Starting from Scratch

"All I ask is that you make my wife happy, or I'll eat you for lunch." Those were the instructions given to Ryan Haas, vice president of Houston Structural Inc., by the homeowner — an attorney — of this 1950s ranch residence. "The owners had been working on this project more than eight years," Haas recalls.

March 31, 2005

Sidebars:
Mudroom must-haves
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"All I ask is that you make my wife happy, or I'll eat you for lunch." Those were the instructions given to Ryan Haas, vice president of Houston Structural Inc., by the homeowner — an attorney — of this 1950s ranch residence.

"The owners had been working on this project more than eight years," Haas recalls. "It was time for them to get what they wanted, and we were up to the challenge."

 


A butcher-block countertop and substantial ingredient storage next to a double oven allow the serious baker to flourish.

The clients — a couple with two young daughters — had high expectations. The wife is a scratch chef, making even her hamburger buns from basic ingredients. She wanted to enlarge the 293-square-foot kitchen and make it highly functional. Her wish list included cabinets with abundant storage, an eat-at bar, a double oven, a baker's station, and two 6-foot-wide Sub-Zero refrigerators. Her husband wanted a wine rack. All this — plus the washer and dryer — had to fit within the 1950s space.

Vaulting the kitchen ceiling to match the existing pitch of the roof gave the room additional height: up to 17 feet in the center. This allowed Houston Structural to install 8-feet-tall custom cabinets, made of antique cherry, to provide the much-needed storage space.

Modifying the traditional work triangle created two specific work zones in the long, rectangular kitchen: At one end lies a baker's center with butcher-block countertops and microwave, located next to the double oven and within a few steps of the range, sink, and additional counter space. At the opposite end sit the two refrigerators, across from a granite-topped serving counter and next to the dining area.

Making use of every spare cubic inch, Houston Structural built cabinetry for the washer and dryer underneath the serving counter. Removing the wall between the kitchen and family room opened up the cooking area to the rest of the home and provided the room for a new eat-at bar that incorporates a six-bottle wine rack into its base.

In just 82 days, there was something new for the entire family. "The kitchen is clearly the wife's domain," said Haas. "But we also reconfigured the fireplace in the family room to hold a flat-screen television that her husband wanted." The television is visible from the kitchen and invites the couple to be together while doing what each enjoys.

Such preparation has paid off. "I met the owners of this home again at a New Year's party hosted by a former client," says Haas, laughing. "Yes, only in Texas! You're only as good as your reputation, and in Texas customers invite their contractors to parties and events — you become part of their family. We just can't afford to let customers down."

Houston Structural has received at least 15 referrals from this project, totaling nearly $2 million.

 

Mudroom must-haves

 
A bench seat that also serves as child-height storage maximizes use of the new mudroom.

For the two daughters in junior high school — and their parents, who wanted to keep the floor clean — Houston Structural added a mudroom off the kitchen. Enclosing a walkway from the home to the garage and creating a new side entry added 187 square feet, split between the kitchen and mudroom. Accessible from the outdoors or the garage, the mudroom includes coat hooks and functional bench seats that double as storage for the girls' backpacks, shoes and other gear.

Remodeler: Houston Structural Inc., Houston

Project location: Houston

Age of home: about 50 years

Scope of project: 480-square-foot kitchen remodel and mudroom addition

Products List

Appliances: Bosch, GE, Sharp. Doors: Marvin, Therma-Tru. Faucets: Franke. Home controls: Lutron. Lighting: Kichler, Lightolier. House wrap: Dupont Tyvek. Insulation: Georgia-Pacific. Locksets: Baldwin. Paints: Sherwin-Williams. Range: Viking. Range hood: VentAHood. Refrigerators: Sub-Zero. Roofing: Elk. Siding: ACME brick. Sink: Blanco. Tile: Dal-Tile, Emser. Windows: Don Young Company.

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