A Functional Upgrade

The BIA 2016 Remodelers Awards



Mignon and Wes Fowler’s original kitchen was dark with cherry cabinets and green granite countertops, but was remodeled by Capital Kitchen & Bath to radiate the all-white kitchen concept the Fowlers covet.

Photography by Robert Clark

Making a house into a haven is no small feat. When a homeowner embarks on the journey to remodel a room, space or entire house, the factors to consider and choices to weigh seem endless. Whether creating a space for retreating or entertaining or both, there is a need to create a budget, find the right contractor and/or designer, determine the best use of space and choose a style. According to this year’s Columbia Remodelers Awards recipients, the process is simultaneously fun and overwhelming — it’s a journey best navigated with clear priorities. From the renovation stories of the 2016 winners, a few noteworthy themes emerged: functionality, efficiency, comfort, light and communing with nature.

Congratulations to the three Columbia Metropolitan Magazine feature winners whose renovations are shown in the following photographs.

 

Category 1, Kitchen Remodel

Contractor: Kristen Meetze, Capital Kitchen & Bath

Client: Mignon and Wes Fowler

When Mignon and Wes Fowler moved into their home in the Forty Love Point community in Chapin, the kitchen was dark with cherry cabinets and green granite countertops. That was in 2004. Earlier this year, the entire kitchen was gutted for a remodel.

“We were looking for an update and liked the all-white kitchen concept,” Mignon says, adding they’ll most likely be selling the house in about a year. “We wanted to be a little more on trend.” She liked the personality of Kristen Meetze at Capital Kitchen & Bath, whom she hired to install all-white cabinetry from the kitchen floor to the 10-foot ceiling. Sales representative and designer Michelle Hannon of Capital Kitchen & Bath also worked closely with Mignon. An interior designer, Mignon feels she made the right choice in white for the cabinets.

“It has really transformed the space in terms of how much it’s opened it up,” she says. “A realtor friend saw it and was sure we had increased the space somehow.”

Before the project, the cabinets weren’t very functional, and the microwave sat on the countertop. Integrating a built-in microwave drawer and paneling the dishwasher keep the appliances “hidden” and maximize counter space. Specialty cabinet accessories like the built-in coffee drawer and upgraded pull out drawers and inserts make the kitchen feel completely custom, which is Mignon’s favorite aspect of the update. 

“I love the functionality of the new features,” she says, explaining that glass front doors framing the sink are lined with LED tape lighting. She had an oversized rectangular sink installed with a restaurant-style pull down faucet. “I was hesitant in changing from a double sink to a single, but I absolutely love the ability to wash a full-size sauté pan or cookie sheet!” 

For the island, she decided to keep its overall footprint but had the bar overhang taken out. “More storage space made more sense for us,” she says. Designing a bump-out for the cooktop area, she incorporated decorative legs housing spice racks that slide in and out. For a modern touch, she chose a 12-inch pull in satin brass for the cabinet drawers and duplicated the finish on the island pendant lights from Circa Lighting.

Although Mignon realizes marble countertops are trendy and look great with white cabinetry, the staining and etching issues weren’t practical for her family. She found slabs of white macaubas quartzite — white with deep random charcoal veins — in Charlotte that she used for her countertops.

“Quartzite has the look of marble, but performs like granite,” she explains. “We loved the stone so much we decided to run the slab as the backsplash instead of using tile. This creates a seamless, more modern look.”

Kristen submitted Mignon’s kitchen because it showcased a beautiful transformation. “We liked the choice in finishes. It’s unique and trendy, less traditional and more transitional,” she says. “It has a really good style and feel.”

 

Category 10, Whole House Renovation

Contractor: Jim Evatt, Palmetto Construction & Renovations

Clients: Julie and Bill Latham

Sitting in the Lathams’ serene family room, the story of their house flooding in October seems surreal. When they woke the morning of Oct. 4 to rising flood waters, they immediately called their friend Jim Evatt, the contractor they had recently hired to rebuild a family room. “My initial reaction was disbelief,” Jim recalls. Bill switched the voice call to FaceTime to show video, and the devastation was unmistakable. “When I saw it, I knew things were bad. It was scary, and of course my first concern was for their safety.”

At 9:30 a.m., Julie, Bill and their two children, two cats and dog were rescued by boat from their Lake Katherine home.

When the water had receded and they were able to get back in their mud soaked home two days later, Jim’s advice was to get everything that was wet out of the house including flooring, drywall, insulation and cabinets to start the drying process right away. The insurance company couldn’t send someone to the house for four days, so Julie asked for help from her Facebook pals. They responded immediately.

Among the myriad of volunteers, the football team from Hammond School, where the Lathams’ daughter is a 10th grader, showed up to help. When the Latham family and volunteers began gutting the home under Jim’s direction, Julie recalls waves of sadness sweeping over her. If not for the support of others, she can’t imagine how she would’ve moved forward.

 “You just have to surround yourself with good people,” she says. “We trust Jim. He treated us like family.”

Once the house was down to the studs, Jim asked, “So what do you want to do?” The Lathams’ priority in rebuilding was to use every single inch of the home.

“We took it as an opportunity to make some changes to some of the inefficient uses of space,” Bill says. “We were able to customize.”

Gathering input from friends, including Jim and interior designer Ford Bailey, the layout of the house has been changed significantly. They converted a small office and walk-through next to the master bedroom into a walk-in closet, and a friend recommended splitting the formal living room into a walk-in pantry and more spacious office. Another friend suggested opening up the kitchen door so they would have more counter space. Jim and Ford agreed with these suggestions and designed the cabinetry and made all the shelves adjustable.

“It was a collaboration,” Julie explains. “We converted the space into what we needed it to be.”

They also took out the wall that divided the kitchen and family room, creating more informal, fluid living spaces. “The kitchen with the open concept is really popular right now,” Jim says. While the Lathams were never planning on a big renovation, they made the best of a difficult situation. “Once they were in it, they thought, ‘Now we have the opportunity to really make it our home,’” Jim shares.

Though it’s a work in progress — some wall hangings and window treatments are still in the works — Julie loves the new layout. “I wanted timeless — but not stuffy — homey and functional,” she explains, and Jim and Ford helped her achieve this. “I had opinions, but there are so many choices.”

For the Lathams, the helpfulness of the community carried them through the darkest days of their tragedy. Bill describes the support as overwhelming and incredible. “Some people came from out of town, and others from down the street,” he says. “It was very moving.”

The coordinated effort impacted Jim too, inspiring him to submit the Lathams’ home in the Columbia Remodelers Awards. According to Jim, what makes this renovation special isn’t just the dramatic modifications.

“I entered them because of what they’ve been through and because of how amazing it was seeing the house in its worst moment and then how far it has come,” he recalls. “It was neat to see so many people roll up their sleeves and help. They all had a hand in the transformation.”

 

Category 11, Outdoor Living/Exterior Renovation 

Contractor: Tim Kehoe/David Kehoe, Kehoe Constructors, LLC

Clients: Susan and Rusty Newton 

With feet propped up on Susan and Rusty Newton’s back porch, looking out at Lake Murray through their newly built portico, it feels like stepping into a storybook paradise that frames the lake. The Newtons’ Lexington home, one of four on a peninsula, was in need of a cover on the back porch. In the summer heat — except going out on the water in their boat — they couldn’t enjoy being outside.

Susan heard about Kehoe Constructors through a referral, and when she met with brothers Tim and David Kehoe to discuss their needs, she appreciated their kindness and knowledge, knowing both men would be good to work with. In January, Tim and David began building the covering on the porch and completed the work in May — just in time for the unforgiving summer sun.

“We had a table on the back patio, but we couldn’t use it because it was always so hot,” Susan says, adding that the sun mercilessly baked the back of the house from noon to 5 p.m. “Now we’re enjoying the lake, looking at the boats and watching the wildlife. I’m so pleased. Rusty and I agree we should have covered the back porch a lot sooner.”

When Rusty is not at his periodontial practice, he’s taking his children and grandchildren on boat rides and going fishing with them. Only now, they stay outside for a meal, continue fellowshipping and watch the sunset. In addition to the covering, they had solar screens, ceiling fans and lights installed, and stonework and granite put in around the cooktop. They also incorporated new electrical fittings for a television and speakers to be mounted.

Tim says it was a unique project for his company, which typically renovates homes so residents are able to remain in them longer. For the Newtons’ exterior renovation, they worked on the permitting process and got an engineer involved.

