Kitchen Remodel

Many remodels can be thought of as “cosmetic surgery” — but there are some visions that can only be realized through a more structural approach.  At times like this, homeowners truly appreciate having a remodel partner with a solid portfolio of construction experience.

Vision

The owners of this foothills home not only wanted to give their kitchen a more contemporary look, but also take advantage of a bank of windows that looked out onto their recently landscaped front yard — and in the process, let more light into what had been a cramped and dark space.

Challenge

Using a computer generated rendering as our inspiration, we took out the wall separating the kitchen from the bank of windows to bring more light into the room and create a greater sense of spaciousness.  To further augment this source of natural light, we installed two skylights as well.  The greater structural challenge, however, was a load-bearing post that obstructed the view of the kitchen from the living room.  To remove this obstruction, we framed up both sides of the roof, removed the old beam, cut out the joist, and then inset a new beam that was 22 inches deep.

Accomplishment

To further enhance the sense of spaciousness in the kitchen — without adding square footage — we moved the range and sink and put in a big island that we centered below the new skylights.  We installed a hardwood floor that could be sanded, and we carried over the look of the beam — which we wrapped in a walnut veneer to match the kitchen cabinets — into the adjoining living room by wrapping that beam in a similar veneer.  To compliment the more contemporary look of the kitchen, we also updated the living room fireplace by giving it a new finish and mantle (that matched the beams) and installing a wood burning stove in the process.

Highlights

With almost any remodel, there is always more than meets the eye.  In refinishing the fireplace, we discovered that it had previously been constructed with large stones, then at some point these were covered over with plaster.  Harmonizing its new look with the rest of the remodel took no less than 30 bags of concrete to accomplish — but the results were well worth the effort.  This was a challenging remodel (new bearing beam for post removal; installation of skylights on a flat roof; reworking the fireplace walls), but thanks to the owners’ timely decision-making and proactive attitude during construction, their vision came to fruition — and was included in the Remodeled Tour of Homes 2012!

Notes for the images

As the Kitchen was located in the center of the home, natural light and views were in high demand.  By removing a wall to open views to the recently landscaped front yard, and adding two skylights to balance the light in the space (along with an entirely new Kitchen!), the area’s ‘feeling’ was improved considerably.

The Kitchen wasn’t always in the center of the home, in fact, when we stripped off the drywall, we found a former window framed in a common wall to what is now the Garage.  Make note of the wide column supporting the beam.

In order to remove this column, the beam had to be removed and a new beam was installed to for a clear span of the space.  The former column was an actual bearing point.  We installed this new beam, and wrapped it in a 1/4″ walnut veneer to harmonize to the cabinet and mantle finish.

Looking towards the Kitchen from the front Living Room, the former beam remained in place.  We removed the old veneer, built up the beam to make it appear the same size as the new beam, and wrapped this one as well in a walnut veneer to tie into the Kitchen cabinets and new mantle.  The fireplace was also updated with a new finish, mantle, and wood burning stove.  The fireplace had seen many lives, starting out as large stones, than covered with a thick adobe style undulating finish, and most recently refinished to a smooth plaster finish to complement the contemporary nature of the Kitchen remodel.

Click on photos to enlarge:

South Boise home with complete kitchen remodel by Strite Design
Kitchen Remodel

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!

Vision

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.

Challenges

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).

Accomplishment

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.

Highlights

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.

Click photos to enlarge:

Kitchen Remodel

Somewhere in the evolution of home design, kitchens were relegated to a “separate but equal” status in the hierarchy of home life.  This is especially apparent in the example of this North End home, in which we reunited an isolated and lonely kitchen with a larger family space as part of a more extensive remodel.

Vision

The kitchen of this home was cramped, dark, and separated from the flow of family activity by a wall dividing it from the dining room, and by a hallway of near epic length.  With the help of some 3D designs, we showed our clients how removing a wall and splitting up the hallway would completely change the feel of their home, as well as open up the kitchen to the rest of the house.

