Creative remodeling projects continue in Steamboat even during recession
March 24, 2010
In the midst of a slumbering Steamboat construction market in 2009 and early 2010, a few creative remodeling projects were transforming Old Town homes and modernizing the living spaces while maintaining a sensitivity to the visual character of the eclectic neighborhoods north of Lincoln Avenue.
In at least one case, a traditional looking home has been subtly expanded without substantially altering its curbside appearance. In others, modest homes are being taken down to the original studs and rebuilt with an entirely new appearance.
Behind the trend are second-home owners from other cities and states who have been coming to Steamboat for many years and enjoying their original homes while assimilating into the Steamboat community.
"We had a townhome on the mountain here for 15 years. But we wanted to feel more a part of the actual community instead of the resort community," said the owner of a recently refurbished colonial revival style home at 345 Sixth St.
The owners, a couple from Evergreen, purchased their 1930s-era Old Town home and occupied it for 5 to 7 years before undertaking the remodel.
The completed remodel has created a modern kitchen with a large island and a spacious second-story master bedroom that admits abundant natural light in winter and offers higher ceilings than the original.
A larger front porch also has been added to the outdoor living space and appears more welcoming to passers-by.
Yet after the remodel, the view of the home from curbside is just as faithful to its colonial heritage as it was before.
Laureen Schaffer, historic preservation coordinator for the city of Steamboat Springs, said the new porch is more consistent with the building's architectural style than an earlier front porch addition.
"The home is one of only a handful of colonial revival structures in town," Schaffer said.
One of the key elements in preserving the home's original architectural signature was the preservation of symmetrically placed twin gables on the front elevation.
The couple and their design-build team found a creative way to use the small gables. In the master bath, the space inside one gable has been converted to a shower stall. The other gable, in a secondary bedroom, provides a cozy reading nook with views to the Park Range to the east.
The interior of the home has been transformed by the use of shades of cream on the interior walls contrasted against original honey-colored wood floors.
Distinctly uncluttered, the home manages to keep its grasp of Old Town traditional while embracing contemporary touches like a modern chandelier at the landing of the staircase to the second-floor bedrooms.
The remodel was undertaken with architect Rob Hawkins and general contractor Hans Berend. He has since formally affiliated with designer Jeff Gerber in Gerber Berend Design Build.
"I've been doing remodels for 12 years now," Berend said. "I love taking an existing house and seeing what I can do with it. It gets me fired up."
Berend is also involved in a serial remodeling project just a couple of doors north at 409 Sixth St. The owners, Denver couple Richard Porreco and Terese Kaske, opted to remodel their bungalow-style house in phases. They began with a new kitchen, Berend said, and continued with a family room and a master bedroom. Hawkins' design for the transformation of the exterior to more of a craftsman style was being executed over the window. Very attractive and low-maintenance cementitious board siding was installed, and battered columns taper at the top to add style to the covered front porch. Wood shingles were added in strips under the end gables. Berend is most enthused about the replacement of the pre-existing blue metal roof with a subtler gray.
Starting all over again
A few blocks to the east, on upper Fourth Street, Kenneth and Michelle Taylor, of Atlanta, asked Berend and Gerber to give them something entirely new.
A modest single-story post World War II-era home with a single-car garage under the roof was stripped to its original stud framing and over the winter an ambitious new home was being built over the top of the old home. Berend's carpenters worked hard during a cold snap that produced little snow, and the new second-story roof was being installed in late January.
The Taylors had been renting a home just up the street as Michelle migrated to Steamboat for the winters so that the couple's teenage daughter, Zoe, could train with the U.S. Telemark Ski Team.
When the new remodeled home is complete, the original garage will have been reclaimed for a living room and a new master suite will gain space from being cantilevered over a new carport.
The Telemark skier in the family will be within easy walking distance of the high school and just a quick trip from the slalom course at Howelsen Hill.
"It's just a great walking location for this family," Berend said.
Like many of the homes, this home is on an alley, and the construction crew was able to preserve a large evergreen tree that flanks a generous backyard on the alley.
Schaffer and the Steamboat Springs Historic Preservation Commission were less than enthusiastic about this remodel, which transformed the house.
Schaffer explained it was one of three virtually identical homes constructed in the early 1950s by builder Art Gumprecht.
The homes were not particularly attractive in the architectural sense. However, the presence of a trio of period homes, all of the same character, defined their historic significance, Schaffer said.
However, a second Gumprehct home next door to Berend's project has been completely demolished, and a new design is taking shape right next door.
The remodeled Taylor home reuses the foundation and the first-story walls.
The original wood flooring on the main floor has been retained, but the walls were stripped to the studs and the electrical work was replaced.
"We're basically rewiring the house," Berend said. "None of it was where it needs to be, so there was no point in keeping it."
One bathroom on the first floor was retained, though the entry door was moved 90 degrees
"It's like a time capsule," Berend quipped.
The remodel created a 14-by-14-foot master bedroom with high ceilings. It is cantilevered over the carport on the south side of the home. Two front bedrooms have access to a shared, small deck on the Fourth Street side of the home.
The new steeply pitched 10/12 roofline blends well into the neighborhood, and the front façade was given a classic look with decorative columns. The five structural fiberglass composite columns support the weight of a second story cantilever at the front of the house, creating a larger upstairs bedroom and a covered porch. They are an alternative to building columns of dimensional lumber and wrapping them with stonework, Berend said.
One of the most innovative construction techniques in the home is the innovative Warmboard flooring on the home's second level. It involves tongue-and-groove flooring with grooved channels topped by an aluminum skin to accommodate in-floor heating, Berend said.
The aluminum skin helps to spread the warmth efficiently and brings the upstairs bedrooms to a comfortable temperature more quickly, reducing the temptation for second-home owners to keep the base level temperature high all winter.
"A remodel can be super green if you do it right," Berend said.
Green is good, but teenagers want a stylish crib of their own.
Zoe Taylor has that wish fulfilled with a getaway room cleverly captured by Gerber just above her bedroom, where a custom-built wooden ladder leads to a 10-by-42-foot attic escape where young adults can hang out in their own world.
"She has her own little annex," Berend said. "We were planning to provide a removable ladder, but she wanted the ladder to be a part of her room."
Even in a slumping building economy, the gradual transformation of Old Town Steamboat is under way.