secrets to remodeling success

February 2017 Newsletter

conversation with clients Lee Byron and Ash Huang part 2

In the January newsletter, we discussed how our clients' wish to have a spacious in-home studio helped shape the trajectory of their home purchase and remodel. For this edition, we are moving our conversation to other favorite parts of the house as we follow Lee and Ash upstairs to the second level. 

from an awkward puzzle to a light-filled retreat

Ash explains that the original bedroom was rather oversized but the master bath was quite small and awkward: being bisected by a dominant and unattractive glass block wall. Both Lee and Ash remember having reviewed many iterations of the floor plan during the schematic design phase. The final plan has vastly expanded the footprint of the master bath by coopting an existing closet. The result is a spacious room neatly organized into a calming and elegant grooming area, a floor-to-ceiling steam/shower enclosure, and a private toilet space. Custom sized mirror panels that match the height of the ready made LED lighting strips give the room a tailored look. 

Lee and Ash particularly relish the memories of the fun they had choosing the finishes and fixtures curated and presented by the designers. With all white cabinets and walls and floor completely cladded with pale grey porcelain tiles, this room perhaps best expresses the ethos of less is more. On his blog, our photographer Scott Hargis has this to say:

"Take a close look at the tile work in this master bath designed by building Lab -- you won't find better craftsmanship anywhere. Those tiles are not a millimeter out of place, even as they wrap up from the floor, even in the shower enclosure where they wrap over the threshold, into and out of the wall niche and onto the ceiling. Amazing! The slot skylight over the vanity makes this space glow -- and the glow is carried throughout the bath with panels of frosted glass."

last but not least: the kitchen

Going back to the main level, we get to enjoy once again the walk down those dramatic stairs mentioned in the previous newsletters. The living, dining, and kitchen areas in the great room form an arc which is paralleled by the panoramic view of the city outside. This space is articulated with building Lab's trademark details such as slim profile Blomberg window frames in anodized aluminum, invisible baseboards, super white painted walls; it terminates with an all white kitchen at the corner.

Looking at this well proportioned and fabricated kitchen, it is hard to believe it was not included in the original remodeling plan. Lee and Ash initially only wanted to replace the cabinet doors of the existing kitchen. When the remodel was well underway, more problems started to surface: the existing countertop was too high, and several cabinets were in bad shape. Once the decision to remodel the kitchen was made, the designers immediately went back to work. The idea of relocating the kitchen to the middle of the great room was considered and then ruled out. The final agreement was to keep the original footprint and everything was made to be more functional and refined. 

Highlights of the new kitchen: white Krion® countertop and white conversion varnished cabinet faces; cabinet doors have been custom cut to accommodate an existing undulating ceiling; corner wall cabinets next to the range have special bi-fold doors that improve access; corner base cabinets have special hardwares and accessories to utilize the storage spaces; Miele dishwasher door opens with a double knock.

survive and thrive in a home remodel

This being one of our largest and most challenging projects in recent years, it involved our entire staff and many specialty sub-contractors and artisans who were all grateful for the opportunities to expand their creative potential. At the end of our interview today, our clients Lee and Ash offer a few tips to those who may be planning a home remodel:
  • The sooner you plan for things, the better.
  • Have a comfortable margin in your budget to allow for contingencies and project expansion (Lee thinks doubling the estimated budget would be best, while most past clients were happy with a 10-20% allowance.)
  • Definitely move out of the house if you have an extensive remodel.
  • Be picky when you are selecting a design and building team.
  • Be patient and open-minded during the process. 
We agree that the secret to remodeling success is to be discerning and trusting at the same time. Lee and Ash enjoyed being part of the process: reviewing a ton of sketches and discussing the pros and cons of various solutions, witnessing the famously difficult San Francisco permitting process, and winning the cooperation and approval of their neighbors. 
All presentation photos by Scott Hargis Photography:
Profile image: great room with panoramic view
1. Before: existing master bath  2. During: construction of master bath
3. Entry to master bath   4. Vanity and makeup counter
5. Steam/shower enclosure  6. Kitchen
Superb tiling done by Rafael Anaya.  

a big thank you to the houzz community for voting us Best of Houzz 2017 for Design!

a bold art piece sets the tone for a master bath

Click here to read an article on Remodeling Magazine.

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