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New Design for an Oddly Shaped Bath

Bathroom Remodel

It was bad enough that this ‘80s style bathroom was weighed down in oak and somber finishes — it was also strangely configured.  We breathed new life into its design by opening it up and letting the light shine in!

Vision

Here was a master bathroom that enjoyed a killer view of downtown Boise — but the spatial constraints of its layout hardly did justice to the expansive view from its foothills perch.  Our goal was to not only create a sense of spaciousness, but to further enhance this with a lighter and cleaner look and feel.

Challenge

Two major factors to the choppy layout of this bathroom were the peninsula vanity in its center and the large spa tub that took up an entire corner.  An existing shower that was enclosed in a 3’x3’ space added to a claustrophobic feeling.  To dramatically change the layout of this room, the vanity and the tub had to go.

Accomplishment

Removing the peninsula vanity and the spa tub dramatically opened up this room.  We kept the location of the existing shower, but increased its size and installed a glass enclosure.  This gave the space a transparency that complimented the room’s newly discovered openness.  We created a half wall for the shower to give it some privacy, and installed the shower controls in this wall.  In place of the spa tub we added a stylish free standing tub.  We replaced the existing brown carpet with lighter colored tile.  What had formerly been a single vanity against the wall became a double vanity with new cabinetry and a full tile backsplash.

Highlights

It was our good fortune that a skylight already existed in this room — but thanks to the changes we made to its layout and fixtures, its light was no longer swallowed up in a morass of dark wood, tile, and carpeting.  At last, the open dimensions of the space inside did justice to scene it overlooked outside.

 Click on photos to enlarge. 

A Healing Remodel

Bathroom Remodel

The most usual challenge with remodeling old homes is dealing with infrastructural wear and tear.  Sometimes, however, an equal challenge can be found in dealing with previous remodel efforts.  In the case of one North End home, we were faced with both!  

Vision

This North End home had a long history, beginning with an original farm house structure that underwent several additions between the 1950s and 1980s.  While these additions provided much needed living space, they resulted in an incoherent floor plan that left no central gathering space for the family.  Our client’s vision was to turn this house back into a home.

Challenge

The first thing to do is to clear all the property as it has a big space for the extension that is full with trees, dirt and garbage, we will be looking for the Land Clearing Companies in Va to clear the land and leave it ready for building purposes. The net effect of several additions over the decades was to move the “public” area of the home farther to the rear of the site, which included the home’s primary entrance.  As you can imagine, this caused many first time visitors to try and enter the home through an unused porch entrance.  Our goal was to keep the home basically intact, but make the structural changes (including the removal of the home’s middle structure) necessary to create a dining space, rebuild the area for a living room, and create a well defined entry to the home.

Accomplishment

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the photos below could constitute a novel the size of War and Peace.  As it is, the narrative they portray is the real story behind this project.  The short version of that story is that as we began our work, we discovered  that the original foundation was disintegrating.  As a result, one wall dipped by almost an inch and a half.  Although it hadn’t been a part of the original plan, we proposed removing the old foundation as the first step to building a full second story to replace the former master bedroom/bathroom space.  We’re happy to say that we shaved the budget to make this an affordable, albeit unexpected, alteration to our scope of work.

Highlights

It never fails to amaze us just how much a remodel can change peoples’ lives.  With the previously fractured plan for this home, the family room was located at the opposite end of the home from the kitchen.  With the remodel completed, the public spaces of the home flowed into one another with a clear line of sight between the living room, dining room, and kitchen.  This was a fun project to design, and to this day we get rave reviews from the owners whenever we bump into them.  Word travels fast in a small city, so in our line of work, you’d better deliver!

Click on photos to enlarge. 

The following tells more about what is going on in various images:

After. Before -The former house had many design issues, primarily due to several additions over the past few decades, which moved the ‘public’ area of the home to the rear of the site – along with the primary entrance. The former entry porch was no longer used – confusing many first time visitors to the home (the real entry is behind that bush on the left). The next 3 pictures will give a brief history of the home.

Home history (1 of 3): The home prior to a remodel by the previous owners in the early 80’s. What you see here is the original structure, and behind are two additions completed sometime in the 1930’s – 1950’s. Confusing? The new remodel will be the fourth major remodel to the home. Home history (2 of 3): The rear of the home showing to the right addition #1, what appears to be possibly a former Family Room addition. In the center, addition #2, a later remodel adding a bathroom and possibly a Kitchen. In the foreground, the 80’s addition foundation is recently poured. Note the location of the small window as a point of reference for the next photo. This little bump out is incorporated in the 80’s addition, visible in the next photo. Home history (3 of 3): The Master Suite and Kitchen addition (the 80’s addition) by the previous owners. The small window now in the covered entry. A nice addition featuring a full richly detailed Master Suite on the upper level, and a spacious naturally lit Kitchen and Laundry Room on the lower level. This was not an addition completed by Strite design + remodel.

