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A Classic in the Making
By Tracy Dickinson | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
FEATURED REMODEL February/March 2018
home :: home & garden :: featured remodels

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A Clive home gets a timeless update.

When Rob and Jennifer Mulaney of Clive bought their home in 2010, they got a deal too good to pass up. But after a few years, the list of “little changes” they wanted to make had grown long enough to warrant professional help.

“We met with several builders, and we just connected with Rusty Green and Compelling Homes. We really liked their process,” Rob says.

The Mulaneys loved the home’s general layout, the spacious backyard with its in-ground pool, and the neighborhood. What they didn’t love was the cramped dining room and awkward kitchen.

“We had some fairly rough ideas about changing the floor plan for a better flow through the space. The existing floor plan didn’t allow for a larger group to interact well together. Rusty and designer Naomi Starman pulled it all together for us and allowed that natural-flow dynamic to occur. We have the same square footage, but the house feels so much larger now,” Rob says.

The design and finish details may have been rough concepts to begin with, but the Mulaneys had some very definite ideas about the big changes that needed to be made. Jennifer explains, “The kitchen was really cramped, especially when we were entertaining. And the dining room was so small we never really used it—the table took up the whole room.”

Because the Mulaneys enjoy hosting friends and family, they wanted the kitchen and adjoining family room to be open and welcoming. They imagined a space where multiple people could gather, eat, and laugh without tripping over one another.

Compelling Homes worked with Moehl Millwork’s Tina Noel to create the kitchen the Mulaneys had imagined. Green and Starman removed the wall dividing the kitchen and dining room, then reoriented the work area and incorporated an island.

“They went from an attached peninsula to a 10-foot island,” says Noel. “Reworking all those spaces—the kitchen, the bathroom, the living room, the laundry—took all those areas and made them more functional.”

The Mulaneys also wanted to remove the desk area that encroached on the dining space, so Compelling Homes created a buffet area surrounded by glass-fronted cabinetry and pantry storage. “That’s just one example of the way Rusty took our ideas and made them better,” says Rob. “There were a lot of things where we had a vague idea, but Rusty and his team helped us polish them or make them more functional. They’d say, ‘Yes, that’s good, but if we do it this way, it’ll be even better.’ And they were right every time.”

The redesign revolved around the new kitchen and extended throughout most of the main floor. New ceramic-tile flooring, reminiscent of antique hardwood, begins at the front door and extends into the kitchen. Compelling Homes also replaced the stairway to the second floor and updated the ¾ bath off the main hall, including new fixtures and a tile shower.

Updates in the family room include floating shelves to replace the built-in shelving surrounding the fireplace and a new stone hearth.

Compelling Homes also reworked the laundry room to make it more efficient. “We didn’t have a real work area in the laundry room before,” says Jennifer. “And there was no place to hang wet clothes. Now we have all this storage and this fantastic rod to hang everything I could possibly need to hang up.”

Green says the Mulaney project was a fun challenge. “It was one of those projects that started as one thing and grew. Was it a kitchen remodel? Yes. Was it a bathroom remodel? Yes. Was it a main floor update? Yes. Doing all of that in a way that respects the style of the home and the wishes of the homeowner is what makes this job exciting.”

According to Rob, they had one other key request. “Before, everything in the house sort of screamed 1995 style,” he says. “In 20 years, we didn’t want the remodel work to scream 2017. We wanted something classic. And they did that beautifully.”

Green says one of the keys to that was selecting classic lines but with updated colors or finishes. “Going with classic textures, shapes, colors gives it that timeless look,” he explains. “The subway tile, for example—the color is a hip color, but the pattern has been around forever.”

Noel says, “The door style used throughout the kitchen is a transitional style that works with so many decors. A change of hardware and it can work just as well with contemporary as it does with traditional.”

In addition to the door selection, Noel recommended alternate finishes to give the simple cabinetry lines an updated look. “We chose a soft white for the wall cabinets with an alternate finish and complementary hardware, too, for the island cabinets,” says Noel.

Custom touches complete the space, giving it the timeless look the Mulaneys wanted and also a distinctive personality. “One thing we didn’t have in the original plan was the barn door,” Rob says. “We had a pocket door that was always difficult to operate. With the remodel, we had a large blank wall in that area with no plans for the space. I showed Rusty a photo of a barn door I liked, and he said, ‘We can do that.’ He did, and it’s the perfect accent for that area.”

It’s that attention to detail and the responsiveness of everyone involved that made the project a success, the Mulaneys say.

“The whole project took about 13 weeks,” Rob says. “And we had a firm deadline. We were having a family reunion here with people coming from all over the U.S. to stay with us. Rusty didn’t let us down.”

“It was so amazing to stand here in this beautiful kitchen, surrounded by our family. We just love it,” says Jennifer.


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