Gold Awards

TreHus Builders Inc. won this project when a fire destroyed the existing kitchen in a 44-year-old house.

September 30, 2002


Pinnacle Awards


Silver Winners

Gold Winner Floor Plans
Gold Award: Kitchen

TreHus Builders Inc., Minneapolis

Designer/architect: Mark Reichel, TreHus Builders

Remodeler: David Amundson, TreHus Builders

Web site:

Key products used: Dura Supreme cabinetry; Hi-Macs countertops; Marvin windows; Petra Slate; Delta faucets; Bruce flooring; Halo and W.A.C. lighting; Kindred sink; Johns Manville insulation; KitchenAid appliances

TreHus Builders Inc. won this project when a fire destroyed the existing kitchen in a 44-year-old house. The homeowners had planned to remodel the kitchen eventually, but the fire accelerated their schedule by several years.

The old kitchen featured painted cabinets, soffits and a peninsula that impeded traffic flow. The adjacent family room had a white-brick fireplace that composed one wall of the room but provided no storage or architectural interest other than a raised hearth that stretched about two-thirds of the way across.

The new kitchen features several shades of wood: natural maple and stained and natural cherry. Black countertops provide plenty of workspace, extending into a mud room that serves as play space for the family's four young children.

The family had a limited budget for the project, which was partly paid for through insurance. Accordingly, TreHus designer Mark Reichel used stock cabinets. However, he gave the kitchen upscale appeal with two-tone cherry custom moldings and accent bands under the countertop and in the toe kick.

"One of the rules for using color is to have it at eye level, mid-level and floor level," judge Kathy Novo-Shumate said. "This kitchen does that very well."

Novo-Shumate also noted that this was the only kitchen entered that featured the sink and the stove on the same run of cabinets, which keeps the cook from having to carry hot pots from one to the other. That's an important point in a kitchen for a family with young children. "It's a very safe kitchen," she said.

Judge Mason Hearn was wowed by the change from a run-of-the-mill kitchen to one worthy of its award. "This demonstrates a creative, thoughtful approach to utilizing and transforming existing spaces to respond to this family's various needs," he said. "It's an innovative, well-organized design solution."

A particular challenge in this project was that the house was built on pilings, which limited the placement of new beams. Reichel researched the original house plans and obtained a piling map, which provided the information he needed to remove the bearing wall and open the space - a key request by the clients.

Reichel kept other items on the clients' wish list in mind: stainless steel appliances and opening the kitchen to the adjacent dining/family room. Other new amenities include cherry bookcases that flank the family room fireplace, which was refaced with slate that matches the backsplashes in the kitchen.


Gold Award: Accessible and universal design

SawHorse Inc., Atlanta

Designer/architect: Terry Muirheid, SawHorse

Remodeler: Norman Joss, SawHorse

Web site:

Key products used: Rosewood cabinetry; Caesar ceramic tile; Kohler faucets and fixtures; Cooper lighting; CertainTeed insulation

SawHorse Inc. impressed the judges with a remodel geared to provide a wheelchair-bound teenager with his own bedroom and bathroom. The project converted a seldom-used living room into a bedroom with an exterior entrance and access ramp. The clients' desire to keep their 1980s home from looking institutional was fulfilled; at first glance, the spaces look like nothing more than a spacious bedroom with hardwood floors and a sleek, stylish bathroom with plenty of open-shelf storage.

The new exterior entrance is at the side of the house; a ramp leading to it follows the slope of the yard, passing just below a bay window the clients wanted to keep.

Because the young man who lives in this space needs help transferring to and from his wheelchair, SawHorse designer Terry Muirheid had to plan for enough room to accommodate not only the wheelchair, but two caregivers, as well. When the boy was small, one person could help him, but now that he needs two adults to lift him, Muirheid had to include enough space for them to maneuver.

The shower has no threshold or enclosure other than the ceramic-tiled walls on 21/2 sides, allowing for smooth access. Open shelving provides a more practical storage solution than the conventional linen closet; there's no door to maneuver around. The bedroom features wide expanses of hardwood floor - plenty of room for the wheelchair and caregivers.

Muirheid compensated for the loss of living space on the first floor by adding a room overlooking the wooded back yard.

The Pinnacle judges aren't the only ones who appreciate this project; the homeowners are delighted. "The team even staged the construction so that we could live in the house with a child in a wheelchair," the wife wrote in a letter to SawHorse. "From planning and design through execution, everyone - from our account manager to our project manager - made the project easy."


Gold Award: Whole house

Architectural Resource, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Designer/architect: Michael Klement, Architectural Resource

Remodeler: Bruce Curtis, Washtenaw Woodwrights

Web sites:,

Key products used: James Hardie siding; Pella Architect Series windows; Motawi ceramic tile; Wood Harbor doors; Martin fireplace; Arroyo Craftsman lighting

Architectural Resource transformed a 1920s carpenter Craftsman into a colorful Arts and Crafts bungalow. Warm oak woodwork, a green tile fireplace and period-style wall coverings inside echo the exterior's eye-catching combination of greens and terra cotta. The house had been remodeled at some point for use as a boardinghouse, which resulted in a choppy, awkward floor plan. Furthermore, the house had been vacant for several years and needed rehabilitation. For example, previous owners had torn out walls containing ductwork to the second floor, leaving the upstairs without heat through the cold Michigan winters. The floors sagged, and the walls and corners were significantly out of square.

Architect Michael Klement studied the elements of Arts and Crafts houses as he designed this one. He worked with Washtenaw Woodwrights, an Ann Arbor remodeling contractor, to tear off the rotting front porch and build a new one featuring clustered and cross-tied columns. The paneling indoors is 1/4-inch oak-veneered plywood and trim boards.

Klement called this a once-in-a-lifetime job. "In the best world, the architect is the conductor and coordinates the interests of everyone: clients, remodeler and subcontractors. We were all in this together. The enthusiasm was great."

Bruce Curtis, owner of Washtenaw Woodwrights, said that nowhere was the enthusiasm more apparent than in Klement. "Michael really scopes out a house. He's up in the attic and in the crawl spaces. He doesn't come up for air. He buries himself in the project."

The homeowners also did a lot of research and were very involved in the project. They did the painting inside and out, although Curtis' crew handled the staining of the woodwork. To determine how the new floor plan would work, the homeowners even erected blue Styro-foam walls where new walls would go.

"The single biggest thing was to bring the house back to some glory from the devastation it had gone through and to be true to the bungalow style," Curtis said. "We made it nicer than it ever was before."

Judge Hearn pointed out the use of oak veneer to save money. "I appreciate the architect's and contractor's response to how well-crafted style might be achieved with a concern for building value through reasonably economical components."

One judge questioned the wisdom of the solid skirt on the porch, expressing concern that it might not allow enough ventilation to prevent rotting. However, Menn said this treatment is common in the Midwest and usually does not create a problem.

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