Award Winning Remodels

The 2011 Columbia Remodelers Awards

Category 8 Winner: Julee Clarke and François Mongeon expected to undertake a major remodeling project when they moved into their 20-year-old home. After talking with several remodelers, they decided to hire Cliff Cinamon of Design & Remodeling Solutions. “He was able to see our vision for transforming our dark and outdated kitchen into an open and light space,” Julee says.

Photography Courtesy of the Winners

You get what you pay for. Clichés become cliché because there is an undeniable truth in them, and this one has never been truer than in the current economy. Trying to sell your house in today’s depressed real estate market is like trying to sell a bottle of water to a drowning man. Homeowners, therefore, have decided in large measure to make the home they have work for their current needs, even if that means taking out a wall here or adding a room there. A remodeled kitchen or bath requires a tidy sum, but it’s always less expensive than carrying two mortgages.

The critical decision is getting the best investment out of the dollars you spend to remodel. A smart consumer chooses as his or her contractor a member of the Columbia Remodelers, a council of the Homebuilders Association of Greater Columbia.

Members of Columbia Remodelers are area builders, contractors, craftspeople and vendors. They agree to adhere to a strict code of ethics, attend educational seminars and offer homeowners choices in the latest building products, techniques and technologies. Each year Columbia Remodelers bestows the Columbia Remodelers Awards upon its members who compete for the distinction. They are judged on how well they completed a project to their customers’ satisfaction, the construction challenges they encountered and the creativity and effectiveness of the solutions they devised.

If you’ve got a remodeling job on the horizon, make a wise investment. Choose from among these dedicated craftspeople or their fellow members of the Columbia Remodelers. Here are the 2011 Remodelers Award winners:

Category 1

Small Kitchen Remodel
Hinson Cabinet Company

Richard and Kathy Handel wanted to bring their kitchen up to today’s standards, but they also wanted to keep the historic feel of their downtown Shandon home. What Steve Hinson thought was just going to be a kitchen facelift turned out to be a full renovation. All the walls in the kitchen and the door to the pantry were covered with paneling. Once he removed it, Steve discovered old damage to the existing door and casings. One of his biggest challenges was making the old casings match the new. From a design standpoint, he had to ensure that all the appliances were in the most efficient spots in the kitchen. For finish work, they chose blue-stained cabinets for a modern feel and added a white marble tile back splash. Blue Pearl granite countertops, a cork floor, a stainless stove and hood, stainless drawer pulls and a butcher block table complement the cabinet color. Now the Handels have both an efficient cooking space and a fantastic place to gather with their friends.

Category 2

Medium Kitchen Remodel
Design & Remodeling Solutions

Michael and Sheila Fitts wanted to preserve the historic feel of their Melrose Heights home, but they also wanted to update and expand the kitchen and dining room space to give both a more open feel. Cliff Cinamon of Design & Remodeling Solutions had to find extra space in the kitchen without adding square footage. To accomplish this, he moved the carport door 14 inches to allow a back wall to have full counter depth. He then expanded the layout by installing a smaller casement window and moved the peninsula about 12 inches farther from the sink using the overhang space from the dining room side. A sleek glass overhead stove vent completed the transformation.

Because he could not find matching baseboards, he had Lindler Manufacturing custom make new ones. To expand the dining room, they constructed a cantilevered Walk-a-Bay window where an original picture window was, adding about 30 square feet without encroaching on the existing exterior walkway. One of Cliff’s biggest challenges was completely replacing the floor joist system in order to meet code for the window.

Another major challenge was matching the exterior brick, so Cliff used period looking colored stone instead that blends into the old brick. The new bay window’s roof did not match up with the home’s existing shingles, so he also added an entirely new roof and still stayed within budget.

Category 3 (tie)

Large Kitchen Remodel
Design & Remodeling Solutions


  After, Category 3 Winner: With relatives from England due to arrive, Susan Ahmed of Irmo decided that she needed to completely gut and design a dream kitchen and adjacent utility room. For that she turned to Cliff Cinamon of Design & Remodeling Solutions

With relatives from England due to arrive in August, Susan Ahmed of Irmo decided that she needed to completely gut and design a dream kitchen and adjacent utility room. For that she turned to Cliff Cinamon.

Most contractors will tell you that they don’t know how much work needs to be done until they actually get into the job. When Cliff dove into this particular project, he found that couldn’t be closer to the truth. He discovered that none of the walls within the project’s scope had 2” x 4” studs; instead, it had steel furring strips with 3/4” cross boards. In addition, there was no insulation, the lighting and wiring was something Cliff called “Swiss cheese,” the ceilings were 10’ 4”, a double window in the kitchen was out of plumb, the utility room floor was six inches of solid 50 year old concrete with a drain, and the trim was unavailable to match at any price. Cliff had quite a challenge in front of him.

Cliff updated the electrical to meet code, and all outlets were put into the false bottoms of special order cabinets. Closed cell foam was used to insulate the walls, and the window trim and sills were reconstructed to align with the cabinets. A custom island now features a stove in the middle. Brazilian cherry flooring and granite countertops were installed, and the crew also added a patterned earth-tone tile back splash and under-counter lighting.

