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

A little extra square footage can make a huge difference in the functionality of a space — as can the addition of high-end amenities and finishes.  In the case of this remodel, the combination of the two transformed a kitchen from barely adequate into an exceptional entertainment area.  

Vision

Our clients enjoyed entertaining, but their existing kitchen allowed little standing room for gatherings.  It also had low ceilings and was closed off from the rest of the home.  With a little “borrowed” space, and some contemporary zest, we saw the potential to change all that.

Challenge

The former kitchen’s nook was too small to be of much utility to the family, so the most obvious step in the remodel was to incorporate this space into the new kitchen (which also meant removing a fireplace).  To further increase the size of the kitchen area, however, we would have to move some walls while keeping the same roof line and using the same trusses.

Accomplishment

While preserving the basic U-shaped layout of the kitchen, we bumped out one wall by three feet, and another by two (we adapted this structural change into a gable on the home’s exterior).  This created a wide open space inside for a large central island with seating for four.  To further increase the sense of spaciousness, we also removed the former kitchen’s drop down ceiling.  We replaced the original windows in the kitchen and adjoining dining nook with new, commercial-grade windows.  Along with the kitchen’s expansion, we installed a main sink and a prep sink, two dishwashers, a huge single level island, and a separate fridge/freezer side-by-side setup.

Highlights

This remodel, which was featured in the Idaho Statesman, effectively doubled the size of our clients’ kitchen.  In addition to ensuring that they will be able to entertain not only in comfort but also in style, the high quality products and sleek, contemporary design will bring years of enjoyment.  We’d be remiss without acknowledging the some great local companies we worked with to make this project a success: Jaymark cabinets (cabinetry), Seed Interiors (interior design), and Jim’s Appliances (Thermadore appliance package).  We like to think that we’re known by the company we keep.

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How STRITE returned an HVAC system to its comfort zone

The paradox of remodeling is finding limitless opportunity in constraint. It’s kind of a zen thing — and if you’ve been doing it for four decades, it definitely colors the way you look at so called obstacles. Just ask STRITE president and “field marshal” Bob Mundy — a man for whom challenges are but thinly disguised opportunities.

Take a recent Southeast Boise project, for example. To realize our clients’ vision of opening up their floor plan to bring their kitchen, dining, and family rooms into a more unified space (the better in which to entertain, now that their nest was empty), we had to first remove load bearing walls. While the most obvious challenge in doing this (one we face quite often) was in finding structural support alternatives, we also needed to reroute the hidden infrastructure of wires, pipes, and ducts.

For the most part, finding new paths for plumbing and electrical conduits is a fairly mundane, if not always expeditious, exercise — one in which matters of efficiency typically rule the day. In the case of this project, however, Bob saw an opportunity to improve on the home’s comfort as well as its esthetics. To appreciate the challenge in which that opportunity was embedded, there are some things you first need to know about the world of HVAC.

“Most two-story homes built in the ‘70s, as was the case with our clients’ house, have an HVAC design that does a poor job of balancing climate. In short, the upstairs is generally too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. Trying to correct this with control units that are typically on the ground floor means making the downstairs, where people generally live during the day, uncomfortable…not to mention driving up utility costs. The answer, in most cases, is to add a secondary system for a dual zone approach — but that option just wasn’t in the budget with this project.”

The HVAC ductwork in our clients’ home — what we call a “3×10” ducting system — went up through stud walls that we were taking out. For Bob, rerouting the ducts was unavoidable, but he wanted to do it in a way that would address the system’s inefficiencies. Following a brainstorming session with our HVAC trades folk, he came up the breakthrough concept of relocating the system’s trunk line, which had previously been located in a downstairs crawl space, to the attic by going up through the floor system via a downstairs pantry and then through an upstairs bedroom closet (both of which we then closed off). From this new location upstairs the system branched off to condition the house through vents we added under the home to replace those in the walls we removed. Since the return air and thermostat wasn’t balancing the upper floor with the newly opened area below, we moved the thermostat to the top of the stairs.

“We ended up with a system that far exceeds our clients’ air conditioning needs,” Bob reports. “Their master suite upstairs is very cool and we got a balance throughout the house without replacing or adding another unit — just by revamping the ducting. We probably saved between $5,000 and $7,000 with that approach, which we’ve since used again in another similar situation. We could have taken the attitude that since the ideal solution wasn’t in the budget, we’d simply walk away from it. As it was, we found an alternative that worked out beautifully.”

As it turns out, there’s thinking outside the box…and then there’s thinking outside the crawlspace.

Hit on this link to learn more about the goals of this remodel and see more pictures.

Hit here to go to another article with more pictures and the detailed process behind the remodel of this home.

