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Rendering of shed roof from front of home by Strite Design in Boise, Idaho
Garage Addition Digital Renderings

“Begin as you mean to continue” is a great philosophy for living in general.  In remodeling, however, intentionality in execution begins with intentionality in design.  In the case of some remodel projects, the number of options that face a designer require the kind of scrutiny that only 3D modeling can provide.

Vision

Our clients wanted to add an additional garage to their home, and had thought through their remodel criteria very carefully.  They wanted high ceilings, an overall sense of openness, and an orientation that would take advantage of the view from their foothills home.

Challenge

As we attempt to gain ceiling height in the new garage (the existing garage roof is just under 8 feet), the fascia tie-in between the new and old structures presents a challenge that is best addressed by carefully modeling different roof options.

Accomplishment

We have invested in 3D modeling capability for precisely the reasons this case study presents.  Using this technique with a home that already has an unusual roof line, we were able to look at shed roof designs that included clipped and unclipped versions of the existing garage roofline, then study the ramifications of these options from different perspectives.

Highlights

While we still have a couple of studies remaining, our 3D models have already led us to the conclusion that the clipped roof doesn’t tie in well with the rest of the overhangs, so we will look at retaining the existing roof line while looking at the connection with the shed option and the hip option.  You can imagine the sense of confidence these models will give our clients as they make their final decision on the design of the new addition.

Click on images for a larger view.

Addition with shed roof and no clip on existing roof

Shed from side. but wait, keep reading more

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Trends

While residential design trends may not be as subject to the vagaries of fashion as hemlines, they do change.  Consequently, what is esthetically pleasing today will probably appear “dated” in a couple of decades.  As a remodeling company, the best we can do at chasing the ephemera of “timelessness” is to focus not just on appeal, but on functionality — especially functionality that evolves with the needs of a homeowner over time.

Which is why a recent article in Qualified Remodeler (Actionable Ideas for Universal Design) caught my eye.  If the concept of universal design (aka, UD) is a new one to you, the article’s author offers the following definition: “Universal design simply means inclusive design – thoughtfully filling homes with features that provide comfort and convenience, regardless of age, stature or ability.”

The article goes on to point out that the appeal of universal design has been somewhat muted by its association with “aging-in-place” — a misconception, the author notes, that is best addressed with examples such as the following.

“Let’s say you are building a bath sink vanity. If you built it with an open knee space under the sink with clearance for a wheelchair user, that would be a typical aging-in-place element. However, if you added a removable cabinet front that could convert it easily to a typical sink base with a floor and cabinet doors, that would be a universal design element because it could easily be converted to fit a variety of user’s needs.”

In an effort to “rebrand” UD, a number of industry notables have come together to create Better Living Design, an institute whose goal is to “promote, educate and encourage wide adoption of Better Living Design, the sensible design approach to improve how homes are built and remodeled in America.”

BLD’s mission to “change how homes and the products that go in them are designed, built and remodeled to better meet the needs of everyone at every age, life stage and ability” is an ambitious one, but it has some heavy hitters backing it, including not only the AARP, but more than 30 other organizations, companies, universities, and leaders in the universal design category.

With an aging boomer population that has indicated a strong desire to stay in their homes, STRITE echoes BLD’s observation that “the demand for more livable home design across the life span becomes increasingly more important” — which is why we will be paying attention to BLD and its recommendations to designers, builders, and remodelers.  Regardless of your age, if you are considering a home remodel, we recommend BLD’s website as a resource for ideas on how create a more livable home for any stage in your life.

For a case study on how STRITE approached an “aging-in-place” remodel, click here.

 

 

 

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Trends

Have you ever wondered just how many ad campaigns and marketing slogans would be rendered mute if you struck the word “value” from the English lexicon?  It’s a tantalizing concept, since it would require companies to be a bit more specific about just what their products and services contribute to the lives of their customers.

Like the words quality and service, the meaning of value has become a marketing cipher into which many businesses expect their customers to apply their own definition.

Which is precisely the problem when applying value to the business of remodeling.  While the concept of value may be a bit fuzzy to many consumers, far fewer have a difficult time defining the term bargain.  And unfortunately for those of us in the remodeling industry, these two words are too often thought of as being synonymous.  As a company that takes great pride in the value that our services represent, we think it’s high time to open up a discussion as to just what that term means.

The idea of “getting a bargain” when it comes to a remodel makes us very uneasy.  After all, there is a reason that so many businesses throw out the lowest bid when it comes to getting quotes for products and services.  There simply is a cost to things below which you cannot go without sacrificing the quality and integrity of materials and services.  The willingness of a service provider to go below that threshold should raise a red flag when it comes to their professionalism and experience.  And while quality and integrity are certainly “value propositions” in our minds, we think these two attributes should be a given for anyone in our business.