In two laborious days, Cliff’s son Kevin removed the concrete floor in the utility room with a jackhammer. Several cabinets and some countertops were repurposed there, and a full wall with a door and transom was installed. The transom was a period piece found at His House that was reclaimed and reglazed. New trim to match the old was created on site.

After much hard work by Cliff and his crew, Susan now has an elegant entertaining area to welcome any visitors.

Category 3 (tie)

Large Kitchen Remodel
Hinson Cabinet Company

There were co-winners in this category, and Hinson Cabinet Company took home its share of the prize for transforming a Lexington kitchen from stodgy to stunning. The homeowners had a very utilitarian kitchen, literally a black and white room with granite countertops and white cabinetry. When Steve finished the job, the kitchen had rich cherry cabinets, earth-toned marble counters and a mosaic backsplash behind the cooktop. The island, a feature in the old kitchen, now comes with a bar sink. Recessed can lights replaced a single overhead ceiling fan with a light fixture. The new space practically invites you in.

The island sink presented a challenge, as did the venting of the stove and running new electrical for the additional lighting. To overcome these obstacles, Steve and his staff had to remove the ceiling of the floor below the kitchen in order to gain access to run the required electrical and plumbing equipment. With the ceiling repaired and new Prestige appliances in place, Steve’s clients have a new elegant space to cook and entertain.

Category 4

Small Bath Remodel
Carolina Traditional Homes

Category 4 Winner: Allen Butts was able to overlook all the outdated features of his home, except the completely pink master bathroom suite. Ken Baker of Carolina Traditional Homes helped turn the space into a sophisticated and updated bath.


In 2008, Allen Butts bought a modest two-bedroom, two-bath home in The Avenues neighborhood of West Columbia. The home was a traditional 1950s style bungalow complete with 1950s style decor. As a bachelor, Allen was able to overlook all the outdated features of the home except for one — a completely pink master bathroom suite. The room included a single pink sink, pink toilet, pink bathtub, pink tile flooring, pink tile surround, one small mirror and a water-damaged window in the tub.

Carolina Traditional Homes helped Allen turn the space into a sophisticated, updated bath. Ken Baker installed tile flooring that was earthy and masculine. He replaced the cabinet vanity with dark cherry wood and added a double sink. Individually framed mirrors and light fixtures were added to both sinks. He replaced the toilet and painted the walls a stylish tan. His crew also added crown moulding and large baseboards to give the small bathroom a more elegant feel. Allen wanted to preserve the natural light in the bathroom, but the window was so water damaged that it had to be replaced. Ken installed a vinyl, transom style window that allows for both natural light and privacy. Existing plumbing fixtures were updated and the tile surround replaced. Alas, the pink tub was in good condition, but Allen insisted that it be resurfaced to a different color.

Category 5

Medium Bath Remodel
Hinson Cabinet Company

Homeowner Miles Hayes found himself with two very small bathrooms, each at 64 square feet. He wanted to combine the two in a single functional space, so he called on Steve Hinson to design it for him. In turn, Steve turned to Rob Gutierrez of Palmetto Millwork &

Renovation to take these two 50s era bathrooms and convert them into a 21st century marvel.

Before construction began, each room lined up a sink, a toilet and a bathtub, with barely enough room to shut the door without bumping the towel rack. Steve created a separate space for a vanity with a modern sink, plenty of counter space and an elegant base for storage. Using a pocket door, he separated the toilet into its own separate water closet. The shower is a work of art with its large glass enclosure, several wall niches for soaps and shampoo and a hand-held spray. Two traditional windows and a large circular window let in plenty of light. Steve’s final touch was a new warm wall color that complements the shower tile and countertops and eliminates the stark white glare of the old rooms.

Category 6

Large Bath Remodel
Hinson Cabinet Company

Boyd and Nancy Scott’s West Columbia home was built in 1964. The home’s small bathroom reflected the building trends of the time. It was galley-like, wallpapered and had neutral colored cabinetry. The Scotts decided that they would like a complete renovation, especially one with a larger shower. Steve Hinson of Hinson Cabinet Company used Micalline products, and he incorporated a storage room into the new bathroom to create a larger shower area. He removed the concrete floor and added a new Rinnai water heating system.

The result was a bathroom that is both stately and elegant. Steve incorporated warm cherry wood cabinetry, silver pulls, black granite countertops and chrome sink fixtures that fit the décor of the house. The light-colored walls, wide baseboards and earth-toned tile flooring complement the cabinet color. The new larger shower, set off by oversized tiles, a recessed niche for accessories and a small teak bench, is perfect for enjoying a long relaxing hot shower. An oversized mirror above the sink gives the room added depth and reflects the natural light from the window peering out over a lush green backyard. A built-in linen closet and medicine cabinet were also added to complete the bathroom.