Challenge

Given the larger remodel effort we undertook in this home, we wanted to keep the kitchen update as economical as possible.  In addition to opening up the kitchen space, our clients wanted a good sized pantry and a mud room that would create a transition between the garage and the living area.

Accomplishment

By splitting the hallway into three new spaces, we were able to add a pantry to the kitchen, as well as create an entry space and mud room leading from the garage.  We took out the wall between the kitchen and dining room, and gained even more space for the kitchen by removing the upper portion of an existing stairwell to the basement, which had the additional benefit of allowing natural light to enter the basement through two new skylights that we added in the kitchen area.  We kept the sink, refrigerator, and stove top in the same locations, but upgraded the appliances and cabinetry.  We refinished the floors, patching in the hardwood between the newly joined kitchen and dining rooms.  Adding a new color scheme completed the effect of a more spacious and brighter kitchen.

Highlights

This remodel had a dramatic impact on the functionality and feel of this home.  As our architectural sketch demonstrates, removing the long hallway that had divided the house not only made a world of difference to the kitchen area, but also created new points of access to the home’s master suite and children’s bedrooms through a single hall location.

Click on photos to enlarge. 

 

 

 

 

A kitchen remodel by Strite Design in Boise, Idaho
Kitchen Remodel

Why is it that kitchens are so often hidden away from the rest of the life of the family?  When you think of how central they are to nurturing us, it seems perversely ironic that they should be banished the way they so often are.  This kitchen just wasn’t going to take it anymore.  Here is its coming out story.

Vision

To look at the size and isolation of this kitchen, it seemed as though it sould have been in an apartment rather than a family home.  Our clients wanted to expand it out…but to do so meant that a wall was going to have to come down — literally as well as figuratively!

Challenge

The structural element separating the kitchen from the dining and family rooms was a partitioning wall that was fortunately not load bearing.  It did, however, house the refrigerator and some cabinets, so relocating these would be key to our remodel efforts.  We also had to move some electrical and plumbing vents, but we kept the main part of the kitchen in its same location.

Accomplishment

In place of the former wall, we built an island that housed a new stovetop and oven, and moved the refrigerator to a location convenient to the cooking area.  We attached a half bar to this workspace and planed out the ceiling to flow seamlessly into the family and dining rooms.  To create space for storage to replace what was lost with the wall we removed, we took out a window and added new counter space and cabinets.  Upgraded countertops, new lighting, and a bold color scheme completed the package with style.

Highlight

The before and after pictures in this case study are a powerful testimony to what it means to take a space from ordinary to extraordinary.  It takes vision to think “outside the boxy” and let a kitchen live into its mission as a focus of family life.  You’ll notice in the “after” picture of the adjoining family room that the remodel spilled over to the fireplace as well.  We like to think that good design is contagious.

Click on photos to enlarge:

Kitchen Concepts

Do you remember the first time you imagined the ideal kitchen? If this seems a trivial, if not odd, question to pose, bear with me a moment — and think about the role that kitchens have played in your life. I’ve lived in a lot of homes over the years, and while many of the rooms that served as a backdrop to my life story have passed out of memory, I can sketch the layout of every kitchen I ever spent time in with surprising accuracy, going well back into my childhood.

In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that from an anthropological perspective, our kitchens may tell us more about our cultural values than almost any other room in our homes. Which leads me back to my opening question. Do you remember the first time you imagined the ideal kitchen? Being a child of the ‘60s, the first idealized kitchen I can recall was straight out of Disney’s Tomorrowland. It was space age, chrome, and all about instant gratification with little or no labor.  Meet George Jetson.

It will probably come as no surprise, then, when I confess that my ideal kitchen has come a long way since the space race. I don’t foresee giving up my microwave, but my childhood obsession with automation has evolved into an emphasis on connectivity that goes beyond the digital. If you believe, as we do at STRITE, that form follows function, than my ideal kitchen looks quite a bit like those we have most recently created for our clients: spaces with forms that serve the function of nurture — in ways that go well beyond dishing up healthy meals. They are, in addition, focal points of family life, social hubs, and places of intimacies born of the act of sustaining ourselves communally. While you might argue that the bedroom is the locus of intimacy, it can hardly celebrate that virtue as publicly as the kitchen — not, at least, with similar propriety.

