NRV Magazine: The Idea House, a show-and-tell approach to remodeling
Running a business, like most of life, is all about making decisions and moving forward confidently ~ or at least moving. The alternative to moving forward, of course, is going backward – cutting back, laying off, taking a wait-and-see approach. While that’s both appealing and appropriate for some businesses, it’s not what makes Rick Hyatt tick.
This owner of Atmosphere Builders cautiously examined his options in the recession. As in economic downturns, the home building industry is front and center, taking one of the biggest hits. Not to be deterred by current events, however, Hyatt has done what is inherent in the entrepreneurial spirit: make a plan, take a risk, put money on the table and move forward.
He has purchased a house in Blacksburg, and he’s re- modeling every square inch of it. Inside, prospective clients can see the reality of flooring styles, sink faucets, windows, kitchen appliances and myriad homeowner issues for an interior project. With four full bathrooms, there will be four individual styles – the marble and glass look, a traditional earth tone, a bright white with interesting horizontal glass insets around the shower walls and a sunbeam light and one yet-to-be designed.
“In the large home improvement stores, you don’t get the home impression at all,” he says of shopping for appliances or fixtures. “The ceilings are way high, the flooring is standard store floor. It’s hard to know how a high kitchen sink faucet, for example, will appear in a regular kitchen of normal size. Our Idea House shows many facets of interior remodeling in the proper setting.”
If you’re wondering how a tile floor will look in a herringbone pattern, check out the kitchen. “There are no perfectly straight lines in a room,” Hyatt explains. “When you put in straight counters, a row of cupboards, then an island, it’s about impossible to get a straight floor running exactly parallel to those.” Thus, he avoided having something look out of kilter by installing the herringbone pattern on the floor.
“We opted for plain, dark counters (“Absolute Black” granite) for the contrast with a wild backsplash of glass and multi-color slate. On the island, we again installed solid cupboards underneath to highlight the randomly patterned coutertop (“Supreme Gold” granite). This island top has myriad contrasting and complimentary colors running like a flowing river of stone particles,” he says.
There are two heights on the countertops. The lower one is a pastry work space and doubles nicely for children and grandchildren. Sink interiors are granite composite, and both sinks and faucets are by a German manufacturer. Hyatt lived overseas for many years and has extensive experience working in home remodeling in European countries. It’s natural for him to employ some of those innovative products and approaches to interior remodeling in the New River Valley.
Having seen the struggle homeowners can have with a double hung window over the sink – stretching clumsily (or like this writer, getting the little step ladder out multiple times a week) to push up or pull back down the window, Hyatt cleverly installed a casement window to wind open. The window, like the French doors to the deck, is a Pella product and has mini-blinds inside the glass for the double convenience of shade and not needing to be dusted.
Where once one entered the front door and stepped into the living room, Hyatt added a knee wall at the entrance. It’s higher than a knee and provides definition for the living room and entry way. The living room has a contemporary, gas fireplace inset in the wall, meaning no floor space has been sacrificed. Hardwood flooring has been laid diagonally. The entry displays the same tile as the kitchen, but installed in a standard brick formation. An attractive transition tile section is laid between the kitchen and entry floors. The master bedroom suite sports the same tile, but laid in the typical stacked pattern – all straight, corners meeting corners.
Interior wood doors have one large, contemporary, frosty glass panel in them. Brushed nickel hardware provides a classy contrast. A security panel of buttons mounted on the hall door to the lower level is like communications central. “This system can be accessed by your smart phone, and from it, one can see the babysitter, lock or unlock doors, adjust the temperature inside the house and other things,” Rick explains.
The lower level features a media room with a wet bar and island for gathering, snacking and visiting. The home office is nearby, comfortably sectioned with walls about three-quarters of the way to the ceiling. It projects an openness that’s comfortable and accessible, coupled with privacy for computer, papers and projects. Rick points out a new closet next to the full bath.
“You’d be amazed how often we discover space [like this] in a house during a remodel. Just vacant, unused places under stairs and behind walls that got covered up in the building process.” The two-car garage will have an organization system of work bench, storage and shelving once it’s finished.
The paint colors are bold, and the house is remodeled in a way that people can see and feel (literally and figuratively) what can be done, what has been done, what fits in a certain space, what looks appropriate in a home environment, what works well and so on. It’s a novel approach, and the homeowner is the beneficiary in terms of … well … ideas, as well as Hyatt’s experience in remodeling and in-depth understanding of building principles, codes and structural requirements.
Between the living room and kitchen, for example, Hyatt can show you where he removed a section of a load-bearing wall. “We installed beams in the attic to carry the roof load,” he explains. “This results in a nice, open feeling and a flat ceiling between rooms.”
The three-phase Idea House project is in phase one, the interior remodel. Phases two and three are exterior house and landscaping and will proceed once the interior is complete. Interior remodel, after all, is their business.
The Idea House is a wonderful place to view remodeling options in terms of space, style, color, pattern, structure, high tech communications, mechanical systems, windows and doors. And you can see all these things – and learn about more – as they look in a real home setting. You do, after all, live in a real home with basic rooms, ceilings, floors, windows and doors. Just like the Idea House.
Article by Joanne M. Anderson
Photos by Bonnie Bounds