The Best in American Living Awards (BALA) winning whole-home and kitchen remodel projects showcase homes that meet the needs of today’s informed, savvy homeowners through creative solutions, design-forward aesthetics, and top-tier products.
Judges graded each project in the areas of curb appeal, interior design, and architecture, site plans efficiency and creativity, use of space, meeting client needs, and more. The below winners are a mere selection of standout remodeling projects selected by the National Association of Home Builders.
Each one showcases a balance of original character with modern design elements and an emphasis on the needs of clients.
Category: Kitchen Remodel, $75,000 - $125,000
Architect/Designer/Remodeler: Tori Olijar, KSI Kitchen & Bath
Photography: Martin Vecchio Photography
Combine a creative client and a former firehouse and you get a remodel filled with character. The homeowner, a photographer, wanted to both maintain the firehouse’s original character and infuse bits of their own creativity with a touch of modernity.
The homeowner restored original details throughout the home, such as wainscoting and the flooring, so the kitchen would need to match the aesthetics of the rest of the home. A dramatic dark palette with hints of bespoke work and natural elements would meet that need.
The expansive kitchen island’s bookmatched natural stone mirrors the herringbone flooring while the flat white cabinetry and range hood allowed the artisanal backsplash to pop. Original wood torn out from the firehouse would also be used as open shelving.
On the side wall, a secondary sink and storage expand the kitchen and workspace. Matching cabinets and hardware tie the different spaces together, helping the original wainscoting pop against the dark surface and cabinets.
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Otto Stark Home
Category: Entire Home, Over $750,000
Location: Grand Rapids, Mich.
Architect/Designer: Jeff Remtema, Deidre Interiors
Remodeler: Scott Branc, New Urban Home Builders
Interior Designer: Deidre Remtema, Deidre Interiors
Photographer: Geoff Shirley Photography
This true mid-century home, built in 1967, underwent a full renovation to revitalize its existing architecture while creating a more energy-efficient home with modern-day functionality. Designed by Chicago architect Otto Stark for a Herman Miller Company employee, the home features classic mid-century details, such as its strong connection to the surrounding environment through windows, linear silhouette, and use of natural materials.
Maintaining a focus on the surrounding environment remained a key focus for the design and remodeling team. The home lives on 3 acres of woods, with a pond, and the goal of highlighting the views led the design of the interiors.
The remodel team removed interior walls to open the main level to better support casual entertaining and added a rear screened porch to extend the indoors out. To define the open layout’s spaces, the design team used walnut waterfall paneling in the dining area in between the kitchen and living room.
Funk It Up Kitchen
Category: Kitchen Remodel, Up to $75,000
Location: Littleton, Colo.
Architect/Designer: Marty Beauchamp, Red Pencil Architecture
Remodeler: Preston Miller, Gruber Construction
Interior Designer: Nikki Holt, Kimberly Timmons Interiors
Photographer: Kylie Fitts Photography
What began as an outdated, closed-off 70s home turned into a moody, impressive, airy space with maximized square footage and dramatic details.
This kitchen remodel flips the script on the classic white kitchen by incorporating white into the island, countertops, and backsplash, juxtaposing black cabinetry. A balance of warmth against the black and white palette comes in the form of a wood-paneled ceiling, oversized gold lighting fixtures, wood open shelving, and a live edge wood detail on the island.
When opening the space and breaking down walls, the remodeling team was unable to remove a structural post. Instead of finding a solution to hide the post, the team exaggerated it, making it a focal point between the kitchen and living area. The result draws eyes up toward the vaulted ceiling.
Midcentury Kitchen: Openness
Category: Kitchen Remodel, $75,000 - $125,000
Location: Ames, Iowa
Architect/Designer: Chaden Halfhill, Iowa Home Crafters
Remodeler: Chaden Halfhill, Silent Rivers
Photographer: Paul Gates Photography
A closed-off ‘70s kitchen was the center of this home, located in the middle of the dining, family, and living rooms, in addition to blocking the entryway. The dark walnut and yellow tile kitchen kept natural light from pouring into the home, but some of its mid-century details were loved by the designers.
The remodeling team sought to maintain mid-century details, such as the existing pendant lights throughout the dining area and kitchen, and walnut used for the cabinetry. Additional details strengthened the mid-century design, such as copper cabinet hardware reminiscent of starburst clocks.
Between the living room and kitchen is a ceiling-height walnut bookshelf used to separate areas of the home while maintaining an open-air feel, yet the bookcase serves an even greater purpose: hiding structural posts.