If you need more than just anecdotal evidence to prove the case for the kitchen’s profound transformation over the decades, consider the latest cost vs. value figures from Remodeling Magazine. (The cost-value ratio expresses resale value as a percentage of construction cost. When cost and value are equal, the ratio is 100 percent; when cost is higher than value, the ratio is less than 100 percent; when value is higher than cost, the ratio exceeds 100 percent).

According to the survey for 2014, kitchens were a star performer in the ratio’s strongest increase in nearly a decade. In its trends summary, Remodeling Magazine noted that, “In general, kitchen projects outperformed bathroom projects, regardless of cost. One indication is the Major Kitchen Remodel.”  The article further notes that, “Despite its hefty $54,909 price tag, its cost-value ratio of 74.2 percent ranks it second among the seven K&B (kitchen and bath) projects, just above Bathroom Remodel, which is about one-third the size. And the $109,935 upscale Major Kitchen Remodel project ranked higher than the other three much smaller bathroom projects.”

Our own experience at STRITE over the past couple of years underscores this trend, as you’ve probably discovered in our more recent case study blog posts. In fact, in recognition of the current cost vs. value survey findings, we thought we’d use this blog to share some of our more recent kitchen remodel projects, and what we think they say about the role kitchens play in our lives.

Bring the kitchen out of the cloister

Back when folks were concerned that what happened in the kitchen stayed in the kitchen, it made sense to sequester this working space from the more tender sensibilities of, say, the parlor. Of course, back then you might also have had domestic staff to handle the utilitarian functions for which the kitchen was designed. Increasingly, clients are asking us to reintegrate their kitchens with the other public spaces of their homes, since cooking, rather than simply dining, has taken on a more communal nature. This is a good example of bringing the kitchen out of the shadows and into the family fold.

Walnut bar and bright bar stools

Go with the flow

As more homeowners embrace cooking as a pastime and not just a necessary evil, they are spending more time in their kitchens — and being able to move around easily in that space, as well as between spaces where food migrates, is of increasing importance. We recently finished a remodel that was at the lower end of the budget spectrum compared to some of the other examples in this blog, but that neatly solved a problem our customers had with the flow in and around their kitchen.

New floating island

Focus on the art  

If it seems an exercise in hyperbole to suggest that cooking has been raised to the level of performance art, then scan your cable channels and look at the number of cooking shows we turn to for entertainment. It stands to reason, then, that folks want a well designed stage for their own domestic performances. At the 2013 Tour of Remodeled Homes, STRITE showcased a Boise home whose owners had wanted to transform their interior from a Tuscan theme to a contemporary European style. In the process, they asked us to improve the layout of their kitchen, since both husband and wife enjoyed cooking and didn’t want to be “upstaging” one another. Note that this case study also highlights another kitchen trend: the use of non-traditional materials (think cork flooring).

Being in the present while honoring the past

Given the number of remodels we’ve done over the last four decades that have involved restoring vintage homes, it’s good to see the that so many of our customers want their kitchens to honor the original style of their homes, while fulfilling more contemporary functional needs. Here in Boise you don’t have to look too much further than the North End for great examples of remodel projects that have met that criteria.

kitchen1

Connecting the outside and the inside 

Perhaps this is simply a corollary of our first observation, but just as clients are wanting their kitchens to join the rest of their home, they are also more interested in making light and view as much a part of the decor as decorative back splashes. In this case study from the 2014 Tour of Remodeled homes, addressing this desire started with bringing down the walls.