A more popular concept of value in recent years has been “return on investment”, or ROI.  In the heady days of the real estate boom, the idea of picking up a property for little or nothing down, upgrading the interior and/or exterior, and then “flipping” the property for a windfall profit was a mighty tempting behavior for a lot of homeowners.  Too tempting, as it turned out.

With real estate prices languishing for the foreseeable future, we think it makes a lot more sense for homeowners to look at where they live as a “quality of life” rather than “return on investment” proposition.  The days of treating ones home as an ATM are long over…to which we say, “thank goodness”!  We encourage our customers to look at a remodel as a process and outcome that adds to their quality of life, and not to their indebtedness!

In thinking of value as something we experience, rather than a “bottom line” transaction, we see value in both the process and outcome of a successful remodel.  And after all, if you reject that idea of value as something material, what you are basically left with is a qualitative definition – one that looks at the experience of the “thing” rather than the thing itself.  In our next blog installment, we’ll talk more about the concept of value as an experience, and just what that “thing” is from the perspective of our customers.

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!

Design by Strite Design + Remodel
40 Years of Delivering High Quality

Over the years, an essential attribute of the “Strite brand” has become “experience” — not so much as defined by the amount of time and knowledge we’ve invested in our craft (as considerable as that may be), but more from the standpoint of how our customers experience a remodel project.

As Marketing Associate for STRITE design + remodel, I have the privilege — and challenge — of promoting a company that has spent nearly forty years building an enviable reputation in the Treasure Valley. To get a sense of just how solid that reputation is, I would invite you to take a look at our customer satisfaction ratings on Guild Quality.com (an excellent resource for anyone looking for reliable suppliers in their local residential building industry).

When 97% of third-party survey respondents say they would recommend Strite, you would be justified in wondering just how much of a challenge promoting our brand might be. Short of being the public relations director for “The Organization for the Advancement of Puppies, Kittens, and Toddlers,” marketing a company with the customer loyalty that Strite enjoys isn’t a bad gig. You’d figure I could get in a few naps during the day, or at least update my Facebook page on a more frequent basis.

The challenge with promoting almost any brand, however, is defining and communicating the attributes that constitute its “value proposition” — and Strite is no exception. In the case of the remodeling industry, the most obvious brand attributes are quality, delivery, and price.

As a professional services provider, the first two of these attributes, quality and delivery, are givens. That doesn’t mean they’re a slam dunk — it just means that we consider them to be the inalienable right of every customer. The third brand attribute, price, is a far trickier one. While you can choose to compete on price, all of us understand, at least on an intuitive level, that you can only cut so much cost out of any undertaking before you compromise quality (and even delivery, if you’re not fairly compensating your trades).

Over the years, an essential attribute of the “Strite brand” has become “experience” — not so much as defined by the amount of time and knowledge we’ve invested in our craft (as considerable as that may be), but more from the standpoint of how our customers experience their remodel projects. In measuring our success, it’s no longer enough that the people and processes in our organization deliver the expected result — we want the experience of that result to enhance our customers’ lives in very real and meaningful ways. To put it another way, we’ve gone from focusing simply on the quality of the customer outcome to including the quality of the customer experience.

If all this seems a bit “touchy feely,” consider this: We are in the business not just of “building stuff,” but of harmonizing people’s homes and lifestyles. Our customers’ needs generally go beyond, “We want another 1,000 square feet of space in our home.” Nowadays, their needs are more aspirational. “Now that our kids have left home, we want to do more entertaining, and our kitchen just doesn’t work.” If that’s not “touchy feely,” what is?

Focusing on the lifestyle aspirations behind a remodel project means, first of all, understanding those aspirations; and because the only people who truly know what those are are our clients, this also means that the “Strite experience” must connect with who they are, what they value, and the ways in which the esthetics of their environment not only reflect their lifestyle, but enhance it as well.

Involving our clients in their remodel project means helping them get in touch with “their inner designer.” We do this in part by asking a lot of questions, but also by encouraging them to pay attention to design elements that resonate with them. In one recent project, for example, our client did a Google search on “zen bathrooms,” which yielded a number of ideas for colors, textures, and fixtures that collectively expressed “the feeling of water,” as well as her feelings toward a cherished home of thirty years.

