05 February 2010

A Classic, but Remodeled

The Bend Bulletin

Stephanie and David Lawrence have owned their Black Butte Ranch home for a decade, but they were ready for a change. They wanted to expand and remodel their 1970s-era home to accommodate their growing extended family, which includes two young grandchildren, and another one on the way.

“For our family, this is the gathering place, and we love it there. I have four grown children; two of them are married with children,” said Stephanie Lawrence by phone from her primary home in Northern California. “We all live in different places, but we try to come together there regularly, and eventually my husband and I may finally retire in Central Oregon.”

Stephanie's husband, Dr. David Lawrence, is the former CEO for Kaiser Permanente, and during his career, the family had to move several times. But Oregon, Stephanie said, always feels like home.

David Lawrence is a native Oregonian. His father, Amos Lawrence, was a former headmaster of the private Catlin Gabel School in Portland, and his grandfather, Ellis Fuller Lawrence, was one of the founders of the University of Oregon's School of Architecture and Allied Arts. He designed the campus' original Knight Library and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.

So the Lawrences know a thing or two about architecture, and were ready with a list of things they wanted to change in their Black Butte Ranch home, originally built in 1974.

“We love the windows; there's a lot of large windows that look out to the golf course, and it's beautiful,” explained Stephanie. “But the kitchen was small and cramped. Basically only one person could work in there at a time, and most of my family loves to cook, so we wanted to open up the kitchen.”

The remodeling puzzle

Whenever home designer Kathleen Donohue of Neil Kelly comes to a home remodel project, she asks her clients two questions: what they love about their home, and what they most dislike about their home, and from there her work begins.

Donohue likens home remodeling projects to a jigsaw puzzle. The pieces include trying to work within the confines of the building footprint, incorporating clients' wishes and ideas, and working with a set of givens, like existing support beams. Doing all of this, and coming within budget.

“It is like a puzzle, because it's a challenge or a mystery,” said Donohue. “But I love solving mysteries. You can take any existing home and make it what you want, completely changing a look or style, but you still have to work within a framework, which you don't have with a new-construction home.”

With Donohue's work, the Lawrences were able to add 804 square feet to their 4,700-square-foot home, including two additional bedrooms, one bathroom, a little office and playroom.

Because of strict development guidelines, Donohue didn't want to extend the footprint of the home. Plus, cutting down any existing trees would have cost $3,000 per tree. Donohue says she's pleased the Lawrences got everything they wanted, and not one tree had to be felled.

The windows, which originally drew the Lawrences to this home, all stayed, but they were updated to more efficient windows.

The kitchen was completely revamped.

“The kitchen was U-shaped, and not open at all,” said Donohue, pointing out a wall they took out. “Now the kitchen opens up to the living room and the sun- room.”

Because cooking is a big priority for the Lawrences, they requested a pot-filling faucet, which has a long enough neck to fill a pot with water while it's on the stove. Donohue felt if the family was going to have this type of faucet, it should also have a service sink next to the stove.

Underneath the service sink is a glass-fronted wine refrigerator, which was another request from David Lawrence, a wine and beer aficionado.

Stephanie got professional kitchen appliances, and instead of going with stainless steel appliances, she opted for gray-colored glass on her oven and main refrigerator, which Donohue notes may be the next new kitchen trend.

Another trend in kitchen remodeling, which the Lawrences used in their remodel, is the use of an antique finish on their black granite.

“This is easier to maintain than shiny granite; it's not at all fussy,” said Donohue, running her hand across the smooth, muted Cambrian black granite island. “We also used antique copper-colored fixtures throughout the kitchen.”

On the opposite side of the island, Donohue used a salvage company to resurrect a beautiful piece of madrona butcher-block countertop.

For the backsplash of the stove area, Donohue had small, stacked- slate pieces, known as “falling waters” (after a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired design), interspersed with small copper tiles, and a center area made of all antique hammered copper.

The Lawrences opted for dark- stained cupboards with an arts and crafts/mission look with small square cutouts at the top, filled with golden mica. When the cupboard lights are on, the little mica windows cast a golden glow over the kitchen, adding visual warmth.

Updating the classic

Updating the house also meant taking out the wooden deck on the front porch. Taking inspiration from the living room fireplace, which is surrounded by a wall of rock, Donohue was able to find matching rock for the porch and entryway, which gives the home visual continuity.

Behind the living room fireplace wall was an old wood shed next to the house. Donohue used it to fill in another piece of the puzzle.

“I thought this would make a great little office area,” said Donohue, opening the door to the new office. The door is covered in a product called Lumicore, which allows natural light in, but creates some privacy, with a natural leaf print subtly veiling the window of the door.

Taking out lots of beige carpet on the main floor and using natural wood in the living room, kitchen and sunroom also updated the classic look of the house.

“I'd say this house was built as a Northwest modern contemporary, and it was originally built very well. So when you take a custom home that's built well in the first place, it makes it much easier to do these remodels,” said Donohue, who feels the house overall has stood the test of time, but just needed some updating and the expansion the Lawrences desired.

Donohue says with any remodeling project there's always at least one surprise, and this home was no different. When taking out an old bathtub during the master bathroom remodeling, they found raccoons had a made a nest under the tub.

“Yes, the raccoon family made quite a little condo underneath that tub,” said Stephanie.

After the raccoons found another home, Donohue had a large air bath installed in the master bathroom.

“With an air bath, you have hot air in the pipes blowing into the water, instead of jets of water in a spa tub,” explained Donohue. “We used travertine in the shower area, and porcelain tile floors to match the travertine, and it's all easy care.”

To keep within budget, the same bathroom cupboards were refinished and new hardware was added. In the master bathroom, one small aesthetic cost paid off in big visual dividends.

“I love the way the stacked rocks came out in the master bathroom, it adds so much to the look in there,” said Stephanie, an artist, referring to two medium-sized beams that were covered in stacked rocks by artistic masons.

On the main floor, Donohue walks down a small hallway from the master bedroom and shows off the big new playroom, which she's sure will get plenty of wear and tear when the grandchildren visit. She says it also serves as an art studio for Stephanie.

Going up the stairs, Donohue said the remodel included enclosing the staircase, as Stephanie was worried about young toddlers falling through the original iron grating of the stairs.

The two new bedrooms, each with generous walk-in closets and ironing centers, share a center hallway bathroom. Donohue explained the walk-in closets were important to the Lawrence children because they can double as a makeshift nursery while the grandchildren are babies.

Downstairs, Donohue pauses and looks at four dream lists that the Lawrences had given her at the beginning of the six-month remodel project.

“Here's mom's list, dad's list, the kids' list, and my original notes — I think we were able to get everything in that everyone wanted,” said a satisfied Donohue.

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