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Bring on the drama 

Although it’s hard to keep up with the Jetsons when it comes to a truly “out of the world” design, our clients typically want their kitchens to make as bold a statement about their esthetics as any other room in their home…if not more so. We offer this example of one amazing makeover located in the Boise foothills.

sample1

One common feature that is often hidden below (or above) the surface of a number of the remodel examples we’ve shared in this post is the need for “structural intervention” to pull them off. We like to think of the meeting between design esthetics and engineering know-how as STRITE’s “sweet spot” — and I leave you with one brief example of how these two came together in a kitchen remodel that required the removal of a load-bearing wall.

Living after remodel by Strite Design in Boise, Idaho
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.

Hit on any of the following images to see larger versions in a gallery.

Click here to learn more about this project.

Bright new kitchen after remodel by Strite Design in Boise, Idaho
Kitchen Remodel

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. No one wants to fix pipes once a new kitchen is installed.

Vision

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.

Challenge

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.

Accomplishment

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.

Highlights

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.

Hit here to go to another article about this home. 

Click on photos to enlarge. 

Trends

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!

A kitchen remodel by Strite Design + Remodel in Southeast Boise, Idaho

We traditionally think of kitchens in very functional terms.  After all, this is the space from which we feed our families.  But it is also a space in which we interact with them, as well as with guests.  It’s not surprising, therefore, that when our clients ask us to remodel their kitchens, they often not only want to update their look, but open them up to the rest of the home in the process.

In cases where opening up a room requires the removal of a load bearing wall, we need to do more than a facelift; we have to engage in reconstructive surgery.  This often involves installing a steel beam for structural support — which further involves getting an 800 to 900 pound piece of steel into the house. Needless to say, you just don’t walk one of these bad boys in through the front door.

The point to this post is simply to demonstrate that whatever the construction challenge, we find there is always more than one way to skin the proverbial cat.  We just want to make sure the cat can still take Best in Show by the time we’ve finished with it.

Click on photos to enlarge:

Kitchen remodel by Strite Design in Boise, Idaho
Kitchen Remodel

There are many compelling reasons for remodeling.  Sometimes it’s about updating a look to better reflect the tastes and sensibilities of the homeowners.  Sometimes it’s to upgrade a room’s intended function, or improve the flow of activities that take place there.  Sometimes it’s simply to create added space.  In the case of this kitchen remodel, all the above applied!

Vision

A primary motivation for this particular kitchen remodel was that our client wanted a more updated look as part of a much larger home makeover.  The existing cabinets were falling apart, and of poor quality.  At the same time, changing the layout of the kitchen presented opportunities to not only improve the esthetics of the room, but add some additional utility in the form of a mudroom and a pantry/baking area. Prior to remodelling, make sure you have prepared the surfaces and cleaned everything.

Challenges

To improve the work flow of the kitchen, we took out a section of the existing counters in order to add an island in the middle.  To make this work, we gained some precious inches by notching out the space for the refrigerator to make if flush with the new cabinets we installed — which featured a distressed look.  We also improved the overall spaciousness of the room by raising the existing ceiling to the floor joist level, and replacing the florescent lighting with can lights.  By moving the washer and dryer upstairs, where they could be closer to the “source” of dirty laundry, we were able to convert the laundry room into a pantry and dedicated baking area with room for all the necessary appliances, which connected to a single power strip.  We also borrowed about 10 feet of garage space behind the kitchen to create a mudroom.

Accomplishment

Along with the major changes that this remodel accomplished, we also made a number of other functional and esthetic improvements, including new hardwood floors and raising the sill height of the kitchen window to accommodate a tiled backsplash for easier clean up. This kitchen is a lovely example of utilizing the existing footprint and maximizing the clients’ satisfaction with quality, upgraded products and design touches (like the crown molding that harmonizes with the cabinetry).

Highlights

There are two elements of this project that we quite often incorporate into other kitchen remodels.  One is the removal of the drop down ceiling to create a greater sense of space.  The other is the creation of a “buffer zone” between the inside and the outside, which also provides an additional storage space for bicycles and outdoor items, as well as a “dumping ground” that protects the kitchen area from the “elements.”

Click photos to enlarge: