Every year, we submit several of our best projects to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (Or NARI) to be evaluated for REMY awards, and we wanted to share with you one of our big winners. This project won Gold in the Designs and Plans category, awarded to the project that best represents the needs of the clients in the design and planning phase.
Julie and Chris, parents of five, have a spacious home in a prestigious neighborhood. The original homeowners constructed and modeled this home to be an exact replica of a Williamsburg Colonial. Julie and Chis appreciate the home and the beautiful details included in the construction and historical details, but the strict Colonial interior was not their taste, and it was time to update this home to suit their family and their personality.
The kitchen/hearth room and family room areas were dark and simple, lacking the embellishments that Chris and Julie appreciate in fine, exquisite craftsmanship. A screened-in porch located outside the kitchen east (window) wall further reduced the flow of light into the kitchen area. The brick-faced fireplaces, though keeping with the Williamsburg Colonial theme of the original homeowners, were not at all appealing to Julie and Chris.
The spacious primarybathroom was outdated and also had a dark feel to it. The enclosed shower was dark. The vanity cabinetry height was not up to current standards, and would need adjusting. The Colonial finishes and outdated design called for an update!
The screened-in porch would be a perfect place to move to the kitchen. An engineer’s study indicated that the existing structure was adequate to support the new room. However, a significant structural beam was required to be placed in the wall that separated the kitchen and porch. The plan to relocate the kitchen area to the porch provides the flexibility for the creation of an expansive breakfast room/bar area at the original kitchen location, and restoration of the area of the hearth room for its intended use (previously their breakfast table was located in the hearth room because it could accommodate the large dining table). The center window of a bay window located in the hearth room was converted to a double door that would lead onto the new deck. This deck was constructed alongside the new kitchen to provide a transition from the kitchen area to the backyard and patio. Previously the entry to the backyard was through a door at the porch, which was going to be eliminated as a result of the kitchen relocation.
Chris and Julie love decorative and detailed moulding, corbels and fluted columns, and those decorative elements are found throughout the new kitchen, bar and family room fireplace areas. The new kitchen includes a 48” professional style range, integrated refrigerator and freezer columns, two dishwashers, a microwave drawer and warming drawer. All appliances would be paneled, except for the microwave drawer. Storage would be maximized by using every available space for creative storage—pull out fluted columns that flank the range contain spice storage; fluted columns that flank the built-in pantry, refrigerator and freezer open up to shelf storage; shallow storage cabinets on the side of the island fill in any space that is available on each side of the microwave drawer and warming drawer. The area of the existing kitchen that originally housed their refrigerator and pantry cabinetry now would be converted to a bar area with glass-front wall cabinets, refrigeration drawers and beautifully embellished cabinetry.
The original kitchen area was now the new breakfast room where they have placed a wonderful farm table in the additional available floor space, and where their new bar is located.
The fireplace at the hearth room was reframed with a new mantel and surround to reflect the ornate moulding details found throughout the new kitchen cabinetry. The new marble tile on the face of the fireplace complements the striking marble and granite used throughout the kitchen. The recessed desk area that was located to the right of the fireplace now is used as a charging station and has a concealed television in the upper section. Strategically placed plug mold houses receptacles and USB charging outlets for their many devices.
The family room update included a new fireplace mantel and surround, new built-in bookcases flanking the fireplace and a cabinet above the fireplace that conceals a large flat-screen television set behind panels with touch latch closers. New marble tile at the face of the fireplace completes the look of the new fireplace wall. All the trim, beams, window shutters and windows were painted and reflect the clean, bright look of the white painted trim in the kitchen and hearth room. Padded fabric wall covering was installed above the chair rail in the family room to complete the new look.
The doorway between the breakfast room and the family room was expanded to create a large opening between the two spaces. The magnificent home that Chris grew up in had beautiful doors that separated two large rooms. At Chris’ request, we were able to have an exact replica of the original doors custom built for this new opening. These splendid new doors are the perfect finishing touch to this gracious remodel.
Pine flooring that was installed throughout the first floor certainly reflects the original Williamsburg Colonial style of the home and was preserved and protected throughout the remodeling process. However, the pine flooring was eliminated in the new kitchen and hearth room areas, as well as the mud room where the home is accessed from the side exterior entry and the garage. New porcelain tile in two shades of dark grey and varying sizes was installed in a unique pattern throughout these areas. This beautiful new floor offers much needed durability to the most heavily trafficked areas of the house. In- floor heat was installed in the new kitchen area.