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Demolition in progress by Strite Design in Boise, Idaho
Kitchen Remodel

It’s tempting to believe that award winning design is all about epic transformation.  The true “design aficionado,” however, appreciates that great remodel design is first and foremost about solving problems in an esthetically satisfying way.  Think of it as the perfect union of right and left brain — and then read about this North End kitchen remodel that resulted in a first place award.

Vision

The kitchen of this North End home had not been updated for decades, and its current owners wanted not only to give it a more contemporary look, but solve some issues that impeded its functionality — while staying within a tight budget.

Challenge

There were a number of problems with this kitchen that had less to do with its size and layout than with its basic design.  To begin with, it was impossible to get to the sink when the dishwasher was open.  In addition, the relative isolation of the range, which we quite often see in North End kitchens, did nothing to make it “cook friendly.”  Finally, some of the kitchen cabinets were awkwardly placed, and the kitchen itself was especially chilly on cold days (you’ll soon discover why).  Due to size constraints and bearing wall placement, we needed to contain our remodel within the existing footprint of the former kitchen — which meant that relocating appliances and moving the sink location was simply not an option.

Accomplishment

Despite the above constraints, we were able to slide the dishwasher two feet to create more space at the sink — which meant that the owners could now actually stand at the sink and load dishes into the dishwasher…at the same time!  We installed a new range and positioned it so that it was centered between two new counter tops and cabinets, which made for a much improved cooking experience.  On the esthetic front, we refinished the existing fir flooring (a typical floor for homes of this era) and updated everything else in the space, which included new (and in some cases, better designed) cabinets.

Highlights

This was a simple upgrade with a couple of modifications that made for a more functional AND attractive kitchen.  While removing the old cabinetry, we did come across a surprise (not that uncommon in older homes): there was no insulation behind the lathe and plaster of the exterior walls.  Needless to say, we added it — making the overall effect a heart warming one for our clients in more than just a figurative sense.

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Front Entry after remodel by Strite Design in Boise, Idaho
Whole House Remodel

Remodeling old homes is rewarding, but it definitely has its challenges.  The wear and tear of years can present structural issues along with the basic deterioration of pipes, wiring, and building materials.

In the case of a home that is on a historic register, these challenges can be exacerbated by the need to place historical integrity ahead of expedience and aesthetic intent.  The results of meeting these challenges, however, are among the reasons we do what we do.

Vision

The vision for this North End remodel was straightforward: restore a basically sound dwelling to something approaching its former glory, and in the process add a garage where none had previously existed.  Unfortunately, that vision was probably the straightest thing about this project, as you’ll soon discover.

Challenge

The original wood siding of the home was covered completely with the kind of metal siding that looked like it was polished and processed.  Stripping this away revealed the wood siding beneath the metal — most of which we were able to keep.  The back of the home, which was exposed to the most sun, was the notable exception.  To add any new siding to the home, however, was complicated by the fact that the entire house was almost 3 inches off level from corner to corner.  In addition, sections of the roof were sagging, especially in front of the dormer.  The front porch looked as though it should have had a knee wall around it — which would have been historically consistent with that neighborhood.  One of the biggest challenges we faced was convincing the Historical District of this, given the home’s historic standing.

Accomplishment

To straighten the fascia line of the roof, we had a custom brace fabricated from angle bar and ran it all the way across the roof line to straighten out the dip.  We restored or replaced all the wooden siding, constructed a separate garage with details harmonizing the home’s finishes, rebuilt some existing knee braces, and added the pony wall to the front porch.  The net result of these efforts was nothing less than the restoration of an old home to its historic beauty.

Highlights

Building the knee wall around the front porch was crucial to giving the entrance of the home more definition — but getting the approval of the Historical District to build it took some effort.  We researched previous owners to see if we could find photographic evidence of its existence, but to no avail.  What turned the decision our way was the outline of a former wall that emerged when we removed the metal siding from the home.  We took a picture, submitted it to the Historical District, and got the approval we needed — proof that history does repeat itself.

Click on photos to enlarge

Notes on the images:

Looking at the house from the front.  Note the absence of a porch knee wall on the before picture to the above right.  Also note the fascia line of the roof dips along the front of the home, especially in front of the dormer.  Creative use of a steel brace hidden beneath the new fascia straightened out the dip.  Most of the siding on the home was original, whereas the west facing rear yard wall was in rough shape and mostly replaced.

Future garage in back corner of yard and a detail shot showing some of the metal siding peeled way to expose the original wood siding.  See below for an historical picture of this corner shortly after the home was build around 1910.

