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Project Spotlight: Master Maneuvering

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Project Spotlight: Master Maneuvering

Tenhulzen Residential transforms lower level from outdated apartment to contemporary retreat.

By Abby Kleckler, Associate Editor December 2, 2013
This article first appeared in the PR December 2013 issue of Pro Remodeler.

Tasked with taking a 1980s daylight rambler house and turning it into a comfortable home, Tenhulzen Residential, Bellevue, Wash., faced its share of challenges, however the integration of unique elements on the jobsite ultimately contributed to an award-winning finished product.


The original house in Redmond, Wash., consisted of two separate apartments, each complete with its own entryway, kitchen, and living space. When the homeowners approached Tenhulzen Residential initially (with a strong referral connection), they were looking to merge the two floors for a personalized retreat.


Company: Tenhulzen Residential LLC
Owner:  Mike Tenhulzen
Location: Bellevue, Wash.
2012 sales volume: $2.28 million
Projected 2013 sales volume: $2.65 million
Website: www.tenhulzen.com

“They wanted to make sure this would be a house they could entertain in and would be comfortable for their empty-nester lifestyle,” says Mike Tenhulzen, president and director of Tenhulzen Residential.
One standout portion of this whole-house remodel is the master suite, which took the place of the downstairs kitchen and living room.


Open and airy

The customer wanted an open concept in the master suite to highlight the views of a small private lake throughout the home.


“The goal was really to have this expansive view of the lake while keeping it open, a little more contemporary, and with a good flow from the bedroom to the bathroom to the closet,” Tenhulzen says. “The owner didn’t really care if things got switched or moved around or how that was accomplished.”


The first plans included taking out some partial walls and putting in floating fixtures such as wall-mount cabinetry to keep things contemporary, but the customer was not fully onboard, according to Tenhulzen.


The homeowners instead wanted to maintain an adequate amount of storage, so the finished design included an area between the tub and the sinks with some cubbies to keep towels and other non-routine bathroom items. Even with added storage the design kept a very contemporary look.


Doors: Simpson Door Co.
Vanities: Kohler
Cabinets: Canyon Creek Cabinet Co.
Sinks: Kohler
Bathtub: Kohler
Lighting: PLC, DVI, and LBL Lighting
Faucets: Fortis
Shower: Grohe
Shower drain: Quick Drain USA
Hardware: Emtek, Atlas Centinel
Medicine cabinets: Robern
Fireplace: Valor
Flooring: Shaw Floors Tuftex
Tile: Porcelanosa, UnitedTile
Stone: Caesarstone
Paints: Benjamin Moore

“They wanted to keep it minimalistic, so we went with a certain type of sink that had a bottle-trap underneath it that was completely exposed,” Tenhulzen says. “They liked the idea of that because all the sinks were for was man-shaving and dental hygiene. There’s actually a separate area for all the primping.”


Windows in the former eating nook worked off the size of the bathroom and gave the feel of bringing the outdoor space indoors.


Tenhulzen Residential also replaced the old doors with new, full-light, French doors that open from the master suite to the outdoors and show off the lake. A change in flooring also makes these doors more accessible.


“It was carpeted all the way throughout where the doors were and then it went into a vinyl area in the kitchen,” Tenhulzen says. “We redid the floor surfaces, so the bathroom floor came out to the door area, so it all could be easily maintained.”


Tenhulzen Residential overlaid the existing concrete slab about 2-½ inches for the bathroom surface. It was then colorized to add a compass point as surface art near the door. 

Entertainment and relaxation

The homeowners wanted the master bedroom to be a haven from the main living space upstairs.


“By making the upper floor the public area and the lower floor the private area, they have their own retreat while still having the ability to host guests overnight or [for] longer periods of time,” Tenhulzen says. “Both floors have access to the lakeside yard, so there’s a feeling of congruency there.”


Tenhulzen Residential also put insulation in the lower ceiling to separate the sound between floors, so the master suite can truly be an escape from the activity upstairs.


The master bedroom, however, is not all about tranquility. Near a fireplace is a large entertainment area that serves as a media center and a library.


The homeowners told Tenhulzen they loved passionate colors, and the choice of a big, red cube surely stands out in the space and maintains the contemporary look of the entire suite.


“The original fireplace was very ‘60s in style and it was really dark, so what we did was strip the stone but we wanted to keep that same mass,” Tenhulzen says. “By putting in a smaller fireplace and then a recessed TV above it, the goal was to get those two to match in size and scale.”


The audio/video components are then tucked into one side of the wall while a bookshelf is recessed in the other.


Demolition and removal

Site constraints made the project much more challenging for Tenhulzen Residential. The access roads were extremely narrow, the driveway was very steep, power lines prevented a crane from accessing the site, and the lake did not allow motorized vehicles for ferrying or barging.


“Everything had to go up the hill and out, so we had to schedule our dump truck to come by and be there during demolition or pick up a pile that had been demoed,” Tenhulzen says. “At that point, there’s really no room for any vehicles.”


The crew often had to park nearly a mile away and carpool to the site because only two or three vehicles could fit at the house and another two or three at the top of the hill.


The whole delivery process also took a lot of planning and forethought because some trucks were too wide to fit down the narrow road, and trucks could only be loaded about halfway to get up the driveway.


Although most of these conditions were foreseeable, the challenge came to a peak with the shower in the downstairs bathroom.


“The design was finalized. We were going to put in a curb-mounted shower down in the basement and then as the project was going, the customer decided he would rather have a barrier-free shower,” Tenhulzen says. “That meant breaking out more concrete, sloping it, and then relocating the drain [and] doing some more saw cuts to get that to happen.”


The cost of changing the shower had to include the costs of hauling all of the materials in these difficult circumstances as well.


Present and future

Making sure the house fit the needs of the customer immediately was a major consideration, but Tenhulzen Residential also had to anticipate future needs.


“[The customer’s] quote to us was, ‘I’m getting carried out of this house in a pine box,’” Tenhulzen says. “This was going to be the last home he ever lived in.”


For this reason, Tenhulzen Residential tried to make everything as flush as possible so the customer could live in this space for a long time.


“The only step in the whole house is just one step up from the garage in the door, but otherwise there are no steps to the front door and the whole upper floor and the whole lower floor are barrier free,” Tenhulzen says.


The team also prepped electrically for a future elevator. The electrical supply allows for an elevator to reach the upstairs office from a lower-level closet that would come upstairs into the office. Although still a costly project, preparing the home for an elevator now will make installation much easier in the future.


The floor plan also includes a bedroom on the upper floor, so the master suite could be used as a live-in suite and the main bedroom could be upstairs with the kitchen and living space, according to Tenhulzen.

Challenges and success

Working together, Tenhulzen Residential and the customer had three goals for this whole-house remodel: improved comfort, tailored workspaces, and lasting quality. In the master suite, these goals were attained through sound attenuation, contemporary precision, and functional systems.


Initial whole-house budget: $180,000
Increase construction price: $225,000
Total cost: $246,350
Cost of master suite: $78,000

With limiting site constraints and the customer’s complicated schedule, this project was not the easiest, but communication and detailed planning made it a success.


“We ended up with what the customer was ultimately happy with,” Tenhulzen says.

Tenhulzen Residential transforms lower level from outdated apartment to contemporary retreat.


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