“Their view of the lake created a lovely space, and the updates made it into another room for them to enjoy,” Tim says, describing the portico’s vaulted tongue and groove ceiling, painted Charleston blue, and Susan’s final touches of lovely rustic décor. “We feel it’s an added value to their home, and it adds curb appeal from the lake view. They’re great people to work with, and we love that they enjoy it so much.”

The new outdoor space enfolds their day from beginning to end in its comfort, beauty and soothing wave sounds. In the morning, they read their morning prayers on the porch, and in the evening the solar screens keep the sun out of their eyes while they enjoy the fabulous sunsets on the lake.

“It calms our souls,” Susan says. “We love listening to the early morning birds’ songs and concentrating on the soothing waves. This porch has brought us a calming place of serenity. It’s like a little piece of heaven.” 

 

Judges Award Level 

 

Category 2, Large Kitchen Remodel

Contractor: Jim Evatt, Palmetto Construction & Renovations

Clients: Cam and Culver Choate

Jim Evatt opened up the Choates’ dated, confined and dysfunctional kitchen by eliminating an interior wall. He also gave it a fresh update with custom cabinets, granite countertops and a large island. 

 

Category 3, Bath Remodel

Contractor: Kristen Meetze, Capital Kitchen & Bath

Client: Michelle Amsden

Capital Kitchen & Bath transformed a 1980s master bathroom into a spa retreat, complete with a beautiful tile shower, large soaker tub and heated floors.

 

Category 3UD, Universal Design Bath Remodel

Contracting Contributors: Century Glass, Clark’s Pest Control, Creative Tile, Ferguson Enterprises, Great Southern Homes, Mr. Rooter Lexington/Columbia, Rytec Electric, STOCK Building Supply, The Wright Group, Tim Kehoe/David Kehoe, Kehoe Constructors, LLC

Client: Kim Groh for Aidan Collins

Barn doors open into an accessible bathroom for a growing child using universal design techniques and new products. The newly updated bathroom has non-skid flooring, a new window and floor-to-ceiling tile in the shower.  

Editor’s Note: This was a community/joint effort with many Remodelers Council and community members donating time and resources.

 

Category 4, Large Bath Remodel

Contractor: Kristen Meetze, Capital Kitchen & Bath

Client: Amy Stewart

By removing the outdated tub entirely, Kristin Meetze allows the space to include a his-and-hers vanity, custom laundry pull-outs and a large walk-in shower with high-end tile, two shower heads and a bench.

 

Category 8, Large Addition

Contractor: Tim Kehoe/David Kehoe, Kehoe Constructors, LLC

Clients: Jean and Tom Kirkley

What was once an open, covered porch is now an elegant, energy-efficient sunroom with beautiful white and red oak flooring milled from trees cut down on the property and finished with a whitewash.  

 

Honorable Mention Level

 

Category 1, Kitchen Remodel

Contractor: Jim Evatt, Palmetto Construction & Renovations

Client: Julie Flaming

 

Category 2, Large Kitchen Remodel

Contractor: Kristen Meetze, Capital Kitchen & Bath

Client: Larry Maddox

 

Category 3, Bath Remodel

Contractor: Jim Evatt, Palmetto Construction & Renovations

Clients: Laura and Greg Moise

 

Category 4, Large Bath Remodel

Contractor: Ken Baker, Carolina Traditional Homes, Inc.

Clients: Evie and Sam Jones 

 

Category 10, Whole House Renovation 

Contractor: Tony Thompson, Remodeling Services Unlimited, Inc.

Client: Rick Palyok 

 

Category 11, Outdoor Living / Exterior Renovation

Contractor: Jim Evatt, Palmetto Construction & Renovations

Clients: Alisa and Andreas Wolfram

 

Category 11, Outdoor Living / Exterior Renovation

Contractor: Jim Evatt, Palmetto Construction & Renovations

Clients: Laura and Greg Moise 

 

Category 11, Outdoor Living / Exterior Renovation 

Contractor: Ken Baker, Carolina Traditional Homes, Inc.

Clients: Evie and Sam Jones 

 

Category 11, Outdoor Living / Exterior Renovation

Contractor: Tony Thompson, Remodeling Services Unlimited, Inc.

Client: Ione Cockrell

 

Editor’s Note: The Columbia Remodelers Awards is a program of the Building Industry Association of Central South Carolina. See before and after pictures from every entry this year, as well as previous years, at ColumbiaRemodelers.com. Use this same website as a resource for your next remodeling project.