Hours at the historical library resulted in a list of names of people who had lived in this home. I (Michael Snow) noticed that the first name listed, had the same surname as a friend of mine. I called him, and it turned out to be his great grand parents, pictured above. We were looking for pictures of the front of the home to prove that there once was a porch. When we were told by a relative of my friend that they had a picture of the home with the owners in front of it, we were elated! When the above picture arrived, we found that the picture was of the rear of the home – almost had it…The two windows to the left, have been reduced in size, but the larger windows behind the man are in the same place. Also note that the lower corner above the concrete, is the corner shot shown above of the metal siding peeled away.

 

 

 

 

Bathroom Remodel

We like to think of our business as more than just a craft.  It’s the art of the possible.  The very best remodeling jobs are the ones that deftly combine solid design and quality craftsmanship to address a need…and then go beyond the utilitarian to the imaginative.  This case study is a good example.

Vision

This bathroom remodel was part of a larger project, and one that presented us with a client’s desire for not only a more pleasing environment, but for something they before had: a laundry room.

Challenge

To easiest way to “add” a room is to expand the square footage of a home — but that wasn’t in the budget for this bathroom remodel.  What we did instead was to “borrow” the space we needed to create a laundry room from a less critical area: a hallway that led to the garage.  Fortunately, we were also working with an oversized bathroom layout that had not been well thought out as originally constructed.

Accomplishment

We achieved our twin objectives of an improved bathroom layout and the addition of a laundry room by bumping the bathroom wall out into the garage area, then moving the wall between the bathroom and the hallway to create the laundry room space.  In the bathroom itself we removed a spa tub (typically used as a clothes drying area), and added a frameless shower where the tub had been, while keeping the existing plumbing from the original shower in place.  For privacy, we patched over the window that had formerly looked on the tub and added a smaller one above the new shower area to let in natural light.  By increasing the size of the shower, we were able to add a second shower head on a slider bar, so it could now be used to wash the dog.  We also redid the toilet room.

Highlights

More than just creating a new utility space and a more attractive and practical layout for the bathroom, this project made a difference to the rest of the home as well.  The washer and dryer had previously been in the hallway leading to the garage — a hallway that was also open to the kitchen.  Whenever they were in operation, the noise from the washer and dryer resonated throughout the house.  As a result of the remodel, this noise could now be contained in a separate enclosure, without having to sacrifice anything more than wasted space.

Click on photos to enlarge. 

New white cabinets with green butcher block by Strite Design in Boise, Idaho
Kitchen Remodel

As important a center of family life as our kitchens have become, there are some that make you wonder if they weren’t designed as an afterthought.  This kitchen remodel not only dramatically improved its utility and appearance, but took advantage of views of the outside to enhance its sense of spaciousness and light.

Vision

The former kitchen in this home reflected an early ‘60s floor plan that might at one time have been open, but which suffered a remodel that separated the galley-style kitchen from the rest of the house.  The prescription was nothing short of a serious makeover that would redefine the space itself.

Challenge

Some kitchen remodels can be effectively accomplished in place.  In the case of this kitchen, however, what was required was a relocation — starting with removing a full height wall and built-in cabinet that had resulted in a cramped dining room and wasted space that could be better put to use.  Adding insult to injury was the blue cabinetry!

Accomplishment

In addition to removing a wall, we also took out the original soffit.  To bring in some nice views of the backyard landscaping, we took out one window and enlarged another. With the space that we gained, we were not only able to expand the working area of the kitchen through its relocation, but also include a pantry.  To improve the overall look, we installed painted cabinets (bye, bye blues!), a butcher block island, and Cambria counter tops.  We also refinished the hardwood floors. The plumbing system was also changed to make sure there are no issues once new cabinets are installed. Our partners from Marine Plumbing did their best and finished their work even quicker than we expected. The before and after photos speak at least a thousand words to the difference this remodel made!

Highlights

A change as dramatic as this remodel can require quite a leap of faith, as well as a financial investment.  To help ease into the transition between the old and the new, we like to employ 3D modeling to help our clients better understand the ramifications of the design decisions we guide them through.  With this remodel, we should point out that the original kitchen included a tile element that the clients wanted to carry over into the redesign.  We took the extra step of scanning it into our model, much to our client’s delight!

Notice the location of the two windows on the right and the hanging chandelier as the location did not change. Scroll down for several before, during and after pictures, including a 3D rendering completed during the design phase.

Goodbye blue cabinets…note the ceiling voids showing the former wall location.  We constructed a temporary wall (left) with a secure door to separate the living area from the construction area.  The large pipe is our filtration system to help keep the air clear of dust.

We modeled the kitchen prior to construction – the cabinet to the left of the window was added later.

Hit on any image to see larger images

 

 

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: