An Urbandale homeowner opts to remodel rather than relocate and gets a home she now loves.
After nearly a decade in her Urbandale ranch home, Jill Porter was faced with an empty nest and a list of reasons to move. So she started looking around.
“I looked for a while, and everything I looked for was bigger than what I have and more expensive. My kids started asking why I wanted something bigger if it was just me now,” she says.
That’s when she realized that her current home had everything she needed—it was the right size, she liked the neighborhood, and she loved the convenient location.
What she didn’t love was the fireplace. And the kitchen. And the dated look of the entire home. “The original fireplace was wood-burning, so I never used it,” Jill explains. “I decided that would be the first thing to change, and I’d just work my way through, doing the other changes over time.”
She contacted several remodelers, finally selecting Rollie Clarkson of Remodeling Contractors. “He was so good about following up, even before the project started, and he never tried to push me into doing more. That was all me,” she laughs.
As she talked with Clarkson about what she wanted on the fireplace wall, they discussed her long-term plans, and soon Jill realized it just made more sense to do everything at once.
“Rollie suggested scraping the popcorn ceiling texture off because we both knew I needed more lighting in the kitchen and living room area,” she explains. “So if we were going to do the main living space, it made sense to do the ceilings in all the other rooms, too. And if we were going to do that now, it made sense to just go ahead and do the kitchen. And that meant doing the trim. It just kept growing.”
Clarkson says this is typical of remodeling projects for good reason.
“When you put in new flooring, the walls look bad. Paint the walls, and the windows look bad,” he explains. “The perpetual remodeling ball just keeps rolling.”
One of the things Jill appreciated about Clarkson’s approach was the open discussion and that he walked her through every decision. Once they decided to tackle the entire home, Clarkson suggested she make a wish list, without worrying about price and feasibility.
“He sat down with me and went over every item on the list,” Jill explains. “Some he crossed off right away, usually because he knew it wasn’t physically possible. Others we talked about, and he helped me choose the things that really mattered and then made it happen.”
“A word we heard often in our discussions was ‘update’,” Clarkson adds. From lighting to millwork to flooring, Remodeling Contractors was able “to move the house out of the ‘80s and into the present day.”
In addition to replacing the wood-burning fireplace with a gas unit, Jill hoped to eliminate a header above the fireplace so she could mount her television on the wall and free up floor space. Clarkson was also able to remove the headers in the kitchen, which opened up the ceiling height and enabled Sunderland Brothers to extend the new cabinetry completely across one wall.
“We literally ‘touched’ every square inch of the main level. Managing, organizing, and implementing a schedule on a job of this detail was probably the most difficult challenge, which Ritch did with great success,” Clarkson says, referring to Ritch Miller, lead on the remodeling team.
Sunderland’s George Karwoski says, “The original kitchen had very little storage, and the way the ceilings and trim were done, it was a pretty chopped-up space.”
Although the remodel didn’t add any square footage to the kitchen, Jill says it feels larger, even with the extra cabinetry and counters. “The original floor was tile in the kitchen and dining area, with carpet in the living area,” she says. “With the new flooring through the whole house, I can extend my kitchen table to seat 10. And it doesn’t feel like it’s hanging out of the kitchen!”
She is also thrilled with the finish Sunderland achieved on the cabinetry. “I had looked at some gray finishes online. But I hadn’t seen anything like that locally, so I was set on doing an espresso finish. We had granite chosen to go with the espresso, and then George showed me this gray. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.” So he walked her through the granite and trim selection again.
That’s when Jill checked off another item from her wish list. She had had her eye on some iron trimwork for the stair railing, but she didn’t think that was available locally either. “Rollie helped me find that, too, so I got the beautiful trimwork I had wished for.”
Every room in the house is new, at this point, and the happy homeowner can’t believe her luck. “My friends have been teasing me. They’re convinced I’m going to move, now that the work is all done,” she laughs. “But I’m not going anywhere. This was an investment, and it was worth it. I love my house now.”
After living primarily in her bedroom for several months, cooking in a microwave, and eventually replacing nearly every stick of furniture, Jill can still honestly say she has no regrets.
Clarkson says, “Two things I told Jill at the beginning: first, I will push you out of your comfort zone into colors and products you never dreamed you would choose; second, we’re going to have fun doing this. I’m pretty sure I kept both of those promises.”
“It was a long process, but I’d do it all again if I could work with Rollie and Ritch and everyone at Remodeling Contractors,” she says. “They were all wonderful to work with. It was actually fun.”
Remodeler Remodeling Contractors
Appliances Nebraska Furniture Mart
Carpet and tile suppliers Sunderland Brothers Co.
Granite countertops GMT Solutions
Fireplace Chim Cherie's House of Fireplaces
Hardwood floor and carpet supplier Pro Source Floor Coverings
Hardwood floor installation Wildwood Floors
Tile installation Baysinger Tile
Plumbing fixtures Ferguson
Windows and trim Beisser Lumber Co.
Paint supplier Sherwin-Williams
Millwork and trim installation Remodeling Contractors
Cabinet installation Brian Sheeks Design