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Contemporary Collaboration
By Linda Montet | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
home :: home & garden :: featured remodels

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What do you do when you’re redecorating your home from traditional to contemporary but you’re stuck with old traditional built-ins?

This was David and Karen Noftsger’s dilemma, so they decided to call in a top-notch collaborator. “We wanted to turn our home from the cookie-cutter oak into something unique and different,” says Karen.

The couple began remodeling their 1994 home in stages a few years after purchasing it in 1996. Because their social life revolved around their children, Jacob, 11, and Joshua, 8, they needed more family space. Over time they had expanded and updated the kitchen, added a large family room, and increased the dining room eating area.

More recently Karen had transitioned the home’s decor into a contemporary showplace by adding modern furniture, artwork, and sculpture. But the transition would not be complete until the old built-ins were replaced.

Dave McGrath of Fine Line Woodworks, a company known for its exquisite custom furniture, came to her rescue. Expert in turning his clients’ visions into wood masterpieces, McGrath found this job to be an exciting challenge.

It helped that the Noftsgers are perfectly in sync, he says. “Karen develops the scope of the project. And when it comes to the nuts and bolts, I could talk to either her or her husband. They’re on the same page.”

At the beginning of the project, Karen showed McGrath a new table and chairs she had purchased for her dining room. She wanted her new buffet (replacing the old white bleached-maple piece) to match the table’s style.

“When I investigated the table’s wood species, it turned out to be olive ash burl,” he says. He listened carefully to Karen’s vision and created a series of drawings that demonstrated harmonizing woods and colors that could be incorporated.

“We discussed budget and also considered how we could reclaim the drawers of the existing unit,” McGrath says. “Nobody wanted to throw away nice material, so we used it inside the new cabinets and drawers.”

A wall in the family room was another area of the home that needed his attention. An oak bookcase near a green granite fireplace needed to be replaced with a more modern built-in piece. The oak mantel needed attention, too.

“I used the dramatic wall angle for inspiration,” McGrath says. “They told me they wanted clean lines and something different. We had ongoing discussions and I did a couple of drawings that took the low ceiling angle into consideration.”

The resulting entertainment center and shelves clearly demonstrates Fine Line’s skill in designing and constructing original furniture. Asymmetrical angles, wall-mounted shelves that appear to float, dark walnut trim on the maple cabinetry, and bird’s-eye maple burled insets accent the eye-catching piece. The new maple and walnut fireplace mantel reflects the same fine details.

“I match the job to my craftsmen. I don’t just give it to whoever is available,” McGrath says. “In the end, it’s not just about the home where you’re working. It’s the people. It’s important to take the time to develop mutual respect and trust with our customers.”

The admiration is mutual. “Dave has a keen eye for design,” Karen says, “and he’s such a perfectionist. I knew he would make sure the pieces were perfect. He added so many beautiful details. We couldn’t be more pleased.”



Fine Line Woodworks




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