Before – Here is a picture before our start. This portion of the home, for the most part, remained intact. We did include this former covered area into the home to provide a space for Dining. Note the bathroom window, still there, but not for long. During – The first bite.

An 800 lb steel beam to span across the kitchen, being lifted in place. We use steel to allow a continuous flat ceiling in the Kitchen and new Dining space. Note the plywood under the white wall at the right of the picture, this is protecting a cabinet that was saved. More on that later. Dining space framed in featuring direct access to Patio. The entry is now well defined from the entry to the property, and more importantly connects directly to the public area of the home.

After – Installing the paint grade trim work, very detailed and labor intensive – resulting in a dramatic impact. All the wood work mimics the existing home’s details. Note how the hardwood floor is protected during the last stages of the remodel. Before –  Lets take a look at the fractured layout of the former home. The Family Room was located at the opposite end of the home from the Kitchen. To reach the Kitchen from here, there were 3 spaces to walk through. Before – Continuing to the Kitchen, the Dining space with stairs to the Master Suite. The Hall ahead steps down and you must step up again to enter the Powder room on the left. This is the room with the small window mentioned earlier. Watch the red wall… During – Removing the bath, a difficult task due to the old and the new completely encasing it. Backhoe + chain = power.

During – Same view, door removed off of stairwell. Note the stairs were reconfigured to ‘land’ in traffic flow, not in the middle of the room. The space to the left of the stairs contains the Pantry (accessible from the other side) and the Mechanical room. The new hardwood flooring is being installed at the time of this picture, the flooring ties into the existing Kitchen floor. Note the flat ceiling in the Kitchen – evidence of the steel beam doing it’s job. During – The white door was installed to block access to the Master Suite, which remained intact. A temporary insulated wall was installed in the Kitchen to keep the Kitchen warm, and to provide security. The new Family Room wall on the left is newly framed. Note the former mechanical space at the right, this was slightly relocated to accommodate a new walk-in Pantry.

After – Looking into the new Family Room from the existing Kitchen. Note cabinets to the left, with art wall above. The new Patio is accessible through the door at the right. The owners enjoy many of their meals outside, direct access from the Kitchen ideal. Before – One last look at the before, this time from the Kitchen looking down the hall into the former Dining space. Note the step in the hallway. The cabinets in the Hall were saved, and feature lighting will be installed to light the wall above them, as this space is now part of the new Dining area. During – Same view, note cabinets are protected by OSB at the left side of the picture.

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.

Click on photos to enlarge. 

 

 

 

 

 

A Bathroom Matures with its Owners

Master Bath Remodel

No home, however well designed, can continually meet our needs — much less our desires — because these both continually change.  In the case of one couple that we had worked for in the past, ambulatory challenges required a master bathroom remodel that combined convenience, accessibility, and more efficient use of space with a fresh look.

Vision

In previous blogs, we’ve talked about how spa tubs can be not only an impractical, but a huge waste of space.  In the case of one bathroom remodel, ambulatory issues required the redesign of a shower to make it both safer and more accessible.  Creating the space to accomplish this, as well as addressing other features that would better suit our clients‘ needs as they aged, meant removing the old tub — but that was just the start.

Challenge

Besides making the shower easier to get in and out of, including accommodating a chair if needed, we wanted to get rid of the old shower pan.  These will eventually crack and fail and are impossible to clean.  And while new showers have curbs, we wanted to avoid these because of our clients’ ambulatory concerns.  Addressing these issues also required us to make the toilet more accessible rather than have our clients negotiate another doorway.

Accomplishment

Removing the old spa tub and replacing it with a vintage standalone bathtub opened up a lot of space for the rest of our remodel, which included integrating the toilet into the main room rather than have it situated in a separate space.  At the same time, we both protected the toilet and maintained some privacy with a half wall.  We were able to forego the use of curbs in the shower by notching out a floor joist where it was being installed and insetting a new floor into the joist, creating a gentle slope toward the drain.  We also built a bench into the shower.  By removing the soffit above the vanity, we created additional space for a cabinet, since our clients had also wanted more storage in the bathroom.  We were able to add even more storage by setting the toilet out just enough to install a deeper cabinet above it.  As a final convenience, we installed heated floors with a programmable thermostat for added comfort on chilly mornings.

Highlights

This remodel project did much more than respond to the changing needs of an aging couple — we created a much better flow to the room, in part by squaring up the angles.  We also updated its appearance through new tile, his and her sinks, and new cabinets.  After all, even as we age, we still appreciate a fresh take on the world.

Click on photos to enlarge.