At our initial meet and greet with Kimber and Greg, it was apparent that they liked comfortable spaces with clean finishes. I could see how well they had set up their backyard for family fun and entertaining. It was landscaped with thoughtful and well-connected outdoor areas. Now their goal was to connect that amazing outdoor venue with a fresh take on the interior form and flow.
We walked through their old kitchen and talked about the pains and pinch points of the layout, expressing that it, and a couple of adjacent spaces, felt awkward and disconnected. They both shared their visions of hanging out with family and friends in a fun and open plan, wondering how they could reinvent the layout to better suit their lifestyle.
We looked at the “sunken” living room floor, a popular design in the 80’s. They hoped to infill the floor and add an indoor/outdoor connection to the lovely patio on the front of the house. To complete the main level tour, we walked through the home office, mudroom, and the half bath; their desire being to update the finishes and modernize the vibe of this level.
One of the highlights upon first entering the home is the curved staircase. It was dated and a little worn so they really wanted to update and refinish it, including the banisters along the upper level.
I could tell they were a little gun shy to pull the trigger on such a large project since we hadn’t yet earned their trust; they were still a little skeptical of our team and our process. But they were more open to remodeling the upstairs primary suite before tackling the larger main level project. It felt like a nice bite size appetizer before ordering the main course. We just happened to have an opening in our schedule to be able to accommodate this phasing.
So, after some mindful design, we settled on a plan for the primary suite. It involved some minor tweaks to the bathroom layout with some fantastic updates to the finishes. The blue tile was amazing and the tub was a real show stopper. We tricked out the closet with an efficient and stylish storage system and the new wood floors in the bedroom really created an elegant and inviting getaway.
Our only hiccup was a tile material delay - it was stuck on a boat at the port! Some things are simply out of our control and our project manager, Kyle, didn’t let the material delays fluster him. He was organized and executed the project professionally, bobbing and weaving in order to keep the project moving as well as it could without the tile. As soon as it arrived, we quickly wrapped up the project and gave them an amazing final product. It felt like a spa retreat. We had earned their trust and they were ready to commit to the larger project.
It was fun to iterate on the kitchen designs. We had ideas for a double island, but eventually settled on a gracious L-shaped island with a bar sink and a beverage center for easy access to refreshments. The main sink was positioned at a giant new window that looked out over their great landscaping in the backyard.
We used steel beams for structural support at the opening in the floorplan. And we applied a special finish to celebrate them as a modern element in the new space. This tied in nicely with the new steel railings on the stairs and upper level. We matched a wooden handrail on the steel railings with the new hardwood on the stairs. Another detail we deliberated on was how to remove the “curve” from the curved stairs. The owners felt it broadcasted the 80’s too much. So we straightened out portions of the curve, in effect making it like the edges of an octagon. It was truly transformative.
We had fun with a new, spontaneous element, as well. Greg was obsessed with a wasted cavity under the stairs that faced the dining room, so he asked if we could design a niche for a home bar. It was a brilliant idea! We used LED lighting and glass shelves to give the feel of a tavern bar. And we assembled a distressed wooden barn door - it was a “mini” door on a soft close track. Pretty cool.
Our change order process worked well on some of these late additions. At our weekly meetings, Greg or Kimber would bring up a new thought, now that the spaces were coming to life. Kyle would provide a quick verbal estimate of costs and timing and Kimber and Greg would give their provisional approval. Once Kyle had assembled the final pricing and the required added days, he would ask them to approve the change order in our cloud program called CoConstruct.
All in all, we had gained their trust and their friendship throughout the two projects. We felt pride in the work and they were elated with their beautiful refreshed home.
All photography by Christina Kiffney Photography