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A Look at the 2017 Model ReModel, Part II

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A Look at the 2017 Model ReModel, Part II

The second part of our two-part story focuses on the project’s finishes and strategic solutions to real-world construction challenges

By By Elizabeth Mack November 6, 2017
model remodel
This article first appeared in the November 2017 issue of Pro Remodeler.

Read Part I of this story about the 2017 Model ReModel here.

Incorporating universal design principles into a traditional New England home on a modest budget was the mission for the 2017 Model ReModel. The goal: Transform the home, which has been in the client’s family for generations, into a modern, maintenance-free dwelling for the homeowner, who is nearing retirement.

While putting the finishing touches on the home, master carpenter Ben Bogie, owner of Built to Last Design & Build, in New Milford, Conn., says he’s pleased with the project overall: “There were no real hiccups in the construction process, which comes from experience and thorough planning on the front end of the project, getting all of our ducks in a row so there are no surprises.”


Built in 1938, the original home had two cramped bedrooms, which was common at the time. The current homeowner wanted one large master bedroom and a spacious bath and laundry, so Bogie opted to remove a bedroom and blow out walls for a master suite and a laundry area that would provide much-needed storage. An additional 300 square feet was added, for a total of 1,330 square feet for the one-bedroom home.

Topping it Off

Creating a maintenance-free exterior included choosing products that can withstand harsh New England winters, so installing a standing-seam metal roof was a no-brainer for Bogie—a huge fan of metal roofs because they resist ice damming and are more durable than shingles. But, no matter how careful you are, Bogie says, some metal roofs will scratch if you so much as look at them wrong. To combat that, and to further boost durability, the panels were coated with Valspar’s Fluropon. The factory-applied coating ensures color consistency and protects against weathering, pollution, and UV rays—and it took the abuse of installation on the Model ReModel without a scratch. 

If Walls Could Talk

Building an energy-efficient home with a small footprint was a key requirement of this year’s Model ReModel, and the house is as tight on the inside as it is on the outside. Mineral wool insulation provided by Roxul (which will rebrand to Rockwool in January 2018) is known for its superior acoustic insulation properties and was used not only in the attic and floors, but also in the interior walls for sound attenuation. As added benefits, Roxul insulation is noncombustible, offering superior fire resistance, and, Bogie says, “It also has good moisture management ability. You don’t end up with any moisture or mold problems.”

Building a tight, well-insulated house allowed the team to downsize the HVAC system. Bogie, a self-described ventilation nerd, installed Fujitsu mini-splits for a maintenance-free and low-cost solution, the perfect system choice for the tightly insulated space. The balanced ventilation system draws in as much air as it exhausts. The main body of the house is handled by a 12,000 Btu wall-mount unit, the master bedroom has a smaller 7,000 Btu wall mount, and there’s a 7,000 slim-duct unit for the laundry and bath. Each zone is controlled by its own thermostat. Two main air ducts at the heart of the system travel through a chaseway through the gable, bringing fresh air in and down into the mechanical room in the basement. There it travels through a powered and filtered blower, with Air King’s QuFresh supply fan regulating incoming air for optimal indoor air quality. Air then travels up through another run to the attic and into a branch box, from which it is distributed around the house. An Air King range hood in the kitchen will function as exhaust for cooking but will also run continuously to expel air out. In the shower area, an Air King Eco Exhaust vent fan exhausts out the gable end of the roof. Fresh air is ventilated through ductwork into closets to avoid drafts. 

Customized Kitchen 

Cabinetry by Wellborn Cabinets optimizes the functionality of the kitchen. With accessibility for the aging homeowner in mind, careful consideration of storage was a top priority for designer Karen Salyer, owner of KMS Design Studio, in Auburn, Ala. “We designed the kitchen with elements of storage that allow you to more gracefully age in place,” she says. 

The kitchen was carefully designed with an aging homeowner in mind. Double ovens, as well as the microwave, are placed to minimize reaching and bending. 

Salyer explains that for a universal-design kitchen, the optimal height range for the “storage zone” should be between your knees and shoulders, which keeps everything easily accessible. Optimizing interior space in cabinets was also a priority, so the design incorporates numerous interior accessories in the base cabinets, such as a lazy Susan, rollout shelving, and utensil and canister pullouts, as well as a spice rack. For easier accessibility, the microwave was moved to the island base level, eliminating the need to reach up. Double ovens were also placed in the comfort zone to minimize reaching and bending. Wellborn’s semi-custom cabinets maximize the often wasted space under the cooktop located on the perimeter. The depth of the drawers was reduced, allowing room for electrical or mechanicals to be installed under the cooktop, creating additional storage space for pots and pans.

Space was at a premium, so the island cabinets from Wellborn feature a lazy Susan, rollout shelving, a utensil and canister pullout, and a spice rack. 

The Shaker-style island was designed as more of a furniture piece and focal point of the kitchen. Features include mission square post legs, a decorative apron, wainscot panels, and an arched valance on the front. The island, in a maple finish, is set off from Wellborn’s perimeter cabinets, which are finished in Pimento, for a burst of color. Paintable MDF was used for the doors because the material is stable and won’t expand and contract at the same rate as wood, ensuring it will hold up well to paint and offer a durable surface. At the sink, a touchless faucet by American Standard allows hands-free operation with manual capabilities. “It’s not just a functional kitchen,” Salyer says, “but a highly decorative and beautiful space as well.”

Range hoods play a critical role in a kitchen’s mechanical system. Here, an Air King model functions as exhaust and also runs continuously to expel air to outside.

Master Bath

The Shaker-style theme carries into the master bath, with a whimsical folk-art wallpaper for inspiration. Davenport series cabinets in deep blue from Wellborn’s extensive color palette set the tone and tie into the Bestbath shower tile inset. The entire shower unit can be framed and installed in less than a day. Storage in the master bath is maximized with easy-to-reach drawers and cabinets. Details include split decorative legs and open areas with room for baskets. The bath also incorporates a sit-down vanity with appliance pullout cabinet to store hot tools.

The fixtures from American Standard are in a classic style. Together with the Wellborn cabinets, they create a cohesive New England farmhouse aesthetic.

Storage in the master bath is maximized with easy-to-reach drawers and cabinets. Details include split decorative legs and open areas with room for baskets. The bath also incorporates a sit-down vanity with appliance pullout cabinet to store hot tools.

The shower, from Bestbath, can be framed and installed in less than a day and has a removable threshold, making it a simple solution for aging in place.

A self-cleaning toilet by American Standard rounds out the bath. Features include two cleaning cycles: a 1-minute Quick Clean and 10-minute Deep Clean. With the press of a button, the cleaning mechanism built into the tank lid squirts solution into the bowl, swirls it onto the surface, and then “cleans” the bowl, reducing the need for regular scrubbing. The rinse cycle rinses away the solution. 

Maximizing Storage 

When remodeling a smaller home with limited space, maximizing storage is a priority. Wellborn Closets offers unique design features along with versatility at a value-oriented price. The Hancock door style, in off-white Glacier, was chosen for the cabinets. Pairing it with melamine panels saved on cost. A combination of preassembled double- and single-hang storage, pullout drawers, a wire pullout laundry basket, and easy-access shelving finish off the closet for a custom look.

bestbath shower

As in the kitchen, storage is maximized to create an attractive, functional master bath featuring Wellborn’s Davenport series cabinets.

Optimizing storage space in the laundry, which features Wellborn’s Premier series Bishop cabinets, in MDF painted in off-white Divinity, was another priority. A wall cabinet maximizes storage in the small space, with an additional wall cabinet modified for a drip-dry rod.

Innovative Decking

For additional outside living space, a front porch and rear deck were added to complete the remodel. Pressure-treated lumber by ProWood was used to frame a solid foundation for Deckorators Vault decking. 

deckorators model remodel

A composite deck from Deckorators complements the home. The company’s Dexerdry system channels water away from the deck and into gutters.

For the front porch, the team installed a composite tongue and groove flooring that goes in like hardwood using a pneumatic nail gun. The composite material offers a no-maintenance surface with the look of wood. 

To prevent water issues under the back deck, composite decking was installed with Deckorators Fastendry deck system. The innovative weatherproofing system creates a water-tight seal between boards, allowing water to be channeled away from the deck site and into gutters, creating a dry zone under the deck. Flexible flange strips slide snugly into the slotted composite deck boards, creating the water-tight seal. Deckorators stainless steel cable rail completes the deck for an unobstructed view of the natural surroundings.

Lessons Learned

The remodel reflects many of the challenges remodelers face every day: giving homeowners on a modest budget features that will make their lives more comfortable for years to come. “This whole process has made me look at what I do,” says Bogie, who put the majority of his effort into maximizing the efficiency of the home with cutting-edge energy upgrades. “When it comes to budget, smart structure, smart insulation, and smart systems are the most important things in the long run. You can add glitz later as budget allows, but you only get one chance to get the bones right, and those things are what’s going to pay off in the future.” 

written by

Elizabeth Mack

Elizabeth Mack is a freelance writer based in Nebraska.

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