Diamond in the Desert: A Remodeler’s Remodel
We’ve had a fascination with building and fixing things since we were kids. Our great grandfather was a plumbing contractor, our grandfather was a general contractor and our dad was just plain handy. So, it’s no surprise that we ended up as partners in our own construction company and have been building and remodeling for over 25 years.
We have spent the greatest part of that time designing and remodeling kitchens and baths and adding space for hundreds of folks who decided that it made more sense to improve rather than move. As is the case with the cobbler, our homes have not always been the object of either our expertise or energy. However, we recently had the opportunity to strap on our tools and renovate a vintage early 1980’s two bedroom, two bath family vacation home in Palm Desert, CA. We thought that you might enjoy a “behind-the-scenes” look at the “remodeler’s remodel.”
The Kitchen: The vintage “early 80’s” kitchen consisted of euro-style almond plastic laminate cabinets with oak trim and stark white ceramic tile counters. The floor was covered with salmon-colored 6″ by 6″ ceramic tile and had no base. The major appliances were a hodge-podge mix of black-on-black and almond. The old sink consisted of enameled steel and the faucet was a powder coated single lever spray spout. Although they were in fair condition, they definitely needed to be replaced in order to accommodate the new satin nickel theme. Though the finishes were essentially in good shape, the kitchen, as was the case with the remainder of the home, was in dire need of an “updated” look and modern features.
The new cabinets are clear finish maple with traditional “style and rail” construction and solid raised panel doors with conceald euro hinges. The pulls are a sleek satin nickel to match the sink faucet and trim. The new countertops are rich slab granite with a handsome bull nose edge detail. Diagonally set matching granite tile (with black granite diamond accents) was used to create a stunning full backsplash. The new appliances are a mix of stainless steel and black. Unlike the old refrigerator, the new side by side refrigerator is “counter depth” and does not protrude beyond the face of the cabinets, for a more “built-in” look. In addition, the refrigerator also contains an integral water purifier and ice and water dispenser in the door.
“Clean-up Central” is a cross between form and function. The spectacular sink and faucet trim are stylish, functional and a decorator’s dream comes true. The premium 18-gauge stainless steel sink is under-mounted below the granite for a sleek look and easy-to-clean configuration.
The sink trim consists of a distinctive satin nickel finish. The faucet has an 8-1/2″ spout length reach, 15″ height, and full spout swing for great sink coverage. Plus, an independent pause button on the pullout wand turns water off and on as needed. Matching decorative elements in the satin nickel finish include a pump soap dispenser, air gap and purified water dispenser — all deck mounted. The filtered water system provides great tasting filtered water for drinking and cooking, your whole family can benefit from filtered water in the home.
The look of a natural travertine tile floor was achieved with 16-inch square Italian porcelain tiles. Porcelain offers all of the beauty of travertine with none of the maintenance. A painted wood base with a decorative profile was used throughout to complete the job and tie all the finishes together.
Attractive recess light cans with energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs replaced the outdated fluorescent recess light box and plastic grids. The result: a more up-to-date look and improved artificial lighting – not to mention the energy savings!
The Mater Bath: The acrylic oval tub was spacious, but was worn and discolored and lacked a whirlpool. The tile shower walls, though in fair condition, were glued directly to the wallboard — presenting a potential water damage condition. The faucet and shower head were “builder’s basic,” offering little convenience. The original vanity, mirror, vanity light, cabinet and double bowl configuration were spacious, but very dated and worn. The cabinet was a laminated particle board and the counter top consisted of a man-made cultured marble with two integral bowls. The faucets were “builder’s basic” two-handle with a polished chrome finish. The shag carpeted floor was also dated and difficult to maintain in the bathroom.
The old tub was replaced with a new luxury whirlpool tub with six adjustable jets. The shower/tub faucet configuration is as good as it gets with a vertical spa set with a temperature control valve and five function transfer valve – all with a satin nickel finish. The five-function valve operates the various functions simply and easily. This luxurious showering experience consists of four body sprays, an adjustable shower head, a convenient hand shower with a 30” slide bar and a prominent deck-mounted Roman tub spout.
New 12-inch square porcelain Italian tile with a warm neutral tone was used at the shower surround and at the tub skirt. The tile walls travel to the ceiling and are installed in a floated bed of mortar for extra water protection and a smooth, uniform finish. Matching copper decos were strategically placed along the walls and skirt to add interest and decorating flair. A new shower enclosure with clear glass and a coordinating satin nickel frame finishes the job.
Like the kitchen, the footprint of the master bath remained the same. However, the new finishes made a dramatic finish on the feel and comfort of the space. A new clear-finish maple vanity with raised panel doors, euro hinges and sleek pulls, was installed in the same location as the previous vanity. The top is ¾ inch slab granite with a four inch splash. The sink openings are polished to accommodate the under mount vitreous china bowls.
The design of the two handle bathroom sink faucets consists of a dramatic high arc spout, classic lever handles and a matching drain assembly. A decorative split finish of polished brass and satin nickel was used for added design flair.
Matching bath accessories – towel bars, towel ring, tissue dispenser and robe hook – were installed to perfectly coordinate with the faucets and split finish. A new mirror, high-end medicine cabinet with full mirrored interior, new mirrored wardrobe doors with satin nickel trim and, of course, a new water-efficient toilet rounded out the space.
The Living Area: We call the decorating motif that existed the “Dances with Wolves” theme. It is very southwestern and also VERY dated. We essentially striped everything from the space with the exception of the wallboard and the windows and sliding patio doors. Everything went — cabinets, carpet and pad and interior doors, trim and hardware. We even removed the acoustic or “popcorn” ceiling to bring the space into the new millennium. What a nasty job, but what rewarding results.
The difference in the look and feel of the space is unbelievable. The ceiling was finished to match the walls – a light “orange peel” spray texture. We chose “Swiss Coffee” as the color to be used on the ceilings throughout. It is bright and cheery and coordinates well with the other earthy colors used throughout. New wall-to-wall carpet and pad with a sculptured pattern was used throughout with the exception of the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry and entry. The color is rich and goes well with both “hard finishes” and furnishings. Several trips to various furniture retailers produced a delightful, well-pulled-together look that is both attractive and comfortable.
Plantation shutters were installed at all windows and sliding patio doors. They are a beautiful element and offer the ultimate in privacy.
For more home improvement tips and information visit our website at www.onthehouse.com or call us at 1-800-737-2474 every Saturday, 9 AM to 1 PM EST.