2011 NARI Level Best Awards

In this year’s Level Best Awards, we received a record number of projects from the local chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). After a thorough study of each submission, the judges selected the 2011 winners.

A sincere thank you to our judges: Terry Ellenbecker, senior project manager, Hoffman LLC; Marge Stammer, broker associate, Coldwell Banker; Bob McKenny, interior design instructor, Fox Valley Technical College

“Now Playing”
Residential Interior $100,000 and Over
Mosquito Creek LLC Home Renovations

Goal: Transform the homeowners’ basement workshop into an intimate home theater elegant enough to entertain groups of all sizes.

In harmony with the deep burgundy walls, the client decided on cherry wood for the cabinetry, countertops, columns and crown molding and a hand-scraped walnut for the flooring. Gold-colored curtains on a motorized track were installed to conceal a widescreen television, which are controlled along with lighting, audio/visual and mechanical operations by an iPad.

From a fully furnished bar area reminiscent of a speakeasy to a functional ticket booth and marquee, the judges were enamored by the practical components of a theater while achieving the perfect balance of old world craftsmanship and modern technology.

“Absolute Aesthetics”
Kitchen Over $120,000
Timber Innovations

Goal: Expand the kitchen space in this 1959 home to allow more room for family interaction.

Built by Russell Barr Williamson, pupil of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright and known for his Prairie-style architecture, the home had considerable character that the homeowners wanted to preserve. With the ultimate goal of updating the kitchen to their needs without losing the integrity of the home’s original design, Timber Innovations chose materials and design elements true to Williamson’s aesthetic.

The completed renovation created a comfortable living space and a multipurpose room for entertaining family, friends and colleagues. In addition to hidden storage and appliances, updates included granite countertops, stone back splashes, Philippine mahogany cabinetry and embossed copper artwork.

The result is an efficient blend of earthy, existing architecture and newly incorporated technology that is extravagant, yet functional and allows the homeowners to enjoy the view of Lake Michigan while preparing meals, dining and watching television.

“The contractor maintained the aesthetic of the original house,” Bob McKenny noted. Marge Stammer appreciated the clean lines of the design.

“Making Do”
Residential Bath Under $30,000
Welhouse Construction Services

Goal: Add a contemporary first floor full bathroom for an aging resident.

Originally built by the owner 45 years ago, the home features one full bathroom upstairs, a second in the basement and a half bath on the main floor. The problem was not the number of bathrooms, but the location of them.

The client wanted a walk-in shower, a new toilet with an overhead cabinet and a vanity with as much storage space as possible.

Without the space from an existing shower, the only option was to utilize space from another area of the home. The Welhouse team created an area large enough to fit a shower as per the client’s wishes. The homeowner ultimately compromised drawer and cabinet space for the walk-in shower, but a customized drawer was designed to fit around the sink and applicable plumbing. Now that’s making the most out of what you’ve got!

“New Layout for Linens”
Residential Bath $30,000–$60,000
Welhouse Construction Services

Goal: Update first floor bathroom with lighting, walk-in shower, laundry locker and linen closet.

For a house verging on 50-years-old, its cosmetically dated style begged for a new layout. To create more space than the original bathroom occupied, Welhouse proposed pushing the vanity wall one foot into the attached garage space to incorporate an oversized walk-in shower and full-size stackable washer and dryer. On the wall where a full-length vanity previously existed, extra space was able to accommodate a full linen closet.

One challenging aspect was that the wall behind the proposed new dryer shared a wall with the main entrance foyer. A hole was cut to access the hard pipe venting. Since the hole had to be covered anyway, the homeowners chose to remove the paneling in the foyer and hallway.

“The contractor did a nice job disguising the washer and dryer,” McKenny observed. “They had to fight through ventilation problems. It was well thought out.”

“Unwelcome Visitors”
Residential Addition Under $100,000
Distinctive Renovations

Goal: Replace the existing patio with a three seasons room with a larger, paved patio to enjoy the backyard.

Located near Lake Winnebago, these homeowners often noticed reptiles slithering across their back patio and summertime bugs hampered outdoor amusement.