Category 7

Area Remodel Under 500 Square Feet
Carolina Traditional Homes

Any good remodeler is used to doing the impossible. That’s exactly what John and Margaret McCardell asked of Ken Baker when they contracted with him to build their new master bedroom suite. The existing master was barely large enough for a queen-sized bed, there was no room for a dresser or additional furniture, and the one master closet was so awkwardly set up that it was not wide enough even for clothes hangers. The McCardells even considered not using the space as a master bedroom because of its size and inherent problems.
That’s when Ken stepped in with a solution. An adjacent room had been previously used as an art studio, as it was too small a space for use as much else. That room and the master both featured prominent, decorative windows, so Ken removed the wall between them, added a support beam flush with the ceiling and created one large room. He installed his-and-hers closets and converted the small awkward closet into a shoe closet. He also updated the master bathroom paint, refinished the tub and installed new plumbing fixtures.

Category 8

Large Remodeled Area
Design & Remodeling Solutions


Moving into a home that was more than 20 years old, Julee Clarke and François Mongeon expected to undertake a major remodeling project. After talking with several remodelers, they decided to hire Cliff Cinamon of Design & Remodeling Solutions. “He was able to see our vision for transforming our dark and outdated kitchen into an open and light space,” Julee says.

Julee and François wanted to remove the load-bearing wall between their formal dining room and kitchen, but they preferred not to have a visible header or beam in the center of the two rooms. Cliff accomplished this by removing the wall between the two rooms completely and constructing temporary walls on each floor to support the house. He then cut out floor joists in the ceiling and installed a 16-foot steel I-beam with hangars off each side that connected the old joists.

They also wanted to replace the tile floor in their existing kitchen with wood, but they needed it to match the existing 25-year old hardwood flooring in the adjacent dining room and den. So Cliff found wood that matched the grain of the floor in the den, then sanded and stained it to match. The floors, along with an 11-foot long island and soapstone countertops, give the kitchen a French country look.
Other plans included installing a Charleston-style brick wall in the kitchen near the stairs that looks like it’s always been there, adding a new French patio door access to the back deck from the kitchen, installing a 9-foot picture window that looks onto the front yard, updating other windows and the shutters and remodeling the upstairs master suite.

The biggest challenge was figuring out what to do with 260 bottles of wine that were boxed up in an air-conditioned storage area off the garage. Cliff recommended converting the coat closet in the entryway into a wine cellar. He designed a one-of-a-kind, climate controlled custom wine closet using rough oak, and custom built bins and racks to hold the wine bottles, which was constructed by his son Kevin and trim carpenter Ronnie Kubischke. A French door stained 6 times was used to complete the look.

Category 9

Room Addition
Hinson Cabinet Company

Janice and Kent Nickerson decided that they would like to better utilize the space in their kitchen. But to do that they also decided they needed to add space, so they called on Steve Hinson of Hinson Cabinet Company and Richard Davis of RED Construction. Steve used the couple’s existing stove and refrigerator but installed a new under-counter, front-loading washer and dryer and a farm sink. As a matter of fact, one of the challenges Steve encountered was accommodating the homeowners’ wish to keep the washer and dryer in the kitchen.
Richard increased the space and opened up the area by adding 150 square feet. Though it took some convincing, they did talk the homeowners into angled storage and into cutting down a wall. He installed pocket doors, painted the cabinets in a shaker style and added antique drawer and cabinet pulls. The white cabinets are set off by black countertops, which contrast nicely with light oak flooring. The angled stove with its suspended vent and hood give the kitchen a gourmet feel.

Category 10

Large Room Addition
Hinson Cabinet Company

Usually when a contractor talks about yards or half yards, he’s talking about measurements or landscaping. In this case, Steve Hinson of Hinson Cabinet Company would be talking to his clients Sonya and Gordon White about the English pub they wanted constructed in their home. The feature was a brand-new addition and added 450 square feet to the home, which was accomplished by Richard Davis of RED Construction. Starting from scratch, Steve ended up with a pub that could have been directly transported from Whitechapel or Canonbury.
The new edition features custom-made, cherry toned cabinetry, a dark sandy brown countertop, a bar sink, a wine chiller and overhead racks for storing glasses waiting to be filled with frothy cold beverages. The bar is fully enclosed. Steve incorporated spindle-and scroll-work, which gives this bar an authentic English pub look and feel. Drink up and have another round!

Category 11

Outdoor Living
Carolina Traditional Homes

Category 11 Winner: For a home in King’s Grant, Ken Baker of Carolina Traditional Homes created an outbuilding for entertaining and an area where the family could entertain and have large cookouts for neighbors.

This King’s Grant homeowner made plans to update his outdoor living space, but he realized he was missing something. He wanted an outbuilding for entertaining and a quiet space all for his own. With his children getting older, he wanted an area where his family could entertain the soccer team or have large cookouts for neighbors. Ken Baker of Carolina Traditional Homes helped bring some of these creative ideas to life. Ken constructed an outbuilding that includes a wet bar, a small refrigerator and an exterior sound system. Inside the building he created the coup de grace with a home theater for watching the big game. Special accent lighting was added to the tray ceiling to create a theater feel. Ken included a special coded door lock so there’s never a need for a key, and he completed the project with a remote control Daikin ultra quiet mini split heating and air system.