Being able to experience the connection between a personal sense of esthetics and how it might best express and reinforce itself in the remodel of a bathroom turned out to be an energizing and creative exercise that far outweighed the anxiety our client naturally felt about the change taking place in her home. We are, after all, creatures of habit. At the core of the value proposition underlying our brand is a commitment to immersing our clients in a creative process that not only yields a more beautiful and/or functional home, but also helps them realize that we are creatures of creativity as well. That’s an epiphany that stays with you long after a remodel is completed — and as ineffable as it may seem, it’s what the “Strite Experience” is about.

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

The fate of too many kitchens is like that of Cinderella before the arrival her fairy godmother: toiling away in relative obscurity.  Once we worked our magic on this kitchen, however, it became the belle of the ball — long past the stroke of midnight!

Vision

Our clients loved to entertain, but their kitchen’s isolation kept it out of the social mix.  Fortunately, the walls that separated it from the dining and living rooms were not load bearing, which presented us with options that proved both dramatic and economical.

Challenge

Our mission in this remodel was to open the kitchen space up to the rest of the house.  To keep the project within a tight budget, however, we needed to preserve its original footprint.  We accomplished this by removing two walls, including the one behind the range — which meant replacing the old exhaust vent with a drop down hood.  Rather than taking the walls out completely, we left part of them in place to become raised bars.

Accomplishment

Creating raised bars around the former walls had an added benefit of leaving the existing hardwood flooring unaffected — which kept cost down as well as creating social spaces.  We also kept the existing counter tops, and rather than replacing the cabinets we sanded and refinished them and added hardware finishes as an upgrade.  We took out the can lighting and replaced it with pendants.  As a finishing touch, we also added tile backsplash around the new range.  And as you can see from the before and after photos, we even refinished a door leading outside from the kitchen so that it would match the cabinets.

Highlights

One of the benefits of integrating a kitchen into the rest of a home is that it often increases the utilization of adjoining rooms — especially the dining room.  This project is another great example of the “face-lift” kitchen remodel that maximizes the use of existing materials, makes modest structural changes, and with the clients’ excellent finishes choices, creates an entirely new-feeling space while staying within the desired budget.

Click photos to enlarge:

A home addition by Strite Design + Remodel in Boise, Idaho

By its nature, an addition remodel is about creating something that wasn’t there before.  This in turn means incorporating something new into something that already existed.  A well executed addition should do this in a way that not only respects the integrity of a home’s design, but enhances it as well.  It’s all about balance.  

Vision

Our clients wanted an exercise space over their garage, and a hallway that would connect this room with the rest of their home.

Challenge

More often than not, when you add an addition you are faced with balancing out the home as well as adding to it.

Accomplishment

In the case of this addition, we not only added the space the clients were looking for, but filled out the home in a balanced way. The homeowner was planning on moving but changed their mind after our remodel!

Highlights

Looking at the “After” photos reveals a simple but effective design trick for creating balance with a new addition: we replicated the shape of one design element (in this case the vent above the section of the home on one side of the garage) and incorporated it into the shape of a design element on the other side (in this case, a window).  We also picked up on the column elements that appear in other sections of the home and incorporated this design into the facade of the addition.

Click on photos to enlarge

Bathroom Remodel

When you’ve done as many remodels as we have, you can determine when a home was built with a fair degree of accuracy based on certain telltale bathroom fixtures.  Bathtubs designed for Roman bacchanals are one of them!

Vision

Unless your home was custom built, there will always be those features that made you fall in love with it to begin with, those that you can live with…and those that are just plain annoying.  In the case of this simple bathroom remodel, our client was tired of having a huge bathtub that took up space they would have preferred to use in other ways — such has having more storage.

Challenge

Taking out a fixture such as a bathtub is one thing — the remodel challenge is what to replace it with that does more than simply change the look of a room.  We often find that homes constructed in the ‘90s would feature huge bathtubs that might at one time seemed novel — at least in concept — but soon lost their appeal.  By replacing the existing mega-tub with a smaller one in this remodel project, we were able to create the space needed to add something our client found much more practical: a bank of full-height cabinets.  Our client also wanted to use this project as an opportunity to address some smaller, but no less annoying, issues with their bathroom.

Accomplishment

By rebuilding the tub deck, we were able to install a more practical, and appealing, bathtub.  At the same time, we made some equally practical improvements in the shower.  Because of the way the shower door opened, our client lacked direct access to the shower controls.  We corrected this situation by installing the controls in the pony wall, and we also created a half wall in the shower for additional privacy.  We further updated the look of the bathroom by redesigning the vanity.

Highlights 

While our client’s needs were driven more by practical considerations than esthetics, this simple bathroom remodel addressed both in a way that also saved them from draining their hot water tank every time they take a bath.  Who says you can’t be pragmatic AND appealing?

Click on photos to enlarge.