumatic, but we’ve learned a lot of ways over the years to minimize its impact on our clients’ lives.
Inside A Trades Party
If you think of celebration in the context of a residential remodel, its timing would more logically be at the completion of a project rather than at its beginning — but then, a “trades party” is not your chip and dip, lampshade on the head, pony keg type of affair.
Although we certainly keep it congenial, it serves a serious purpose — one that is essential to bringing a project to completion on time, within budget, and in alignment with the expectations of our clients.
If you’re unfamiliar with the “trades party” concept, it helps to place it in the scheme of our overall remodel process. Between our clients’ approval of our preliminary remodel plan and their authorization for us to proceed with it comes the all-important step of inviting our construction partners to review the project and provide their input. More than just sitting down over a set of drawings in our offices, this review takes place at the project site — the real world environment where our project management and trades will be operating.
Depending on the type of work to be accomplished during the project — cabinetry, flooring, plumbing, electrical, etc. — the experts in these disciplines have the opportunity at a trades party to assess the scope and possible challenges they will face, and provide their feedback accordingly. This information is vital to helping us prepare a comprehensive description of work (DOW) detailing each step of the construction process, from framing to finish work, as well as specifications and details about the product and material selections.
Besides its role in creating the DOW — and the subsequent fixed price remodel agreement that is standard with any STRITE engagement — the interactions between our design staff, project management team, and trades is invaluable in anticipating potential “gotchas” that could adversely affect the budget and timetable of a project if not anticipated through the trades party.
By giving our trades partners the opportunity to share their expertise and experience at the onset of a remodel, we not only identify potential challenges, but also potential savings. We also ensure that our trades folk fully share the knowledge we have of the project plan, and can safely and profitably fulfill their part of its completion. According this professional courtesy to our trades partners is one of the reasons that the best in the business want to work with us. Chips and dip aside, that’s reason enough to celebrate the trades party process!
For those of you who were unable to attend this year’s Remodeled Homes Tour, we wanted to share the story behind the two projects we featured. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, we thought we’d save a whole lot of pages by simply putting together this five minute slideshow presentation.
You’ll not only see the obligatory “befores” and “afters,” but the “whys and wherefores” as well!