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A Second Look
By Tracy Dickinson | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
FEATURED REMODEL October/November 2017
home :: home & garden :: featured remodels

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Lake Panorama home gets a little makeover.

Overlooking the shore of Lake Panorama, a little cottage nestles under the trees. From the road, it might not be the first home to catch your eye. It’s not the biggest. Or the fanciest even.

But a West Des Moines couple had a good feeling about it, and they took a second look.

Second Home

“We’d been talking for quite a while about buying a vacation place,” says one of the new owners. “We’d looked out of state and other places in Iowa, but we wanted to be able to use it more often and not spend all our time traveling back and forth.”

The couple, who have grown children and several grandchildren, were looking for a place within a reasonable budget that would still be comfortable for the extended family to share on weekends.

With some help from old friends at Beisser Lumber, this little cottage turned out to be just right.

Second Owner

“We’ve probably worked with the family on half a dozen projects or more over the past several years, from replacing some windows and helping with a deck to a couple of room remodels,” Beisser’s Rob Walker says.

It was that history together that laid the foundation for this latest project.

“As soon as we knew we wanted to make an offer,” the new owners say, “we called Beisser and asked them to give us their opinion. We wanted to make sure our remodeling budget was in the right ballpark.”

“That’s something we’ve done for other clients,” Walker says. “We can’t give detailed estimates on a walk-through, but we’re always glad to look over a property before they make a commitment and give them an idea about what might be possible.”

The lakeside property, a ranch with a finished lower level, was still the year-round home of the original owners.

“It was a nice home to begin with,” Walker notes. “And it was in good shape, so the buyers weren’t looking for a total remodel.”

“The house was very nice and had the most wonderful views of the lake. We just wanted to open it up a little more and update the kitchen so it worked better for our family,” the new owners say.

Second Life

The original kitchen was more of a galley layout; a wall divided it from the main living space. In addition, the main floor was carpeted throughout.

The new owners had a plan. “We knew, with grandchildren in and out and being on the water, that we didn’t want carpet everywhere. And we wanted to be able to have several people in the kitchen and still feel like we were part of what was happening in the family room.”

Walker says those guidelines actually made the project fairly easy to address. “Knowing how the client wants to use the home helps guide the entire project,” he explains. “They had a clear picture in mind, and we just helped put that in place.”

One feature that Beisser recommended was a change to the original plan. “I wanted the kitchen to be light, so I knew I wanted white cabinets,” one owner explains. “But the layout I had proposed would have created a traffic jam in one corner. The designers at Beisser came up with a better layout. It not only eliminated that problem but opened up the kitchen to the views from both sides of the room.”

Having completed a variety of remodel projects and home improvements in the past, the new owners had a pretty good idea not only about the look they were seeking but also about the people with whom they wanted to partner.

“We worked directly with the flooring contractor because I knew who I wanted to have do the work,” says one. And that existing relationship was a pivotal factor in the final design.

“I wanted wide plank wood floors because I knew that natural look would work with all the wood in the home and would be easier to maintain than carpet,” she explains.

But the experts knew otherwise, and their advice proved invaluable. “When I told the contractor what I was looking at, he said I would regret that choice. He brought up a lot of factors I wouldn’t have considered,” she says.

With the potential for constant wet-foot traffic and the proximity to the lake, the contractor reminded the couple that wood flooring could wear quickly and that the risk for warping and gaps between boards was likely. Instead, he recommended an engineered wood product that offered the same look without the maintenance concerns.

The remodel included one complete bathroom remodel as well as new stone and heated floors in a second bath.

In the end, this second home became the perfect spot for summer weekends and family time. “The timing was absolutely perfect,” Walker says. “Because they actually purchased the home in the winter, we were able to get in there and get started right away. We finished in time for them to enjoy every summer weekend there.”

That little cottage nestled under the trees beside Lake Panorama is more than a second home. It’s the perfect setting for the new owners and a second generation, and even a third generation, to gather and make memories of their own.


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