City codes and existing rooflines were just a few project challenges. The room could only be 15 feet deep and the configuration of the house limited the width of the new room to 22 feet. By building the new room level with the patio, the room achieves a generous ceiling height and were able to install window units 7-feet-2-inches high.

According to project submission details, “In order to create an attractive transition between the old and new, a portion of the shed roof was removed, and a new gable roof with a five-foot ridge line was constructed in its place. A second gable roof was then built over the new three seasons room.”

“The roof tie-ins are thoughtful and seamless,” Terry Ellenbecker said. “You’d have no clue it’s an addition.”

The judges praised the combination of interior materials of the sunroom, including a Mendota gas fireplace framed with cultured stone and a limestone mantel. The fireplace was strategically placed as not to block the view outside.

“Porch Swing Prevail”
Residential Exterior Under $100,000
Welhouse Construction Services

Goal: Create an outdoor space for the homeowners’ cherished swing.

Welhouse built a three-season, screened off porch using old doors off the kitchen that at one time led to a patio. A rustic porch with exposed, ruff saw cedar ceiling rafters and adjustable windows of clear memory vinyl was constructed. The exterior siding was painted white to match the trim of the existing home.

“This was a unique way of meeting the needs of a client,” Ellenbecker said.

“Kitchen Reassigned”
Residential Addition $100,000–$250,000
Tod Raehl Construction, Inc.

Goal: Add space to the existing room and completely remodel new kitchen space.

The back deck was removed in order to construct an addition to the kitchen side of the house. As well as assigning function to this area of the house, the kitchen was completely remodeled.

McKenny noticed that the previous kitchen had hardly any cabinetry or countertop space and he was intrigued by how low the windows were by the sink.

“There’s a nice pull into the new space,” he said. “This design draws you into the kitchen, especially with the curvature of the island.”

Initially, this project was submitted as a Residential Exterior Over $75,000, but the judges made a call to move it to the Residential Addition category based on the amount of attention spent on the interior as well as the exterior addition.

“New Life for an Old Deck”?
Residential Exterior Specialty
Mosquito Creek LLC Home Renovations

Goal: Improve deck using a new stainless steel cabling railing system and low maintenance design.

Old narrow steps, poor lighting and exposed edges had become both a nuisance and safety hazard.

“Originally, there was a lot of deck but not all of it was usable,” Ellenbecker noted.

Mosquito Creek improved the view from the deck and kept in line with the existing structure and home.

“The steel cable provides a unique openness to the deck,” said Stammer.

Halfway into the project, the homeowners expressed the desire for a flower box in the middle of the deck to break up the traffic flow. Stone was used to square the boxes and the mix of materials adds texture to the design.

McKenny praised the project for giving the house an overall updated look.

“More Space Changes Face”
Entire House Under $250,000
Welhouse Construction Services

Goal: Add garage space for four vehicles, extra storage and a stairwell from the garage to the basement to accommodate recently retired homeowners’ bike repair hobby.

The new staircase from the garage leads down into the bicycle workshop in the basement, and the walkway around the garage was widened to the full width of the front porch and designed with stamped concrete. The elimination of the porch pillars lends to a more contemporary look.

The entire home was covered in new vinyl siding with cedar shakes on the front of the home for a touch of style.

“The cedar shake looks high end, and the space was really maximized,” Ellenbecker said. “It’s a seamless project.”

“Functional Fix”
Residential Universal Design
Welhouse Construction Services

Goal: Build an addition on the back of the home to serve as a new entrance and a bedroom with a basement.

When mobility becomes an issue for homeowners that don’t want to relocate, remodeling spaces becomes the best option. The new space required wheelchair accessible doors, slopes and ramps.

The homeowner has intentions to one day remove the ramp, so it had to be installed in such a way that it could be easily taken out. Where the addition connected to the original home, there were two windows that had to be removed, but Welhouse reused them in the new structure.

“There was a lot of common sense detail put into this project,” said Ellenbecker.

—By Ashley Beyer and Alison Fiebig

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