This stunning remodel is beautiful to look at—the freshness of the white painted trim and new color palette throughout; the clean and exquisite style of the cabinetry; the Statuary Vein marble countertops and slab back-splashes; the honed and enhanced Negresco Suede granite island countertop with built-up custom edges—all elements of finish and style that give this project its “WOW” factor. But, looking deeper, you can understand why we say that the excellence is in the details. The varied cabinet depths, tall crown mouldings, corbels, fluted columns, decorative end panels—all add to the aura of this stunning remodel. Notice that soffits were constructed to extend a few inches beyond the deepest cabinet so that the crown moulding all around the kitchen would have a finished “ceiling” to terminate into. Three tall windows with half-circle heads accent the height of the vaulted ceiling and welcome the flow of daylight into this new space. Also, these windows complement the three circle-heads that are on the east wall of the family room.
Chandeliers that were located above the original kitchen island reflect a renewed sparkle and brightness above the new island. Additional can lighting and under-cabinet lighting help to illuminate the areas for a task and general purposes. Recessed can lighting above the new breakfast room table provides an openness that would have been diminished with hanging fixtures. The openness of the kitchen breakfast/bar area also helps with a seamless transition through the new custom-made doors into the stunning family room.
The second most important room that we affected during this whole house remodel was the primarybathroom. As originally stated, it was in desperate need of an update. Although Chris and Julie chose to keep the existing cabinetry, the changes that include elevating the top height of the vanity cabinets, adding tall cabinets at the vanity and painting the cabinetry all serve to create a fresh and efficient update to this room. But, that is just the beginning! Carrera marble countertops, Carrera marble wall, and floor tile, polished chrome fixtures, opening the shower wall and trading the built-in tub with a free-standing tub all contribute the new brightness and classic look of the bathroom. Mirrors that completely fill in the open areas at each vanity sink have new sconce lighting mounted on them. The left-hand end of the long vanity cabinet run has a clipped ceiling. We built an angled cabinet to accommodate that clip. To maintain symmetry, we “clipped” the ceiling at the right end of the vanity and mirrored the angled cabinet we built at the left end. A new chandelier adds the final touch of sparkle to this remarkably beautiful bathroom.
Maintaining the budget as presented in our contract was very important to Chris and Julie. However, they also realized that if they wanted to make changes or add work to the scope of the project, they were open to discussing how changes would affect the cost of the project and then, if they felt that the cost of a change would offer the benefit they hope to achieve, they would agree to proceed with change order approval.
Even though this home was built as recently as 1988, surprises can still occur. For example, there was a vent line hidden in the pantry cabinet along the refrigerator wall that we did not detect prior to demolition. The end storage cabinet along that wall was built with a shallow depth to house a vent line to the second floor. We were able to reconstruct that vent line and relocate it so that it is cleverly concealed behind a decorative fluted column at the right end of the bar cabinetry. To maintain an element of design, that column is repeated at the left end of the bar cabinetry.
The lower level had been finished in several years before this project and was Chris’ pride and joy. Every precaution had to be made not to affect anything downstairs. The fabric ceiling covering was a challenge and needed to be carefully handled when relocating a plumbing stack that was located on the wall where we expanded the opening between the kitchen and family room. When it was all done, however, Chris did not even see where we needed to pull back and reset the fabric.
Accurate record keeping of all elements of material, design and subcontract work was essential to producing a project that meets our clients’ needs. All changes that affect budget were quickly addressed and resolved before proceeding. The countless material selections were continuously monitored and tracked to be sure that all selections were complete, and the proper materials were allocated throughout the home. All the work behind the scenes helps to bring this beautiful remodel in on time and in budget.
When undertaking a remodeling project in a client’s home, communication and project scheduling are as important to create a successful remodeling project as the material and construction. As with every project, we discuss potential scheduling issues with the client relative to subcontractors’ schedules and material delays. It is our practice, however, to order all material prior to project commencement so that it is on-hand when the project starts. This is very important in helping maintain the project schedule. As far as scheduling subcontractors, we have mutual respect with our subs and provide them with advance notice of our scheduling requirements so that they can effectively plan their work with us. Of course, we can still expect occasional delays, but those are minimized because we are proactive with our subcontractors and suppliers.
One very important way to maintain a great relationship with a client is through effective communication. We held weekly job site meetings with the homeowners. These meetings provide a great opportunity to discuss any questions they may have, review progress from the prior week’s meeting, discuss the schedule and present them with a two-week look-ahead so that they know what to expect next. As always, the homeowner has access to any member of their remodeling team through email, cell phone and text. We are always available and responsive to our clients’ needs.
An addition to our process is the implementation of Builder Trend. This is an extremely useful tool in helping manage the project. Client access to the program helps them to see the progress of the work through daily logs and pictures of the job in progress, as well as a view of updated schedules.